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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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Hi Roger, please excuse my question but I checked your profile and there is little information. Are you an ACBL member? Do you play tournament bridge? I see that you are “unranked”, whatever that means. Sometimes it helps to know where someone is coming from and a little bit about their background.

Your suggestion to publicly post hands and NAMES of players and their table actions that YOU deem to be unethical/questionable is appalling to me. Are you really serious?
Aug. 23, 2015
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I applaud Boye for speaking out and hope that further information will be provided. More important is for the ACBL, EBL, and WBF to take the actions required to clean up the game.

This issue has been discussed before: See the two links below.

May 11, 2015 New In Bridge Interview: http://newinbridge.com/news/2015/may/fisher-schwartz-not-bermuda-bowl

May 11, 2015 Bridge Winners Thread:
http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/fisher-schwartz-not-in-bermuda-bowl/

Aug. 23, 2015
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No problem, Jonathan F. Apology accepted. Hey, I'm always partial to anyone named Jonathan ;)
Aug. 22, 2015
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And I all of you! But be careful, Jonathan, there are an awful lot of cat lovers out there.
Aug. 22, 2015
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Bridge Winners is what is wrong with this picture. One's personal troubles should not be ridiculously discussed by random people with no personal involvement, little or no facts, little knowledge of due process, and on a site where “Community Guidelines” are a joke.

ACBL C&E cases should not be fodder for social media. Never have so many said so little… over and over again…

Excuse me, I am now putting on my body armour
Aug. 22, 2015
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In the real world, if someone is charged with a crime, it may well be reported in a newspaper – certainly if it is a high profile individual. A reputable newspaper will ensure that it not only reports the charges but will follow up with the actual court case, and decision. If there is an appeal, that too, will be reported.

The ACBL is not the real world. No one's life or liberty is ever at stake. We are a membership organization. The ACBL keeps all charges confidential (as it should). Once a player is convicted, the results are made known – e-mails are sent to every unit and District secretary announcing the news. Bridge Clubs are notified. As per ACBL regulations, it may also appear in the Daily Bulletin and/or ACBL Bulletin (as it should).

Imagine a hypothetical situation. A well known pair of suspected cheaters are finally charged and convicted by an ACBL Disciplinary Committee, for example, the EOC. They are suspended and are asked to leave in the middle of the tournament. People will surely notice. The rumours and gossip will grow exponentially with each passing day that there is no official announcement. The outrage on BW will rival the current “Whole Story”. The lynch mob will prevail.

In my opinion, there should be an immediate announcement after a finding of guilt. Yes, there may be an automatic review and/or appeals from either side. The discipline may change. The process may well take several months to play out. It would hardly be transparency to hide the committee findings (they are sent to every unit/District and bridge club). There is no reason not to publish the player name, number, CDR conviction, and discipline. I totally disagree with all the people who want to keep the lid on until the appeal process is finished.

As in the real world, after any review or appeal, if there is a change in discipline, it should be duly reported and published.

Finally I would be horrified if the details of any ACBL C&E case were to be released to the general public or heaven forbid to the 30,000 random, unmoderated members of Bridge Winners. Whether it is Joe Blow or World Champion, confidential documents, committee arguments, etc should not be in the public domain. The exception would be the most serious cases leading to a lengthy suspension or expulsion where the bridge hands used to convict may be released as appropriate and with careful consideration.
Aug. 22, 2015
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Aug. 24, 2015
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In the real world, if someone is charged with a crime, it may well be reported in a newspaper – certainly if it is a high profile individual. A reputable newspaper will ensure that it not only reports the charges but will follow up with the actual court case, and decision. If there is an appeal, that too, will be reported.

The ACBL is not the real world. No one's life or liberty is ever at stake. We are a membership organization. The ACBL keeps all charges confidential (as it should). Once a player is convicted, the results are made known – e-mails are sent to every unit and District secretary announcing the news. Bridge Clubs are notified. As per ACBL regulations, it may also appear in the Daily Bulletin and/or ACBL Bulletin (as it should).

Imagine a hypothetical situation. A well known pair of suspected cheaters are finally charged and convicted by an ACBL Disciplinary Committee, for example, the EOC. They are suspended and are asked to leave in the middle of the tournament. People will surely notice. The rumours and gossip will grow exponentially with each passing day that there is no official announcement. The outrage on BW will rival the current “Whole Story”. The lynch mob will prevail.

In my opinion, there should be an immediate announcement after a finding of guilt. Yes, there may be an automatic review and/or appeals from either side. The discipline may change. The process may well take several months to play out. It would hardly be transparency to hide the committee findings (they are sent to every unit/District and bridge club). There is no reason not to publish the player name, number, CDR conviction, and discipline. I totally disagree with all the people who want to keep the lid on until the appeal process is finished.

As in the real world, after any review or appeal, if there is a change in discipline, it should be duly reported and published.

Finally I would be horrified if the details of any ACBL C&E case were to be released to the general public or heaven forbid to the 30,000 random, unmoderated members of Bridge Winners. Whether it is Joe Blow or World Champion, confidential documents, committee arguments, etc should not be in the public domain. The exception would be the most serious cases leading to a lengthy suspension or expulsion where the bridge hands used to convict may be released as appropriate and with careful consideration.
Aug. 22, 2015
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Ironically, in the same 1999 Vancouver Daily Bulletin on page 5 there is an article “Appeals process for non-NABC+ events” which was the start of a new and better system for hearing appeals. It has been in place since 1999. I believe it is time to expand the system to include ALL events at NABCs.

Please refer to my thread on this topic at: http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/cayneschwartz-appeal-that-ultimately-decided-the-spingold-winners-what-went-wrong-will-it-happen-again/

Look at this controversial appeal from 2013 http://www.acbl.org/nabc/2013/01/bulletins/db9.pdf Appeal Case #6, page 14.

And the most recent travesty on page 17 of the Sunday ACBL
Daily Bulletin: Appeals Case #6 at: http://www.acbl.org/nabc/2015/02/bulletins/db10.pdf
Aug. 21, 2015
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Will this thread reach 1000 hits and crash everyone's servers?

There is a HUGE disconnect between Mike's “The Whole Story”, the finding of guilt by the Ethical Oversight Committee, and the discipline imposed. None of it adds up.

For most of my 15 years on the ACBL Board (1994-2008), I served on the Appeals & Charges Committee. League Counsel told us that as a membership organization the courts have always given us broad leeway in imposing discipline. The ACBL has never lost a court case (insurance companies have settled out-of-court). What is important was to act in good faith and try to be consistent. One cannot give someone a censure and someone else expulsion for the same offense.

From my experience, the EOC decisions are usually unanimous, not 3-2. A consensus must be reached – there is too much at stake. Further, the EOC is reserved for serious cases, patterns of misbehaviour, gross ethical violations and the like. It is inconceivable to me that the EOC would be called in for a single board where one card was misplaced and two imps were lost!

Penalties are based on circumstances and past history. A “Censure” is a minor slap on the wrist - well, yes, you were technically guilty but there extenuating circumstances, the offense was minor, etc. To remove 25% of ones masterpoints and be given 13 month probation is a serious discipline (even if not suspension).

I have reviewed and seen 3 month, 6 month, 12 month (1 year), 2 and 3 year probation sanctions – the longer ones often after a suspension ends. I have NEVER seen a 13 month probation. Why 13 months and not the more normal 12 months or 1 year?

NOTHING about this case makes sense. This thread can go on endlessly but as one person just messaged me: “Once upon a time there were two sides to every story. When did it get to be only one?”

Without hearing from the other side, everything here is just aimless speculation, repetitive, and shedding no light on the matter.
Aug. 20, 2015
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What we know: As per ACBL regulations, the Daily Bulletin reported the discipline from an EOC Committee. As per ACBL regulations there will be an automatic appeal in Denver heard by the ACBL Appeals & Charges Committee. They will report their decision and actions to the ACBL Board of Directors for approval. It will then be published in the Bridge Bulletin.

We all know Mike is a great guy and has been a leader in bridge for decades. But that is irrelevant to this or any specific case (as to finding of guilt or innocence – it is relevant to the discipline imposed). We have heard some details from Mike but nothing from the other side. What we primarily have are gossip and rumours, a trademark of BW when it veers off real bridge topics.

It appears that neither the ACBL nor Mike intend to do any more public talking. Neither should we.

My comments are primarily directed to the Bridge Winners administration: Why do you allow this thread to continue? It serves no purpose except to hear people say the same things over and over – almost without exception from people with no direct relationship to the actual case. It's fine to hear people ramble on and repeat themselves endlessly (if that's your idea of fun and have time to spare) but NOT in a disciplinary case involving real people. This forum is grossly inappropriate. It may even prove to be harmful to Mike! This a serious issue to be heard before the appropriate bodies, not in an unmoderated forum before 30,000 random Bridge Winners members.

Please shut down this thread and send it to the archives. Delete would be preferable but nothing is ever deleted in the world of social media. A pity.
Aug. 19, 2015
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Open season on ACBL TD's? They are an easy target but your anger is misplaced.

The argument that only an expert player can understand the mind of another expert player is well, hubris, at its worst. And even if you believe that (I don't), it is still preferable to have TDs make the final ruling and not have players rule on other players.

My sister, Ivy, (Silver LM) often plays on the Canadian Women's Senior Golf team. She told me all golfers recognize that some officials are better than others and that sometimes a ruling is incorrect (or they don't agree with it) but they live with it. She would be aghast if other golfers & competitors had to rule on each other.

It is a question of impartiality. Only the bridge world has the entrenched belief that only experts can rule on experts. Hogwash! Just look at the potential for bias, the amount of money involved at the highest levels - it is just wrong to have players, many of them professional players, ruling on other players and clients. Just the appearance of potential bias makes it a flawed system.

Further, Appeals Committees are often comprised of flight “A” players who are far from World Class experts. But they are willing to serve. Thus, a committee is formed.

The WBF & EBL have abolished player based appeals committees. The ACBL started the process when TDs took over appeals at NABCs (below the NABC+ level) in 1999. The intent was always to have them take over the NABC+ events as well (after a suitable trial period and appropriate training). That was 15 years ago! Attempts have been made to finish the job but politics and strong lobbying from the other side have resulted in split votes among the ACBL Board of Directors (11-14 or 12-13).

Roy Welland commented that he did not like the actions of a TD in Chicago. I happened to be one row over and one table down from Roy when the altercation occurred. I directly faced him. My entire table heard the noise and I saw Roy yell at the TD, get up and storm out of the room (I assume he returned to play the last round). The TD did write up a report on Roy accusing him of improper conduct. No idea where it went or if anything happened.

Roy does very well in Committees – look at this appeal from 2013 http://www.acbl.org/nabc/2013/01/bulletins/db9.pdf Appeal Case #6, page 14. At the time it created quite a controversy. Ironically two of the committee members from that infamous appeal served on the infamous 2015 Cayne/Schwartz appeal. I will never castigate an honest committee member doing his best even if I think the ruling was awful. It is the SYSTEM that sucks. It creates these controversies and travesties.

One expert player wrote to me (and I'm sure you can understand why people wish to remain anonymous and refrain from posting on BW - who can blame them): “The structure is ridiculous, the rulings by the AC have been consistently ridiculous, the conflict of interest is palpably ridiculous, yet there is no sign the AC will either get better personnel or be abolished and professional referees allowed to rule the game.”

From a different expert player: “1. It is very easy to see that the potential for bias and/or conflict of interest exists in the current Player-based Appeal Committee system. This should be unacceptable. Utilizing skilled/trained directors would eliminate that. As an organization, the ACBL should act to address this.

2.The ACBL has many knowledgeable tournament directors who are very skilled and experienced in dealing with the types of issues that are presented to appeals committees. They have proven this for 15 years, handling appeals at Regional events at NABCs. The time has come to take advantage of these skills. It would also make sense for the ACBL to consult with other bridge organizations where TDs have taken over the appeals process, to benefit from any lessons learned along the way.

3.Utilizing the same group of people (I.E.: tournament directors) to handle all appeals (at NABC+ events) would by definition produce a more consistent outcome than relying on an ever-changing combination of volunteers. Certainly, consistent outcomes must be a desirable goal.

4.Timely decisions are desirable. It is unreasonable to increase the workload such that volunteers would have to consider appeals that may ultimately not affect the outcome of an event (likely sacrificing their dinner hour in addition to the wee hours); yet the players have a need to know where they stand as an event proceeds. TD staff will be in a better position to provide timely decisions.

Whether in the case of bridge, or football, or other competitive endeavor, it is common for us all to act as Monday morning quarterbacks from time to time. One need do no more than present the same problem to two experts to obtain two incompatible points of view. Making the switch to Director-based Appeal Committees is not a panacea – it will not mean that everyone will agree with all rulings, and it will not mean that those who lose an appeal will not feel the wrong decision was made. These reactions are somewhat inevitable. Only select/accredited directors should be eligible to render opinions in appeal situations. And without question, it would be critical for the ACBL TD Appeals Group to look for ways to constantly improve its skills and performance. I am confident we would look back after a time and find that the serious flaws listed above with the current system had been meaningfully addressed - that the TD Appeals decisions were on the mark, consistent, delivered in a timely manner, and free of the perception of bias or conflict.”

In 2007 when I served on the ACBL Board I made the following arguments:

“Bias and conflict of interest remain real problems with the current system. No such issues can ever be raised if we allow ACBL officials to rule the game, as do officials in all other sports. (Note: The appearance of bias is a myth: we have bias, it exists in many cases; we have conflict of interest in almost all cases.) A review of the NABC Appeals casebooks reveals a wide divergence of opinion among the expert commentators. Any single case may depend upon who the committee members happen to be
on any given night.

Tournament Director Panels offer far more consistent rulings than a random collection of ‘good’ players who may be selected to serve on a player committee. In Dallas, there were just seven appeals at the Regional level, a clear example that the panel system is working. The new NABC+ model for appeals of a table ruling would be virtually identical to the current regional appeal process.

NABC+ appeals will be resolved much more quickly. Unauthorized information (UI) and misinformation (MI) cases will almost never entail players endlessly repeating
the exact same arguments over and over again. TDs can get the issues from the table director, question players, conduct player polls, and make a decision, in some cases
by the end of the same session.

The ACBL has a trained and dedicated group of Tournament Directors who are capable of handling all bridge appeals. More than 30 TDs have been cycled through the
regional panel process for hearing appeals. ACBL TDs, our employees, have prepared for this responsibility. ACBL management strongly favors this motion.”

The Cayne/Schwartz ruling was a travesty and exemplifies the worst of the ACBL player based committee system. There have been multiple others. For the good of the game, it is time to move forward and change the system.


Aug. 19, 2015
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Thanks Chris for one of the best posts I have ever read on BW. I am 1000% in agreement with your comments. We all have to do our part to clean up the game and put pressure on the ACBL Board and management to take action. They have the circumstantial evidence - lots of it, but they have yet to do what needs to be done.

Instead they go after an outstanding model for our game - Mike Passell. What a disgrace!
Aug. 18, 2015
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Thanks for posting Kit. I will defer to others as to your double and the TD ruling on the hand you brought to our attention. Remember: you are still allowed to appeal, whether it is heard by players or specially trained TD panels. The table Director ruling is always subject to appeal.

No system is perfect. We have ample evidence of horrendous committee decisions. Not to mention numerous other problems.

So the question becomes – considering all the variables, which system is best for the game. TD panels have been hearing all appeals in NABCs for non-NABC+ events since 1999 (16 years). The system is working. There have been few if any complaints.

An ACBL Board member has told me he will be sponsoring a motion for the Denver meetings that would have TD panels assume responsibility for all Appeals at NABCs (presumably effective Spring, 2016 in Reno).

Maybe we should try it and see if it works.
Aug. 17, 2015
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Thanks, Stephen for reporting some facts (sometimes a rarity on BW). What was reported in the ACBL Bulletin is exactly what the Board of Directors/ ACBL regulations allow. Unless Mike wishes to go on record, we can argue endlessly but we will shed no light on the matter.

Should the ACBL release more information when the case involves such a high profile player and when the conviction and punishment do not appear to match the CDR guidelines? I think they should but I would not hold my breath waiting. Contact your ACBL Board member if you want to lobby for changes, more openness and more transparency.

RE: Unethical players and allegations of cheating. In my now almost 40 years of playing bridge, I doubt if I have ever heard so much talk regarding unethical players. In my circles, the whispers are quite loud. But of course, neither BW nor any other forum can mention names.

What everyone can and should do is fill our the ACBL Recorder forms EVERY time a questionable incident arises. In my case, for the last few years I have privately given names of “suspected” players to the appropriate ACBL officials. Sadly, I am still waiting for something to happen.

It would help if we were all vigilant, filled our Recorder forms, and avoided playing with players we have ethical concerns about. But in the professional bridge world of 2015, the sums of money involved can be very persuasive.
Aug. 17, 2015
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Two points about TD Panel Appeals Committees.

1) They are used at NABCs for all events below the NABC level. They are not used at sectionals and regionals because a) you don't have the trained pool of TDs available and b) appeals have become almost non existent at the sectionals & Regionals where I play. I believe the Mid-Atlantic (they have some of the best Regionals in ACBL land) have recently eliminated player based Appeals Committees.

2) Several people have asked why the Appeals are not heard before the end of the match when the Appeals Committee is very aware that their decision will decide the outcome. Volunteers need to have time off and a dinner break. But if the ACBL used TD Panel Committees – even if it involved paying an extra TD – the appeals could and would be heard in a timely fashion which would be much preferable to the current 1 AM hearings.
Aug. 16, 2015
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Regrettably, the write-up will not appear in tomorrow's Daily Bulletin. At some point, it will be online and in the ACBL monthly magazine.

My facts are reasonably accurate. Many believe Graves/Schwartz were not in a Forcing Pass situation. But one is still allowed to play bridge. The TD polled ten players and 9 of them bid 5H. Thus the TD allowed the 5H call to stand.

Lotan was the last to speak in the Committee room. He claimed that he was in a force and had to bid 5S (REALLY?)! But if Graves/Schwartz were in a force, it should have been alerted and now his force was off so he would pass.

Apparently the 1 AM Committee bought his argument. What a disgrace for the ACBL.

The system must change and the ACBL must have the balls to start policing the game and taking the necessary steps required to level the playing field.

Will they? Past performance does not lead me to be optimistic.
Aug. 15, 2015
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A friend of mine e-mailed me regarding Bob H. gratuitous slur against me – sorry, Bob, I'm not in Manitoba on a 6 person team winning a KO. I'm actually at the CBF Regional in Kingston where my four person team - Richard Chan, David Sabourin, Shan Huang and I won a two session Bracketed Swiss today. Hey, I'm closing in on 1000 points this year :) But listen, Bob, for a nominal fee I'll give you an autographed photo of today's winning team. Ask nicely and I'll make two copies to give you in Chicago ;)!

As for the discussion, I haven't followed it as I tend to avoid BW unless something is brought to my attention. That said, I did read Steve's post (not the 360+ comments) and I agree with him 1000% on both BOD motions and his very relevant comments re: cheating.

I retired from the ACBL BOD at the end of 2008. Anti-WBF motions have been around for a long time. They are shortsighted. Ignoring the world at large does no good for either the ACBL or the US.

The motion to disallow a client to play the first match, sit out the second “money match”, come back and lose the third semi-final match but get the points for 3/4th was excellent. As is the strength of field concept. But the current motion, in my view, is both short sighted and punitive. What exactly would the benefits be for the ACBL? I don't see any.

There are serious issues that the BOD should be concerned about. Cheating ranks at the top of the list. I have been around a long time – the whispers (some quite loud) regarding unethical players is as bad in 2015 as it has ever been. When players are being paid $15,000, $20,000, $25,000, $30,000 to play in an NABC (perhaps double that if you win a major Championship), the incentives to do anything to win are quite powerful. As a membership organization, the ACBL has quite a bit of latitude in how they discipline members. IMHO, the current situation where “everyone” is talking about players who cheat is disgraceful – the ACBL MUST do a better job of cleaning up the game and removing unethical players – permanently.

End of my rant. Sorry if I've repeated what others have said. Time to return to winning more masterpoints. Good night all and see you in Chicago :)
July 29, 2015
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Chris, this thread has been posted by Danny Miles, not me – perhaps people should be questioning him?

I have no desire to debate ad nauseam the same question over and over. Last year the BoG almost unanimously approved the motion. In New Orleans, since the ACBL Board of Directors did not even vote on the first motion, they passed the same motion a second time - again overwhelmingly. I believe there were 5 negative votes.

No one is going to change their views no matter how many times people repeat themselves. Not the online players, not the F2F tournament players, not the outspoken folks who live on Bridge Winners. Give it a rest!

I will attempt to answer the two questions you specifically addressed to me. I will then stop following this discussion. 1) “Are NAP and GNT tournament awards counted as “online” points when they are held on the BBO server?” Answer: I have no idea nor do I really care – what I do know is that the BoG motion has nothing to do with your question. Today the ACBL has a yearly Top 500 masterpoint race restricted to F2F players. The ACBL has a yearly online master race restricted to online players. We have NAP and GNT games held on BBO. Masterpoints are won. The ACBL must place them in one category or another. Do they count towards the Top 500 or the Top Online? Perhaps Danny Miles has the answer. I don't. Or you might contact the ACBL or your District Director. Whatever the ACBL is doing with those masterpoints today and last year will not change regardless of whether the BoG motion is passed or defeated. Your question is not relevant to the motion.

2) “Do online points still fully count toward seeding for events that I care about like the Spingold, etc?” Answer: As has been clearly stated, the BoG motion does nothing more or less than create two separate lifetime masterpoint lists - one for F2F and one for Online. There are no other changes. Repeat: Nothing changes. Repeat again: Nothing changes. All masterpoints, online and F2F are combined for the purposes of seeding bracketed KOs, Spingold, Vanderbilt. All masterpoints are combined for the purposes of reaching ACBL rank changes, LM, Silver LM, Diamond LM, etc. Nothing changes except for the separation of lifetime F2F and Online masterpoint lists. No one loses or gains any masterpoints. No one's seeding points changes. No one's ACBL rank changes.

Finally, I do have one request for everyone. This is not my post – please do not personally ask me any more questions. By all means, post whatever you wish on this open forum. Share your views. But if you have specific questions, please refer them to your ACBL Board member. If you want your opinion to count, it is the ACBL Board, not me, not Danny Miles, not even Bridge Winners, who will be voting on the question – the members of the ACBL Board of Directors are the only people who have a vote. Talk to them.

But if you just want to sound off, by all means, Bridge Winners is open 24/7.

Shameless plug: Check out my New Orleans photo albums at:
http://imageevent.com/jon911/2015neworleansnabc
and http://imageevent.com/jon911/neworleanspartytown

Photos are fun. So is bridge.

Happy Passover & Easter to everyone. Cheers :)!
March 27, 2015
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I invite you to read District 7 Board member Bob Heller's interesting perspective, “A Robot Walked Into a Bar…” which was published in the Jan/Feb District 7 News publication. It is on page 24 at: http://www.district7bridge.org/BridgeNews/2015_01/2015jand7bridgenews.pdf
March 27, 2015
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I'm at the Hampton Inn on Carondelet Street (Bourbon on the other side of Canal), about a 5 minute walk. Hilton provides free WiFi/Internet access which has been excellent all week. Works perfectly in my room with my tablet and my roommates's laptop.
March 22, 2015
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