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Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Knology ‘rightsizing’ in Lawrence

December 1, 2010

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Knology of Kansas Inc. revealed plans Wednesday to eliminate a variety of jobs at its Lawrence operations during the next three, six, nine and 12 months.

The “rightsizing” initiative is designed to best serve the communications company and its cable television, Internet and telephone customers in the near and long terms, said Tony Palermo, a vice president and spokesman for Knology Inc., the company’s Georgia-based parent.

“We’re always going to keep a very strong local presence,” Palermo said.

Employees learned of the changes during individual meetings Tuesday, less than two months after the company purchased Sunflower Broadband in a deal valued at $165 million.

When Knology took over ownership from The World Company, Sunflower had 200 employees working to provide services to more than 33,000 customers for video, 28,000 customers for Internet and 15,000 customers for telephone in Douglas, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties.

Palermo declined to discuss the number of employees told that their jobs would be eliminated but noted that all would be eligible and encouraged to apply for some of the more than 80 open positions with other Knology systems elsewhere. Affected employees have been offered severance packages.

The upcoming job losses affect departments with “common corporate positions,” Palermo said, such as finance, accounting, human relations and customer service.

“Not as many people will be required in the Knology of Kansas call center because those calls can be routed to one of the other two call centers,” Palermo said of Knology sites in Georgia and South Dakota.

Left unaffected are sales personnel, installers, and maintenance and service technicians, he said.

The company also plans to promote growth in its original programming, including 6News and other local shows, Palermo said.

The World Company owns the Lawrence Journal-World.

Comments

djdoobius 2 years, 11 months ago

Thank god Knology took over the cable company. The World Company is the worst. They sent me a $600 dollar internet bill for one month of service. They charge crazy fees if you go over your bandwidth limit. Now I have DSL and can download all day and night if I want to and never get charged a penny extra. Personally i've vowed to never subscribe to any World Company services or ever even buy one of their newspapers. EVER. Up with Knology, screw the World Company.

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jessibean 3 years, 4 months ago

I cannot wait until my partner gets the hell out of her job at Sunflower - so we can CANCEL our cable and internet. "Hometown care" - what a joke.

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laughingtokeepfromcrying 3 years, 4 months ago

I am also sorry to hear people are getting fired when jobs are so hard to find. I hope you all have no trouble getting Unemployment and that you are gainfully employed before your benefits run out.

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northtown 3 years, 4 months ago

Just another little piece of Lawrence headed down the little into the big muddy. Good Luck Lawrence It has started-downsizing for the city Merry Christmas to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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melott 3 years, 4 months ago

So, based on experience ATT customer service, I would never consider signing up with them for internet or TV. The satellite dish deal gives you fast downloads, but not fast sending of information. Are there any good alternatives to Sunflower for cable or internet? Alternatives to ATT for phone that work well?

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CorkyHundley 3 years, 4 months ago

I remember when gay meant happy or good mood.

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misseve 3 years, 4 months ago

Right Sized is not the same as lay off...

The employees of Sunflower Broadband are not going to get their jobs back in the foreseeable future. They are using "rightsized" to it doesn't sound so bad. Its bad however like it was stated, they are being given 3, 6, 9 or 12 months to get things in order before they are without jobs. They were also forewarned that changes were coming. Do I feel awful for them? Yes I do because I have seen what massive job losses can do to a company and what they did at mine was without warning without time to get things in order.

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wood451 3 years, 4 months ago

As one of the recently rightsized I think Knology has treated us pretty good. Something that has been lost in all this is that no one was terminated immediately. We all got a generous amount of time to deal with our impending unemployment. Time that can be used to decide what to do next and receive a full paycheck and benefits while we do it. I'm sure we all know someone that experienced the shock of being told, "In order to meet the business needs of the company today is your last day". Wana bet those people would much rather have heard their last day would be three months from today? Knology told us two and a half months ago that there would be changes and we would know on or before December 1 what those changes would be. This shouldn't have been a surprise to any of us. To my rightsized coworkers I say take some time to have a little pity party, consume some adult beverages, even cry a little if you need, but on Monday come to work and keep giving your customers the same excellent service you always have. Continue to show the character that made Sunflower a great company and who knows, maybe Knology will see the error of their ways and reverse some of the rightsizing.

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Clark Coan 3 years, 4 months ago

So, why is the hard copy of the Journal-World shrinking so fast? Are they laying off staff there as well?

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sweetiepie 3 years, 4 months ago

I agree with so many of you--I loved Sunflower's customer service. It's been great for years, and if it changes, I'm out of there.

All this year, when articles were written about layoffs or possible layoffs, the LJW used the word "layoffs." When it was Cessna. When it was the schools. When it was the city.
Until now.
I hardly know what to think.

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overplayedhistory 3 years, 4 months ago

I guess we will see if there is profit in loyalty or not.

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overplayedhistory 3 years, 4 months ago

Best trick ever pulled, for 30 plus years, is money making people think it has loyalty or patriotism. Thanks Dolf, I hope Lawrence and its people who don't know how to vote properly didn't leave you in the poor house. I am sure you barley walked away with your underwear.

Thanks for sticking with it in spite of this being the hardest place in the world to make a fortune.

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verity 3 years, 4 months ago

Sunflower Cable had great customer service and I could understand the people I spoke with. Can't say that about many (or any) other companies. They were always professional, helpful and friendly.

For the internet I use a USB device (initial cost $80. at a local tech store---can I mention the name?). It's through Virgin Mobile and uses the Sprint cell phone network. Unlimited usage for $40. a month. No contract, no extra fees, don't have to bundle uses to get the price. Unfortunately, their customer service sucks---long waits, heavy accents, impatience when you can't understand them and confusing set-up. Oh, well, it is less expensive and works well once I got it figured out.

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Laura Wilson 3 years, 4 months ago

After years of dealing with AT&T internet for years at work, I've always been so happy to have Sunflower at home, knowing that if I call for customer service, the call is taken right here in Lawrence and not in India or god knows where like AT&T (and routed through several "push one for this and push two for that" crap). No longer. I'm not surprised though.

If I lose sunflower as my email address, though, for knology or something else, I'll be really ticked off.

Sorry to all those laid off but I'm not surprised at that either.

I do find it interesting that this online newspaper (still owned by The World Company, along with the Marketplace, Sunflower Publishing and every other little newspaper in the area) still uses 6News video and links to 6 News as one of its "sections". Wonder how long that will last.

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seeker_of_truth 3 years, 4 months ago

Because they no longer publish a real newspaper.

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Phil Minkin 3 years, 4 months ago

Yesterdays on-line LJW had an article about Doug Compton's delinquent tax problems in Topeka. Nothing in today's print, and it doesn't come up on a search. Anyone know why?

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somedude20 3 years, 4 months ago

Not to be a stick in the mud but 6News is a joke. It has the production value and feel of a college news station and their news is not all that great.

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jayhawklawrence 3 years, 4 months ago

All the awards, all the pioneering and innovative software tools and breakthroughs; it might be over.

We did not get much of a vision statement from the new owners.

Congratulations to Dolph for creating a beautiful thing but every great story has an ending.

A new chapter begins...

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tir 3 years, 4 months ago

Whoosh! That flushing sound that you just heard is Sunflower going down the toilet. I am truly sorry for all the Sunflower employees who are being demoted or "right-sized" out of a job. I am also sorry for myself and all the other Sunflower customers who will soon see cable and internet support and service "right-sized" down to unacceptable levels, while their bills are "right-sized" upwards. The time is "right" to look for an alternative. But are there really any good ones?

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 3 years, 4 months ago

@Doctor Dave:

Dave, using your perspective, we shouldn't build computers with robotic soldering machines because those machines caused downsizing. Ford should turn back from automated manufacturing advances and go back to their old Model A assembly line of human workers turning nuts by hand because otherwise fewer people in Michigan would have jobs.

Do you want to pay $10,000 for a slow laptop? If we didn't make changes in business that allow us to reduce costs, none of us could afford to buy very many things that we didn't whittle out of a log with our own hands. If we refuse to make business decisions because it'll cause job loss, we are rejecting progress. If/When a Lawrence company buys a company in another town (has that ever happened?) they "downsize" the other town's workforce. I'm sure The World Co. has let people go after purchasing other media outlets.

It's been this way since the 1920's when a Lawrence farrier had to let his apprentice go because too many of his former customers were driving cars. There is no progress without change.

Would you ask Knology to keep people employed in accounting when all their duties had been centralized in another state? It would be sensible to refuse to decentralize even though it's clearly the smart way to run an accounting department? It's "good" to pay people to come to work and play minesweeper even after their job duties have been transferred to another state?

The loss of jobs in Lawrence over these firings really sucks. There may be a trickle-down effect that causes area vendors who do business with TWC to also go under. But, I'm sure that in the big picture, the gains achieved by business efficiencies will help the consumer in the end. Don't minimize the importance of that to all the SBB customers.

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nonbeliverofprint 3 years, 4 months ago

Broadband Man is safe but with a new look.

To all my Sunflower Friends you must think positive. Use your 3, 6 or 12 months left to prove to them they made a wrong decision. Let them know they can't live without you. Open their eyes & change their minds!! Have faith in the man upstairs to take care of you and give you what you need. If you don't keep this job...then you are meant to do something greater.

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scootterxlch 3 years, 4 months ago

hear_me ... What do you mean we lost our local radio station??/ There are three in town 92.9fm 105.9 fm and 1320 am?

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rumor_man 3 years, 4 months ago

No mention of Broadman Man being among the layoffs. What a relief.

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Phillbert 3 years, 4 months ago

That didn't take long. Though strangely the LJW finds space to report on these layoffs, but never seems to find space to report on the layoffs it has been making for the last couple of years.

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ksriver2010 3 years, 4 months ago

Realistically, it was inevitable that Snflower would be sold, or engulfed, or gobbled up, by another company. Sunflower had a surprising monopoly on cable internet for apartment complexes and such. I was quizzical when I moved here that there were not many choices for internet and the big guys (AT&T) didn't have a big presence. I was told by my apartment complex that it was Sunflower or nothing.

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Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 3 years, 4 months ago

The Dolph Who Stole Christmas. My condolences to all the families who will be affected by this.

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Andini 3 years, 4 months ago

As someone who has been laid off around this time two years a row from two different employees. I feel your pain.

I'm in a much much better place now but I'm nervous once again this time of year after being laid off twice.

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Roland Gunslinger 3 years, 4 months ago

I love all these users who registered yesterday coming on here and defending Knology.

Coincidence? I think not.

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macon47 3 years, 4 months ago

i hate for anyone to lose thier job, but i cant see this was any suprise any business would do the same when it acqures a new one. what is the big deal what makes lawrencians so special??

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rj1486 3 years, 4 months ago

We can all say what we want about Knology but The World Company knew what would happen when they sold. They choose the company. They knew it would be a strong possibility this would happen. This is the company that is local but decided to sell to a out of state company. At least Knology gave the soon to be ex employees something. This would have been less if it had been The World Company. They also have been laying people off as recent has last week. The difference is the Knology employees knew it could happen and have at minimum 3 months to still work, The World Company let people go that day with a few weeks of a severance package. Much less than what Knology is doing. Again, Knology still employes local friends and neighbors we can't turn our backs on them like The World Company did. By leaving Knology it will only lead to more layoffs.

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exsunemp 3 years, 4 months ago

Let us back up a bit in the discussion.

Are you sure you are clearly aware that all of Sunflower’s employees are your neighbors and hometown caregivers, and they are now mostly unemployed? Are you aware that Sunflower was a leading employer of your friends and neighbors, and no longer will be? Do you not understand the impact of this on your local economy? …Should an out-of-state corporate company also purchase the Merch before you realize? By the way, it would be a first but no one ever stopped a community from starting their own cable collective – maybe from complaining you could start acting (never heard of it but it could be a start).

I say this as a recent “ex” Sunflower employee that did understand the true values as providing such services to the community. I say this also understanding the measures and needs of the community’s needs of broadband company. Yes, Sunflower was out to make money but also sacrificed much to model to the direction and desires of the community.

I’m sorry… Complain about your award-winning video, complain about your overage for downloading music illegally over your award-winning data service, complain about proven-reliable award-winning phone service but the fact is three options. 1) you obliviously love it and cant move away, 2) you moved away but moved back. 3) you moved away and you can’t move back.

Now say what you will but a giant piece of your local workforce with their advanced expertise are now unemployed, what do ‘you’ want to do? There is no other “local” business in Lawrence that can truly absorb its staff let alone its award-winning talent.

So really, I post on this discussion as a “former” member of Sunflower but barely see myself as biased due to what I know what has been “giveth” to Lawrence and now is “taketh” away.

So now if anyone where to dispute the many changes regarding the company, the personnel, the local economy, the service quality, the service price, the anything now is your time to speak on your own. Keep in mind CATV did stand for “Community” Antenna Television, hence the “Community”!

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JustNoticed 3 years, 4 months ago

Just stop watching television. I gave it up three years ago and can't tolerate it at all now when I run into it. It's really very liberating once you get used to it. Besides, "Knology"? My god, what a STUPID name. I can't express how much I hate it.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 3 years, 4 months ago

The best way to increase profits and decrease costs (and, potentially, to lower costs to the consumer) is to let people go when you can do so. The main reason why this purchase made sense was because they would be able to reduce the workforce.

If TWC had purchased Knology, they would have slashed jobs at Knology in the same way and none of us would have given a crap.

It's bad for those who are losing jobs, but it's potentially good for those who complain about the high cost of services.

"Right-sizing" is the correct way to see this. Why keep redundancies in place? It's sad for those losing their jobs (and maybe their homes, etc,), but it is the only correct business decision to make in this situation. The timing sucks.

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Christine Anderson 3 years, 4 months ago

Happy Hanukah and a Merry Christmas to Knology, you bunch of turds! Hope your Shamash fails to light and you get coal in your stockings.

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ksriver2010 3 years, 4 months ago

So now they call it "right-sizing".

I call it "wrong-sizing".

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soontobeexemployee 3 years, 4 months ago

Yes it was a secret, just found out as i was starting my shift today, Going to make it tuff to find something new, this close to holidays. We all knew it was coming so WE as soon to be ex employees should have better prepared ourselves, and dont let the severance package fool ya, its not that great :(

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rj1486 3 years, 4 months ago

I think before we all panic we should wait to see what happens. Our bills could actually go down. They are a bigger company with the ability to negotiate on behalf of several markets versus one market like Sunflower.

I also continue to hear that Channel 6 is not going away. We for the first time have two news sources and maybe just maybe get some good reporting versus one company controlling the message like it has been in the past.

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Carol Bowen 3 years, 4 months ago

We lost our locally owned radio station. I cannot listen fast enough to hear the news sound bites on the new franchise station, and I miss the music. I quit listening.

Now, we are losing our newspaper. I would quit reading, but I really would like to keep up on local news. I seldom agree with Simon's editorials, but he adds local character which I do appreciate. I would rather read Dolph's editorials than a generic anywhere newspaper.

Now our news will be homogenized, pasteurized, and digested before we get it.

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Dave Greenbaum 3 years, 4 months ago

Why does everyone lay people off around the holidays? I guess Knology put coal in lots of people's stockings this year.

I'm really sorry for the great people at Sunflower!

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pinecreek 3 years, 4 months ago

Sunflower customers, better get ready--the next 'rightsizing' is going to be your monthly bill....it will get bigger, not smaller. Staff reductions only go so far to pay off $160 million laid out for the franchise.

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raw 3 years, 4 months ago

I kept Sunflower because it was local and and excellent customer service. Sounds like its time to move on.

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LJ Whirled 3 years, 4 months ago

Here comes The Axe.

Enough with the "right-sizing" BS, though ... it's "downsizing" if you're the one who gets the Axe.

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Michael Stanclift 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm confused. What is the relationship to 6News and Sunflower and LJW/World Company now?

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Bill Lee 3 years, 4 months ago

The Journal-World and other newspapers are suffering from the increased competition from the internet. We've learned to expect immediate information, which newspapers cannot provide. They print yesterday's news, which is history by the time it hits the streets. The LJW will have to rely on its website more and more in the future. The cash influx that resulted from selling Sunflower Broadband will keep newspapers in Lawrence for a few more years.

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cowboy 3 years, 4 months ago

The day has come to eliminate the cable monopoly in Lawrence , let the competition begin. The city should not renew any exclusive franchise contracts going forward.

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kuhusker 3 years, 4 months ago

This article reads like Knology press release - full of corporate weasel-speak. Tell it like it is - a formerly local business is laying off a huge number of people. It's not "rightsizing" - it's a massive layoff that affects dozens of lawrence families. It is certainly not surprising but nonetheless I bet you none of the laid off employees - which include your friends and neighbors - are happy about being sold down the river.

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parrotuya 3 years, 4 months ago

We all knew that this was coming. It's standard practice these. Besides, Sunflower was pretty fat on profits from overcharging customers. How about removing bandwidth caps?

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exsunemp 3 years, 4 months ago

The actual "right-size" is Knology eliminates All of their Customer Service department except for a few (single-digit) persons for their front counter, all but two of their finance department, part of their Business department, all of their Network Operations Center, select other marketing and advertising personnel, all but a few in their Engineering department. Many others received demotions. I am not sure of the exact count but that's approximately 50-60+ Lawrence workers (plus their families). And 6News is only expected to be in place for one year. That was today, more right-sizing tomorrow.

Need I remind you of Sunflower's latest of many awards: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/sep...

This thanks all goes to the Simons, corporate bureaucracy, and many Lawrencians that just were never happy enough with what you had.

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HollisBrown 3 years, 4 months ago

"Rightsizing". What a new, nifty, corporate term. Very positive sounding. Nice euphemism for getting thrown out the door. Actually, every company would be better off without Human Resources, aka Personnel. Completely useless people who sit around waiting to do what managers and supervisors don't have the guts for. A few years ago I had been at a job for about a week, when, unbeknownst to me, I had been violating some stupid break policy or something. Of course the Branch Manager, my boss who's office was 20 feet away, didn't say a word to me. I had to wait until I went to orientation in Topeka, where I got called into HR and questioned about it. I quit right there. Gutless Wonders of the World Unite.

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Amanda Woodward Davis 3 years, 4 months ago

Apparently, "rightsizing" to Knology means laying off over half of the company. What a crappy thing to do to people!

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sad_lawrencian 3 years, 4 months ago

The World Company has let down Lawrence, but this is what the world is coming to. Everything these days is a business decision, with little to no regard for the rank-and-file employee.

I blame this on The World Company, not Knology. Knology can hardly be blamed for wanting to consolidate its customer service operations. The real villain here is/was The World Company. Dolph Sr. would be thrilled.

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seeker_of_truth 3 years, 4 months ago

It might survive if it actually acted like a news source. There is no news now, just puff pieces for those few who still advertise with them. I just cancelled my subscription which I have had since I moved to Lawrence 17 years ago. I now get more and better news from KC Star.

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LogicMan 3 years, 4 months ago

"Thanks Dolph."

Well, I had speculated that he sold it to focus on, and save, his core business -- the LJW and its printing operations for others (USA Today, Kansan, etc.). But the LJW keeps getting smaller; I hope it can survive! An active free press is a vital part of any democracy.

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seeker_of_truth 3 years, 4 months ago

Now when we have problem, we talk to ND or GA. What a great improvement in service. Next step will be to outsource those jobs to India. But hey they are a great local company. Next will be price increases due to increased level of customer service. Thanks Dolph.

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Jake Esau 3 years, 4 months ago

Is this a surprise to anyone? It shouldn't be.

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