August 12, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

John Myers: Local governments spend big to influence Sacramento — Annual scorecards and power rankings rarely take notice of the lobbyists for local governments in California’s statehouse, focusing instead on the brawn of business or labor’s legion of foot soldiers. But when push comes to shove, the biggest player in the effort to influence state government is, in fact, local government — a flexing of political muscle fueled by tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. Myers in KQED

For first time in 15 years, California likely to avoid short-term borrowing from Wall Street — California can handle all of its cash flow needs in-house, State Controller Betty Yee said Monday, the first time since before the dot-com bust that that the state will make it through a fiscal year without turning to Wall Street for short-term loans to smooth the ebb-and-flow of tax revenue. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown signs bill banning grand juries in police use-of-force cases — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation prohibiting the use of grand juries in California in cases where police officers use lethal force, a response to distrust of the grand jury process following the deaths of unarmed black men in other states. Sacramento Bee articleSan Jose Mercury News article; San Francisco Chronicle article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

California pension reform backers slam Kamala Harris’ summary — Proponents of a California ballot initiative requiring pension changes to go through a public vote on Tuesday rejected Attorney General Kamala Harris’ official description of the measure as an attempt “to try to mislead the public.” Sacramento Bee article; Calpensions article

Lt. Gov. Newsom: California will legalize cannabis in 2016 — Californians will legalize, tax and regulate cannabis for adult use in the 2016 general election, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom told Real Time with Bill Maher Friday. The statement amounts one of to the most strident predictions — from one of the world’s highest ranking politicians — about the success of such an initiative. San Francisco Chronicle article



Sacramento Bee: California leads on immigration, too — California long has pioneered the future, from climate change to pay equity. Now, in the absence of national reform, Gov. Jerry Brown is offering a way forward on yet another evolving issue: immigration. Sacramento Bee editorial

Other areas

What’s missing from California’s transportation special session – Fixing the state’s roads will take more than money, in other words. It will also take better governance. This is the message of a letter released today by the co-leads of the California Economic Summit’s Infrastructure action team, which details two opportunities in the special session to improve how transportation funds are managed by creating more robust regional financing authorities and by expanding the scope of the state’s new Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs) to invest in state roads and highways, railroads, and ports.California Economic Summit website

Joel Fox: Contrasting road plans lead to frustrated drivers – Drivers must be scratching their heads over conflicting approaches to transportation goals in the state and cities. Yesterday, a coalition of business and labor organizations supported a plan to raise funds for road repair to the tune of $6 billion a year to be shared by the state and local governments. At the same time in Los Angeles, Mobility Plan 2035 is moving forward designed to take away roads for bike lanes and bus-only lanes to force people out of their automobiles. The puzzle—how to get more money from drivers when you want them out of their cars? Fox in Fox & Hounds

Dan Walters: Tom Steyer is flunking logic test — Tom Steyer is obviously an intelligent and rational man, given his demonstrated ability to amass great wealth through capitalistic investments. But since it’s difficult to rationally grasp his periodic rants about California’s gasoline prices, they only make sense in a purely political – i.e., illogical – context. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Retired labor union official lands consultant post in state Assembly — Willie L. Pelote Sr., a top labor union lobbyist, has quietly landed a plum consultant job in the state Assembly, not long after he announced his retirement from a powerful public employee union. LA Times article

Michael Hiltzik: What non-Californians don’t know about Carly Fiorina – but should — Here in the Golden State, we know Carly Fiorina very well. We know her as the under-performing CEO of one of Silicon Valley’s marquee corporations, and even better for her losing campaign against Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010. So as a public service, let’s share with the rest of the country what we’ve learned about Carly Fiorina. Hiltzik column in LA Times


News Briefs

Top Stories

Tulare County tops $8 billion in crop value, remains nation’s No. 1 for agriculture — Tulare County’s overall crop values reached record levels for the fourth straight year, topping $8 billion in 2014, county agriculture officials announced Tuesday. The increase was a 10% boost over 2013 and likely solidified Tulare County’s position as the nation’s No. 1 agricultural county, a title once held by neighboring Fresno County. Tulare County has now held the title for two years. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article; The Business Journal article

Madera County tops small-market ranking for manufacturing job growth – A surge in manufacturing activity in the past couple of years has propelled Madera County to the unlikely top spot in a national ranking for manufacturing job growth among not only small metropolitan areas, but all metro markets in the country. Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy 

California’s ‘labor underutilization’ rate still high — Although California’s official unemployment rate climbed out of the cellar during the year that ended June 30, it still had the nation’s second highest rate of total “labor underutilization,” according to a new federal government report. Capitol Alert

Rising home prices prove less affordable – Rising housing demand and prices put existing home affordability on the skids this past spring quarter, both in San Joaquin County and California overall, the California Association of Realtors reported Tuesday. Stockton Record article

Gas prices tumbling in Fresno, across the state — Gas prices are falling in Fresno and across the state, and are expected to continue to drop over the next few weeks, according to AAA of Northern California. Fresno Bee article

John Lindt: Gas prices down, solar up – Lindt provides updates on new home permits in Visalia, gas prices in Tulare County and Valley solar projects.  Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta

Tejon Ranch Co.’s earnings drop amid decline in farming and mining revenues – Tejon Ranch Co. this week posted a 54 percent, $468,000 drop in quarterly earnings it attributed to a decline in farming and mining revenues partially offset by an increase in commercial and industrial income. Bakersfield Californian article

CEO steps down at Canadian company’s Mojave gold and silver mine — The owner of a Mojave-area gold and silver mine, British Columbia-based Golden Queen Mining Co. Ltd., announced the resignation Monday of its chief executive, engineer H. Lutz Klingmann. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno County supervisors delay Elkhorn boot camp sale – The Fresno County Board of Supervisors may be one step closer to selling its former Elkhorn boot camp site. Or maybe not. A board discussion on Tuesday was the third time in about a year that supervisors considered selling the Elkhorn land. And, a fourth time is coming soon. Fresno Bee article

New Hanford tattoo shop aims for clean image — Tattoo shops have a poor track record in Hanford, but Carlos De Soto Jr. is hoping to change that. De Soto, 34, remodels homes and was formerly a martial arts instructor. But the Hanford native said he saw a big opportunity: a city with 56,000 people and no tattoo shops. Residents looking to get inked up have to drive to Armona, Lemoore or even further. Hanford Sentinel article

Roger Goodell: NFL will consider all LA possibilities – In a special one-day meeting taking place at a hotel near O’Hare Airport, owners of the league’s 32 teams heard presentations of competing L.A.-area projects. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is proposing a stadium in Inglewood, while San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis are touting a stadium in Carson. “There is not a possibility that’s being taken off the table,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said when asked about different permutations in the three-team, two-stadium game of musical chairs. LA Times article; AP article

Jock O’Connell: California leaders try to fix freight system, once again – The Sacramento-based international trade economist affiliated with Beacon Economics writes, “Those who move goods for a living have every right to doubt that the more stringent environmental regulations already in the pipeline will be offset by public money for anything more than a pilot transportation project here and a university research grant there. So while we continue to pray for rain, let’s also put in a word for sensible, sustainable freight transportation strategy.” O’Connell op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Indian immigrants are tech’s new titans – It’s no secret that parents in India urge their kids to excel in math and science, believing that it’s the clearest path up the social ladder. But education is only part of the reason Indian immigrants are reaching the top executive ranks at major U.S. corporations — most recently Google Inc.’s appointment of Sundar Pichai this week to chief executive. That followed Microsoft Corp.’s promotion of Satya Nadella to CEO last year. LA Times article

LA city, county will expand homeless outreach on skid row – Los Angeles city and county are combining to expand homeless outreach teams on skid row, with a goal of cutting the area’s long-entrenched population by 25% this year, officials said Tuesday. LA Times article 

LA councilman takes aim at tiny homes on wheels — Tiny wooden homes on wheels, roughly the size of garden sheds, have popped up on San Pedro streets as a temporary way to house the homeless.LA Times article



Court rebuffs farm pollution waiver – A state court has struck down rules governing runoff from farms along the Central Coast, a decision that could have broader implications for the state’s $43-billion agriculture industry. LA Times article

Drought mandates will be adjusted, Brown says – San Diego County and other parts of the state may get some flexibility in complying with California’s rigorous water conservation mandate, Gov. Jerry Brown hinted Tuesday. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Atwater gives watering exemption to high schools – Atwater’s high schools were given an exemption that allows for five days of watering per week after a split vote this week from the City Council.Merced Sun-Star article

Drought makes way for water efficiency project – The drought has left most canals high and dry. That’s not a good thing, normally. But in the case of the Calloway Canal, it’s worked out pretty well.Bakersfield Californian article

Lois Henry: Can homeowners reuse their household graywater? Yes and no — OK, so back to graywater. Last week, I wasn’t able to get an authoritative answer to a reader’s question about whether Bakersfield permits graywater systems to use washing machine and other household water for landscaping and gardens. City Building Division Chief Phil Burns called and gave me the lowdown, which was, basically, yes, you can use graywater. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Asian citrus psyllid found south of Porterville — An Asian citrus psyllid has been found on a trap in a commercial orange grove south of Porterville, the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office said Tuesday. Fresno Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sheriff’s Office names person of interest in manhunt – The target of a two-week manhunt in the Weldon area, suspected of a dentist’s slaying and the shooting of a sheriff’s deputy, was identified Tuesday as 34-year-old Benjamin Peter Ashley. Bakersfield Californian article

LA County to relocate some inmates, build jail to treat the mentally ill – Setting a future course for the troubled Los Angeles County jail system, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan to move at least 1,000 mentally ill offenders out of lockups and voted to build a state-of-the-art jail focused on mental health treatment. LA Times article

Susan Burton: If Prop 47 stalls, women of color will be hurt most – The founder and executive director of A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project in Los Angeles writes, “If Proposition 47 stalls, women of color will be hit hardest. California is the world’s No. 1 jailer of women, who are three times more likely than men to be in prison for low-level, nonviolent offenses. With racial bias playing a significant role in sentencing, the numbers are even higher for black and brown women.” Burton op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Jody Ketcheside: Let’s better protect child witnesses – The deputy regional director of Turning Point of Central California writes, “Our justice system must educate parents of the rights children have as they assist with investigations and trials, but the system must also adopt more research-informed policies so that parents aren’t forced to make the unnecessary choice between justice and re-traumatizing their child.” Ketcheside op-ed in Fresno Bee

Report: California police erred in arrest before man’s death — Two Fullerton, California, police officers who were acquitted of criminal wrongdoing in the 2011 death of a mentally ill homeless man violated their department’s use-of-force policy, according to an internal report. AP article

Mirkarimi didn’t tell police about crash in city-owned car — San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi failed to alert police about a collision involving a city-owned car he was driving last year, despite a Sheriff’s Department policy requiring that such accidents be reported, The Chronicle has learned. San Francisco Chronicle article


Clovis schools pioneer Floyd ‘Doc’ Buchanan dies at 91 — Floyd “Doc” Buchanan, legendary founding superintendent of Clovis Unified School District, has died. He was 91. No one had a bigger impact on education in the San Joaquin Valley than Mr. Buchanan, who molded Clovis into a premier school system. Fresno Bee article; Fresno Bee editorial: “Doc Buchanan made excellence, competition and participation synonymous with Clovis schools”; KVPR report 

UC Merced Connect: Conference for undocumented students draws hundreds — More than 340 students, advocates, school representatives and administrators were at UC Merced on Aug. 1 for the third annual UndocuGrads Conference. The one-day event was designed to address the unique challenges faced by undocumented students – some of whom are covered by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – as they pursue graduate studies. UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star

Analysis: Bill McEwen of the Fresno Bee on Fresno Unified’s school construction controversy – Did the district break the law or merely bend it? Bill McEwen, editorial page editor of The Fresno Bee to analyze the week’s news and what it means for the future of Fresno Unified, and Michael Hanson’s career.  KVPR report

State delays releasing Common Core-aligned test scores until September – As educators eagerly await the results of the new standardized assessments aligned with the Common Core standards that more than 3 million students took in the spring, state officials now say they plan to release the scores in early September, later than originally projected. EdSource article

Bakersfield College president’s contract talks trigger flood of support – Faculty and staff at Bakersfield College are rallying around BC President Sonya Christian, whose contract ends on Feb. 3. They’ve heard that Christian’s job may be on shaky ground. Bakersfield Californian article

Flight university coming to Meadows Field — Santa Barbara Business College is coming to Meadows Field. Kern County Supervisors voted, Tuesday, to lease the former home of the International Flight Training Academy to the California Aeronautical University, a SBBC subsidiary. Bakersfield Californian article



More evacuations as Jerusalem fire grows to 14,000 acres — Firefighters from across California and three other states struggled Tuesday to slow the Jerusalem Fire, which was racing through dry brush in Lake County and had crossed into Napa County, sending up plumes of smoke as it frustrated an area ravaged by wildfires for weeks. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Cal Fire chief’s nightmare scenario – It comes down to this: the next couple of months. Lately Northern California has captured national headlines with fast-moving blazes such the Rocky and Jerusalem Fires in the coast ranges about 100 miles north of San Francisco. KQED report 

New generation of wildfires changes plants that grow back — The plants growing back after this generation of wildfires in northern California are species that usually grow in southern California or Mexico — that’s according to a new UC Davis study. Capital Public Radio report

Report: Kings vulnerable to a major flood – It may seem like a distant worry amid severe drought, but according to a report issued last week, Kings County would be seriously affected by a serious flood that happens about every 100 years. Hanford Sentinel article

Manure for some, dollars for others – Ideal Family Farms in Pennsylvania is one of 50 livestock projects around the country that are approved by the California Air Resources Board to offset emissions. Not one of those state-approved offset locations is in California. CALmatters article 

Turlock Irrigation District questions fish passage around Don Pedro – Irrigation district board members raised questions Tuesday about a costly proposal to help Tuolumne River fish get around Don Pedro Reservoir. The project could cost $70 million to $150 million and benefit perhaps 500 to 1,000 salmon a year, consultant John Devine said at a meeting at the Turlock Irrigation District. Modesto Bee article

States downstream from contaminated river upset that EPA didn’t alert them – As the Environmental Protection Agency continued to monitor 3 million gallons of mine waste released into Colorado’s Animas River, residents in two states downstream decried the federal agency Tuesday, saying it failed to alert them to mustard-colored sludge headed their way. LA Times article 

Chevron fined for air pollution at Richmond refinery — Chevron has agreed to pay $146,000 in fines for spewing pollutants into the air at its refinery in Richmond, air quality regulators said Tuesday.San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services

Tulare County approves e-cigarette ordinance – By this time next month, people who “smoke” electronic cigarettes will be subject to the same restrictions as people who smoke tobacco cigarettes. That’s because on Tuesday, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance setting new rules for e-cigarettes, along with restrictions on sales that included a prohibition against selling related paraphernalia to minors. Visalia Times-Delta article

Number of uninsured has declined by 15 million since 2013, administration says – The number of people without health insurancecontinues to decline and has dropped by 15.8 million, or one-third, since 2013, the Obama administration said Tuesday. New York Times article

Barbara Sattler: Fracking threatens our children’s health – The registered nurse writes, “It is time to stop the forward motion of gas and oil and do everything we can to accelerate our drive toward job-creating renewable energy sources. It is time for a transparent plan that goes beyond “regulating” a health threat so that it is only a little less unhealthy.” Sattler op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Alzheimer’s support services limited in Tulare County — Patti Dudley said she first realized a change in her 84-year-old mother’s behavior during a church event several years ago. “When we had an interactive experience at church one Sunday, I noticed it made her feel very uncomfortable,” Dudley said. “So, that was the first I noticed.” Visalia Times-Delta article

Merced area health centers receive funds to expand services – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced funding for 48 new health center sites in California, including sites for Golden Valley Health Centers and Livingston Community Health. Merced Sun-Star article

San Joaquin County sees uptick in mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus – San Joaquin County is one of 37 counties in California where West Nile virus has been reported this year, but no infections in humans have been reported, according to the California Department of Public Health. Stockton Record article

Senators address solutions to foster care system’s reliance on psych meds — In a sharp rebuke, the chairman of a powerful Senate committee on Tuesday admonished state officials for failing many of California’s 63,000 foster children, who critics say are too often prescribed powerful psychiatric drugs with little follow-up or coordinated care. San Jose Mercury News article

First 5 Fresno County, Fresno State host community meeting on high black infant mortality rates – First 5 Fresno County and Fresno State hosted a community meeting on Tuesday at Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School in southwest Fresno to discuss the abnormally high rate of infant death in the local African American community. Fresno Bee article 

Despite parity laws, equal access to mental health care slow going in California — California has taken perhaps the most proactive stance in the nation in enforcing laws to ensure people with mental illnesses have fair and timely access to care. But even in this stateit’s proving difficult to ensure mental patients truly have equal access to treatment. KQED report

Land Use/Housing

Team effort brings new park to older southwest Fresno neighborhood — Fresno’s newest park found itself full of happy youngsters on Tuesday. Hard work, civic pride and plenty of privately raised cash made it happen. Mayor Ashley Swearengin and other community leaders gathered in southwest Fresno to dedicate the Almy Street Playground. Habitat for Humanity Fresno County teamed with many community partners on the green-space project. Fresno Bee article

Stanislaus County taking action to shut wedding venue near Oakdale and close pot dispensary in Salida — Its website says the Robinson Family Ranch wedding venue is nestled among the luscious almond trees outside Oakdale. Stanislaus County officials said Tuesday that the wedding business in the 5300 block of River Road is not permitted in that scenic agricultural zone. In closed session, the Board of Supervisors voted to authorize legal action to shut down the commercial wedding venue. Supervisors also authorized legal action to shut down Western States Holistic Laboratories as a marijuana dispensary on Broadway Avenue in Salida. Modesto Bee article


LA will add bike and bus lanes, cut car lanes in sweeping policy shift — They endorsed a sweeping policy that would rework some of the city’s mightiest boulevards, adding more lanes for buses and bikes and, in some places, leaving fewer for cars. The goal is to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians while also luring more people out of their cars. The plan represents a major departure in transportation policy for a city so closely identified with cars, and reflects the view of many planners that the old way of building more road space to address traffic is no longer a viable option. LA Times article 

Other areas

Fresno animal group has plans to make county shelter ‘no-kill’ – Fresno County has a huge animal overpopulation problem. Very soon, the county could have a new animal control shelter and a new company running it. That group, The Animal Compassion Team, has been one of the biggest critics of the county’s animal kill rate. Now, they says they have a plan to euthanize fewer animals. KVPR report

Six arrested in latest of several DMV bribery cases — Authorities have arrested six people, including three workers for the California Department of Motor Vehicles, in connection with an alleged bribery scheme in which brokers for truckers were issued more than 100 Class A commercial driver’s licenses without the buyer taking or passing required tests, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. LA Times article; AP article; Modesto Bee article

Paper chase causes shortage of California birth, death certificates – Californians seeking multiple copies of birth or death certificates could come up short as state officials contend with an unexplained delivery snafu. Sacramento Bee article 

Firm hired to work on personnel issues at East Side Mosquito Abatement District — The East Side Mosquito Abatement District has hired an outside firm to work on the human resource and management problems revealed in a June grand jury report. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento councilman makes request for review of city’s sexual harassment policies — Members of the Sacramento City Council expressed support Tuesday night for an examination of the city’s sexual harassment policies. Sacramento Bee article

Marcos Breton: The trouble with Kevin Johnson? Himself – More than anyone else, Johnson has promoted the idea of Sacramento as a place where good things are happening – and he has helped make that idea a reality. He’s been the right person at the right time for Sacramento. But a part of Johnson always shrouds his moves in unnecessary secrecy. A part of him always demands absolute loyalty from those closest to him. It’s a culture that has grown more pervasive at City Hall as Johnson has grown more powerful. Breton column in Sacramento Bee 

San Diego installed public loos, but now they’re flush with problems — San Diego spent more than half a million dollars installing its two loos — double the initial price tag. Now, due to more costs and residents’ complaints, it’s planning to remove one and put it in storage. A nearby homeless shelter will open its bathrooms around the clock instead. KQED report 

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Floyd “Doc” Buchanan made excellence, competition and participation synonymous with Clovis schools; Hillary Clinton’s misuse of email undermines her candidacy.

Sacramento Bee – California long has pioneered the future, from climate change to pay equity. Now, in the absence of national reform, Gov. Jerry Brown is offering a way forward on yet another evolving issue: immigration; Airlines nickel and dime us for millions.

Upcoming Events 

  • “Unlocking Renewables: A Summit,” which will explore the clean energy potential in the San Joaquin Valley, will be held at Fresno State on Wednesday, Aug. 12, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Featured speakers include state Sen. Anthony Cannella and Ken Alex, senior policy advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown and director of the Office of Planning and Research. More information:
  • Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro will be the featured speaker at the fourth annual State of Our Children event at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building on Thursday, Sept. 3, from 7:30-9:15 a.m.  More information is available here.
  • West Hills Community College District will hold an event, “Shifting Ground — Adapting the San Joaquin Valley Economy to a Changing Climate,” on Oct. 8 at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Senior leaders from business, agriculture, government agencies and nonprofits will gather to launch immediate actions and provide near-term guidance to create next generation jobs in a region battered by drought and struggling with multiple challenges. for details of this no-fee policy series.


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge 

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.

Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here. 

Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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