June 17, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 State budget deal struck, Gov. Brown concedes little — Calling the negotiations “difficult but productive,” Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have unveiled a $167.6 billion state budget, a plan that includes some adjustments demanded by legislators but is awfully close to a slam dunk for the governor’s own fiscal priorities. John Myers in KQED; AP article; Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee editorial

 Democratic lawmakers tout immigrant benefits in budget deal — Democratic legislators lauded the state budget’s planned expansion of public healthcare to children in the country illegally as “historic” Tuesday afternoon, and trumpeted California’s immigrant-friendly spending plan in contrast to federal inaction on immigration policy. LA Times article

State budget

 California budget deal grants health coverage to children in U.S. illegally — Immigrant children who are in the country illegally would receive public healthcare coverage in California under a budget deal announced Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders. LA Times article

 Budget deal confirms record K-12 spending – Brown and legislative leaders announced a budget deal Tuesday, one day after state lawmakers approved spending $2 billion beyond what the governor said he’d accept. The final agreement will not alter the record education spending that Brown proposed through Proposition 98, the voter-approved formula that determines revenue for some preschool programs, K-12 schools and community colleges. EdSource article

 ‘Negative bailout’ fix for Stanislaus County is left out of state budget – A bill that would have corrected what’s called the “negative bailout” for Stanislaus County was left out of the budget taken up by the Legislature on Tuesday. County officials still are hoping a trailer bill including the relief for Stanislaus and five other counties is considered later this week. Modesto Bee article


Lawmakers move to ease reporting requirements on high-speed rail — State lawmakers on Monday approved budget language easing some oversight and reporting requirements on California’s high-speed rail project, prompting criticism from Republicans. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown

 Fact check: Jerry Brown was asked about tax pledge last year — Gov. Jerry Brown, asked Tuesday if he would now be willing to sign tax increases without voter approval, said that is an “open question.” Capitol Alert

 Valley politics

 Did Kern County legislator suggest link between God, state drought and abortion? – A Kern County assemblywoman is responding to criticism after a speech in which she suggested God eased Texas’ drought after that state passed anti-abortion legislation and now “has his hold on California.” LA Times article

 ‘First Look’: Show hosts talk Shannon Grove’s recent statements, California drought — On Monday’s “First Look with Scott Cox,” Executive Producer Louis Amestoy and Executive Editor of The Californian, Bob Price, talked about recent statements made by assemblywoman Shannon Grove. Bakersfield Californian article

 Lawmakers disclose finances — The wealth of the members of Congress who represent Tulare and Visalia covers a very broad range, according to newly released financial disclosure reports.Visalia Times-Delta article


 Sacramento County approves health care for undocumented immigrants — Sacramento County supervisors on Tuesday approved health care for undocumented immigrants and other new social service programs as part of the county budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Sacramento Bee article

 Other areas

Lawmakers making side deals on Hollywood high rises, Warriors arena — With Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders negotiating differences over the budget, a side issue has emerged over extending special handling of two controversial developments: a $200-million mixed-use project in Hollywood and a new arena for the Warriors basketball team in San Francisco.LA Times article

 Federal court to rule on restrictive concealed weapons permit – Federal appeals judges on Tuesday peppered attorneys for 2nd Amendment advocates about why the longtime rule of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to determine who receives concealed weapons permits should be struck down. LA Times article; AP article

 Want to carry a concealed weapon? Live in Sacramento, not San Francisco — In California, a state with some of the strictest gun laws in the country, Sacramento County has become an oasis for gun owners wanting to carry their weapons in public. Thousands of residents have been issued concealed carry permits by the sheriff, Scott Jones, since he took office four years ago. KQED report

 Legislation puts California state computer project under scrutiny — An infamous state computer system that has blown its budget, bogged down work and even cost job opportunities for some California residents would get more legislative scrutiny with a bill now in the Senate. Sacramento Bee article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

 Heavy equipment finally moving on California high-speed rail construction — Heavy construction work on California’s high-speed rail project formally commenced Tuesday. Work crews are building the first of 16 concrete footings that will become the foundation of a 1,600-foot viaduct, or elevated bridge, over the Fresno River, Highway 145 and Raymond Road. Fresno Bee article; LA Times article; KVPR report

 Urban water districts accuse Delta farmers of stealing water – The tension between California farm interests and the state’s urban water users ratcheted up Tuesday, as a consortium of mostly urban water districts filed a complaint alleging Delta farmers are stealing water. Sacramento Bee article

 Merced County and city leaders put more into public safety — After years of shortfalls and budget cuts, area officials find themselves with enough tax revenue to increase budgets, and both the city of Merced and Merced County have made public safety a priority. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

 Modesto nears putting tax on ballot – A divided Modesto City Council has come closer to putting a one-half percent general sales tax on the November ballot, which officials say primarily would be used for strengthening public safety. Modesto Bee article

 Fresno council enjoys spending extra millions from state – Tuesday’s meeting took an unusual turn when the council learned Fresno will soon get $4.1 million from Sacramento. The state is always forcing costly policies on cities. The money is reimbursement for these mandated expenses. Fresno Bee article

 Kern elections official loses fight to boost managers’ pay — Kern County’s elections division faces a “tidal wave” of retirements and without improving pay and adding positions for people to promote into, there will be no experienced staffers running the most complicated elections. So warned Auditor-Controller Mary Bedard, who oversees the division, to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Still, the board took the side of County Administrative Officer John Nilon and opposed a request from Bedard to give large raises to two Elections managers. Bakersfield Californian article

 Madera County supervisors reject Chukchansi request, goal is to reopen casino/hotel – When Chukchansi tribal council members recently asked the Madera County Board of Supervisors to sign off on a settlement agreement that will help the tribe reopen Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, the supervisors refused. Fresno Bee article

 Tom Collishaw: State housing investment good for Merced County – The president and CEO of Self-Help Enterprises writes, “A new study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition showed that rents are unaffordable throughout the state, with Merced residents needing to earn 150 percent of the minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Now, a legislative effort is under way to help California rebuild its stock of affordable homes. This package of legislation should receive Assemblyman Adam Gray’s support.” Collishaw op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

 Report: Fewer Valley homeowners have negative equity – A report released Tuesday by CoreLogic showed that in Fresno, 27,922 residential properties with a mortgage — or 18.6 percent — were in negative equity as of Q1 2015 compared with 33,082, or 22 percent, in Q1 2014 and 28,386, or 18.8 percent, in Q4 2014. The Business Journal article

 Tulare County will spend $1.37 million to replace vehicles – Tulare County will spend $1.37 million in the coming fiscal year to buy 49 replacement vehicles. Those vehicles will include 22 Ford Explorers, 16 full-size trucks — though four may end up being sport utility vehicles — and eleven sedans, each ranging in price from $19,500 to $50,000. Visalia Times-Delta article

 LA vote makes it easier to break up homeless camps – The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to two ordinances designed to make it easier to break up homeless encampments, which have mushroomed across Southern California and raised an outcry from some businesses and residents. LA Times article

 Golden 1 Center is name for new downtown Sacramento Kings arena – The new sports and entertainment arena being constructed downtown will be named Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings and the leader of The Golden 1 Credit Union announced Tuesday.  Sacramento Bee article; AP article

 CEO: Kings Fair a success — When Kate Moroles-O’Neil took over as Kings Fair CEO 17 months ago, she knew it wouldn’t be easy. She knew the traditional event was on a state watch list of small fairs in danger of shutting down. From Thursday to Sunday, her effort seems to have paid off. Hanford Sentinel article

 In turnabout, Disney cancels tech worker layoffs – In late May, about 35 technology employees at Disney/ABC Television in New York and Burbank, Calif., received jarring news. Managers told them that they would all be laid off, and that during their final weeks they would have to train immigrants brought in by an outsourcing company to do their jobs. New York Times article

 LA County supervisors vote to gradually boost home care worker wages – Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to raise the wage of about 140,000 home healthcare workers paid through a state program partially funded by the county. Their pay will go from $9.65 an hour to $11.18 over the next year and a half. LA Times article

 Chargers nix Dec. 15 stadium vote – The Chargers declared a proposed Dec. 15 stadium vote impossible on Tuesday based on environmental concerns, dealing a blow to San Diego’s efforts to prevent the team from moving to Los Angeles.  San Diego Union-Tribune article; LA Times article

 Health insurance giants are in a frenzied search for merger partners – The nation’s biggest health insurers are speed-dating one another, searching for a partner worthy of a multibillion-dollar merger. LA Times article

 Trucking company’s loss is Salvation Army’s gain — “It fell out of the back of a truck” isn’t an explanation that legitimate providers of goods typically offer. But that’s just how The Salvation Army Modesto Citadel Corps and Turlock Corps recently got a supply of lettuce, cauliflower and other fresh vegetables for a variety of needs. Modesto Bee article

 LA lawmakers vote to reinstate ban on park and beach vending — Now those legal battles are over and L.A. lawmakers are poised to punish unpermitted park and beach vending once again. The City Council voted Tuesday to draw up a fresh set of rules, imposing escalating fines and even misdemeanor charges against vendors who ply their trade at parks and beaches without getting city permission. LA Times article

 Sacramento City Council extends city manager’s contract — Sacramento City Manager John Shirey will remain in the city’s top administrative job through November 2016, after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend his contract. Sacramento Bee article


 Kings County reports 9 percent boost in annual farm income – Higher prices, a boost in yields and more acres being planted helped Kings County farmers generate an overall crop value of $2.4 billion in 2014, an increase of 9% over the previous year. Fresno Bee article

 Rep. Jared Huffman: California’s water strategy deserves an open debate and real solutions – The San Rafael Democrat writes, “California deserves better than the predictable “blame the fish” carnival. We cannot condemn “inconvenient” salmon runs to extinction, pre-empt state water rights, or declare winners and losers among the state’s drought-stricken regions. That’s why I developed the kind of serious, comprehensive legislation this crisis demands.” Huffman op-ed in Sacramento Bee

State consumer agency calls San Jose drought restrictions unfair, plans to fight them – A state agency representing consumers said Tuesday that it will try to overturn strict water conservation rules that took effect this week for 1 million residents of San Jose and neighboring Silicon Valley communities, on the grounds that they violate state law by imposing penalties on homeowners but not businesses or apartment owners. San Jose Mercury News article

 Alex Breitler: Delta farmers ‘eager’ for inspections – State officials on Thursday will begin inspections of those Delta farms that voluntarily agreed to cut back 25 percent on water diversions or crop plantings this year. The farmers who signed up are protected from deeper cuts that could happen later this summer. Not only was there a high response rate — a “very substantial majority” of all the riparian ag lands in the central and south Delta are enrolled, the state said Tuesday — but farmers apparently want the state to come and take a look. Breitler blog in Stockton Record

 Amid drought, more water for farmers – Eastside farmers will receive more water than expected next month from already depleted New Hogan Lake, even though not everyone wants that water. Stockton Record article

 Officials revise strategy for California’s largest reservoir – State and federal officials said Tuesday that they’re revising their strategy for releasing water from the California’s largest reservoir for the coming long, hot summer to avoid killing off this year’s run of endangered salmon. AP article

 Mark Grossi: Amid snarks and shaming, five tips to save water at home — Gray is the new green. And a lot of readers apparently are doing more than counting to two. That’s water conservation jargon. I ran across it while reading suggestions you folks sent me after I asked for ideas on saving water last week. Drought snarking and shaming continues, too. It’s a defining feature of the intense California drought. But about three dozen of you focused on saving water at home. My top five list is below. Grossi in Fresno Bee

 Many of world’s water basins are being depleted, studies find – More than a third of the largest groundwater basins in the world are being depleted faster than they are getting replenished, and there are little to no accurate data showing just how much water is left in them, according to two new studies published Tuesday. LA Times article

 LA County’s plan to capture stormwater could be state model – Amid a worsening drought, California water officials adopted new rules Tuesday aimed at capturing and reusing huge amounts of stormwater that have until now flowed down sewers and concrete rivers into the sea. LA Times article

 Police investigating Foster Farms after undercover video – Police are investigating poultry producer Foster Farms after an animal-rights group shot undercover video showing some chickens being slammed upside-down into metal shackles, punched and having their feathers pulled out while they were still alive. AP article

 Black, yellow water remains a concern in Hanford — It’s been eight months since Hanford began chlorinating its water supply, and many residents are still seeing yellowish or black water coming out of their taps. Hanford Sentinel article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 One dead in Visalia officer-involved shooting — One man is dead after an officer-involved shooting along Mooney Boulevard in Visalia. Police were called shortly before noon to the area of Mooney, near Toys R Us, where a man is accused of shooting another man inside a building. Visalia Times-Delta article; Fresno Bee article

 Breaking the cycle of crime – Human trafficking is a serious issue in the county, one the District Attorney’s Office is tackling as part of its new focus on victim-centered services, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar told the audience. Stockton Record article

LAPD union blasts police commissioners over Ezell Ford decision — Tensions over last week’s decision in the fatal police shooting of Ezell Ford continued to simmer Tuesday as Los Angeles police union officials blasted police commissioners, saying their ruling threatened the safety of officers and the public. LA Times article


 Academics push for California to switch to universal bar exam – A growing number of academics are pushing for California to join states that have moved to a test that only focuses on national matters. LA Times article

 Stockton Record: Trustee’s comment cause for ‘full’ apology – Stockton Unified School District trustee Kathy Garcia made an unfortunate comment recently. Stockton Record editorial

UC Merced Connect: Grad student crosses disciplines — One of the things that attracted Chelsea Coe to UC Merced as an undergraduate student was the opportunity to do research. She transferred to UC Merced during her junior year and worked in professor Teenie Matlock’s interactive cognition lab for the rest of her undergraduate career. When she decided to make the switch from cognitive science to political science for her graduate degree, UC Merced still seemed an obvious choice to Coe. UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star


 PG&E $14.35 million fine stands, appeals court rules – An appeals court upheld state regulators’ $14.35 million fine Tuesday against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for taking more than seven months to report defects in a natural-gas pipeline in San Carlos, less than three years after the lethal explosion of another faulty pipeline in San Bruno. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Voters may decide in November what clean energy really means — You know there’s more at stake than science when a debate over the definition of clean energy goes before voters. That’s what’s likely to be on the agenda in November, when competing measures — by city officials on one side and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. on the other — may go on the ballot. The Board of Supervisors took up the issue Tuesday afternoon. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Environmental activist Tom Steyer: Pope’s climate message may be ‘most important’ – ever — Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer says that Thursday’s much-anticipated encyclical from Pope Francis on climate change could be the single “most important” and impactful statement made on the issue — ever. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Visalia showing proposed park maps — Community members will get their first look on Thursday of how a planned 248-acre park for Visalia may look. Visalia Times-Delta article

Health/Human Services

 Medi-Cal patients may not have adequate access to doctors, audit finds — An audit released Tuesday found California hasn’t properly ensured that patients who are part of its Medi-Caid program have adequate access to doctors. LA Times article

 State auditor issues stinging review of Medi-Cal plans: Anthem Blue Cross in Fresno County gets worst grade — The audit included the provider directory for Anthem Blue Cross of Fresno County, which it found to have the highest rate of inaccurate provider information of three plans that were studied. Fresno Bee article

 Audit: California Medi-Cal phone lines overwhelmed – Thousands of calls to California’s Medi-Cal complaint lines don’t get through, and thousands more that manage to ring the call center go unanswered, according to a new state audit. For the year that ended in January 2015, the phone system to the Medi-Cal Ombudsman Office rejected up to 45,000 calls in a month, State Auditor Elaine Howle said in her report to lawmakers. Sacramento Bee article

 Dan Walters: Medi-Cal’s expansion hits a snag – (State Auditor Elaine Howle’s report) validates the complaints about chronic medical provider shortages – a problem that may require either a lot more money or allowing nurses, chiropractors, pharmacists, naturopathic doctors or other non-physicians to become basic care providers. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

 HIV infections in Fresno County increase, especially among youth – In recent years, the county has seen an alarming number of new HIV and AIDS cases. Health officials are worried for several reasons. The county is seeing younger people getting infected, a large group of people aren’t in treatment and programs that had been helping patients for decades have had their budgets cut. KVPR report

 Is baby recession over? US births up after years of decline — It appears the baby recession really is over: Preliminary figures show U.S. births were up last year for the first time in seven years. AP article

 Unplanned pregnancies drop dramatically with improved birth control counseling – UC San Francisco researchers had an interesting idea to increase that rate. Instead of directly educating women about LARCs, they conducted a study to see if educating health care workers about contraceptives would make a difference. It did. Unintended pregnancy rates among young women in the study dropped by almost half. KQED report

 FDA to food industry: 3 years to phase out artificial trans fats — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday moved to eliminate trans fat from the U.S. food supply after determining that partially hydrogenated oils, the primary source of artificial trans fat, are not safe for human consumption. McClatchy Newspapers article

 How affordable is the Affordable Care Act? — For many Californians, the Affordable Care Act isn’t. You’re not alone if you can’t afford your health insurance obligations, whether you’re struggling to pay your monthly premium or facing thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. KQED report

 West Nile virus found in Kings County — Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been found in Kings County, the Kings Mosquito Abatement District said Tuesday. Four mosquito samples collected near Hanford, Armona and Lemoore tested positive and are the first to do so this year in the county. Fresno Bee article

 Free meals for Merced County kids through summer — School’s out for summer, but districts around Merced County still offer free lunches for children who might otherwise go without. Thousands of children younger than 18 will eat free breakfast, sack lunch and afternoon snacks at one of the Seamless Summer Feeding Option sites around Merced County. Merced Sun-Star article

 Second Harvest Food Bank has a lot on its plate — Hunger gets a lot of attention around the holiday season, but “summer hunger” is a less talked about yet just as real problem for struggling families. Modesto Bee article

 Senior living center has norovirus outbreak — A norovirus outbreak has stricken residents of O’Connor Woods Senior Living, causing the multilevel retirement facility to cancel group events, close its dining room and stop new admissions. Stockton Record article

Land Use/Housing

 San Joaquin County planners to consider allowing rodeo on farmland – The San Joaquin County Planning Commission on Thursday will consider making rodeos a new recreational subcategory in the county development title, as well as allow them to take place on agricultural lands. Stockton Record article

 Stanislaus County supervisors side with neighbors in dispute with metal recycler – Siding with the neighbors Tuesday evening, Stanislaus County supervisors decided not to allow a south Modesto business to crush and tear apart vehicles. Modesto Bee article

 Kerman launches home improvement finance program — Kerman City Council launched the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program on Tuesday. HERO is a financing program that allows for energy- and water-efficiency home improvements to be paid through the property tax bill, with owners repaying the assessment over five to 20 years with tax-deductible interest. Fresno Bee article


 Smaller carry-on bag proposal draws ire from lawmakers – A proposal by an airline trade group to create a smaller standard size for carry-on bags has drawn the ire of lawmakers who say the move is meant to squeeze more money out of air travelers. LA Times article

 New vision for Modesto’s McHenry Avenue – Modesto is looking at how it can improve the curb appeal of McHenry Avenue, an important north-south commercial corridor, which is showing signs of wear and tear in some areas. Modesto Bee article

 Market Street will strictly limit vehicles, despite Uber outcry — Uber may be on a roll, but the online ride-service powerhouse failed Tuesday to block a plan that will steer most cars — including its vehicles— off of Market Street beginning in August. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

 Probe continues into fatal crash involving Merced County supervisor – The search continues for the family of a man killed earlier this month when he was struck by a truck driven by John Pedrozo, chairman of the Merced County Board of Supervisors. Merced Sun-Star article

 Lois Henry: Wings flights continue without Kern dogs – Kern County shelter dogs have been barred from Wings’ flights for the past three months for fear of disease. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

 Mark Arax: Let’s preserve the last of Saroyan’s homes – The Valley author writes, “Wasn’t it enough that we had already torn down the house of his childhood and dismantled the museum exhibit of his life? I lingered on the front dirt for a few minutes and then drove home thinking a silly thought: Wouldn’t it be something if we lived in a town where a little shame could spark a movement to restore this house into a museum?” Arax op-ed in Fresno Bee

Fresno native and billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian dies at 98 — Fresno native Kirk Kerkorian, an eighth-grade dropout who built Las Vegas’ biggest hotels, tried to take over Chrysler and bought and sold MGM at a profit three times, has died. He was 98.  AP article; LA Times article

 City leaders want LAFD to tackle overdue fire-safety inspections — City officials called on the Los Angeles Fire Department on Tuesday to step up efforts to eliminate a backlog of thousands of overdue safety inspections of big apartment buildings, schools, churches, hotels and other structures that it ranks as the greatest risks of loss of life in major fires. LA Times article

 Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Nancy Pelosi should work to make Pacific Rim trade pact a reality.

Merced Sun-Star – Gov. Jerry Brown got his way and Democratic leaders quickly relented, passing a $167.6 billion spending plan that will vastly expand aid to children while increasing rainy-day savings.

Modesto Bee – Gov. Jerry Brown got his way and Democratic leaders quickly relented, passing a $167.6 billion spending plan that will vastly expand aid to children while increasing rainy-day savings.

Sacramento Bee – Democrats, Jerry Brown spend on the next generation; Berkeley balcony collapse is a nightmare for parents everywhere.

Stockton Record – Stockton Unified School District trustee Kathy Garcia made an unfortunate comment recently; Forward-thinking policies help growing Manteca push forward.


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 atwww.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/

 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 http://twitter.com/MaddyInstitute. 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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