Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Near 40% Water Rate Hike Is A Consequence Of Inadequate Government

As was admitted by somewhat sheepish City Staff members the other night at the "Water Walk" (and here I thought only Jesus could do that), water rate hikes should have begun to be incrementally worked into Sierra Madre's water bills five years ago. Instead the City dithered, and dallied, and generally involved themselves in more pertinent issues like which of their supporters should be ensconced on the Green Committee. And now we have a sudden rash of broken pipes (nice timing, that) and the 40% Chicken Little water rate hike that is going to put Sierra Madre's large fixed income senior population under some stress. With the beating retired people are taking on their investments in the worst economic downturn in 80 years, I don't think you could have found a more cruel time to do this.

Mayor Joe Mosca is quoted today in an article in today's Pasadena Star News. Reflecting on the need for "investment," Joe said, "To those who think this is too expensive, it will be more expensive in the future if we do nothing now."

Correct me if I am wrong here, but isn't Mosca going into his fifth year on our City Council? Is this problem something that just happened? Did we suddenly discover that the pipes in question are from the 1920s? Was this a secret all along? And since the Department of Water has been doing patchwork on our pipes for years, why the sudden rush now? And if the danger is as great as has been said, is the sheer size of this increase a consequence of years of delay? If so, we're talking about something that our current Mayor bears full responsibility for, and needs to be called out on it next Tuesday night.

After being told for weeks that the rate hike was all about the need to repair broken water infrastructure and a new well, it was also revealed at the "Water Walk" by our Director of Finance that there are some issues regarding bond covenants from 1998 and 2003. And that unless we went for this rate hike we could be facing some unpleasant financial consequences for poor fiscal planning. Why is this information only coming out now? Isn't this just another instance of Sierra Madre's "lost million dollars" syndrome? Dark secrets from the past that suddenly float to the surface at the oddest of times?

There is also the issue of a complete accounting of just how this $18 million would be spent, and why that information was never delivered.

MaryAnn MacGillivray, also quoted in today's Pasadena Star News, made this observation: "I don't think the people of Sierra Madre are protesting the fact that we need money; they are protesting the way we are going about this." While I don't agree with former Mayor MacGillvray completely, her point about the lack of proper leadership is an important one. Instead of having this laid out in a straight forward and transparent way, we were fed a ration of scare tactics and "Chicken Little" style panic attacks that were both insulting and misleading. The people of Sierra Madre deserve so much better than that.

There is a 6:30PM public hearing at City Hall Tuesday evening. We need to all be there. This rate hike, as unfortunate as it is, is only one of the issues that needs to be brought up. Equally important is the failure of leadership we have seen from our City Council's longtime members. They were there when the bad decisions were made, and need to be called out for their bad faith.

Bonus Coverage: Amazing site that makes a clear connection between DSP development driven water demands and what we are seeing today. Click here.

Sunday Bonus Coverage: Interesting article on the Pasadena Crown City News site. Here's the lead in: Water Rates To Go Up To Fund Schools? The California legislature may vote as early as Monday on borrowing a percentage of property taxes from water and sewer districts to plug the state budget deficit as authorized under Prop 1-A (2004) when there is a declared "severe state fiscal hardship."

Sunday Bonus Coverage 2: Just in case you're wondering who really calls the shots in Sacramento, or how we got stuck with corporatist legislation like SB 375. San Francisco Chronicle: Lobbyists sponsor 39 percent of California bills. And then there is this. Oakland Tribune: How our laws are really made. It ain't just here in Sierra Madre. The rot in this state is from top to bottom.

55 comments:

  1. "You think it's bad now, just wait" is one of the most often repeated threats of the pro-development faction.
    You think it's bad now with the hillsides, just wait until the developers sue again and again and again, unless we approve their projects. Oh we did approve, and they sued us for years anyway?
    Just wait until you don't beef up downtown on condo steroids, you pass Measure V and Sierra Madre will fail and all the businesses will close. Oh, other cities around us have acres of unsold condos, but we have a functioning downtown?
    Well just wait.

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  2. thank you anonymous!July 10, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    A great comment from yesterday's article:

    "$3 million would be about fixing pipes and drilling a well. $18 million is about laying down the water infrastructure for large development. This is a classic BIA operation, with their employees doing everything they can to sell it."

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  3. Yes, but that is just soooo politically incorrect! You know that saying things like that is uncivil!

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  4. Civility for Mayor Mosca means doing what he tells you to do with a smile on your face and a quickness in your step.

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  5. Like the Forestry Service allowing a "brush fire" to become a "big fire" to support a costly fire fighting infrastructure, our City allows existing deteriorating water infrastructure to become support for a Real Estate / Developer grab for money to finance their developments.

    The 10 / 40 / 75 percent "water tax" was planned and promoted by the new Council for the benefit of the Real Estate / Developer / Administration consortium.

    Again there is more than one way to "skin a resident"

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  6. Heh. Can't you just tell that a BIA initiative is in trouble when the Pasadena Star News jumps in? Their 3% market penetration in Sierra Madre carries some mighty weight don't cha know.

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  7. Tuesday's City Hall meeting is going to be a wild one.

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  8. I have visited www.jo-el.info. Can someone explain it to me?

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  9. It will not be possible to get a count of the protests until after Tuesday, right? Tuesdays the deadline, & surely the city clerk and the city attorney will need some clerical time.

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  10. Dunno what it means, but it sure raises some questions. Which
    I suspect is the point.

    Who put that up?

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  11. There are rumors of some heated conversations taking place at the Chamber of Commerce. Business owners are up in arms over the water rate hike, and have been making their feelings known. However CoC big 'un Rooster Coburn, who would never dream of going against the wishes of the big out-of-town big money interests whose favor he so desperately craves, has had to remain very quiet about this. Interesting dynamic at work there.

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  12. www.jo-el.info looks great to me.

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  13. Panic management is nothing new in this town. Every time they need money the hysteria starts.

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  14. 10:54

    Whoever put up this website....www.jo-el.info,

    THANK YOU! YOU ARE A ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS!

    Good stuff.

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  15. I love a PROTEST paradeJuly 10, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    WOW! www.jo-el.info WOW! The heavy hitters are coming to bat. It's a little like the "old" 4th of July Sierra Madre Parade - more folks on the sidelines (and opposed) than marching down the boulevard (the Chicken Little City Council supporters).

    Go for it! Come Tuesday night and hand in your protest letter on camera at Public Comment!!!

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  16. www.jo-el.info

    If certain residents catch the city cheating on this ( as in their protests are "missing").....the fun has just begun.
    It will snowball and dozens and dozens of residents will want to get in on the action.....
    Get the pitchforks and torches out folks.

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  17. I don't think there is a developer anywhere who would consider
    building any sizable development in Sierra Madre without new
    water infrastructure. And that it can be done on the backs of the
    residents? Priceless!

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  18. MaryAnn MacGillivray is right, the majority in town do think we should have a water rate hike. But it's not just how they are going about it, but the AMOUNT of the hike. Let's get realistic. Even though they have a reduced rate for those who need it, even their rate is going up. And Seniors who have taken a hit on their retirement funds probably can't qualify for the reduced rate schedule. Don't let them scare you into thinking the whole system is going to blow up tomorrow. There is plenty of time to collect what they need if they would readjust their figures.

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  19. Even some of the avid Mosca fans are signing the protest letters. I hope they see they were hoodwinked once again by the Buchanan bunch to campaign for Joe. Since Joe took all the credit for everything that happened in the city the past 4 years, he should also get all the blame.

    Just wait until the city gets to Joe's favorite project, street paving and they try to add assessments to all property owners. Now that IS Joe's from day one from start to finish.

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  20. As much as I admire and respect Mary Ann, I do not agree that people concede that the City needs money. When I heard bonds, I hear Bart Doyle and his theme of constantly borrowing money and then getting around to raising taxes, fees, etc to service the debt he's imposed. Classic. And I just love how the City Manager commented about how Don Watt's letter had inaccuracies. Eat my shorts. Have a look at jo-el.info. That information makes a strong case for this water being used for growth. That's all this is about and of course, the City is going to object like crazy. They know how unpopular the growth theme is. Personally, I think you ought to be picketing City Hall every day. You may have been swiftboating, but don't be fooled again!

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  21. Oh but 3:19, Joe is just getting calls every day about the streets, just tons of calls.....

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  22. The sad thing is we're being lied to, we know we're being lied to, yet it takes a near act of God to stop them. And then just for a while. How so many people cannot care about these things is scary. It is like the country has slipped to the point where democracy is no longer sustainable.

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  23. Here in this little town, the slow growth activists have done such a good job for so long that many, many people have been able to indulge in enjoying the smallness without doing anything to preserve it.
    I'm willing to bet that a large part of our population doesn't even know that we are in constant struggles: preserve, reasonable growth vs. over-develop and transform SM into a mini Pasadena.

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  24. www.jo-el.info makes the connection between past city council agenda items, water rate increases, downtown development studies and WATER! Hello!

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  25. I hope a posting will be forthcoming from Sir Eric on Sunday!!! We need his perspective!!!!

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  26. Benito MoscaliniJuly 10, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    Pay no attention to the jo-el site. Pay no attention to The Tattler. Tomorrow the Looney Views News will have all the information you are allowed to have. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. You're paying for it, so you might as well believe it.

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  27. I notice in the 2003 water rate increases (posted on www.jo-el.info) a fee for Seniors--not based on economic need--was offered! Apparently it was public policy that seniors, known to be on fixed incomes, needed a financial break. Given the current national state of economic affairs, seniors whose retirements are tied to health of financial institutions and investments should be given this consideration again. The current catch-up/mess-up water rate increases with ineffective-for-conservation-three-tireded proposal is terrible. Speaking with a condo resident, if the condo was built without seperate meters (this may be a historical fluke) they would be a huge water user in the higest tier and there is nothing to correct for the individual user when you can expect they are not deserving of being in the third tier at all.

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  28. Remember that one signature equals two voters.
    500 NO signatures = 1000 MAD voters
    1000 NO signatures = 2000 MAD voter which by the way is more voters that voted for JOE, JOSH, NANCY and JOHN
    1848 signatures is 3,696 MAD voters. More voters than voted in the last election. ALL with very good memories.

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  29. Not every signature equals two voters. Not every water department customer is a registered voter and not every water department customer is married.

    I agree there's a lot of MAD voters but your comparison is flawed.

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  30. And don't forget - not every voter pays a water bill. A whole bunch of folks live in multiple units where the water bill is paid by the landlord! The landlord must respond to every meter registered for the location!

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  31. I believe that each letter of protest represents a deep understanding of the lack of fairness of this process on the one hand and the economic hardship it represents on the other. Those who vote yes, by default by not protesting, represent folks who like to be taken care of without having to think about it too much. Or, they may be folks who are out of town during this "protest period" Or busy with their lives and the grind that the current economy represents... you can think of other plausible reasons. In the final analysis, this is the worst possible way to go about raising rates, poorly explained, anger producing and undermines the confidence of people who used to happily define themselves as residents of Sierra Madre.

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  32. 7:21

    You're only partially correct.
    What you say is true, however, there are many households in Sierra Madre where there are more than 2 registered voters. Therefore, the poster was pretty much on target.

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  33. There are a lot of renters who are registered voters that are going to be HIT with the increase and they will be mad voters.

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  34. I know this might seem contrarian, but I'd prefer our water systems to stay the way they are now. If this is what prevents developers from bringing more and bigger buildings into town, then I say let's keep it this way. I'd rather have patched pipes and occasional leaks than big unsold condominium complexes like they have in Pasadena. Where they are running out of water, btw.

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  35. 6:54's voter math might be off, but think about it, The gals in Kersting Court, the people who walked door to door, the phone calls, email, and mailings have educated the people. Whether we get our 1849 protest letters or not, we have still made a BIG impact on the city. People are talking. The street assessment process is next and we'll need to hit the streets again. With the people we've contacted for this issue, we'll have an easier time for the next, and the next until finally, we'll get a majority on the council. Not this time, we can get only two elected, but in four years, we'll have all five.

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  36. Sierra Madre has always patch their own water pipes. Why would we need an emergency meeting to call in an outside contractor? How odd right before the tally on July 13 th of the protests for the water hike we have two water pipe breaks within days of each other.Sierra Madre has had very few pipe repairs over the years check the records). An emergency city council meeting must be noticed in the newspaper in our legal adjudicated paper ( the one sided Mountain Views). It has a specific time period it must be noticed (internet does not suffice) and they are only very specific things that are allowed for an emergency meeting to be called. Check the Sunshine Act (part of the Brown Act). Only the items noticed can be talked about and nothing else by the council. If any items were decided to be done by resolution it takes 30 days before they can be enacted.
    If sierra Madre is built out our little Mayberry will be lost forever. Gone will be our scenic vistas... in will be traffic, parking structures, stop lights, higher crime. This unique sleepy community will vanish forever never to return again.

    SIERRA MADRE RESIDENTS...TIME TO GO TO THE MATTRESSES!!!!!

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  37. Too bad the whole town will have to bust its collective butt on these myriad issues for 4 years when they could have voted in a decent council just by not sitting at home on election day. One day. Just one day.

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  38. Sneaky Joe wants your money, your property, your quality of life, and your town. You want to see the Tongva Curse in person? Go to the City Council meeting Tuesday. That sour looking person sitting in the middle is it.

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  39. Any loving soul reading this, that hasn't signed the protest or turned in your insert in the recent mailer.....please do so NOW.
    Take it to Nancy Shollenberger .
    If you drop it off at City Hall tomorrow, be sure to ask for a receipt! This is likely to be crucial.
    You can also drop it off to Nancy S. in person at City Hall Council Meeting 6:30 pm. Tuedsay night...this is the deadline, so please get it to Nancy S., asp.
    The ladies in Kersting Court can be trusted to deliver your signatures to Nancy Shollenberger.

    Thanks to all the good citizen residents who have sent letters, signed petitions or dropped off their mailers to us. You will save our town!

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  40. www.jo-el.info

    is very knowledgeable and I hope will continue to post accurate documents to keep people informed. This is better than Freedom of Information Act which takes a lot of time, but perhaps other documents need to see the light of day.

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  41. After we kill the BIA Water Hike maybe we need to fire up the Mosca Recall again. Obviously he has now broken his 2010 election promise to support slow growth.

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  42. Remember, this city council we have now (except for former Mayor MacGillivray) has already over stepped their bounds.
    Joe Mosca, has installed a cut off button behind his desk to stop public comment of people he doesn't like what they say.
    Josh Moran has insulted residents beyond belief.
    He has also bullied people, and so has his mother, "Coven" leader at Webb Martin Realtors.
    Buchanan, Mosca, Walsh and Moran take orders from Bart Doyle, a man who has worked for the past two decades to sell out Sierra Madre to developers/BIA/TITAN (indicted crooks)Doyle supported Dorn Platz in the theft of One Carter, he supports and works for the crooked Sacramento politicians.

    This horrible city council can and will be removed, their outrages are really pushing the envelope. Other citizens have removed corrupt councilmembers. So can we. Remember, they technically, still work for us the people, only the current four certainly do not fit that mold.
    They work for DEVELOPMENT and the crooked politicians in Sacramento and Sierra Madre.

    Do not be surprised if the District Attorney is called in on this latest outrage....the so called Water Rate Hike.

    Turn on your protests, citizens, show up Tuesday night at City Hall, the council meeting 6:30 pm.
    Only your outrage can stop these people.
    Only your outrage will save the town.

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  43. 8:51

    We can get rid of Mosca, Buchanan, Walsh and Moran, all of them IF we catch the city cheating on the Water deal. It is possible this will happen.

    If we stop the BIA water hike......we will make this the worst year of Mosca's career, keep and MOSCA outrages record and stop this idiot from ever getting elected to a public office again.

    8:46:
    I urge EVERYONE TO CLICK on the link to jo-el website. It's awesome and God Bless whoever has posted this for us.
    "jo-el", if you are reading this friend, please keep in contact with Crawford, especially if there is trouble with the "water protests".
    If not, please, please keep contributing to this blog and we will sure be looking forward to your comments. Thanks, so much, friend.

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  44. @ 8:55

    You forgot the puppetmaster, Ed Roski

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  45. Funny that Ed Roski can't seem to push around the NFL like he has done with all the slick dirtbags in the San Gabriel Valley. You got to know that NFL team owners can sniff out a skunk like that from 100 yards away.

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  46. 9:38

    Thanks for reminding me. Ed Roski.....you are a disease!

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  47. You don't have to be a psychic to understand why poll after poll show large dissatisfaction with government and politicians. The feathering of their own nests, the feathering of Corp nests, the naked pursuit of money traveling through lobbiests, and agendas that represent a very small number of voters that find support from bought off politicians even here in Sierra Madre. The Water Tax is a sham designed to pave the way for Pasadenasizing Sierra Madre. Who prospers from this thinly disguized charade?

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  48. Good post 11:45

    Who prospers indeed is a fair question.
    Sadly, I think most of us know the answers to that.

    Sign the petitions, if the city cheats us on this, prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

    There are some honest attorneys on this blog.
    I know they will step up and help us out.
    By the way, dirts, our attorneys are much sharper than Mosca or Buchanan, if you can even call them attorneys.

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  49. why can't Mosca just do us all a favor and move out of town?

    if he'd take Buchanan with him the city would be alot more "civil"

    we were fine before without them and we'd be even better off without them

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  50. Have we heard anything from that deep thinker Nancy Walsh?

    she's probably frustrated because off of this tax rate increase mmetings is taking away time from her square dancing

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  51. Yeah your attorneys may be smarter than Mosca and Buchanan but they are getting their advice from Sandra Levin the city attorney (and her partner Michael Colantuano is right along with her).Look up La Habra (she is their attorney too) and Levin's opinion on their having to allow low income housing units in a park-like area of that city.

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  52. Just back from a pleasant afternoon of signature gathring. Back out soon for more. Everybody wants to sign now. Whatever the DICs have been speading around has completely backfired. Bit of buyer's remorse on Boy Joe as well.

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  53. If the city pulls off the water rate hike, by hook or crook (most likely CROOK).....a lot of people who fell for Joe Mosca's lies, will wish they could take their vote back.

    I've heard some nasty comments about Joe's decision to have a cut off button at the dais to cut off public speakers he doesn't approve of.

    I not only disapprove of Boy Joe.....I disapprove of his very existence.

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  54. Everyone needs to be at the City Council meeting Tuesday July 13th not only for the protest count but for whatever they pulled out of their hats at the supposed emergency meeting Friday June 9th.What type of resolution will they try to pass regarding monies for the mysterious pipe bursting that just happened all in one week.this resolution should be on line and available at the city counter for review on Monday.The pipe repairs did not warrant an emergency meeting . Check out what constitutes a reason for a city council emergency meeting.


    a) For purposes of this section, "emergency situation" means both of the following:
    (1) An emergency, which shall be defined as a work stoppage,crippling activity, or other activity that severely impairs public
    health, safety, or both, as determined by a majority of the members of the legislative body.
    (2) A dire emergency, which shall be defined as a crippling disaster, mass destruction, terrorist act, or threatened terrorist activity that poses peril so immediate and significant that requiring a legislative body to provide one-hour notice before holding an emergency meeting under this section may endanger the public health,safety, or both, as determined by a majority of the members of the legislative body.

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  55. It was an emergency like it's an emergency when Joey Mosca gets a hang nail

    Leave to to the drama queens Mosca and Buchanan to claim dire circumstances and create an over blown crisis just because it benefits the build out of a water infrastructure that allows for large scale development that benefits their respective employers.

    These days I don't believe anything Mosca or Buchana claims.

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