February 26, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Jerry Brown puts crime initiative in California Supreme Court’s hands — In an effort to revive his ballot initiative to make certain nonviolent felons eligible for early parole, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday appealed to the California Supreme Court to allow the measure to go forward. Sacramento Bee articleAP article

AD 31: Early internal polls portend tough special election — In a little more than a week, voters in the 31st Assembly District special election can begin casting ballots, with the actual election day coming April 5. So, for the next month, expect a political dogfight between Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula, Fresno Republican Clint Olivier and Caruthers Democrat Ted Miller as they battle to replace Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea, who resigned a year before the end of his term to take a private-sector job. Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown

Dan Walters: Brown’s end run on sentencing initiative stumbles — Jerry Brown may be fuming that a Superior Court judge has blocked, at least temporarily, his ballot measure to overhaul criminal sentencing laws. If he wants someone to blame, he should look in the mirror. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Bakersfield mayoral hopefuls must actually live here — If you’re one of the thousands — OK, more than 20 — who have pulled papers to run for Bakersfield mayor, do yourself a favor: Figure out where you live. There will be a test. Specifically, you have to live within the Bakersfield city limits to run for mayor. It’s the law. Don’t blame us. That’s why, on Thursday, the broad field of 22 people who had pulled papers to run briefly appeared to narrow to 21, with potential candidate Billy Joe Roach taking to Facebook to deliver some sad news. Bakersfield Californian article

Candidate workshops to prepare future leaders for campaigning, realities of public office — A number of seats on local boards and councils are coming up for election this fall and Jenny MacMurdo wants potential candidates to be prepared. MacMurdo, CEO of the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce, said a series of non-partisan workshops will help guide interested citizens through the campaign process and help prepare them for the realities of being in office. Hanford Sentinel article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

What’s going on at the California Democratic convention in San Jose? – It’s that time of year when California Democratic activists hold a convention to celebrate their supremacy and help select their next crop of elected leaders. Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: Like magic, the property tax initiative is gone — What made an initiative measure seemingly on its way to the ballot suddenly disappear? Fox in Fox & Hounds

California Senate candidates split on iPhone access fight – Rep. Loretta Sanchez on Thursday said she supports Apple’s decision to contest an order to create software to help the FBI hack into the encrypted iPhone. A day earlier, Attorney General Kamala Harris said she’s not picking sides in the high-stakes dispute that could establish new legal boundaries between national security and digital privacy. AP article

CA Fwd: Is it time California at how we pay for our elections? — How do we modernize elections and expand participation in California’s democracy? It’s a complex question that has no single answer. The Future of California Elections (FoCE) Conference this week in Los Angeles will address that question in what organizers say will allow election stakeholders to work toward a collective effort to improve how we fund and hold elections. CA Fwd website


Immigration policy on convicts has been in place for months — A new policy that lets immigration officials decide whether to release immigrant prisoners in federal custody to local police or deport them has been in place for months in an effort to avoid a repeat of the fatal shooting in San Francisco by a Mexican convict who was freed last year, officials said Thursday. AP article 


Apple court papers: FBI is seeking ‘dangerous power’ that violates its constitutional rights — Apple Inc. on Thursday filed key court papers to fight a judge’s order requiring the technology giant to assist federal agents in the San Bernardino terror investigation, saying the judge in the case had overstepped her authority and violated the company’s constitutional rights. LA Times article

Other areas

Budding marijuana lobby gains influence at California Capitol – Once taboo, marijuana is in the midst of a renaissance across the country. In Sacramento, cannabis now is a welcome topic in many legislative offices and given rise to a budding micro-economy: marijuana lobbying. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Don’t end daylight savings yet – Everybody loves to hate daylight saving time, in theory. But the prospect of jettisoning it may not be as sunny as some Californians may think. Sacramento Bee editorial

Proposed rule closes lobbying loophole in California government – California’s elections watchdog agency says lobbyists are exploiting a loophole in state rules and it’s allowing people to influence legislation and rules without registering as lobbyists. Under what’s called the “ride-along” exception, lobbyists can take another person with them to meet with elected officials. Capital Public Radio report

California lawmakers praise, slam Ronald Reagan — A former California governor with his larger-than-life bronze likeness now occupying the basement rotunda, the late President Ronald Reagan is not usually a controversial figure around the Capitol. Every year, a Republican lawmaker introduces a resolution to declare his birthday “Ronald Reagan Day,” and every year, that measure passes unanimously through the Legislature. Tensions, however, have been bubbling under the surface, and they briefly exploded Thursday as some Senate Democrats mounted a miniature revolt against the annual declaration praising Reagan’s “life serving freedom and advancing the public good.” Sacramento Bee article 

California tax board squabbles over chairmanship — Long-simmering conflicts among the four elected members of the state Board of Equalization – all former state legislators – erupted in public Wednesday night. Sacramento Bee article

Clinton backers not looking for a fight at state convention — While the young, progressive supporters of insurgent presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may try to attack Hillary Clinton, still the front-runner for the party’s presidential nomination, as a too-moderate relic of a time gone by, don’t expect her supporters to fight back — not too much, anyway. San Francisco Chronicle article

News Stories

Top Stories

State falling short of 25 percent goal in water cutbacks – California fell short of water conservation goals in January, officials said Thursday, and for the first time the state is lagging behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandate to cut usage by 25 percent. San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleKQED reportModesto Bee articleStockton Record article

Justices ask: Do California teacher laws bind administrators? – Justices hearing the appeal of a case that could overturn California’s teacher employment rules appeared skeptical Thursday that the current laws force the worst teachers into certain classrooms. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleEdSource articleNew York Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Poll results may inform Kern supervisors on library tax question – Kern County supervisors will, once again, face a controversial set of questions about the future of the Kern County Library system on Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Council approves first phase of downtown Fresno South Stadium project — The Fresno City Council voted 6-0 with member Esmeralda Soria absent Thursday to approve new development near Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno. The South Stadium Project is a proposed $15 million mixed-use complex that would be built on the reopened Fulton Mall. Fresno Bee article

Poorest areas have not gained in recovery, study finds – The gap between the richest and poorest American communities has widened since the Great Recession ended, and distressed areas are faring worse just as the recovery is gaining traction across much of the country. New York Times article

In an improving economy, places in distress – As the most prosperous communities in the United States have gotten richer since the end of the Great Recession in 2009, economic conditions in many distressed areas have deteriorated even further. Stockton mentioned.  New York Times article

California gas prices expected to jump overnight, possibly 30 cents by weekend – e slide in California’s gasoline prices could abruptly end Friday, with prices possibly jumping 30 cents a gallon due to seasonal changes in the state’s refinery operations, a consumer advocacy group predicted Thursday. LA Times article

Housing market springs off to fast start – The spring pickup in housing sales is unusually strong this year, particularly in the hottest home markets, such as San Joaquin County, realtor.com website reported Thursday. Stockton Record article

Recycling, green waste contracts OK’s by Fresno council, but for less revenue — The Fresno City Council voted 5-2 Thursday to approve a recycling contract with Mid Valley Disposal and Cedar Avenue Recycling and Transfer Station that will pay the city for its recyclables. But city administrators say the deal will cost the city around $2.7 million in lost profits because the council turned down a much higher rate in October. Fresno Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: Delaware North’s Yosemite shakedown must come at a cost – Delaware North should back down before it loses all goodwill in California. Sacramento Bee editorial

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson calls for sales tax extension – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is calling for an extension of a half-cent sales tax in his last budget priorities memo, which the city released Thursday. Measure U, which is expected to produce about $42 million in 2016, is set to expire in 2019. Sacramento Bee article

LA is seizing tiny homes from the homeless — Escalating their battle to stamp out an unprecedented spread of street encampments, city officials have begun seizing tiny houses from homeless people living on freeway overpasses in South Los Angeles. LA Times article

No degree, little experience? California has a state job for you — The State of California, for example, has many job classifications that don’t require a college degree and accept applicants with little to no work experience. While they are definitely entry level, they come with the same benefits that a 30-year state executive receives. Sacramento Bee article

North Stockton building project moves forward – The first step to bring a Black Bear Diner and a CarMax to northern Stockton has been taken this week, despite neighbors’ requests for a delay in procedure. Stockton Record article

Hanford Mall to add four new restaurants — The Hanford Mall will soon see the addition of Buffalo Wild Wings, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Dunkin Donuts and Pieology. Passco Companies LLC, which owns the mall, announced the new restaurants in a press release Thursday. They are expected to open in summer 2016. Hanford Sentinel articleThe Business Journal article

Playland announces new fundraising goal, rides and exhibits — The Storyland Playland board announced several major gifts Thursday as well as a planned reopening date for Playland on April 22.  Located in Fresno’s Roeding Park across from the Chaffee Zoo, the sister parks of Storyland and Playland have been the focus of intense fundraising campaigns for the past year after the previous leadership announced the venues were closing due to lack of revenue. The Business Journal articleFresno Bee article

California to reconsider fingerprint checks for Uber, Lyft drivers — The California Public Utilities Commission will consider requiring drivers for all ride services, including Uber and Lyft, to undergo fingerprint background checks, just as Uber is facing more scrutiny over its screening process. KQED report

11 steps for cutting housing costs highlighted by San Diego Housing Commission – Let’s say you want to buy a house in California, and you decide on San Diego. Nice weather, right? Good jobs. There’s a beach. Maybe your family’s close by. But when you start looking for a place, you discover the average home price has climbed to over $500,000–which is only affordable if you’re making $80,000 a year. Renting isn’t much better: An average two-bedroom (almost $2,000 a month) is only affordable to a household earning $73,000. That, you discover, is the median for the city, which means half of your new neighbors don’t make that much. California Economic Summit website 

SpaceX scrubs rocket launch again, two minutes before takeoff — Elon Musk’s SpaceX scrubbed the Thursday launch of its Falcon 9 rocket, which was to deliver a commercial communications satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. LA Times article


Despite El Nino, McClure remains 30 percent below average for February – Despite positive reports from state and other Valley water agencies on reservoir levels and water deliveries, Lake McClure’s water level remains about 30 percent below average for this time of year, and Merced Irrigation District officials are praying for wet weather in March and April. Merced Sun-Star article

After a dry February, hoping for some March moisture – Speaking of March: Both forecasters and a growing mob of weather geeks with time on their hands and access to specialized data are scanning the output of global weather models — like the ones available here and here — to see whether stormy weather might be on the horizon. The answer: It might be. KQED report

Is this El Nino a dud? – Sacramento is in the peak of its rainy season, but there is no substantial rain in the forecast for the next two weeks. The Sierra snowpack has fallen below normal levels for this time of year. The state’s three largest reservoirs remain far below capacity. Whither El Niño? Sacramento Bee article

Strong El Nino no help for long-term California drought – The U.S. Drought Monitor says warmer weather has increased concerns of early snow melt in California and the overall trend is for the multiyear drought to continue or even worsen. Capital Public Radio report

Robin Abcarian: How the honey bee crisis is affecting California’s almond growers – Without bees, there can be no almonds. In fact, each of California’s nearly 1 million acres of almond orchards requires two hives. But California beekeepers have only a quarter of the needed hives. Abcarian in LA Times

Decline of species that pollinate poses a threat to global food supply, report warns – The birds and the bees need help. Also, the butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles and bats. Without an international effort, a new report warns, increasing numbers of species that promote the growth of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of food each year face extinction. New York Times article

Almond industry considers benefits of recycling old almond trees – The idea of grinding old orchards into wood chips and recycling them into soil has seized the interest of California’s almond industry, which sees the potential for environmental and economic benefits. Bakersfield Californian article

Sunkist weathers slowdown in citrus exports – Citrus farmers, including Sunkist members, had a phenomenal year in 2014. So it is not a big surprise that 2015 couldn’t match it, as was reported bySunkist Growers in its annual report released this month. Visalia Times-Delta article

Sacramento Kings co-owner near the top of EBMUD water users list – The latest list of the thirstiest folk in the East Bay Municipal Utility District includes the co-owner of the Sacramento Kings basketball team and several mansion-dwelling repeat offenders. San Francisco Chronicle article

Committee discusses Cal Water rate increases, district consolidation — A group calling itself the Cal Water Accountability Committee met Feb. 20 in Kernville to discuss rate increases proposed by California Water Service Co. Twenty-three water districts statewide are affected by the proposed rate increases, which would total nearly $95 million in 2017. The Bakersfield and Kern River Valley water districts are among those affected. Bakersfield Californian article

Clean water vs. the sucker fish: Drought creates a bizarre dilemma – The California drought has created many oddities over the last few years but none as bizarre as a scene that unfolds regularly on a tributary of the Santa Ana River. The stream’s modest flow, provided almost entirely by a San Bernardino water treatment plant, suddenly stops, quickly stranding thousands of threatened Santa Ana sucker fish. LA Times article

Modesto-based egg producer rejects abuse claim — An animal rights group Thursday released a video it says shows abused hens at a J.S. West & Cos. egg farm – a charge the Modesto-based company rejected. Modesto Bee article

San Jose Water Co. drought rules upheld by state regulators — Strict water conservation rules that have been in effect since last June for 990,000 residents of San Jose and neighboring Silicon Valley communities are here to stay. San Jose Mercury News article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Federal jury: Sanger cops did not use excessive force in fatal shooting of suicidal Marine — A federal jury has decided that Sanger police officers did not use excessive force and were not negligent in the June 2012 shooting death of Charles Salinas, a suicidal Marine Corps veteran. The jury’s verdict came after seven hours of deliberations over two days and two weeks of testimony. Fresno Bee article 

Officers feared for lives, police say – Officers feared for their lives when they opened fire on 36-year-old Angel Alan Gleason and killed him along Highway 99 in Ripon, officials said Thursday. Stockton Record articleModesto Bee article

Machete leads to officer-involved shooting in Visalia — A man who threatened a Visalia police officer with a machete was shot Wednesday night, Sgt. Kevin Kroeze said. Visalia Times-Delta article

California resolves long-running lawsuit over youth prisons —  California on Thursday resolved a long-running lawsuit over poor care at juvenile prisons, and both sides said conditions have greatly improved. AP article


Fresno State’s president comes to West Hills College Lemoore — California State University, Fresno President Joseph I. Castro is set to pay a visit to Lemoore and talk to the community about issues affecting the San Joaquin Valley. Hanford Sentinel article

Expert: Cantu’s special session salary negotiations illegal – The same day an underqualified Lamont School District administrator negotiated a six-figure salary renewal that included a nearly $20,000 pay bump, he advocated for the elimination of four intern teaching positions, citing budget constraints, records from 2015 reviewed by The Californian show. That March 10 meeting, however, didn’t make headlines or cause a stir locally, perhaps because it was discussed during a special session, one of 10 that district officials called during 2015 with little advanced notice. Bakersfield Californian article

Gomes discusses technical skills in annual report on Merced County schools – Strong backgrounds in both academic and technical skills will be needed for graduating students to be successful in future careers, the Merced County Superintendent Schools reported Thursday. Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno Pacific offers new Kinesiology degrees – The Kinesiology department at Fresno Pacific University has added two new degree options to the program. The Master of Arts in Athletic Training and Master of Arts in Sports Administration are set to begin in May. Visalia Times-Delta article

Raucous confrontation at San Francisco State over ethnic studies cuts — Hundreds of San Francisco State University students angrily demanded Thursday that campus leaders not only shield the university’s College of Ethnic Studies from threatened cuts, but that they expand offerings at the one-of-a-kind program. San Francisco Chronicle article


Two quakes roil Fresno is one week? Coincidence, experts say — The state’s midsection was roiled by two temblors in the span of a week, and that should be a reminder to the Fresno area – which felt both of them – that this is California. They don’t call the Golden State earthquake country for nothing. Just don’t panic. Call it a coincidence. Nothing more. Fresno Bee article

Judge orders gas company to give Porter Ranch residents longer to return home after leak – A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ordered a 22-day extension of the time that Southern California Gas Co. will continue footing the bill for residents driven from their homes by the gas leak at its Aliso Canyon storage facility. LA Times article

Study: California leak was top methane release in U.S. history — A natural gas leak that sickened Los Angeles residents and forced thousands from their homes was the largest known release of climate-changing methane in U.S. history, scientists reported Thursday. AP article

Health/Human Services 

Mary Pittman: California has its own lead crisis in poor communities – The president and CEO of the Public Health Institute writes, “Lead is just one of the poisons in our vulnerable communities. We must prioritize cleaning them all up at the source.” Pittman op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Levels of flame retardant in breast milk are down in California women — Levels of harmful flame-retardant chemicals in women’s breast milk have dropped by nearly 40 percent since California’s decade-old ban on these chemicals took effect, according to a new study by state environmental scientists. KQED report

Land Use/Housing

Fresno Housing Authority breaks ground on Reedley project — The Fresno Housing Authority broke ground Wednesday on a mixed-use affordable housing community in Reedley. Trailside Terrace, located at 1233 G St. between 12th and 13th streets, will have 55 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and about 3,000 square feet of commercial space. Fresno Bee article

Historic Fresno dairy buildings face demolition — The Fresno City Council on a 4-3 vote decided not to add two unoccupied dairy buildings dating back to the Great Depression to the city’s historical registry. Fresno Bee article

Merced’s first high-speed rail workshop in the books – One common theme that emerged during a high-speed rail workshop in Merced this week is the hope that establishment of a downtown rail station will improve the immediate area without diminishing Merced’s small-town character. Merced Sun-Star article

Downtown Sacramento railyard’s new streets will open for traffic this fall — Sacramento’s massive downtown railyard, hidden for decades behind train tracks and berms, is on track to have a public coming out party this fall. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Automatic aid helps city, county fire departments – A simplified agreement is helping local fire departments to work together more efficiently when responding to fires in and around Hanford. Hanford Sentinel article

Lanny Larson: Fresno County’s grand jury – what’s it all about? – The 2015-16 Fresno County Civil Grand Jury foreperson writes, “It sounds simple enough: The Fresno County civil grand jury checks out complaints about local government and recommends ways to make things better. However, as foreperson of the 2015-16 grand jury, I want you to give you some idea of what being a grand juror really involves, so you’ll apply to become one.” Larson op-ed in Fresno Bee

Video: Watch 9-year-old boy recite Declaration of Independence from memory – The Declaration of Independence has 1,458 words.  But that’s not a problem for Nathan Bond a home-schooled 9-year-old.  On Thursday, Nathan recited the document, from memory, in front of the Fresno City Council, reporting earning him a Guinness world record as the youngest American to do so. Fresno Bee video

Michael Fitzgerald: Making amends to ripped off Germans – We’re throwing a party for three unlucky Germans, and you’re invited. The three unlucky Germans are Horst Stüempfig, Wolf Bonitz and Frank Unold. They are paying Stockton a visit. Stockton repaid them by ripping their stuff off — three times. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Fresno Bee’s Castillo wins Gruner Award for public-service journalism – Bee reporter Andrea Castillo was honored for her public-service coverage of the drought’s effects on health at the 28th annual George F. Gruner Awards. Fresno Bee article

Californian reporters honored with Gruner Awards — Californian reporters Kelly Ardis and John Cox were honored Thursday evening during the 28th annual George F. Gruner Awards, held at the Fresno Art Museum in Fresno. Bakersfield Californian article

SeaWorld admits it sent worker to infiltrate animal rights group — SeaWorld acknowledged that it sent its own workers to infiltrate an animal rights group which opposed the practices of the theme park. AP article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Time’s running out to stop the Trump train wreck.

Sacramento Bee – Delaware North’s Yosemite shakedown must come at a cost; Everybody loves to hate daylight saving time, in theory. But the prospect of jettisoning it may not be as sunny as some Californians may think.

Stockton Record – Stockton had a marathon city council meeting this week that was filled with important issues. A City Council vacancy. A defining downtown development. A lingering water issue.

Maddy Events

Sunday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “Mission Possible: Making Government More Customer Friendly”  Guest: Little Hoover Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “The Multi-Million Dollar Question: Can We Make State and Local Government More Efficient and Effective?” – Guests: Rebecca Moore of Kern LAFCO, David Fey of Fresno LACFO, Sara Lytle-Pinhey of Stanislaus LAFCO, and William Nicholson of Merced LAFCO. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Feb. 28, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Public Employee Retiree Healthcare” – Guest: Lourdes Morales of the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Deputy Director Ana Melendez.

The Maddy Report airs throughout California on The Cal Channel.  Check http://www.calchannel.com to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area.  You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at http://www.maddyinstitute.org/policy-analysis/the-maddy-report-tv.

Community Events

  • Fresno State President Joseph Castro and other university officials will hold a Community Conversation in the West Hills Community College conference facility, 555 College Ave., Lemoore on Tuesday, March 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.Seating for this free event is limited, so RSVPs should be made by February 26 at www.fresnostate.edu/presidentrsvp using the code “Lemooreforum.”
  • The International Green Industry Hall of Fame will hold its sixth annual conference and induction ceremony at Buchanan High School in Clovis on March 9. Registration information is available here.
  • The 2016 San Joaquin Valley Parks Summit will be held at Bitwise South Stadium in Fresno on Thursday, May 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Registration launches March 1.  More information: Jenna Chilingerian at jennac@csufresno.edu.


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 challenge — The 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 www.federalbudgetchallenge.org.

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.  http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/

More Information

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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.

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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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