Iqaluit mayor regrets having ‘popped’ man at grocery store, vows to create ‘safer spaces’

Kenny Bell punched unknown man in the face after he reportedly tried to pick a fight with him last week

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell, seen in this file photo from April 13, says he regrets the Friday, April 22 incident in which he “popped” a man in the jaw after he allegedly tried to pick a fight with him at a grocery store. (File photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Nunatsiaq News

A week after Mayor Kenny Bell punched a man who tried to pick a fight with him at a grocery store, the mayor said he regrets the situation, has learned that other Iqalummiut have faced similar encounters and vowed to “create safer spaces” to avoid similar incidents.

“I reacted to the threat of danger, when an unknown man verbally and physically accosted me, in an enclosed space, at a local grocery store,” Bell said in a written statement issued by city hall Friday afternoon.

Last Friday, April 22, he recounted the incident on his Facebook page.

Bell said on his way into a grocery store, a man approached him and told him he wanted to fight the mayor.

He said the man, who he later said on Facebook had recently been released from jail, threw a punch that hit Bell in the chest.

“I popped him in the jaw with a left, he did the stanky leg and then ran away. I went and did my shopping, end of story,” Bell posted on Facebook afterward.

He said he posted the message because “you never know who sees things.”

On Monday, RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Pauline Melanson told Nunatsiaq News no one had filed a complaint with the police over the incident, and they did not have an investigation into the matter.

In the city’s statement Friday, deputy Mayor Solomon Awa said Bell did not breach council’s code of conduct in what he described as a “scuffle.”

“The Iqaluit city council does not condone violence of any form,” Awa said, noting the mayor and council members are looked to “as leaders of the community.”

“We all have the right to feel safe within our community,” Awa said.

The city’s statement lists steps already being taken to make Iqaluit a safer place, including revamping its public safety committee, initiating a community public safety plan, receiving monthly reports from the RCMP, addressing safety issues raised by taxi drivers, spending on youth programs, and working with other organizations to curb public drinking.

It added that people who see an assault taking place should contact the authorities and listed the RCMP’s direct line at 867-979-1111.

 

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(64) Comments:

  1. Posted by Regrets? Please clarify on

    He regrets the situation but spent a week laughing with his buddies on his social media accounts and making light of the situation? He has maintained that he acted in self defence. Does he regret using physical force where it was not needed? If that is the case then he needs to be held accountable. Otherwise what does he regret?

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    • Posted by OOpikHowl on

      the mayor got punch first and just punch back,if you hate some one or want his job,just run for mayor instead,leave him alone

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      • Posted by Achoo on

        No, he had an opportunity to keep walking when the person first said something to him, but he just couldn’t. He heard the guy just fine. His ego wouldn’t allow him to keep walking or ask for help.

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      • Posted by Dumb on

        So should people that don’t like it when their garbage men aren’t doing a good job and don’t pick up their garbage just become garbage men? So if you ever have a gripe about something, you should just go do it yourself? He is an elected official . A lot of people that voted for him are disappointed and don’t feel that he is doing a good job. Your rebuttal is that we should all just become mayor? He choose that job and should be able to deal with the criticism and actually try to do something about it instead of joke about it and punch people. Sorry not sorry. Oct 2023!

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  2. Posted by Ok on

    This mayor stated that he acted in self defence but is now saying he regrets his actions?? I think what he is really saying is that he did not act in self defence. Is anyone else understanding this? If he truly acted in self defence, why is he regretful? This is extremely concerning

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    • Posted by Jamesie on

      A person can act in self-defence and still feel regret for having been put in such a situation by a no-good skeet.

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      • Posted by Lol on

        He regrets a situation that he had no choice but to be in? Use some logic guy. You’re starting to sound like him. He had a choice and he regrets that choice cause he is getting called out for what he is. Stop drinking the Kool aid. He’s a bully

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        • Posted by In its stead on

          Instead of being down on the mayor, maybe you should seek out the idiots that are hanging around uselessly bother innocent people as productive people go about their useful life. Campaign to get help for these bothersome people. Help prevent them from getting another pop in the jaw.

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    • Posted by Give it up on

      Does anyone else find use of the phrase “extremely concerning” in this comment to be an exaggerated display of affectation, performativeness and hyperbole?

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      • Posted by Not really on

        Not really. You sound a little pretentious though.

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        • Posted by John K on

          Because they used bigger words than you’re accustomed to?

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      • Posted by Put the thesaurus away on

        Does anyone else find the use of performativness and hyperbole to be a weak and pretentious response to a serious situation in which a man who was likely mentally ill got punched by the mayor ? An action the mayor now says he regrets insinuating he had a choice in the matter?

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        • Posted by Henry the Explorer on

          Your framing of this situation is problematic as it blames the victim of this vicious act of violence.

          The mayor could not possibly be expected to know or have time to assess the status of the aggressors mental health. No one could. In that moment, as extreme violence was rained upon him, Mr. Bell, undoubtedly thinking about his young boys and whether they would see their father again, lashed out in self defense and with great fortune was able to stave off certain peril.

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          • Posted by Gullible ? on

            And who is the victim? Kenny, because he said so? Did you talk to the other guy? Seems a little premature to be calling someone a victim without even hearing the other side of the story. Maybe your big words and grand statements are keeping you too busy?

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            • Posted by Henry the Pretentious Explorer on

              It’s not hard to see that you and many others here are motivated by whatever petty grudges you’ve fostered against the mayor. I have little doubt he has brought some—possibly a fair amount—of that on himself. But whatever his failings might be they are not relevant to this situation as I see it.

              I think the mayor’s account of what took place is about as accurate as you could expect. He brought the situation to light due partly to the expectation he had been recognized, which seems likely. If so, lying undoes whatever benefits he expected from being up front about it

              On the other hand, your efforts to sow seeds of doubt, to paint a distorted picture where it’s impossible to be certain who is at fault surely has some rhetorical effect—a song sung to your choir—but claims like this are transparent, devoid of seriousness and are believable to none but the most devout rakes, trolls and haters.

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            • Posted by John K on

              Uhh, the person initially attacked is generally considered a victim of violence.

              Jeez, I don’t like Bell either but at least I’m mature enough not to play make believe to fit things into my narrative.

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    • Posted by Jamesie on

      Perhaps the mayor regrets the fact such incidents have become quite common in Iqaluit. Such nonsense has been commonplace for a long time here.

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  3. Posted by 867 on

    These stores need 2 security on staff during hours of operations: 1 inside to protect staff and 1 outside to protect customers and kick out the riff raff that doesn’t know what loitering means. Hope that’s what Kenny means by creating a ‘safe space’.

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    • Posted by shalo on

      I agree. They need security. Properly trained security. Not just random people with zero security experience. So that means the two security companies in town are not a good option, and just hiring someone off the street is not a good option. Security guards with little or no training by qualified professionals create a very, very dangerous situation. It’s not like both stores can’t to do it out together a proper security team.

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  4. Posted by Complete overhaul on

    The mayor did not violate the code of conduct but the city condones all violence? When will this mayor be held accountable?? If he regrets his actions, it means he had a choice in the matter and regrets the choice he made. He needs to step down and council needs to to start better representing the citizens and stop turning a blind eye. Did council even discuss this matter with the mayor? Obviously council is too intimidated to stand up to this man and demand accountability. New mayor and new council next election. Everyone sitting at that table should be embarrassed.

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    • Posted by oopikhowl on

      i say it again,just run for mayor if your so smart

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    • Posted by Jamesie on

      Seems your outrage is misplaced. People should be more concerned about the things done by loitering skeets here in Iqaluit. Less indignation is called for toward somebody who reacted as most people would in such a confrontation. Unless, of course, yours is a disagreement of personalities: You simply have a problem with Mayor Bell, in which case you’d condemn him no matter what happened.

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      • Posted by Grandstanding on

        Nicely said!

        I strongly suspect most of the criticism we see here is motivated by the opportunity to knock the mayor down than it is in serious reflection of the incident itself.

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      • Posted by Get a new job on

        A lot of people do have a problem with the mayor not because of this incident but an accumulation of incidences. What does it matter? You the grievances sorter?

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      • Posted by I don’t think so on

        Really? Cause the mayor paid no mind the the loitering situation when he made a joke of his punch on social media and continued to laugh with his friends for many days after the fact. But I guess my comment can just be summed up as a smear campaign against your holy mayor.

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  5. Posted by Council on

    Council has completely lost control of the mayor. They don’t even question all the dumb stuff he does. Just nod and smile. Embarrassing for them. People need to vote for better, stronger people that can’t be bullied.

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  6. Posted by Eyes and ears on

    Fist is better then words and regrets after and Solomon Away you be next election and not Awa you be how you reacted on this situation,
    Learn what you had just said and learn how to build big igloos as they fall faster if not learned well.

    Eyes and ears

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  7. Posted by Reality on

    The reality is Kenny did not act in self defence, the entire system in Nunavut is flawed and corrupt. Do as I say but don’t do as I act is the typical approach. People holding high ranks in public offices that should not be in these positions. The municipalities in Nunavut are highly mismanaged. They are apparently trying to clean it up but it’s a complete joke.

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  8. Posted by Harold (Iqaluit) on

    the last time we were blessed with a popol visit in 1978 i headed down to northmert which we called the huddy bay back then and was greated by feisty new mayir brian . i said hello your excillentcy and he looked at me with shock and loudlee said what ? what did you say young harold ?

    i tried to tell him that there was a fantastic sale on balonee and that he should take advantage before others do but before i could say the word balonee he struck me with a semi closed fist on top of my noggen !

    i tried to run away but was suddenlee overcome with a case of jimmy legs and had to prop my poor self up against the building while i regained my sences .

    my poor wife had to nurse that large apple sized bump on my head for a whole week and i missed the popol parade which i was suppose to leed ! and to make mattirs worse i did not have any balonee because i had lost it in my scuffle with his excillentcy !!! i never forgave him .

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  9. Posted by Jennifer on

    hahahaaha, I am totally bubbling over with laughter at this one. Good for you sticking up for yourself, buddy!! lol!

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  10. Posted by Emperor’s got no clothes on

    The mayor is a bully. Everyone knows it, but no one will speak up.

    His deflection, in preaching about safety and pretending to act in best interest of citizens, is transparent. We see you Kenny, you’re a bully.

    Council must do their job and hold him accountable.

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  11. Posted by Regrets the statements maybe? on

    Perhaps he doesn’t regret defending himself, but making a scene about it on social media afterwards.

    I wouldn’t regret defending myself.

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  12. Posted by Think About It on

    How many times have you been accosted going into Northmart or Ventures? How many times have you witnessed entitled people thinking the world owes them or doing something just for likes on social media. Now combine the two. I didn’t vote for Kenny; but what was the man supposed to do? Iqaluit has become a pool of people that feel they are entitled to everything and certain people owe them. Kenny was in a no win situation.
    Iqaluit has loitering laws, other bylaws-ENFORCE THEM

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    • Posted by Deer on

      What he was supposed to do is whatever he could do to de-escalate the situation. He knew the guy was being belligerent. He chose to go back and get the guy to repeat himself instead of just walking away and complaining to management or police. He knew the guy was being a jackass.

      It is up to the stores to keep their entrances clear. If they need assistance when someone isn’t responding to security, they can call police. They need qualified staff to manage what is happening at the entrance of their stores. Qualified staff, not a teenager with a large build or a big man with a cell phone.

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  13. Posted by Allan on

    The. security at the Northmart is pathetic. I have personally been hit. yelled at for no reason. I have seen numerous innocent people being hit or abused. for no reason. Again yesterday a drunk woman was blocking me and others from even trying to enter the store swearing at us for no reason. Again I know our Mayor is not the aggressor. and reacted as a reaction to himself being assaulted.
    instead of trying to point fingers at someone. for defending themselves. The. narrative should be on the lack of security by. the. North Mart and the Government. as a whole.

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    • Posted by Chimpy on

      I don’t like the Northwest company. But, they are in a bind. The second Northmart kicks people out for loitering or being belligerent, they will be ripped apart on social media for throwing kids and people with nowhere to go out into the cold. They’ve done it before, and people lost their minds on social media.

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  14. Posted by iThink on

    As primatologist Richard Wrangham pointed out in his seminal book ‘The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence’ humans have, since our origins, selected against reactive violence in a process best described as self-domestication.

    That same selective pressure persists today and is reflected in statements like “The Iqaluit city council does not condone violence of any form.”

    But, does a statement like this make sense? Does it map well onto “how the world is” or does it express an ideal that could only be uttered sensibly is a pacifist utopia?

    Though it is rarely desirable, we need to acknowledge that violence is necessary at times and especially in self defense.

    I would suggest that the people displaying exaggerated affectation and disappointment with the mayor in these comments are mostly performing. Their ‘Kabuki’ is mostly political, but where it is motivated by the kind of idealism expressed by Awa above, it is not serious.

    Further reading:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/animal-emotions/201902/the-strange-relationship-between-virtue-and-violence

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  15. Posted by Arnaq on

    I have long found Iqaluit to be an unsafe place to live. From being accosted and even hunted in my workplace, witnessing colleagues being accosted, with management dismissing safety concerns till their spouse had the same experience in the same workplace; to having my house and vehicle repeatedly vandalized for doing my job; to being harassed in my home off-duty for doing my job; to being harassed in the street, witnessing others being harassed in the street; being harassed and even cornered in Northmart by folk looking for cash or food. It’s so much the norm and our community is so troubled that I don’t go out except to go to work and I avoid the shops unless absolutely necessary. I understand the wounds but I don’t want to be collateral damage anymore. I think our mayor did not set a good example but we elected him so what does that say about our town, electing somebody capable of such violence and worse still, bragging about it, and then issuing a politically expedient, patently insincere apology.

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    • Posted by your words are powerful. on

      ” I understand the wounds but I don’t want to be collateral damage anymore.”

      This is a sentiment I think many people have felt in the north.

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  16. Posted by Itsame on

    How many people witnessed this incident? What is stopping the other person from coming forward and saying he tripped and accidentally bumped into the mayor and as he stood up was assaulted by a left hook?

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  17. Posted by Popped in the jaw on

    Many people that get popped in the jaw, has been popped in the jaw over and over. They live to be popped in the jaw. The saddest part is they usually popped smaller and innocent people in the jaw, or they try to. Next time you know someone that was popped in the jaw, try to get their history of being popped in the jaw.

  18. Posted by Wow on

    So many contradictions my brain hurts

    He was acting in self defence.. but he regrets his actions.

    He didn’t breach any code of conduct but the city doesn’t condone violence.

    Punch someone in the face and laugh about it… but these people need help

    Acted in self defence (which means you felt extremely threatened) but went on to do his grocery shopping:
    Mayor gets into a dispute outside NM and now all of a sudden these people needs “safe spaces”..wtf?

    Can someone…anyone..pleaSe…. Make this make sense.
    How many times does this mayor need to royally [mess] up before 1. He steps down or 2. The council holds him accountable.

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    • Posted by Lucy on

      Funny thing is after everything (fail after fail) that this guy still believes that he is a fantastic mayor and will win another election. Lol

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    • Posted by What I not to do? on

      It’s not an easy call, when responding to actions by way of a criminal act or a mentally challenged person, intoxication mixed in or not. There are different acceptable reactions. The police may or may not respond correctly, as we all know of how mentally challenged people are sometimes serious injured or killed in interventions. From what I know, trained mental health workers are best to deal with mentally ill people , and criminals are best handled by police. But there’s many times an overlap, in that the person committing the act , is not always well understood. I don’t think the general public can be expected to sort out who who’s when it comes to reacting to such actions, and although some people expect the mayor to react a certain way, but he’s just a regular citizen also when reacting to an attack. There’s nothing required of the mayor to reacted other than a regular person going about his business. As a matter of fact, even the trained person, can naturally react in an appropriate way of bodily defence.

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    • Posted by Spasms of fakeness on

      If I could give an award for the best performance of fake outrage, this comment would win by a considerable margin.

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  19. Posted by Name withheld on

    The proper way was to walk away. You cannot give what the guy wanted, of all people you should have known this.

    Council’s have more power than the Mayor. The City Councils can make motions and passed them. “The Mayor cannot”!!

    You want a safe, healthy environment in Iqaluit? It all starts with the Leaders within Iqaluit, Public Figures!!

    Smart up Kenny and stop the Trump thinking by constantly posting on Social Media 🙄🙄🙄.

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  20. Posted by S on

    A mayor, publicly announcing, bragging, that he took care of business at the mall; in full view of witnesses, some of whom would support him, hold the antagonist if need be.

    A mayor wiped his hands and continued shopping. A mayor did this.,,,, vigilantism.

    Are these the actions of a mayor? Vigilantism? Public boasting about that? Spinning rhetoric to gain advantage?

    Who supports that behavior? Citizens? Voters? Law enforcement? Coworkers? Fellow councillors? Family? Acquaintances? Not me.

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  21. Posted by Iron Mike. on

    It’s great that there will finally be am effort to create safer spaces but does the mayor really regret hitting this individual or actually regret boasting about it on social media ?

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  22. Posted by Lets go back to the issue here….North Mart on

    Ok, he said what he said. I’m so glad this was brought up though….the main thing is, the safety of the community members that go shopping.
    I hate, absolutely hate going there on weekends, because you know, you will be faced with intoxicated people hanging around. You never know, if you will look at someone the wrong way and be accused of something. There is also the environment of one or two of the loiterers picking fights with each other, arguing and yelling at each other, and the North Mart Staff/COMPANY let’s it go on, they don’t kick them out. It is by far, the worst place to go shopping. I hope you see this North Mart Company. BY FAR, the worst place to go shopping.

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  23. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Interesting that so many of you are screaming assault by the Mayor, but not the instigator,
    I wonder how many of you, “knowing the facts as you do” actually filed a complaint against him, with the RCMP. Or are you just on a “hate the Mayor” rant?

    I wonder if someone verbally threatened you and then physically threatened you,, how many of you would have walked away?

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    • Posted by It’s all performance on

      Most of these comments were written by crisis actors in a jolly froth to slay fake giants and earn social media points. There is precious little balanced thinking going on.

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  24. Posted by Confused on

    Shows he’s left handed the way he placed his mask on the table, must’ve hurt when the other guy got hit on his jaw, He probably got shoved, never seen or heard anyone punch on a chest 🙁

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  25. Posted by Not the hero we deserve, but the one we needed. on

    This wouldn’t have happened if Polar Man was in town.

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  26. Posted by surprise, surprise on

    the comment section has its doors; what is the change of heart about?

  27. Posted by Peter on

    Since the beer and wine store opened we have seen a steady increase in public drunkenness, A lot of us see or experience this when going to the stores.
    Summer time is worse with the warmer weather, parties behind northmart, drunks and fights. A lot of people don’t feel safe going to the stores alone.

    When community consultations we happening about opening a beer and wine store this was brought up so many times, that more public drunkenness will happen especially without any kind of support for addiction or mental health in place.
    So here we are today, people that live by northmart and by the beach have gone through a lot, the poor elders that live behind the store go through so much each summer, the last part of their lives they go through hell and that is not how they should live the last few years of their lives.
    With all the issues we have here with very little help in place it should of been the last thing to open up a beer and wine store, just to make it easier to fill your additions and not thinking of the larger picture. So self-centered that you put others at risk knowing there is huge problems here with lack of housing, addiction, mental health, the selfishness of making it easier for a few to get their drinks over the well being of the community. Too many functioning alcoholics that help decide what is best.

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  28. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Everybody in town knows that the entry areas of our two largest retailers are anything but safe. Between the intoxicated, those begging for coins and those basically up to no good it has gotten to the point where my family refuse to go anywhere near them. I await Mayor Bell’s plan with bated and somewhat jaded breath.

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