Escondido

Thumbnail image for Latino Mayoral Forum Shows Cultural Chasm in Escondido

Latino Mayoral Forum Shows Cultural Chasm in Escondido

by Source 10.10.2014 Nov 2014 Election

By Rick Moore / Escondido Democratic Club

You have to give Mayor Sam Abed credit. He tried his best to ‘make nice’ with Escondido’s Latino community, but all he accomplished was to reinforce his image as a disconnected white guy who cannot comprehend how his policies and actions come across. Stephen Siaw was almost as bad, but one wonders whether he may come from a less judgmental place.

The occasion was a Mayoral candidate forum for the Latino community sponsored by the La Raza Law Association of San Diego County, MANA of North County and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It was held at the Escondido Senior Center October 3. About 50 people attended. Carlos Gonzalez of Univision moderated.

The questions were tough and focused on Latino issues. (They were provided in advance to the candidates.) The answers held few surprises for those who have been monitoring the candidates so far in the campaign.

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Thumbnail image for Latina Olga Diaz Aims for the Top Spot in Conservative Escondido

Latina Olga Diaz Aims for the Top Spot in Conservative Escondido

by At Large 10.09.2014 Editor's Picks

By Don Greene

In North County politics, Olga Diaz is an anomaly.  Currently, as the Deputy Mayor of Escondido, Olga has achieved something that no one else has done in 126 years:  She is the first Latina elected to the City Council.  That’s nothing to sneeze at. Once named the 11th Most Conservative City in the United States, Escondido can be a lonely place for a Latina, especially if she fits the description of Olga Diaz.

Diaz describes herself as an environmentalist. She as championed the rehabilitation of Escondido Creek, turning it from a concrete, channelized flood control basin to a 7-mile linear park in the heart of the city.  She also describes herself as a feminist, a progressive, and, if those weren’t enough, a Democrat.

Being all these things should not be automatic detriment to a candidate or politician, but in Escondido, things are a little different.  Recently, at a Republican Central Committee meeting, current mayor, Sam Abed, declared that “Escondido is the Republican capitol of San Diego County.” It is much of that type of bravado that gets the city into a lot of legal troubles.  It was some of that legal trouble that launched Diaz’s political career.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido’s Proposition H – Compromise or Capitulation on Developing a Bankrupt Golf Course?

Escondido’s Proposition H – Compromise or Capitulation on Developing a Bankrupt Golf Course?

by Doug Porter 10.08.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

The email seemed like the basis for a slam-dunk story. It was an appeal to environmentalists for support in defeating Escondido’s Proposition H, a developer-sponsored initiative allowing conversion of what was previously a golf course into 430 single housing units.

Here’s a snippet from the appeal: “The developer, Michael Schlesinger, dumped raw chicken manure on the property a year after turning off the water. The manure burned the land and created a severe air pollution issue, forcing one homeowner suffering from lung cancer to evacuate his home for 5 days.”

I’d seen a bunch of emails in recent weeks from the pro-Proposition H folks and given that they were coming from a source generally known to work the right side of the aisle and the fact this was about Escondido, I assumed the worst– a cartoonish Papa Manchester character running roughshod over an oppressed community.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido’s Park That’s Not a Park, Owned by the Mayor’s Family

Escondido’s Park That’s Not a Park, Owned by the Mayor’s Family

by At Large 09.22.2014 Environment

By Don Greene / Escondido Democrats

Budget discussions at the City of Escondido have for the last 4 years focused on a more streamlined approach to spending.  The City Council has cut back on many programs and amenities, none more so than our Parks and Recreation Department.

I drive past Grove Park and Washington Park and admire that the city has set aside outdoor space for its residents. The question always comes to mind as to why would we want to cheapen these areas or outright sell them off?  Why wouldn’t we want to preserve these spaces for the residents to enjoy?

Of course, with budget cuts, the city is having a hard time maintaining the programming at our city parks.  The move to make the Recreation Department as close to a “full cost recovery department” as possible, has stripped away many of the amenities that our parks offered to our residents. Many of the amenities at our local parks have fallen into disrepair and there doesn’t seem to be money in the budget to fix these problems. With limited amenities, our parks are not being used by residents.

There have been proposals such as the Water Park and the BMX Track slotted for Kit Carson Park.  These projects would have been, presumably, a public/private partnership that would have brought more revenue and more visitors to the city.  Opponents of these measures argued that we would lose valuable green space.  But our parks are not the only source of green space in the city.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido School Board Candidates on Creationism, Prayer, Tenure

Escondido School Board Candidates on Creationism, Prayer, Tenure

by Source 09.19.2014 Editor's Picks

By Rick Moore / Escondido Democratic Club

Both candidates competing to represent Area 4 of the Escondido Union (elementary) School District told Escondido Democrats in a forum September 13 support teaching creationism alongside science in the classroom. Incumbent Board Member Marty Hranek said it is “important to offer different viewpoints and state the facts as they are. There’s a lot of very good research out there for multiple philosophies.” Zesty Harper, who is challenging Hranek, said “I’m a Christian and I believe God created the earth. I think we should offer both views… in a non-biased way.” Hranek later sent an email attempting to backtrack from his comments, writing “I do not agree that ‘creationism’ should be taught as curriculum in public schools.”

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Thumbnail image for Escondido Council Candidate Forum Reveals Stances on Golf Course, Charter City Propositions

Escondido Council Candidate Forum Reveals Stances on Golf Course, Charter City Propositions

by Source 09.13.2014 Government

By Rick Moore / Escondido Democratic Club

There were few surprises at the Chamber of Commerce Council Candidate Forum September 10, and few in the audience to see them.

The candidates all participated, several of them admitting this was their first time in a forum, giving one of only a few chances for voters to compare them in action. (The League of Women Voters will provide another opportunity at 6 p.m. Thursday, September 25 in Council Chambers at City Hall.)

The 7:30 a.m. start time was clearly part of the attendance problem. There were fewer than 50 people in the audience.

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Thumbnail image for More Evidence Pointing to Charter City ‘Savings’ Fallacy

More Evidence Pointing to Charter City ‘Savings’ Fallacy

by Source 08.28.2014 Activism

by Don Greene / Escondido Democratic Club

Part of the pro-city charter mantra we hear from Mayor Abed and the other members of the city council majority is about savings. Especially savings when it comes to eliminating prevailing wages from city construction projects. In a recently released survey, the ‘savings’ that Sam & Co continue to promote are becoming harder and harder to find.

The City of Carlsbad – a charter city in North San Diego county and the favorite, “let’s-be-more-like-them” example promoted by the Mayor – answered a survey on Prevailing Wages and associated savings. The results were somewhat lackluster. When asked the question, “What savings have been realized on average for those contracts where non prevailing wages have been applied?” the answer was telling:

“We have found savings to be hard to ascertain. Bid prices might be lower on the front end but there is some suspicion that total project costs may impact initial savings (change orders, costly project delays, more labor by city employees, etc.)”

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Thumbnail image for Abed, Diaz Spar at Escondido Chamber Mayoral Forum

Abed, Diaz Spar at Escondido Chamber Mayoral Forum

by Source 08.22.2014 Government

Escondido Democratic Club

There were few surprises as candidates for Escondido Mayor in the November election met for a forum August 20, sponsored by the Escondido Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Sam Abed and Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz repeatedly demonstrated the starkly different choice before voters.

Perhaps the ‘news’ was the presence of Stephen Siaw, an unexpected newcomer to the race and to city politics. It was Siaw’s first appearance at a public candidate forum. The approximately 100 people in attendance welcomed him warmly.

Chamber Governmental Affairs chair Kevin Svetich asked a wide-ranging mix of questions that covered the key issues.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido Mayor Abed Paves Over Inconvenient Facts

Escondido Mayor Abed Paves Over Inconvenient Facts

by Source 08.01.2014 Business

By Don Greene / Escondido Democrats

In the past month, much ado has been made over a parking lot located at 540 W. Grand Ave. The blog, Escondido2014.com, ran two posts on the parking lot and the potential of some funny business involved in the paving of that lot.

The owner of the lot is Escondido Mayor Sam Abed. He owns not only the vacant lot in question, but the adjacent office building at 562 W. Grand (the corner of Grand and Quince). The office was recently home to a fitness business that used the unpaved lot next door as a track area for outdoor exercise. Now that the office building is vacant, the formerly dirt lot has become a paved parking lot.

The paving of this lot has raised many questions and they were addressed in the posts on Escondido2014.com. Did the Mayor overlook – or get a pass on – state storm water regulations? City storm water regulations state that any lot being paved over 5,000 sq feet must conform with state storm water regulations. The actual city document is 130-pages long and covers a variety of mitigation factors which appear not to have been implemented when this lot was paved.

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Thumbnail image for Gone with the Wind Escondido Style

Gone with the Wind Escondido Style

by At Large 07.27.2014 Activism

Many expressed their sense of shame of living in a city that is fearful of Brown people and children.

By Fredi Avalos, Ph.D.

The City of Escondido, California represents a civilization gone with the wind. Well, almost. The shifting political winds were easy to observe at the City’s planning commission meeting July 22. In front of more than 200 people and an estimated 250 who rallied outside City Hall, the commission reaffirmed their previous vote not to allow a foster care facility to operate for refugee children fleeing their countries’ violence and repression in Central America.

The children would have been housed in a vacant elder care facility in a quiet semi-rural neighborhood. The facility has its own parking and would be funded entirely by federal money. It is estimated the facility would bring in at least 100 jobs paying well over minimum wage and would increase revenue for the city a total of $8.5 million a year. Escondido tax payers would pay nothing but would gain a great deal fiscally. So what is the problem?

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Thumbnail image for A Proud Day of Activism for Labor, Refugee and Environmental Advocates

A Proud Day of Activism for Labor, Refugee and Environmental Advocates

by Doug Porter 07.23.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Tuesday, July 22 was a remarkable day for San Diego. Starting with an early morning prayer vigil at San Diego City Hall in support of a higher minimum wage and ending with hundreds of Escondido residents calling for a humanitarian response to the border refugee crisis, people stood up for causes they believed in.

At noontime a broad spectrum of supporters of organized labor rallied in Mission Valley, vowing to support workers for Food-4-Less should they go on strike. And in the afternoon environmental activists testified before the city council, urging Mayor Kevin Faulconer to move ahead with a review process needed to consider an ordinance curtailing the use of plastic shopping bags.

People chose to make a stand on issues that were important to them. They faced off against institutional and political hostility, along with a corporate media all-too-willing to give a platform to those willing to spew ridicule (the UT’s Greenhut) and venomous language (Escondido’s nativists). They stood up and said “we’re not going to take it any more” (UFCW’s Kasparian). They testified that now is the time to protect the environment (representatives of Coastkeeper, Surfrider and the Sierra Club).

It was a great day to be an American. It was a great day to be an activist.

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Thumbnail image for ACLU Investigating Escondido’s Hasty Decision on Shelter

ACLU Investigating Escondido’s Hasty Decision on Shelter

by Source 06.28.2014 Activism

Requests records from Planning Commission

By ACLU Sandiego-Imperial Counties

SAN DIEGO – Concerned that the City of Escondido may once again be undermining the rights of immigrants in its community and possibly violating the law, the San Diego ACLU requested a number of records related to the Escondido Planning Commission’s decision Tuesday evening to reject a proposed shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children.

In an official California Public Records Act (CPRA) request, the legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, David Loy, requested copies of all reports and records submitted to the commission relating to the proposed facility, the permit for the construction and operation of the intermediate care facility, and any video, audio, or written record of the Planning Commission meeting on June 24, 2014.

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Thumbnail image for What’s at Stake with the Proposed Escondido Charter?

What’s at Stake with the Proposed Escondido Charter?

by Source 06.20.2014 Business

By Don Greene, President, Escondido Democrats

In a 4-1 vote, the Escondido City Council approved the draft of the proposed city charter to be put on the November ballot. Incredibly, the charter was approved with at least two of the council members not understanding the document that they were approving.

Case in point:  During the June 18th hearing, Council member Ed Gallo very magnanimously told the assembled crowd and those watching at home that the council “could have done themselves, but they chose to put it on the ballot.”  Um, no.  Charters must be approved by a majority of the residents of the affected city according to state law.  Mr. Gallo also stated that “this is the same document that we started with in May” and that the city had gone through “4 public hearings” on the matter.  Neither of those points is correct. It would be nice to be sure that our Council members actually understood what they were voting for.

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Thumbnail image for Riot Control Drone Comes with Pepper Spray, Paintball Guns and Blinding Lasers

Riot Control Drone Comes with Pepper Spray, Paintball Guns and Blinding Lasers

by Doug Porter 06.19.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

The BBC released a story today trumpeting the initial sale of a remotely controlled octo-copter built specifically for crowd control situations. South African manufacturer Desert Wolf says its eight rotored “Skunk” can fire 80 doses of pepper spray per second from a storage tank holding 4000 pepper spray paintballs, plastic balls or other “non-lethal” ammunition.

Call them drones, RPVs, UASs, UVAs, SUAs or whatever. Remotely controlled robots are a big business in San Diego. A recent Voice of San Diego series covered the nascent industry’s impact on the local economy (more than a dozen companies),along with the uncertainty surrounding their use and development.

While I’m sure these machines can and should be be used for good purposes, the BBC story brings to light yet another moral dilemma facing society as technology continues to advance.  

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Thumbnail image for The Bahati Mamas : Seeds for Change

The Bahati Mamas : Seeds for Change

by Source 05.31.2014 Activism

Chasing Freedom and Opportunity

By Binti Musa / AjA Blog

The Bahati Mamas are a group of five Somali Bantu women living in City Heights who started their own farming business. The women are Somali Bantu Refugees who were forced to leave their home in 2004 to seek refuge in the United States because of the civil war in Somalia.

The Somali Bantu refugees had to leave everything they knew. As part of their resettlement, the International Recuse Committee (IRC) helped the refugee families find jobs, learn English and help their children get an education. The refugees faced many challenges while learning American customs; one of these challenges was finding good, quality, organic produce for the families in their community. This served as an impetus for people of the Somali Bantu community to begin efforts to farm like they did in their old home.

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Thumbnail image for The ‘Big Deal’ about Prevailing Wage in Escondido

The ‘Big Deal’ about Prevailing Wage in Escondido

by Source 05.28.2014 Activism

By Don Greene / Escondido Democratic Club

At the final public hearing on the proposed city charter, Mayor Abed was cavalier enough to admit that he was “championing the charter proposal” and that while it was about home rule, mostly it was about preventing the city from having to pay prevailing wages. What’s the big deal with prevailing wages, anyway?

In a report issued by the Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI), the outlook for working families in San Diego county is bleak. For a family of 4 with a preschool aged child and infant, both parents need to make an hourly salary of $20.06 for the family to be self-sufficient. That’s not a combined minimum hourly wage; each parent must make the $20.06 to live a basic life in San Diego without relying on public or private assistance.

County-wide, there are 13,395 workers in the agricultural industry, with 65.2% of these workers living below the standard of self-sufficiency. This is the population hardest hit by salary inequality. 40.9% of those in construction are below the self-sufficiency standard and 37.7% of those in retail sales positions also fall short. In terms of ethnic groups, Latinos (who make up 49% of the population of Escondido) are effected the most with 58.9% of those workers living below the self-sufficiency threshold.

These numbers are particularly telling for Escondido.

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Thumbnail image for “We Are More Than Just Workers — We’re People.”

“We Are More Than Just Workers — We’re People.”

by Source 04.17.2014 Activism

By Lisa Maldonado Robinson/ Escondido Democratic Club

It takes an hourly wage of $13.09 and a full-time job to be able “to make ends meet” in San Diego County, according to Lisa Maldonado Robinson of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice (ICWJ). Robinson spoke to Escondido Democrats at their April 12 meeting about the ICWJ’s ongoing program in San Diego County in which religious leaders strive “to lift workers out of poverty.” The program has a North County component and Robinson described efforts to organize workers at Casino Pauma and Northgate Markets.

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Battle for Mule Hill

Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Battle for Mule Hill

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 03.20.2014 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Surrounded
by houses malls
the ghosts of Mule Hill
pinned down by charging Interstate
under fire from lancing nine irons
shooting 18 holes

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Thumbnail image for Escondido Charter Proposal Offers Few Benefits, Many Hazards

Escondido Charter Proposal Offers Few Benefits, Many Hazards

by Source 03.17.2014 Business

By Rick Moore /Escondido Democratic Club

City charters offer few benefits and many hazards, according to Kyle Krahel-Frolander, who spoke to Escondido Democrats at their March 2014 meeting. Krahel-Frolander is a Community Outreach Coordinator for Smart Cities Prevail, a California non-profit that provides information, research and education on how prevailing wage standards on public construction projects benefit taxpayers, local governments and working families.

Krahel-Frolander, who hails from Oceanside and worked as an aide to Council member Esther Sanchez when that city changed to charter status, monitors charter city proposals in Southern California.

Most California cities are created under state law and are known as “general law” cities. About one-third of California cities, including most larger cities, switched to charter city status in the past, when there were significant differences between the powers granted to charter cities.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido State of the City Address Brings Much of the Same Rhetoric

Escondido State of the City Address Brings Much of the Same Rhetoric

by Source 02.27.2014 Government

By Don Greene/Escondido Democratic Club

In his fourth State of the City address, Mayor Abed continued to tout successes brought to the city by its “forward thinking council.” After playing yet another campaign informational video, produced by the city’s media department at taxpayer expense, the Mayor presented slides demonstrating the success stories that Escondido has and will experience.

All in all, the success of the newly renovated Westfield Shopping Center and Palomar Hospital continue to be at the top of the Mayor’s list of accomplishments, only this time he got it right to say that private industry was behind these things, not the city council. He even showed an artist’s conception of the pie-in-the-sky, tech park that they are calling Cross Roads Business Park, on the site of the Public Works yard and the rest of the area that was set aside for the construction of a ball park.

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Thumbnail image for More Business as Usual With Developers in Escondido

More Business as Usual With Developers in Escondido

by Doug Porter 02.03.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

By Doug Porter

You have to give Escondido credit; just when you think the city’s politics couldn’t get any skunkier, another malodorous whiff emerges.The city was forced to adopt district voting after getting sued under the California Voting Rights Act for its poor record of electing Latinos. And there’s the infamous “are you brown or have you ever been” checkpoints. And the failed attempt to force landlords to check citizenship papers…

Last week it was the announcement of a recall election for the City Councilwoman Olga Diaz, who just happens to be the first self-admitted person of Hispanic descent (the city is 49% Latino) to be elected in the 125 year history of the city. The reason given by recall proponents is that Diaz, who was first elected in 2008, is “too liberal.” Riiight…

This week we’ve learned about what would seem to be a pay to play combination involving reduced developer fees and campaign contributions. Given the history of “business as usual” in Escondido, this will probably be interpreted as perfectly legal and proper.

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Thumbnail image for Recall Petition Seeks Removal of Escondido’s Olga Diaz

Recall Petition Seeks Removal of Escondido’s Olga Diaz

by Source 01.29.2014 Politics

By Rick Moore / Escondido Democratic Club

Escondido Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz was handed a copy January 27 of a ‘Notice of Intention to Circulate a Recall Petition’ that begins a legal process to recall her as the third district representative to the City Council.

The petition was apparently drafted by Robroy Fawcett, a local civic activist who has opposed district elections and the district-drawing process at every turn. The petition complains that those signing do not want to be represented by Diaz and feel that waiting until 2016 for an opportunity to elect someone else is too long. It also asks that any future Council vacancy in district three be filled by election, not appointment.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido Mayor Abed Railroads New Charter Proposal

Escondido Mayor Abed Railroads New Charter Proposal

by Source 01.17.2014 Encore

Eds Note: The City of Escondido is at the epicenter of a power struggle focused on the future direction of the North County. After losing a battle to have city council members elected by district (which opens up the possibility of fair representation for the Latino population), the right-wing is seeking to make Escondido a charter city and thus exempt from California’s prevailing wage statutes. 

After listening to eight residents who urged citizen input into any charter proposal, and after sparring with Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz over the need for a charter, Mayor Sam Abed instructed city staff January 15 to lay the groundwork for placing a charter proposal before Escondido voters in November 2014.

Abed dismissed suggestions that the city create a charter commission or committee to allow a document that reflected the needs and desires of residents. “A commission would derail the process and have a different charter than the Council majority wants,” he said. “It is our constitutional right to do it (bring forward a charter) and we’re going to exercise it.”

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Thumbnail image for Commemorate Día de los Muertos throughout San Diego – Long Live the Dead!

Commemorate Día de los Muertos throughout San Diego – Long Live the Dead!

by Brent E. Beltrán 10.24.2013 Arts

Día de los Muertos Commemorated for Thousands of Years in the Americas

By Brent E. Beltrán

Los días de los muertos have been commemorated for thousands of years in the Americas. It started in what is now México and has spread throughout the United States and the world. Today these days are celebrated by people of many different colors and cultures.

November 1 is Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) when deceased children are honored and November 2 is known as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) where we pay tribute to adults who have passed away. These dates correspond with the Christian holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day.

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Thumbnail image for County Supervisors Key to Rural Development

County Supervisors Key to Rural Development

by Source 09.16.2013 Activism

By Rick Moore Escondido Democratic Club

San Diego County’s new General Plan is “light years more progressive” than its predecessor, said County Planning Commissioner Michael Beck in remarks before the September 14 meeting of Escondido Democrats. The good news is that there are far more restraints on semi-rural and rural development than before. The bad news is that aggressive developers have chosen the political route to work around those restraints, and the Board of Supervisors is being asked to grant exceptions for dozens of projects.

Beck said 47 such exceptions, known as “amendments,” have been grouped together and are being brought before the board. First, however, he said taxpayers will have to pay for a lengthy review process “that will take us through the next election.”

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