Writings and observations

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Republicans win after period of conflict (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
10 Barrel in Boise bought by Anheuser-Busch (Boise Statesman)
INL finds breakthroughs on battery tech (IF Post Register)
Narrow legislative wins by Rusche, Rudolph (Lewiston Tribune)
Forest Service again tries to clarify on photos (Lewiston Tribune)
Possible evictions at Syringa Mobile (Moscow News)
Top executive spots filled at UI (Moscow News)
Idaho gets ready for legal Oregon pot (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon Co clerk explains slow vote count (Nampa Press Tribune)
Many part-time adjuncts at CSI (TF Times News)

GMO label battle goes on after defeat (Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Linn-Benton bond appears to pass (Corvallis Gazette)
Oregon pot dispensaries hope to expand (Corvallis Gazette)
Oregon misses Republican tide (Eugene Register Guard)
Marijuana regime changes begin, slowly (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing Klamath school bond success (KF Herald & News)
Klamath irrigators still looking for options (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Co plans pot tax (Medford Tribune)
Election turnout hit 69.5% (Portland Oregonian)
Child dropoffs allowed for newborns, not older (Portland Oregonian)

Kitsap may get Republican prosecutor (Bremerton Sun)
Some legislative races still up for grabs (Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouverl Columbian, Olympian, Port Angeles News)
Challenger to Cowlitz prosecutor still ahead (Longview News)
Background check backers plan for more (Seattle Times)
Banner Banks buys AmericanWest Bank (Spokane Spokesman)
Election results redder in Spokane County (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce sheriff seeks 32 new staffers (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark officials move to implement new charter (Vancouver Columbian)
Newhouse retains a narrowing lead in CD 4 (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima public broadcaster KYVE may shut down (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Judging by his margin of victory, Gov. Butch Otter sealed the deal on this election long before the Oct. 30 debate on Idaho Public Television. But if there were any doubts about Otter in rural Idaho, where Otter practically is a political folk hero, they were quickly dashed in the debate.

From a rural perspective, Otter, the rodeo cowboy, was going against all the forces of evil. There was a Democratic egghead, a smooth-talking lawyer and a liberal media panel that peppered him with questions about issues that didn’t amount to a jar of tobacco spit – mainly, the prison scandal and settlement amounts.
Otter, the smart politician he is, turned the situation in his favor. He fought back, putting the rich Democrat, the lawyer and the liberal press in their place. A few times, he stood toe to toe with John Bujak, looking him straight in the eye – which, given Bujak’s physical stature, was like staring down Mean Joe Greene.

Somewhere in rural Idaho, someone had to be saying, “You tell ‘em, Butch.” The rural folk couldn’t care less if the settlement amount with Corrections Corporation of America was $1 million, or $1.3 million, or whether he participated in negotiations that gave the CCA a golden parachute. One thing people in rural Idaho can understand is how to deal with tough times, and Otter played those cards just right. It’s easy for people in Boise to talk about spending more for education and raising taxes; it’s a lot tougher for people in rural Idaho to come up with the cash.

For almost an hour and a half, Otter showed a side of him that has been missing for so long. He’s the guy who, as a legislator, voted “not no, but HELL NO,” on a bill he didn’t like. As lieutenant governor, he vetoed a bill to raise the drinking age when the governor was out of town because he didn’t want to yield to the federal government’s blackmail. As a congressman, Otter stood up to a Republican president at the height of his popularity to oppose the Patriot Act, because he thought it trampled on people’s civil rights.

During the talk about the Patriot Act, calls of “You tell ‘em, Butch,” didn’t just come from rural Idaho. Otter was a champion of the people and even the editorial pages gave him credit.

The last time I saw Otter with spunk and energy was in 2009 when Otter was pushing for a 2-cent gas tax to repair Idaho roads. He stood up to Republican legislators, including now-Congressman Raul Labrador, and told it like it was. Idaho roads were crumbling and a 2-cent gas tax was the least painful way of paying for the needed work. Otter was beaten down on that issue by House Republicans and Otter turned into just another politician trying to keep his job. The strategy for Republicans in 2010, when Otter was seeking re-election the first time, was for everybody to be unified. The governor’s office and leadership in both chambers were using almost identical talking points to illustrate how the GOP was effectively managing Idaho through difficult economic times. State sovereignty resolutions poured out of the chute like popcorn during that session – showing that the GOP was firmly committed to standing up to the federal government.

Otter’s go-along, get-along, approach remained throughout his second term. Sure, there was fuss over a state health exchange, common core and Luna laws, but he had the blessing of legislative leadership at every turn. His last State of the State speech, which contained a litany of references about government programs, government partnerships and rhetoric about “what government has, and can, do for you,” was an example of what Otter had become.

So now, Otter is heading for a third term and I hope to see more of the old Butch Otter, who had unquestionably high principles and convictions. I hope to see the Butch Otter who puts the people ahead of the cronies and power brokers. In reality, Otter has nothing to accomplish or prove in the next four years. He’s unstoppable in elections and he already has achieved greatness in the eyes of voters.

The message from this election is that Otter can stay in office for as long as he wants.

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Malloy

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Republicans sweep in Idaho races (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
New bishop, Christensen, for Idaho catholics (Boise Statesman)
Grossenbacher will be replaced as INL head (IF Post Register)
Asotin Co elects new sheriff (Lewiston Tribune)
Agidius loses to Jordan (Moscow News)
More gun background checks approved in Washington (Moscow News)

Legal pot wins at ballot, no to driver cards (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Kitzhaber gets 4th term (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, Pendleton )
Corvallis rejects parking district plan (Corvallis Gazette)
Klamath passes school bond (KF Herald & News)
Lake Co sheriff race too close (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Co sheriffs race finally decided (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston/Standfield fire district rejected (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Close split on GMO labeling measure (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap elects first R commissioner since 08 (Bremerton Sun)
Gun background check initiative wins (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Bremerton Sun, Olympian)
Washington congressional incumbents win (Everett Herald, Olympian)
Who wins control of Wa Senate? (Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Cowlitz prosecutor may be ousted (Longview News)
Cowlitz PUD board gets new commissioner (Longview News)
Thurston Commission sees change (Olympian)
Close vote on reducing class sizes (Seattle Times)
Republicans romp in Idaho (Spokane Spokesman)
Republicans win in Spokane races (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark Co voters support home rule (Vancouver Columbian)
Newhouse ahead of Didier in House race (Yakima Herald Republic)
Winter elected as Yakima sheriff (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

stapilus RANDY
STAPILUS

 
The View
from Here

Just a few thoughts this evening – more tomorrow – in looking at the Northwest results. (As is our wont, we’ll leave most of the national commentary to other places.)

Talking to a caller early today, I remarked that I didn’t see many surprises and didn’t expect a lot of change in Northwest politics. With most of the results in, I see no need to change that. While control of the U.S. Senate will change some pictures for the Senate delegation, the in-Northwest political scene changed remarkably little.

Every incumbent member of Congress in the Northwest was re-elected, and not only that, re-elected easily, mostly in landslides, Democrats and Republicans alike.

The two governors up for elections, Democrat John Kitzhaber of Oregon and Republican Butch Otter of Idaho, both under heavily assault in this campaign, won re-election, to a fourth and third term respectively.

The most interesting of the congressional races, in Washington’s 4th district, pitted two Republicans against each other, Tea Party activist Clint Didier against the more mainstream former legislator Dan Newhouse. Newhouse, who had the endorsement of the incumbent (Doc Hastings), won, narrowly, tempering the tone of the state’s House delegation a smidge.

Washington’s legislature looks likely to be split again in the term ahead – the key indicators being the Tim Sheldon and Mark Miloscia – but at least one ballot issue showed no turn away from left-activism by the electorate: The decisive win in favor of expanding background checks for gun purchases. And you can match that up against Oregon’s vote in fabor of joining Washington (and Colorado) in the crop of states seeking to legalize marijuana, keeping the issue from remaining a two-state experiment.

A surprising number of Idaho Democrats pulled together scenarios for possible Democratic wins, up to and including the governorship. My take, on radio and elsewhere, was that Democrats had a small edge to win the superintendent of public instruction job, weren’t favored but could come close for secretary of state, and would be unlikely to win elsewhere among major offices. Some horn tooting, then: Democrat Jana Jones may have won for superintendent (just as this is written, the vote is a dead heat – we’ll know more later), Democrat Holli Woodings has a decent percentage but still is losing for secretary, and no other Democrats were coming close.

My call, though, for most significant Idaho election of the night – assuming that later returns uphold the early – is in a House seat in District 15, a west-Boise district held easily for decades by Republicans, but essential to a breakthrough into the suburbs if Democrats are ever going to gain significantly in Idaho. Those early results showed Democrat Steve Berch, who has run for the House twice before (two years ago in this district) defeating well-established incumbent Republican Lynn Luker. The other two incumbent Republicans in 15 also were on the razor’s edge, and could go either way tomorrow. A decade from now, these votes in District 15 may be seen as the most significant event – as regards change – in this election year in Idaho. [UPDATE: Late results did change the totals significantly in the District 15 races, giving the three Republicans there wins; so this year was not the year it turned. But the district still is showing itself as closely competitive, and a Democratic win there in an upcoming cycle clearly is not out of reach.]

But in the main, and for the next couple of years . . . for all the discontent that seems to be out there, people in the Northwest mostly voted for more of the same.

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Northwest Stapilus

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

On an August weekend this past summer I took our two grandchildren to visit the nearby Cataldo Mission. We toured the visitor center and museum before visiting the Jesuit Mission that is the oldest building in Idaho, having been constructed by Father DeSmet in the 1830’s.

There were various plaques in and around the State Park with names of patrons but nowhere did I see the name of the gruff, Irish pixie, Hank Day, who led a fund-raising campaign that saved the Mission from irrevocable deterioration and led to its restoration.

Hank, and his friend, Harry Magnuson, were two of the wealthiest people to ever be born into and grow up in the Silver Valley. They both made fortunes with shrewd investments in penny stocks and a canny knack for investing in mines that provided regular returns. In turn, often quietly and with little fanfare, they reinvested in a vast array of civic and community projects.

As Judge Dick Magnuson told the Spokesman-Review in an article on Hank’s passing in the March 22, 1985 edition, “Few are aware of how much he really gave to the community.” The same can be said for the Judge’s brother, Harry.

Magnuson, however, is named on a plaque for being a significant supporter of the restoration project. Hank is not. He was more than content to let Harry get the lion’s share of credit for projects and causes they worked on together.

Saving and restoring the Cataldo Mission was just such a project. Both were devout Roman Catholics and both were financial boosters for Gonzaga University and Gonzaga Prep. Both recognized the importance of preserving the Old Mission as the visible symbol of the Jesuits extensive role in the early history of the inland northwest.

Both also played a critical role in providing Gonzaga University a line of credit that staved off bankruptcy in the early 60’s.

Hank was born on October 4th, 1902 and his first home was up the gulch just outside of Wallace that constituted the community of Burke. When he was five the family moved to Wallace just in time to survive the monstrous and devastating 1910 forest fire that destroyed part of Wallace and consumed hundreds of thousands of surrounding acres of forest.

Few realized how well educated Hank was. He received his degree in mining engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He did advance studies in Economic Geology and wrote his thesis on the underground geology of the Tamarack Mine where he worked during a couple of college summers.

His father was a co-founder of the Hercules Mine which over a number of years paid out $200 million to investors. Hank helped found the Day Mine in 1947, and remained an officer and ultimately board chiar until he retired in 1972. One of the bitter moments in his life was when his beloved mine was the object of a successful hostile take-over by Hecla in 1981.

Hank also was a director of the Coeur d’Alenes Company until 1966 when the steel fabricating and mining supply firm was acquired by Jimmy Coulson. During his career, Hank participated in almost all the civic activities going in the area, not to mention his legendary support for the University of Idaho and his fund-raising efforts to establish a College of Mines school at the university.

In the mid-70’s, he undertook the lead in a campaign to raise $50,000 of seed money to save the Cataldo Mission. He eventually raised $300,000. The early fund-raising, however, hit a snag when a promised $50,000 grant from the U.S. Bicentennial Commission did not come through. Restoration work had already begun and bills had to be paid which forced the Idaho Board to reallocate funds from other projects.

Hank knew he had an Ace up his sleeve, so to speak, and had figured out that then Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus might be able to influence “priority” among dozens of worthy projects applying for both federal and state support.

Hank knew his oft-times community partner, Harry Magnuson, just might be able to twist the Governor’s arm a bit. He was correct. Magnuson called Cece and lo and behold when the Bicentennial grant finally came through it was matched with $50,000 from several state resources.

Hank’s role in the preservation of the Cataldo Mission should be publicly recognized. So, too, for that matter, should the role of Hank’s right hand, Day Company President Bill Calhoun. Here’s hoping the good folks of my native county agree and that the next time I take my grandchildren to visit the Mission there will a plaque honoring their indispensible roles.

-30-

Correction: A sharp column reader caught a mistake made in an earlier column on gubernatorial terms. I stand corrected and I appreciate the catch. Here’s a setting the record straight from Andy Brunelle of Boise:

The repeal of the single term for governors in Idaho came during Smylie’s tenure, not Len Jordan’s. Smylie signed the bill to reopen Lewiston Normal (now LCSC) in exchange for lifting the single term limit. And Tom Boise delivered. It’s in Smylie’s autobiography. Jordan closed Lewiston and Albion Normal schools. Would not have happened had my grandpa Cal Wright won in 1950. Tom Boise worked to get Lewiston reopened, thus the deal with Smylie. Albion went away and Cassia County turned hard Republican (Cal grew up in Burley and carried Cassia and Minidoka counties).

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Carlson

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Ahead to today’s elections (Boise Statesman, TF Times News, Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Yellowstone, Teton may expand bandwidth (Boise Statesman)
Legal fight over Clarkston pot ban continues (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow plans downtown public toilet (Moscow News)
Latah neighbors conflicting over water rights (Moscow News)
Nampa prepares to hire Idaho Center leaders (Nampa Press Tribune)
Barnes & Noble wins data turnover case (TF Times News)

Ahead to today’s elections (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Loud public debate in Corvallis on open carry (Corvallis Gazette)
Springfield watcher spots illegal carports (Eugene Register Guard)
New UO mission statement approved (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath may get a rural OHSU hub in 2016 (KF Herald & News)
Former Kitzhaber aide complains on Hayes (Medford Tribune)
Athena may end its local police force (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Wildhorse reports large financial success (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hacker hits employment department records (Portland Oregonian)
Hot debate over city pot taxes (Salem Statesman Journal)

Ahead to today’s elections (Seattle Times, Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun, Longview News)
Marysville school chief was seeking mental health funds (Longview News)
Washington’s DC clout at risk (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
2nd Walmart opening at Lacey (Olympian, Port Angeles News)
Sekiu Olsen’s Resort sold to Idaho firm (Port Angeles News)
Stabilizing Coeur d’Alene river near Cataldo (Spokane Spokesman)
State might be auctioning Picassos (Spokane Spokesman)
Still working on Yakima nitrate pollution (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

If one believes the polls, Republicans will take control of the U.S. Senate next week, and retain the House of Representatives.

For the Republic, this may or may not be a good thing. As astronaut Alan Shepard, Jr. famously prayed, muttering into his microphone, on the launch-pad of America’s first space-flight in May of 1961, “Shepard, don’t f**k this up.”

We’ve had six years of a Democratic Senate and White House and seen the horrors of their monopoly. Harry Reid has been the hockey goalie blocking debate. I get his emails. On the other hand, Republicans didn’t behave much better under Newt Gingrich. Comity evaporated. The sensible consensus is that regardless of party we are governed by greed-heads.

They Rs better make good use of their time, and they’ve only two years to show their stuff.

Hello Senate Rs. Shove bill after bill onto Obama’s desk, passed by both houses. They should include, among many other things, mandatory up-or-down votes on regulations adopted by federal agencies now run amok.

For our purposes here in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District, such review ought to include the EPA’s tawdry interpretation of the Clean Water Act. While Congress specifically confined the agency’s authority to the navigable waters of the United States, EPA bent the rules to give itself authority over every molecule of H2O in the U.S.

Examples of “mission creep” are rampant in nearly every branch of the U.S. government and need to be stopped. We’ve come a long way from Richard Nixon’s Council on Environmental Quality to Jimmy Carter’s lame-duck Superfund, which is now on v 2.0 and slobbering for an upgrade.

Sen. Mike Crapo, who is not up for re-election this year, was in town the other day. The evening before, we blew the froth off a few with one of his long-time staffers, a personal friend from newspapering days, at a local pub. We introduced the staffer around and asked the miners – not CEOs or managers, just the people who do actual mining – what they’d like of the Senator.

To a man (and woman) they said, “Get the EPA and MSHA (the Mine Safety and Health Administration) off our backs and let us do our jobs.” Again, these were not corporate guys. They were mostly union guys and one shift-boss.

The working men and women of this nation have woken up to the perils of Progressivism, which unfortunately some of their unions at the national level have not. The working people have discovered the annoyance of a bureaucrat, uneducated in the nuances of the craft they perform, peering over their shoulders, citation books and lawsuits in hand.

It didn’t used to be that way. The early EPA guys, even from Region X, were engineers and scientists: decent people. The early MSHA inspectors were experienced miners. They’ve all been replaced by MBAs, pencil-pushers and busybodies.

A decade or so ago, we shared an afternoon wine with Paul Glavin, who was at that time head of the United Steel Workers union’s Northwestern U.S. region. It was Paul, a true gentleman, who posited that labour and management had common cause against the federal government’s agenda. It is our common enemy if we want jobs and prosperity, and labour and management had better start talking to each other about this. There is evidence that this conversation has begun.

The Republicans, if they take the Senate on Tuesday, could right quick fix this fiasco and rein in the Progressive busybodies and their ever more aggressive policies.

If Republicans don’t back the working man in the mines, on the pipelines, on the power-lines and the long-lines, and instead start yelling at us about abortion rights, women’s suffrage, the 17th Amendment and gay marriage, they will install their own version of the nanny sate and will deserve to lose everything in 2016. In which case, we will be a one-party country. Heil what’s-his-name.

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Bond

Middleton signage
 

A cluster of political signs (and one commercial sign as well) posted on November 1, on a farm just outside of Middleton in Canyon County. (photo/Randy Stapilus)

 
As last week ended, political campaigns began to fold their tents – along with some strong final-weekend activity – and everyone prepared for absorbing the results on the evening of November 4. A large chunk of the news revolved in one way or another around those elections.

Watch here for election analysis on Tuesday night.

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Digests

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Washington may lose clout in Congress (Lewiston Tribune)
Reviewing elections in Washington (Moscow News)
New logo planned for West Valley Humane (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon Co big businesses looking to hire (Nampa Press Tribune)
Twin Falls deals with many potholes (TF Times News)
Idaho coosts for broadband may drop (TF Times News)

Health insurance exchange fed site on track (Eugene Register Guard, Corvallis Gazette)
Lane County elections prepare for count (Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing Rogue Valley groundwater contamination (Medford Tribune)

Bremerton apartment complex underway (Bremerton Sun)
Kitsap reviewing mental health issues (Bremerton Sun)
Voters considering competing gun issues (Bremerton Sun, Port Angeles News)
Reviewing the new Everett port director (Everett Herald)
Washington could lose clout in Congress (Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
UW breaks through in anti-aging research (Seattle Times)
Expecting a low voter turnout (Spokane Spokesman)
Delta Air Lines brings more to Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
Reviewing oil disaster preparedness in area (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

National news will be locked in on whatever happens with control of the U.S. Senate, while Washington has not so much as a U.S. Senate or governor’s race to draw a lot of attention this year.

But there’s plenty to watch, and plenty of interest.
First, what about turnout? Ballot returns so far have indicated substantial turnout. But the numbers are still unclear.

Oregon has a U.S. Senate race this year, the only one in the Northwest, but probably not a lot of people are really wondering how it’s going to turn out; all that’s likely to be of interest here is the margin. (Polling has been pretty uniformly showing Democrat Jeff Merkley more than 10 points ahead of Republican Monica Wehby.)

The governor’s race is a lot more interesting, which is something of a surprise from, say, a year ago, when the Senate contest would logically have gotten more attention. Just enough baggage has piled on Governor John Kitzhaber, and enough of it just as ballots were heading out in the mail, to throw some question marks over his contest with Republican Dennis Richardson. Enough that Richardson might win? Not many analysts have gone that far, but some nerves doubtless are on edge in both parties over this one.

Odds are that both chambers of the legislature remain under narrow Democratic control, and the House doesn’t seem to be up for grabs. If it changes hands, you can call that a true upset. The Senate, with its one-vote margin allowing for Democratic control, is a closer call; only a few tight races could significantly change things there. The Corvallis-Albany seat held by Republican Betsy Close seems thinly likely to change hands, but too the Medford-area seat held by Democrat Alan Bates is being fought down to the wire. (Bates is being outspent, and he has been quoted as saying that fewer than 1,000 votes probably will decide it.)

And then the ballot issues, several of which – polling suggests – are close enough as to be up for grabs. Pot legalization seems thinly likely to pass, but if it does not by much. GMO labeling could go either way. Among the hot buttons, only the drivers license rule change seems to have a clear outcome (it appeared headed toward defeat).

Even without a hot Senate race, Oregon can take its place among the states with a lot to watch this week.

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