The Observer

The Fullerton Observer is a “progressive” publication based in the City of Fullerton. It is edited and published by Sharon Kennedy. The Observer is often criticized for the subtle interweaving of editorial content within news coverage. It doesn’t cost anything so you get what you pay for.

Two Kinds of Deflection

In the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder at the hands of the FPD, two different yet eerily similar tactics emerged for deflecting responsibility away from the cops.

Fullerton’s antique liberal crowd quickly banded together so that society itself could be blamed, not the FPD: the problem was not murderous, corrupt or even incompetent cops. Oh, no. The problem was one of homelessness and the solution was to provide a homeless shelter! Why Kelly would probably even be alive today!

On the other hand, the anonymous cop-protectors keep insisting that the problem lay with poor parenting for Kelly’s death, as if a schizophrenic, 35 year-old man was somehow the responsibility of his parents, and as if that somehow exculpates the six cops who beat him to death and stood around laughing as he died in a pool of his own blood.

Of course both groups relied heavily upon a completely comical whitewash of the FPD Culture of Corruption by paid-for opinion of Michael Gennaco.

Two different cliques, two very similar tactics.

 

62 Comments

Sooner or Later, Social Justice For Kelly Thomas

It’s funny, in a sick sort of way, but the very types who used to bray the loudest about the need for “social justice” have been virtually silent in Fullerton in the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder at the hands of members of an out-of-control police department.

The graying establishment Democrats had been hiding behind their drawn chintz curtains, curled up in an intellectual fetal position on their plastic slip-covered Naugahyde sofas. It was just too scary and, well, controversial to say anything, let alone actually do anything.

Fortunately, others, such as Stephan Baxter, Marlena Carrillo and Lauren Becker are willing to keep up the pressure.

Here is a link to Becker’s website that reminds us exactly what a Culture of Corruption can do, and try to get away with, when left to its own devices. It also reminds us what we can do to push back against an entrenched system.

The bars stayed open and the bands played on…

Democrats like Jan Flory, and Molly McClanahan and Pam Keller didn’t say a word in the aftermath of the murder. No, they only got outraged when people outside their cozy little circle took the reins of government out of the hands of three incompetent old fools.

These people are a lot more worried about the fate of the bureaucracy than they are about the people of Fullerton. All of them.

 

115 Comments

County Supervisor Wants To Take Budget Axe to Human Relations Commission

Just do it.

What is the Orange County Human Relations Commission? It is a County Commission whose mission seems to be get everybody to just get along. Calming the roiling waters of bigotry and racial insensitivity is one goal, seemingly a good one, until you start to realize that this operation has no way of demonstrating that is actually doing anything productive, and tracks a mere handful of incidents annually.

The taxpayers of Orange County currently give something called the Human Relations Council $300,000 a year to provide staffing for the Orange County Human Relations Commission. Confusing? Not to Rusty Kennedy the Executive Director. He pulls in his pension as a former County employee and gets paid all over again by us to do his good deeds via the office of the Council.

4th District Supervisor Shawn Nelson has seen and heard enough and wants to cut that down to $100,000 – just enough to cover some sort of police/community reconciliation program. Nelson seems particularly perturbed that in the wake of the Kelly Thomas killing Rusty Kennedy was MIA. I’m not surprised by Kennedy’s absence. FFFF posted about that, here, and here.

Of course when it came time to host a big collaborative boohoo session, er, I mean Task Force on Homelessness, Rusty was Johnny-on-the-spot, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Kelly Thomas’s main problem was not that he was homeless, but that he was the victim of a real hate crime. But Kennedy needs the cops to shill for his continued County-supplied budget, and it really wouldn’t look good if he started accusing the cops of hate crimes. Those letters of support would sure dry up in a hurry.

Anyhow, Kennedy’s contract is on the County Board of Supervisor’s agenda for next Tuesday morning and you can be sure all the squishy feel-gooders and race hustlers will be out in force – the very same church and synagogue pulpit preachers who were utterly mute after Kelly Thomas was murdered.

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Liberals, Progressives and the Fullerton Recall

We got our hands on this editorial from CSUF professor Jonathan Taylor after it was rejected for publication by the Fullerton Observer, apparently because they will not run letters in support of or against the recall (unless you pay for an advertisement, that is.)

Well, we have no such limitations. Enjoy!

Liberals and progressives should support the Fullerton recall.

As a longtime supporter of progressive politics and Democratic candidates, I call on all liberal and progressive voters to put party politics aside and support the Fullerton recall.

The reasons are simple.  Our nation is undergoing an epidemic of police brutality.  More police departments are currently under investigation by the US Justice Department than at any time in history. The excessive force used in the crackdown on the Occupy movement last fall was a wakeup call (for anyone not from Fullerton).  The Kelly Thomas killing and the protest movement it has led to and which has its clearest political expression in the Fullerton recall is thus not just a local issue.  Communities, activists, and law enforcement agencies around the country are watching the unprecedented non-partisan, grassroots movement against police violence that has seemingly come out of nowhere to directly challenge our rogue police department and city political establishment.  Liberals and Democrats can be on the right side of history and support this movement, or they can side with the forces of oppression and resistance to meaningful reform. The choice has never been more clear.

Two main arguments have been put forward against the recall. One is based on a falsehood, the other on misplaced priorities.

The falsehood is that because businessman and blogger Tony Bushala has funded much of the recall effort out of his own pocket, that somehow “Fullerton is for sale” and that Bushala stands to make a sizeable fortune out of this investment.  It is wise to be cynical about business influence on politics – take for example former Fullerton mayor, recall opponent, and astounding redevelopment beneficiary Dick Ackerman. But nobody has been able to demonstrate how Bushala’s businesses – which largely restore historic buildings – would benefit financially from the recall.  Anybody who has taken the time to talk with Tony Bushala, or to read the blog that he and city council candidate Travis Kiger run understands that what drives their efforts is outrage, not the prospect of financial gain.

This outrage is outrage we ALL should be feeling regardless of party affiliation or ideology.  Kelly Thomas was not the first victim of police brutality in Fullerton; I personally have talked with three other individuals, each with a shockingly horrific tale of violent and unjustified treatment at the hands of Fullerton police, and there are countless other victims dating back decades. But the killing of Kelly Thomas is unique in its brutality – it is one of the worst acts of police violence this country has seen, far surpassing for instance the brutality and severity of the Rodney King beating.

The misplaced priority is the idea that this outrage is somehow too much. The recall movement and the street protestors have been referred to as a “lynch mob,” as if the anger and determination for change aroused by seeing Kelly Thomas’s bloodstains on the pavement and hearing his desperate screams and cries as he was literally beaten and crushed to death are somehow “improper.”   Members of the community and longstanding local political figures, many of them Democrats, have appealed to a sense of propriety and gentility as a rationale to oppose the recall.  This is beyond contemptible. A breach of decorum cannot be compared to brutality, torture, and murder. I am at a loss as to how members of our community can fail to understand this.

Anger is an appropriate emotion when a situation of dramatic injustice is exposed. This anger is being appropriately channeled into a movement which calls for the replacement of the city leadership with ballots, not pitchforks. What better sign of the maturity of a movement could there be?  Whether the city council members up for recall were directly responsible for the escalating police violence and brutality that led to Kelly Thomas’s death, or whether they simply failed to respond adequately to the challenges of an out-of-control police department are reasonable issues for debate.  What is not debatable is that the entire country, if not the world, is watching a citizens’ revolt against the Fullerton police; that this movement is primarily (though not completely) led by Libertarians and Republicans; and that liberals and progressives are faced with a stark choice: support candidates who promise to clean up our police department and prevent these atrocities from happening again, or support the status quo.  Any person who would let partisanship, propriety, or political affiliation dictate their vote at this point in Fullerton is a person without moral backbone or principal.  It just so happens that the council members being recalled are Republicans.  Were they Democrats, Greens, Communists, Libertarians, Whigs, Black Panthers or Mugwumps it wouldn’t matter – they must go.

Progressive voters need to remember their values. Core liberal and progressive values include support for human rights, social justice, civil liberties, and compassion for the downtrodden. That means we do not tolerate rogue police officers killing schizophrenic homeless men in our midst; assaulting innocent college students for fun; making false arrests to cover their incompetence and violence; arresting and torturing citizens because they showed insufficient respect and the other atrocities that have been uncovered as our citizenry diligently investigates our local police. Last summer I was startled to discover that Libertarians and Republicans, at least the good ones, not only agree with this, they’re actually motivated to do something about it.  In fact, they have led the charge, and they deserve our support.

There are many good candidates for city council who demonstrate their unequivocal commitment to the values I mention above, and they are not largely Democrats. Liberal and progressive Democratic voters must work with Republicans and Independents to replace the current city council with individuals who echo the community’s legitimate outrage and demonstrate commitment to true reform.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Taylor
Professor of Geography
California State University, Fullerton

147 Comments

Are “Conscience” Dems Abandoning Doug Chaffee?

Could be. Since July 2011 Recall candidate Doug Chaffee has been the invisible man. No presence at protests, no support of the Recall, no denunciation of the recall, no comment on the Culture of Corruption in the FPD, no defense of the McKinley police regime, either.

Matt Rowe

Some Democrats who supported Chaffee in 2010 are jumping ship – to independent candidate Matt Rowe. They are claiming that Chaffee is just a mealy-mouthed guy who wants to get elected without saying a damn thing substantive.

Here is a letter from Stephan and Noelle Baxter, and William Zdan sent to our friends at The Fullertonian. It’s a hard-hitting piece, born of the frustration of a politician who is so petrified of saying anything that he says nothing, and evidently stands for nothing.

The choice of Rowe over Doug Chaffee is the proverbial no-brainer. When you check out Chaffee’s supporters you’ll you’ll see the Old Guard Left like Molly McClanahan and Jan Flory who sat on their hands and kept their mouth shut in the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder. Many of his supporters actually oppose the recall and that speaks volumes about what they expect from their boy. He’s even being supported behind the scenes by repuglicans like Dick Ackerman and his sleazy ilk who apparently see in Chaffee their Main Chance.

 

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No More MIA “Leadership.” No Doug Chaffee.

A fence sitting, cardboard candidate? On June 5th you get to decide.

Perusing the latest yellowing Fullerton Observer I noticed how various candidates responded to the  question “How Would You have Handled The Kelly Thomas Situation?”

First the Three Bald Tires, poster boys for utter leadership failure, were given the chance to reflect on their actions, or lack of same. They offered up the same old “we were told by our lawyer not to say anything” tripe. On his way out the saloon doors Doc Hee Haw managed to serve up this beaut: “I regret that some have acted to circumvent the constitutional laws of justice,” as if to reassure himself that the whole gol’dern commotion was the fault of some “lynch-type mob” and had nothing to do with his own incompetence and fat mouth.

The candidates were all pretty uniform in their responses with the glaring exception of Doug Chaffee, who spooned out this idiotic pabulum:

“I am a strong advocate of community oriented policing. In a community oriented policing system, police officers partner with neighborhoods to build trust and positive community relationships. The system generates mutual respect between residents and police. Being pro-active, the focus is on preventing crime, as opposed to merely reacting to it, and results in a safer City.”

What?

Not a single word about Kelly Thomas or his family, the brutal way in which he was killed, the conspiracy of silence in the aftermath, the disinformation peddled by Goodrich, the cops who were returned to duty, the disappearing police chief, the sick police chief, the pensioned-off police chief, or the charges of murder and manslaughter brought against the two cops by the DA. No explanation from Doug that Kelly was not committing a crime, and that the only criminals on the scene were members of the Fullerton Police Department.

Some have asked where Chaffee has been for these past nine months. I know. He’s been hiding from his own pale shadow.

It is apparent to me that this man is an empty suit, a coward and a damned fool. On the council he would be hardly better than McKinley himself. The last thing Fullerton needs is another superannuated do-nothing, say-nothing, stand-for-nothing yellow observer in office.

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Another Fowl Observer Plop

 

Where's China?

I really don’t know why I bother communicating with the feather-headed Sharon Kennedy and her wretchedly incompetent Fullerton Observer.

When she wrote an unsigned “article” last month alleging that I rent space from the City worth more than $12,000 a month for  a mere $1300, I felt obliged to respond. So I sent in a letter to The Observer to add important facts that she casually omitted and also to question how in the world she came up with her crazy valuation. To my knowledge Ms. Kennedy has no experience of any kind in the commercial real estate business and knows nothing about the subleasing potential of the Santa Fe Depot or even its vacancy rates or square foot lease potential.

The deal looked pretty damn sweet for the City 20 years ago when I offered to make a large up front payment and finance the historic restoration myself – especially since the other responders wanted to be paid; and this ignoramus somehow thinks the City gave something away. I mentioned in my letter that if she had any complaint to take it up with the Good Folks at Redevelopment.

As usual, Ms. Kennedy appended her inevitable dingbat editorial comment to my correspondence that completely ignored my points and instead launched into a diatribe about all the good that Redevelopment does for poor people. She neglected to inform her readers that this so-called “affordable” housing costs twice as much as the regular kind, that it pays for high roller lobbyists, hustlers and bagmen, that it is principally just a mechanism to employ house-ocrats, and that, of course, it ends up displacing the poor for the less poor. She also mentioned to explain that Redevelopment giveaways are financed by robbing other local agencies that rely on property tax revenue.

For some reason Kennedy believes if you say something enough times it will become true: just like she claimed (again) that I am suing the Redevelopment Agency for $1,000,000. That of course is just bald-face lie made somewhat amusing by the weirdness of her fabrication; I am suing to stop Redevelopment expansion into areas of the City that are not “blighted,” the minimal legal requirement for Redevelopment spelled out in the State Health & Safety Code.

At the end of her little tantrum, in an hysterical twist, Kennedy chided me for not fighting the corporate abuse of Redevelopment – even though my friends and I on FFFF have been attacking Redevelopment and its history of abuse in Fullerton, for years when she was silent. This includes the City’s illegal planning review for the Hillcrest Park/Lion’s Field reconstruction on which she was utterly silent – until they had the temerity to install synthetic grass – a move that apparently injured her delicate aesthetic sensibilities.

Where O Where has Sharon Kennedy been these many decades as Fullerton Redevelopment lumbered along, including a ridiculous proposal to spend $6,000,000 to move a McDonald’s 200 feet? You guessed it. Happily cheerleading for Redevelopment with all of its corporate boondoggles, every sad step of the way.

 

33 Comments

Open Letter to My Fellow Fullerton Liberals, by Steve Baxter


We all know why the right leaning Bushala blog, Friends for Fullerton’s Future and KFI radio hosts Jon & Ken are capitalizing on the murder of Kelly Thomas, and that is because, at least in part, they hate the police unions. Regardless of their motives, they are correct on this issue, and they, unlike you, are bringing attention to it. With the exception of current councilperson Sharon Quirk-Silva, who was the first to ask for resignations, and a well respected CSUF Professor, who have seen at the protest, so many of you established liberals, have an almost disinterest in the killing of a homeless man. The question is: Why? You are the royal opposition in this Republican demographic, we count on you, and yet on this one you decided to stay home.

Work demands have prevented me from hanging out with you lately, so please forgive me if I am wrong, but I’m not detecting any outrage at the actions of the police from most of you. I usually turn to you for leadership on a dozen other issues, but I don’t see that leadership here. I’m sure you are upset, but what seems to upset you the most is the fear that things will get disorderly, or that Fullerton’s image is soiled; not that one of the most vulnerable members of our community was killed by having his face beaten into hamburger by six of our police officers. I understand that you did your demo stuff in the sixties and that you still hate Nixon, but that check’s been cashed. I also understand that outrage on its own does not effect change, but sometimes an incident is so vile and so brutal, that to my mind one can’t help but get emotional about it. I’ve been to all but one of the protests in front of the police station and all of the council meetings since the killing.  I’ve looked for you and wanted to say hello. Where were you?

Long before we came creeping up your north Fullerton hills and joined you in the nicely paved part of town, my wife and I rented an apartment atop one of the downtown shops on Wilshire Boulevard. As someone who still spends a lot of time downtown, and someone who does not take a wide berth of the homeless, I was acquainted with Kelly Thomas. After the homicide, the story that was spun about Kelly by city officials was downright ridiculous to everyone that knew him. What the police did not count on in this case was that his father was a former sheriff, or that Kelly was not just another eyesore. Kelly was actually liked by many in the downtown community. I tell you this only because you do your mingling at backyard fundraisers on Skyline Drive and in this part of town people like Kelly Thomas could not walk two blocks before someone’s maid was told to call the cops.

There are some left-leaning Fullerton residents like Jesse LaTour and Jane Rand, who are present in the Justice for Kelly movement, but you consider these folks to be too fringe to support anyway don’t you? The votes from the last election show that many of you opted for Bankhead. In light of this I would now argue that most of you are not really liberals, progressives or leftists anyway; you are just pro-bedroom community.  After everything the police and city officials have done here, you are more comfortable advocating for bike paths, making sure your neighbors have period appropriate door knobs, and attempting to prevent development. I like bike paths, and I don’t want 760 homes built in Coyote Hills either, but that spying on your neighbor’s stuff in search of historical inaccuracies is a bourgeois wank. These things need to take a back seat while our city is still in the shadow of a murder and an ongoing, official stonewall. I’m an environmentalist, but if I was in Birmingham Alabama in 1963 after four little girls were blown to bits because of the color of their skin, my efforts to clean up the local swimming hole would have taken a back seat to my demands for justice. I suggest you do the same.

As a reminder this is why the actions of at least six of our police officers, and any number of city officials, is worthy of your usual scorn and attention:

  1. Our police department allowed the officers that committed this homicide to watch the video of the killing and script their report as if they were scoring a movie.
  2. It took a month and a lot of public outrage (what you call a mob) before five of the six cops were put on administrative leave.
  3. They were only put on administrative leave.
  4. After the homicide, the police proceeded to rape Kelly’s memory by pinning convenient and false charges around his crushed neck.
  5. Dick Jones is being Dick Jones.
  6. I pray this never happens, but you must know that if six homeless men were charged with beating one police officer in the same spot where Kelly Thomas cried out for his father, the tape of the “incident” would have been released to the public shortly thereafter, and the round up of all untidy pedestrians in Fullerton would have been on.

Kelly Thomas was most likely murdered for being confused. His confusion was perceived as disrespect and non compliance, and six giant dimwitted egos with clubs and badges lost control. Why does this not upset you? Why does this no longer resonate with you? Which of the following best describes the reason for your inaction?

a)       The Fox news crowd was correct about you. Too many of you liberals are, in fact, elitist. If you are asked to compost your refuse, or to donate to the library, you are on board. If, however, you are asked to stand in the sun and risk offending powerful and armed individuals that police our community, it’s best that we remain calm and wait for the authorities to get to the bottom of it.

b)       You are white and mostly affluent. The police have always called you sir and madam, and you would prefer that we sacrifice a few dingy homeless to the nightstick than have Fullerton perceived as a safe haven for the homeless.

c)       You are cowards. It’s one thing to try to regulate the actions of some jerky developers with hideous Miami Mansion dreams bouncing around in their greedy heads, but it’s another to stand in front of armed police officers and demand that they do the right thing.

d)       You falsely believe that something as horrible as this could never happen to your son or daughter

e)       And finally – no issue, apparently even police corruption and the murder of an unarmed skinny homeless man, would dare allow you, my fellow privileged Fullerton liberals, to ever be on the same side of an issue as an opportunist like Tony Bushala.

My hope is that after checking off one or more of the above, that you do a little reflecting and then come join the rest of us, of all political stripes, in front of the Police Station and in council chambers for Kelly Thomas.  You may find that demanding justice for those who normally do not have a voice is just like riding a bike.

Respectfully,

Steve Baxter
Fullerton, CA

In the past I have had very little love for FFFF,  as I feel that this blog is equal parts, reward/vendetta, as it is political advocacy.  This time, however, we are on the same side, and I greatly appreciate the continue attention that FFFF is bringing to Kelly’s Thomas’s brutal beating and murder. I am happy to stand side by side with anyone who wants those responsible for Kelly’s murder as well as the subsequent obstruction by city officials, to be held accountable. For me at least this rises above politics. In this instance I would like to say KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

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Rusty’s Flatulence

The other day FFFF noted the eerie silence of the offspring of former Fullerton activist Ralph Kennedy when it came to the bludgeoning murder of the homeless man, Kelly Thomas at the hands of the Fullerton Police Department. We cynically noted that Rusty Kennedy’s OC Human Relations Commission relies upon the goodwill of police departments to lobby County government to continue funding this useless organization. Sharon Kennedy, who continues to publish the moribund and yellowing Fullerton Observer seems to have lost her moral compass, too.

The Kennedy siblings are not important themselves except that they are representative of Old Liberalism in Fullerton, and its total disregard for the killing of a completely helpless human being by the cops.

Here is Rusty expending three minutes of verbal gas saying absolutely nothing and trying as hard as he can to avoid speaking the truth: that the Fullerton Police deliberately killed a harmless, mentally ill man. Enjoy the end where Mr. Kennedy offers the services of his impotent operation, as if the cops who committed this crime against Kelly Thomas simply needed some sensitivity training courtesy of the Human Relations Commission.

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Rusty, like his Collaboratin’ pals, obviously have been bought and paid for. But I promise one thing. When Kennedy comes hat in hand to the Board of Supervisors next spring I will be there to help pull the financial plug on this worthless hypocrite.

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The Dead Kennedys

We may not always have agreed with the liberal activism of Fullerton’s Ralph Kennedy, but there’s no doubt that the engineer-turned-civil-rights-activist was the real deal – a committed believer in social justice who was willing to take unpopular stands on behalf of the causes for which he advocated.

In its obituary of him in 1998, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “He was one of those rare people who saw things as they should be. He wasn’t willing to sit in his comfort while others in the world were suffering. He always felt like he needed to dig in and do something to bring about justice, to take action, to risk his own comfort in order to make things better.”

But Kennedy’s two children – Sharon Kennedy, who is publisher of the Fullerton Observer, which Ralph and his wife, Natalie, founded in the 1970s; and Rusty Kennedy, head of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, which claims to advocate for concepts similar to those advocated by the elder Kennedys – are frauds. Their actions (or inaction, really) following the brutal slaying of Kelly Thomas by Fullerton police thugs shows how they have become lapdogs for the political establishment, which is the very opposite of the behavior displayed by their Dad. Unfortunately, modern liberals usually defend government power and abuse — they don’t stand up for the poor and downtrodden any more.

The Observer has run various news stories about the Thomas killing at the hands of cops, but the stories read like articles hatched in the Fullerton PD’s press department. There is no sense of outrage and an unconscionable reliance on official explanations and official sources. (It’s as if Ralph Kennedy, known as a crusader against housing discrimination, took at face value the official government explanations of why black folks were treated as second-class citizens in the old days. “Don’t worry, folks, Gov. George Wallace and his able team of government officials will get to the bottom of it!”) The Observer, promoting the lame efforts of Rusty and his commission, runs a story that declares: “The Orange County Human Relations Commission is responding to community requests for help in the tragic beating death of Kelly Thomas. On behalf of the Commission, Rusty Kennedy endorsed the idea of an outside, independent investigation of police practices and procedures in the case and more broadly across the department. He gave City Manager Joe Felz an evaluation of Michael Gennaco for the LA County Office of Independent Review. The Commission has worked with Gennaco in hate crime cases and most recently in setting up an OIR in Orange County, which is now staffed by Stephen Connelly, one of Gennaco’s proteges.”

The Observer and Kennedy should be denouncing this brutal attack as a hate crime and staging sit-ins and other demonstrations. Instead, they are joining the official whitewash and telling us to trust these not-so-outside investigations. Connelly has not produced a single serious investigation since he became the head of the supposedly independent commission that operates basically at the behest of the Sheriff. You might as well ask Dick Jones to produce an outside investigation.

Fortunately, this blog is filling in the role that lapdog players such as the Fullerton Observer play. Fortunately, Orange County residents are starting to learn that the Human Relations Commission is a way for limousine liberals to live large on other people’s money while pretending to stand up for the principles that true liberals such as Ralph Kennedy actually stood up for.

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