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Hubris Leads to Black Restaurateur’s Spectacular Failure

Washington, DC., New York, Chicago, San Fran, LA, and Dallas All host great restaurants – of which a half dozen or so compete on the World Stage of greats.You want to open a restaurant and claim it belongs you better be on the very, very, very top of your game. Legendary locations for exquisite cuisine include The French Laundry, Per Se, Alinea, or  Le Bernadin are world famous. The top 5, 10, or 50 list is hotly contested and changes from year to year. Per person seatings generally run from $80 to $300 before the wine tab.

In the Washington, DC area that list include perennial favorite, The Inn at Little Washington, as well as relative newcomers Minibar, Rasika, Komi, Fiola, and French traditional stalwart L’Auberge Chez Francois.

So when an upstart opens a new place with a price tag of $1,000 a seating, at 4 times the price of 2 of the highest Michelin rated restaurants in the US, you better be able to  produce something so spectacular, people faint at first tasting.

Alas… This foolish brother couldn’t “walk the walk”.

Just from a single guy standpoint, if I’m picking up a $2,000 tab – everything from the decor, ambiance, food, service, wine better be so good – my date hands me the room key to the Presidential Suite she paid for at the hotel…With the bottle of champagne!

I’m not paying 4 times the going rate for some of the very best restaurants in the world…For a place whose decor looks like “Early Howard Johnson’s”

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Shaw Bijou Dining Room @ $2,000 for 2

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The competition — The Inn at Little Washington Veranda Dining Room @ $300-$500 for 2

Shaw Bijou, one of D.C.’s most expensive restaurants, has closed after less than three months

Fail! Chef Kwame Onwuachi lost his debut restaurant after less than three months of business.

The Shaw Bijou closed today, and the owner says the blame for the restaurant’s two-and-a-half-month existence is shared among all the principals.

Kelly Gorsuch, the principal owner of Shaw Bijou, says he saw himself as a silent investor, providing the capital for first-timers chef Kwame Onwuachi and general manager Greg Vakiner to build and run the high-concept restaurant they had been planning for years. But in retrospect, Gorsuch says he should have pushed the duo more from the start.

He says that the restaurant’s pricey tasting-menu dinner wasn’t filling seats or covering costs. So on Sunday, Gorsuch called Onwuachi and Vakiner into a meeting and told them he was closing Shaw Bijou, effective immediately. Gorsuch and the other principal investor Glenn Paik could no longer afford to keep the place running.

Neither Onwuachi nor Vakiner could be reached for comment.

“[The restaurant] bled too much, at too much of a clip, to be able to salvage it,” says Gorsuch, the president of Gorsuch Holdings, a company that operates upscale salons and other luxury brands. “It just cost a lot of money. It was a very expensive business. I’ve never quite seen that in business at all. That was new for me. The numbers were staggering.”

The closing of Shaw Bijou, first reported by Washingtonian, brings an abrupt end to a restaurant that endured wild mood swings before it served a single meal. Even before appearing on “Top Chef,” where he finished sixth out of 17 contestants last year, Onwuachi was a hot commodity. He not only had a compelling back story, but he also had an impressive run with Dinner Lab, a series of pop-up dinners in which the chef consistently impressed diners. Onwuachi’s appearances on “Top Chef” only contributed to the buzz around the young cook, even though he had never run his own restaurant or managed a kitchen.

The hype took a turn in August when Onwuachi and his team announced the price tag of their 13-course tasting menu, which would take diners on a journey through a converted townhouse. It wasn’t long before Washingtonians realized that dinner for two at Shaw Bijou could top out at $1,000, immediately making it one of the most expensive restaurants in the city. Diners couldn’t understand how someone with such a thin resume could compete with the likes of José Andrés, Eric Ziebold and Aaron Silverman.

When Shaw Bijou opened on Nov. 1, the early reviews were mixed. In his First Bite review, The Post’s Tom Sietsema enjoyed several of his savory courses but found the desserts fell flat. More dispiriting, the critic realized that after dropping $500 per person on the meal, he was still hungry. Washingtonian gave the place two stars in a review that couldn’t make sense of the story that Onwuachi was trying to weave.

Two months into its existence, Shaw Bijou slashed its prices and its offerings: Onwuachi rolled out a seven-course, $95 tasting menu on Jan. 3. The chef also offered up a little humble pie. “Humility creeps up on you when least expected,” Onwuachi noted in a letter. “The opening of this restaurant has taught us just that.”

But Gorsuch says it was too little, too late.

“I think all business is difficult. You have to be able to move and change and adapt quickly, especially when you’re starting out,” Gorsuch says. “It wasn’t happening. It wasn’t where it needed to be.”

The owner says he had been trying for weeks to convince Onwuachi and Vakiner to change the concept, but he says he couldn’t convince them.

“I think the biggest problem here, from the get, was that we were not listening to the guests,” Gorsuch says. “We spent two years working on this thing . . . I don’t care what the industry is, you put your people first and you care about the guests and you care about the details. . . I mean, numbers can be tweaked. You can cut things, but you have to have those elements.”

Gorsuch says he had spent most of Sunday trying to find jobs for the servers, cooks and bartenders at Shaw Bijou. The owner wasn’t as concerned about the chef and general manager. The longtime friends, who first met while attending the Culinary Institute of America, will probably find a new home soon, Gorsuch says.

“They’ll be fine,” the owner says. Onwuachi “had tons of offers before us.”

Gorsuch says this experience has shaken him. He’s never closed a business before. “This is probably the roughest week I’ve ever had,” he says.

But more than that, Gorsuch is upset by the lost opportunity. He says he believed in the team behind Shaw Bijou. He thought they could have pulled off the concept with proper oversight.

“The game plan was always to be super innovative,” Gorsuch says. “For all the things we did wrong, the talent that was in that building was special.”

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in American Greed, Great American Rip-Off, Men

 

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Somali-American State Congresswoman Attacked in DC

Another Trumpazoid, another hate crime…

Another question…There actually is a white, American born cabdriver in DC? I haven’t seen one of those in 30 years! The joke around DC is you can always tell where there is a war in the world by where the cabdrivers come from.

History-Making Somali-American Legislator Reports ‘Hateful’ Taunts In D.C.

For the first Somali-American lawmaker in the U.S., it was meant to be a day to remember: a visit to the White House for policy meetings before she takes office in Minnesota. But as she left the seat of U.S. power, Ilhan Omar says, she was subjected to a hateful and threatening verbal attack in a cab.

“I pray for his humanity and for all those who harbor hate in their hearts,” Omar, a Muslim who wears a head scarf, wrote of the cab driver who she says assailed her. In a Facebook post, she says the encounter took place on Tuesday.

State Representative IIlhan Omar with other women leaders, Emily’s List Wendy Davis and R. Weingarten

Saying that she was “subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, Islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced,” Omar says the cab driver “called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab.”

Omar, 34, recounted the abusive encounter in the nation’s capital just one month after she made both history and headlines with her inspiring personal story of a former refugee who won a state House seat in southeast Minneapolis, years after her family fled Somalia’s civil war.

“This really was a victory for that 8-year-old in that refugee camp,” Omar said of her Election Day win. “This was a victory for the young woman being forced into child marriage. This was a victory for every person that’s been told they have limits on their dreams.”

This week, Omar has been in Washington, D.C., to attend the State Innovation Exchange conference along with hundreds of other state legislators. She also spoke at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Monday — Arab American Day. One day later, she was at the White House for a discussion about economic issues facing the middle class.

After the White House session, Omar said, she was verbally abused during the cab ride to her hotel, adding that she “wasn’t really sure how this encounter would end as I attempted to rush out of his cab and retrieve my belongs.”

Omar added, “I am still shaken by this incident and can’t wrap my head around” the increasing boldness of people “displaying their hate towards Muslims.”

Her Facebook post about the incident has drawn thousands of reactions and hundreds of comments from people who expressed their sympathy and solidarity with the mother of three who will be sworn into her new office in January.

One of the most popular responses to Omar’s post came from another Minnesotan who had recently visited the nation’s capital.

“I just got back from Washington too,” Christopher L. Wendt wrote. “I had a cab driver originally from Somalia. When I told him I am from Minnesota and that we have a ‘first’ Somali woman legislator, he got very excited. ‘Ilhan!’ he said – very proud. Keep it up. We’ve got your back.”

 

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Black White Wealth Gap in DC…Likely to Get Worse Under the Chumph

Black workers are more likely to be employed in the public sector than are either their white or Hispanic counterparts. In 2011, nearly 20 percent of employed Blacks worked for state, local, or federal government compared to 14.2 percent of Whites and 10.4 percent of Hispanics.

Blacks are 30 percent more likely than nonblacks to work in the public sector, according to the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. And roughly 21 percent of black workers are public employees, compared with 16.3 percent of nonblacks.

So when Putin’s bitch says he is going to “reduce government” who exactly gets hurt here?

George W. Bush (AKA the Bushit) “privatized” significant swaths of the Federal Government by outsourcing jobs to the private sector resulting in “whitening” Government.

More than a third (36.2%) of the Military are Minorities. Depending how you count (multiracial, other, etc) something between 17 and 20% of the US Military is black.

Partially as a result, the “wealth gap” between black and white is very bad in Washington, DC.

In D.C., White Families Are on Average 81 Times Richer Than Black Ones

Other major cities aren’t much better

The wealth discrepancy between blacks and whites is one of the most stark examples of inequality in America. White American families have, on average, around $142,000 in savings and assets, minus debt. Black families’, meanwhile, amounted to only $11,000, according to a 2014 Pew Research study. The gulf between black and white wealth is the worst it has been since the 1980s. Put differently, an average white family has 13 times the wealth of an average black family.

But as though the median numbers for the country as a whole weren’t bad enough, things look much worse in America’s cities, according to a new paperfrom the Urban institute—even cities such as D.C. where the prevalence of public-sector jobs, a large black population, and a high share of black business owners might make it seem like a place that black families could thrive. But in Washington D.C., the median white family has a staggering 81 times as much wealth as the median black family.

D.C. is not an outlier: In general, urban areas have much more severe racial inequalities, in part because of the concentration of white wealthy people, and the fact that their wealth has not “trickled down” to poor and middle-class black families. According to a 2015  National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Colors, D.C.’s racial wealth gap falls just behind Los Angeles’s, where median wealth for whites was closer to 89 times as much as blacks’. In Miami it was 30 times as high; in Tulsa, 18 times.

Darrick Hamilton, a professor at the New School and one of the authors of the Urban Institute’s study—along with fellow economists Kilolo Kijakazi, Rachel Marie Brooks Atkins, Mark Paul, Anne Price, and William A. Darity Jr.—says that while many ethnic groups might do poorly in one city and thrive in another, that’s not the case for black Americans. “No matter what the geographical context is, black Americans are a low-wealth group,” he told me. “I think the disparities are going to be dramatic wherever we look.”

Hamilton says that while the statistics about magnitude are useful for distilling the gap in balance sheets, they do little to capture what the wealth gap means for black families. In practice, less wealth means diminished access to the education and opportunities that help many Americans reach the middle class. Less wealth decreases opportunities for savings, homeownership, and economic security. And limited wealth accumulation also means that parents and grandparents have little to pass along to the next generation—from paying for school to helping with down payments—which dampens opportunities for intergenerational mobility.

D.C.’s wealth inequality stems from a combination of factors. According to the study, homeownership plays a significant role: Whites living in the District are much more likely than blacks to own homes—something that’s true around the country. In the District, whites with less than a high school education were more likely to own their homes than blacks at any education level, even those with college degrees. And for those who do own their own place, home values for black owners were around $250,000, about 30 percent less than the average value for white owners. Blacks in the District have a much higher unemployment rate, lower education rates, and are much more likely to have received a subprime mortgage.

The District’s racial wealth divide has old and deep origins in centuries of racist policies. The authors highlight a few in particular: the “black codes” of the 1840s, which prevented black people from owning successful stores or working in certain professions; the return of land in the District to the South in the 1870s, which decreased opportunities for ownership among newly freed blacks;  the demolition of Barry Farms—a black enclave founded by freed blacks—in the 1940s to make way for public housing and highway projects; the wave of “urban renewal” projects that swept out black businesses and residents in the 1960s and 70s. The effects of these policies have never been adequately dealt with. “Black people in D.C. have faced more than two centuries of deliberately constructed barriers to wealth building, and some of the highest barriers were embedded by design in law,” the study says….More

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in The New Jim Crow

 

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Pregnant Woman Shot and Killed By Police in Washington

Purportedly while sitting beside her two small children…

Native American single mom Renee Davis was five months pregnant when she was killed by deputies on Friday (Facebook.com)

Pregnant Washington woman shot and killed by deputies during ‘wellness check’ on tribal land

A Washington woman who was five months pregnant was shot and killed by King County Sheriff’s deputies Friday night on Muckleshoot tribal lands. Now her loved ones want to know why.

The dead woman’s former foster sister Danielle Bargala told the Seattle Times that Renee Davis, 23, had struggled with depression and mental illness before her fatal run-in with police on Friday.

“It’s really upsetting because it was a wellness check,” said Bargala, who is a Seattle University law student. “Obviously, she didn’t come out of it well.”

A relative of Davis called the sheriff’s department on Friday after receiving an alarming text from the mother of three. Police records show that officers responding to a call about a potential suicide encountered a woman with a handgun and two small children in the house when they arrived at 6:30 in the evening.

What happened next, Bargala said, is still in question, but at the end, Davis — who was an avid outdoorswoman of Native American heritage — lay dead of gunshot wounds. The children, 2 and 3 years old, were unharmed. Davis’ third child, a 5-year-old boy, was at a neighbor’s house.

Bargala said she didn’t know that Davis owned a handgun, but she did own a hunting rifle.

“She loved hunting,” she said.

Davis loved working outdoors. She participated in a fisheries training program and recently had been working as a teacher’s aide.

“She was such a soft person,” said Bargala. The two grew up in a family of seven children. Bargala’s parents had three children of their own and took in four foster children.

Seattle lawyer Ryan Dreveskracht told the Times that unfortunately, these scenarios are all too common when police interact with people struggling with mental illness.

Dreveskracht is currently representing the family of a mentally ill man who was killed by police. He said that while Seattle Police are being trained in de-escalation techniques, most police forces in the state are not.

 

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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DC Metro Subway Police – No Food on the Trains or We Will Bust You

No food on the trains was one of the original rules of the DC Metro System. Actually, I’m glad they are enforcing this again. The Washington Metro Train System used to be the cleanest subway system in the world. Unlike NYC or Chicago, the cars are not painted over with grafitti, and until the last two years or so, you could comfortably take a seat without messing up your suit because some ass left his happy meal on the seats.

Apparently the new management at Metro has decided to clean up the trains again, in light of their numerous other problems.

Young lady deserved to get arrested. Nobody want to ride the subway sitting in your shit.

Having worked underground in Metro’s tunnels installing equipment, I can tell you it is rather nice when you reach in an electronics cabinet not having a 3′ long rat hanging on your arm when you pull your arm out unlike in NYC.

Keep it clean!

The Black Lives that matter in this case are the other riders. About 60% of all subway rides on Metro are intra-city, serving the poorest sections of the city as well as some well to do areas. People in the Southeast section of the city, where some of the poorer areas are located, depend on that train to get to work every day, go to weddings, funerals, or to shop. There is no reason they should be forced to wade through some thoughtless cretins crap along the way.

DC transit cops hauled a teenager to juvie because she had snacks

They’re not charging her in the apparent case of “contempt of cop.”

Transit police in Washington, D.C., violently arrested a young black woman on Tuesday night because she was carrying snacks.

Videos posted Wednesday do not capture the beginning of the interaction between a trio of Metro Transit Police officers and the unnamed teenager.

But they show one of the cops kicking the woman’s feet out from under her and shoving her to the ground, while she is in handcuffs. And officers in the video confirm to angry bystanders that the arrest happened because the teenager wouldn’t relinquish a bag of chips and a lollipop when they confronted her in the Columbia Heights metro station.

After the takedown, the heavy-set officer who knocked the teenager down seems to realize the rough arrest has attracted a crowd. “Have a good day, folks,” he says. “If you wanna ride the system, put your card through and go attend the trains. If not, leave the station.”

In the first video, the teenager expresses distress at how tightly they cinched her handcuffs and shouts at a second officer who starts rifling through her backpack.

“You acting like it was a four-course meal,” she says. A moment later, one of the bystanders begins to address the officers directly, telling them their actions are ridiculous. The officer who earlier knocked the handcuffed girl to the ground and a second officer in a bike helmet argue with the woman criticizing them briefly.

“Little girls break the law, little girls get arrested like anybody else. And she goes to juvenile detention and her mom comes and picks her up, that’s how it works,” the bike cop says.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Police Murder of Terrance Sterling in DC

This one in DC three weeks ago. The officer fired from inside a patrol car into moving traffic in a direct violation of DC Police rules, There was no threat to the officers, Sterling was unarmed.

 

Black Lives Matter DC raises questions about DC Police Union chairman

It has been three weeks since a D.C. police officer shot and killed Terrence Sterling. Despite the release of the police body camera footage and the officer’s name, there are still questions about what is going on behind the scenes of the investigation, especially since his death was ruled a homicide. Now, the Black Lives Matter movement is questioning the D.C. Police Union’s chairman and the impact his past will have on future proceedings.

Representatives for Black Lives Matter DC said a closed door meeting was held on Tuesday after the D.C. Police Union reached out to them. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half, but the group said they came out of the meeting with even more questions.

“I wanted him to know that this was bigger than just this case,” said April Goggans of Black Lives Matter DC. “That this case was indicative of all things that we’ve been saying – the way that it’s being handled.”

Black Lives Matter DC continues to question transparency in the Sterling case. Following the closed door meeting, the group’s words towards D.C. Police Union chairman Matthew Mahl are personal.

Black Lives Matter DC said in a news release that “Sergeant Mahl is no stranger to criminal behavior on the job,” citing a use of force incident back in 2015.

Documents, including the use of force report, obtained by FOX 5 confirmed, “Sergeant Mahl struck a handcuffed prisoner in the face after he was kicked in the groin by the prisoner.” Two separate review boards found Mahl’s use of force was unjustified and recommended a suspension that could have meant his termination from the force.

But sources confirmed to FOX 5 his suspension was quietly overturned by D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier just days after Mahl became police union chairman. Sources said it was an unprecedented move.

“To dismiss his case of police brutality the same week that he becomes president, I think that merged the solidarity between the [police] department and the [police] union,” said Goggans. “I think his idea of doing that is to build power.”

According to sources, disciplinary action against Mahl includes a police-involved shooting in 2007 and two unpaid suspensions in 2013 and 2015.

 

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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The New Chumph Disaster in DC

Trump is opening one of his dumps in DC. He somehow managed to win the bid to lease one of the most iconic and beautiful buildings in the city, the Old Post Office Building.

The problem here is there is no shortage of high-end Hotel space in the city. Places like the Hay Adams have been serving the city for over 100 years. The Willard, one of the historic hotels. Then there is The Jefferson. A small cut below, but wonderful are the Kimpton Donovan, Avery, Four Seasons, Mandarin, W, and St Regis… and two Ritz -Carletons…and the Rosewood

And then there are the Micro Hotels that folks seeking privacy and personal care love.

So the ugly elephant in the room (or lobby in this case) is WTF does anyone with that type of travel budget want to stay in a ticky-tacky wannabe?

I give it three years.Image result for old post office building DC

Donald Trump’s New D.C. Hotel Is Fancy, Expensive, and Probably Doomed

The GOP nominee is preparing to open Washington’s most expensive luxury hotel, but it might be doomed before the paint is even dry.

Donald Trump touts his supposed business acumen and his (self-proclaimed) reputation as a great “builder” as two of his greatest presidential qualifications. But in the heart of northwest Washington, D.C.—just a few blocks away from the White House he wishes to inhabit come January—it appears as though Trump has built himself one brand-new, luxuriously marbled flop.

On Monday afternoon, the real-estate mogul and Republican presidential nominee’s latest hotel finally enjoyed its soft opening (a quiet launch for invited guests that eschews all the pressures of an official grand opening) at the Old Post Office Pavilion.

The only celebrity spotted at the opening was, of all people, Oscar-nominated actor Randy Quaid (Independence Day, National Lampoon’s Vacationmovies, Brokeback Mountain), who has gone off the deep end and alleged that a Hollywood assassination squad was after him and his wife.

Asked why he was in D.C., Quaid simply pointed to Trump’s hotel and said “for this,” before jumping into a car and racing off.

The grand-opening ceremony for Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C., will reportedly take place next month, weeks before election night.

In 2011, the Trump Organization beat out the competition to secure a 60-year lease from the federal government to renovate the iconic Old Post Office building. Trump broke ground on the project before officially jumping into the 2016 presidential fray last year, and he has repeatedly vowed to make his newest hotel property one of the very best in the world. Earlier this year, he used his presidential campaign to help promote and brag about the new Trump hotel.

Between now and the planned October grand opening, Trump’s D.C. venture has a way to go…

Every item of decor, from the turquoise and faux-gold armchairs to the candy dishes made out of fake dimes and nickels, was handpicked by Ivanka Trump with the help of design firm HBA. The overall aesthetic is somewhere between real, inoffensive luxury and a Red Roof Inn patron’s conception of what a stylish, upper-echelon hotel must be…

The hotel opens now with only one two-floor restaurant located in the lobby—BLT Prime, a chain steakhouse.

The bad news for Trump Hotels doesn’t stop there. Some industry estimates have reservations at Trump hotels down almost 60 percent since September of last year—and the word on the street is that Trump’s legal tiff with the two celebrity chefs has tanked his family and brand name in the eyes of the restaurant community.

“He’s clearly a racist and makes racist comments, and we have an industry that has always reached out to an immigrant population and built on the work of an immigrant population,” Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio, the owner of Craft who was reportedly approached by the Trump Organization after Andrés and Zakarian bailed, told Mother Jones magazine. (Colicchio is also a friend of Andrés.)

“I think that the remarks [Trump] makes would make it very difficult for anyone to stand up in front of their staff and want to be part of what he’s doing,” he continued.

But if none of this bothers you, and you’ve found yourself in Washington, D.C., and need a place to crash, just make sure the Trump International Hotel is in your price range.

For weeknights this fall, the hotel’s least expensive rooms will run you a minimum of $735 per night. For comparison, other luxury hotels that will compete with Trump for business ring in at $400 a night at The Jefferson for October (around the time of the opening of the Trump hotel), and roughly $300 at The Willard. Both are boutique and historic hotels in the District.

The room rates at Trump’s new establishment aren’t by simple design, but by necessity.

In a filing with the General Services Administration, lawyers for one of Trump’s competitors argued that for Trump’s hotel to stay afloat, it would have to charge some of the most exorbitant rates in the nation’s capital.

“A properly conducted price reasonableness analysis would have resulted in the conclusion that the minimum base lease proposed by Trump would require Trump to obtain hotel room revenues which are simply not obtainable in this location based on the concepts for the redevelopment,” the lawyers for the competing development team wrote.

Welcome to Trump’s D.C. hotel—perhaps a microcosm of the bigger, badder,and broke America that a President Trump could have in store.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in The Clown Bus

 

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