- Written by Gordon Prentice
Bob Shelton, Newmarket’s Chief Administrative Officer, confirmed this afternoon (Thursday 18 June) that the Mayor receives remuneration from Newmarket-Tay Power. He serves as a Director by virtue of his position as Mayor of Newmarket. The Town appoints him.
The Municipal Act 2001 says any body that “pays remuneration or expenses to one of its members who was appointed by a municipality… shall provide to the municipality an itemized statement of the remuneration and expenses paid for the year.”
Bob Shelton tells me this information will now be included as part of the Town’s annual reporting.
The simplest way would be to include the details in the Statement of Remuneration and Expenses that, by law, has to be published annually in March.
Shelton, the sole director of Newmarket Hydro Holdings, is not remunerated.
Here is what the Mayor receives from Newmarket-Tay Power which is, of course, in addition to the salary and compensation he gets from the Town.
Regular Comp (Salary)
When I first started looking into this I thought the Mayor may have waived the cash given that the Hydro directorship goes with the day job, but I was wrong on that one.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
Planning staff directly employed by the Town of Newmarket have now answered questions posed by the Glenway Preservation Association, residents and others at a Public Information Centre and by me (Shrink Slessor Square). The answers were posted on the Town's website yesterday, buried in a mass of other material. The planners' response is shown below.
Two questions have not been answered because discussions took place in a closed session of Council. This is unsatisfactory and should be addressed immediately. The Council can lift the veil on its closed sessions if it so chooses.
The Glenway Lessons Learned meeting will take place at the Seniors' Centre, 474 Davis Drive on Tuesday 23 June 2015 from 7pm - 9pm.
A commentary on the answers - and the process - will follow.
GLENWAY LESSONS LEARNED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. Why were no Town staff called as witnesses to support the Town’s position at the OMB hearing?
Town staff did not play a role in reviewing the application and/or providing a professional planning opinion to Council. Council instead hired an outside planning consultant (Ms. Victor) to, in effect, act as staff on this application and to process the application and make recommendations to Council. Council did not hire Ms. Victor to defend the Official Plan, but rather to process the application and provide a professional planning opinion and recommendations to Council.
Because staff did not play an active role in reviewing and/or processing the application (other than to provide administrative support to Ms. Victor), staff could not be called upon to provide evidence on the appropriateness of the application at the OMB.
In the event Council had not hired Ms. Victor and instead staff had made a specific recommendation to Council, staff’s position at the OMB would have been in support of the staffs recommendations in their professional opinion, and not just to support Council’s position. For example, in instances where Council does not agree with staff recommendations, it cannot then ask staff to defend Council’s decision at the OMB and it must decide whether it wants to hire its own professional planner (as was the case here) to defend its position.
2. How can the Planner for the GPA come up with points and a strategy to challenge Marianneville’s proposal and the Town did not?
At Council’s direction following the referral of the plan to the OMB, Town staff contacted 10-12 planning consulting firms, both locally and from across the Region, in an effort to find a professional planner that could support Council’s position. In addition to specific conversations with the firms, staff also provided background reports and Town planning documents for their review where requested. Upon reviewing the application and the available documents, only one of the planning consulting firms was able to support Council’s position.
Although the GPA was able to find a planner to support Council’s position, the OMB was not swayed by that professional’s evidence and instead preferred the argument and evidence of the developer’s consulting planner and that of Ms. Victor who appeared at the OMB Hearing for this Phase under subpoena by the developer.
3. The OMB adjudicator suggested the fact the Town didn’t attempt to purchase the Glenway lands demonstrated their lack of interest to protect it from development. We hear that the Town did consider purchasing Glenway in some manner years ago. What is the story?
Council did have discussions regarding the purchase of Glenway Golf Course however, these discussion took place in closed session and as such, are not publicly available at this time.
4. The GO Bus Terminal location was a key reason for the OMB to support development as it was described as a major transit hub. As part of the Town’s Secondary Growth Plan we see discussion of revamping transit to better support intensification including co-locating transit with GO Bus/Train to East Gwillimbury to promote much greater usage of transit. Why wasn’t this part of the Town’s defense?
During the development of the Secondary Plan staff met with Metrolinx to discuss the future of the GO bus station and in particular whether Metrolinx had any plans to redevelop the property and relocate the buses elsewhere (e.g. either on to the mall property or the GO Station in East Gwillimbury, or any other location). Staff was not advocating for the GO Station to move, but rather was trying to understand what plans, if any, Metrolinx had for the GO Station. Metrolinx advised that they had no plans at the time to move the GO station from its current location.
At the same time, staff was working with the Upper Canada Mall in terms of its future development plans. It was determined that as part of any master plan for the Upper Canada Mall, the Town, Region, and Metrolinx should at least explore the appropriateness of integrating transit into the mall site, be it YRT, VIVA, and/or GO, and policies reflecting this have been included in the Secondary Plan. As noted, this does not mean that the GO Station is closing or moving, and no decision has been made to move the GO station at this time.
5. When did (a) the Mayor and (b) the Director of Planning, Rick Nethery, learn that Ruth Victor was minded to recommend allowing development on the Glenway lands?
Generally, Ms. Victor’s position was made known through the submission of Planning Reports to Council. Ms. Victor submitted Report 2013-47 in October 2013 which indicated that there were a number of outstanding issues and development on the site as proposed could not be supported. In November 2013, Ms. Victor prepared a memorandum to Council providing responses to a number of questions raised by the public at the October 15, 2013 Committee meeting including indicating that there was not a planning basis to recommend a no growth option.
6. Did the Director of Planning ever consider that the September 2013 Transportation Study (prepared for the Town by external consultants GHD) might be relevant to the March 2014 OMB Hearing?
As a requirement of application submission, a Traffic Impact Study was submitted by the developer and prepared by Cole Engineering. Ongoing review of the Traffic Impact Study was provided by the Town’s checking consultants (RJ Burnsides), utilizing experts in transportation engineering. It is these experts that review the material to ensure all relevant information is included. While the traffic work associated with the Marianneville Development has not specifically cited the GHD reports, it has taken into consideration future traffic impacts of development in the area including the urban centres.
Furthermore, there is a condition of draft plan approval that requires the owner to submit a Traffic Impact Study and Traffic Functional Design report to the satisfaction of the Town and Region of York. The reports will address the internal and external traffic implications of this development, including but not limited to the functional classification and design of roadways proposed within this draft plan of subdivision and confirmation that the proposed road configuration can safely provide for vehicular, transit and pedestrian traffic. The reports will identify any external road improvements required for this subdivision, make recommendations for sidewalk locations, on-street parking locations and prohibitions, and provide an analysis of sight distances and stopping distances. In addition the reports shall address all outstanding comments provided by the Town’s Consulting Engineer as part of the Draft Plan review process.
7. Did the Director of Planning share the views of Ruth Victor on the development of Glenway?(This was asserted by Marianneville’s Ira Kagan in his concluding remarks at the OMB Hearing.)
These discussions with the Director of Planning took place in closed session and as such, are not publicly available at this time.
8. Why was the study area of the Anchor Mobility Hub at Young and Davis not shown on the Schedules to the Secondary Plan, as requested by Metrolinx?
Through discussions with Metrolinx and the Region, it was determined that a Mobility Hub Station Area Plan would be identified around the Newmarket GO train station given the complexity of this area in terms of opportunities and constraints to development related to the floodplain, access and mobility issues related to the GO station including the potential for future grade separation, etc.
While the Yonge/Davis area is also identified as a mobility hub, it was determined that a full mobility hub study or station area study was not required and many of the issues around access, land use, integration of transit, etc., could be addressed through the future Master Plan for the Regional Shopping Centre Study Area in consultation with Metrolinx, the Region, and the Upper Canada Mall. Therefore, while a formal mobility hub study was not shown, similar components of such a study will be part of the aforementioned Master Plan Shopping Centre study.
9. When did the Director of Planning form the view that the two Mobility Hub studies would consider, as part of their remit, the possible co-location of the GO Bus Terminal and GO Rail Station?
The future of both the GO train and bus stations was an ongoing consideration throughout the development of the Secondary Plan. These discussions included land owners, Metrolinx, York Region, and the Town's Planning Consultants. No specific decisions were made about co-location, etc., however it was acknowledged that future studies should be carried out (in the form of a Station Area Plan in one instance and the Regional Shopping Centre Study Area Plan in the other) that would evaluate the appropriateness of this and many other issues.
(The Full List of Q&As - including those posed at the Public Information Centre - are in the Documents Section of this website. Open "Documents" in panel top left and navigate to Glenway. Open: "Glenway Lessons Learned: Planning Staff answer questions put to Town.)
- Written by Gordon Prentice
On Monday 15 June 2015 the attention seeking former councilor, Maddie Di Muccio, tweets:
Today I served court papers to Newmarket reg clr @_JohnTaylor for libel after a town report did not support his reckless allegation about me
Retweets 12 Favourites 14
4:11 pm - 15 Jun 2015
In fact, according to papers filed in the Small Claims Court here in Newmarket, Maddie Di Muccio swore on oath that on 9 June 2015
“I personally served a written notice of libel to a grown up person at the Town of Newmarket located at 395 Mulock Avenue in Newmarket, Ontario.”
I have no idea who this “grown up person” is or how she found him or her at 395 Mulock Avenue when the Town Offices are located at 395 Mulock Drive.
Her absurd libel action will get absolutely nowhere. The delusional Di Muccio wants $5,000 from Taylor.
Di Muccio is in my considered opinion m’lud, a complete phoney and hypocrite, championing taxpayers as President of the York Region Taxpayers Coalition while using my “taxpayer’s dollars” to fund her vendetta against Tim Hudak.
She, the drama queen, and her angry husband, John Blommesteyn, come across as a truly pitiable pair.
She claims that Taylor:
“committed a tort when quoted as stating an untruth in the York Region Media Group Publication, the Newmarket Era, which did harm to Maddie Di Muccio and/or her reputation, by tending to make her a target of ridicule, hatred and/or contempt of others."
This is, of course, complete cobblers. She has been the author of her own misfortunes.
That said, I am genuinely concerned to read that “as a result of these false words (of John Taylor) Maddio Di Muccio had to seek police protection after being made a victim of harassment by a member of the public.”
We all hope the police catch this disturbed individual soon.
Personally, it would be a huge relief to me if she and her yakking husband, John Blommesteyn, would just fade away.
Is that fair comment? Or is it libelous?
Don’t know. Don’t care.
You can read the libel claim by opening "Documents" in the top left panel and navigating to "Correspondence". Open "Maddie Di Muccio's claim against John Taylor"
This blog was amended on 18 June 2015 to include reference to the $5,000 claimed by Di Muccio.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
There was a time not so long ago when John Blommesteyn would bring a deputation to Council neatly dressed in a dark suit and wearing a collar and tie.
Yesterday, I observe a hot and sweaty John Blommesteyn wearing trainers and a billowing white golf shirt. He has let himself go a bit.
Despite his pasty-faced appearance, he is all suppressed fury, like a coiled spring. He is here to defend his wife, former Newmarket Councillor Maddie Di Muccio, now President of the York Region Taxpayers Coalition.
On 30 March 2015, the Council adopted a motion calling on staff to
“prepare an Information Report advising whether former Councillor Maddie Di Muccio’s use of her expense account for obtaining personal legal advice and for payment of advertisements while seeking the provincial nomination are permitted by Town policy.”
In his presentation Blommesteyn seems to suggest that the Motion was off-point because, by the time it appeared in the Era newspaper, the former Leader of the Ontario PCs, Tim Hudak, had banned her from standing as a PC candidate. He didn’t explicitly say this but that’s what I took it all to mean. (The transcript is set out below.)
Personally, I think Blommesteyn’s argument amounts to nothing more than a lot of fancy footwork. He forgets the old legal maxim: He who seeks equity must come with clean hands.
Blommesteyn spends much of his time rolling in the gutter. His campaign a few years ago surreptitiously to buy up Tom Vegh domain names (a practice, he confesses, his wife would never have approved of) tells us everything we need to know about the moral universe he inhabits.
Whether the ad was placed while seeking the Provincial nomination or afterwards is immaterial. The advertisement should never have been paid for using public money. It is tendentious. It is partisan. In my view it would be impossible for any reasonable person on reading it to conclude that this was an appropriate use of public money.
If Maddie Di Muccio wants to place an advertisement in the Era, excoriating and demonizing her political opponents, using her own funds, that’s up to her. We live in a free country and, so long as the ad is not defamatory, she can do what she wants with her money. But what she cannot do is bill you and me. But she did.
Blommesteyn, full of injured innocence, says the Era is being sued for libel. This has been threatened before.
Legal action threatened (again)
As someone who has previously been threatened with legal action by Maddie Di Muccio (which was all hot air) I hope he is serious. There is nothing more damaging to a person’s credibility than to threaten legal action and not follow through, relentlessly and with absolute conviction. My advice to Blommesteyn is this: don’t say it if you don’t mean it.
As it happens, I wrote to the Town’s Chief Administrative Officer, Bob Shelton, on 24 August 2013 drawing his attention to the half page advertisement Di Muccio placed in the Era on 22 August 2013 about the Mayor’s record on property taxes. I told him:
“It seems to me this is an improper use of her councillor’s expense account.
“Can you point me to any Council policy, advice or guidance which sanctions the use of councillors’ expense accounts in this way? And has Councillor Di Muccio ever sought advice from you on the advisability of placing such an advertisement which is tendentious and personally attacks another member of the council.
“If Councillor Di Muccio wished to draw attention to the Mayor’s statements on property taxes she should have paid for the advertisement out of her own private funds.
“In the absence of a Council policy sanctioning such advertisements paid for by the taxpayer, please take this as a formal complaint which I should like to see investigated.
New Expenses Policy
Shelton replied saying the Town was going through a process of creating an expense policy. He said there were opportunities for input and I should contact the Town Treasurer which I did.
The Town’s Treasurer told me on 8 October 2013 that Council did not want staff to make decisions about the appropriateness of Council expenses.
“It is acknowledged that you would like your email to be accepted as a formal complaint. My investigation indicates that there is nothing further that I or any member of staff can do on this issue. If you would like to pursue this further, I could refer you to the Clerk’s Office to make a request for deputation to Council.”
I allowed myself to believe that Di Muccio’s lapse was a one-off and I let the matter drop.
History Repeats Itself
In April 2014, I was again in touch with Bob Shelton:
“I am sorry to trouble you again but I wonder if you would confirm that no public money was used to pay for the half page advertisement placed by Councillor Di Muccio in the Newmarket Era of Thursday 10 April 2014.”
I heard from the Town’s Treasurer on 26 April 2014 saying he was reluctant to comment on specific cases until these were posted as a claimed expense on the Town’s website. Expenses are reported on a quarterly basis so expenses for the period 1 April to June 30 would be posted within 30 days – by 30 July 2014.
I was told it was the responsibility of the Town’s Treasurer:
“to make individual councillors aware of any potential non-compliance and to attempt to resolve the situation. If a dispute cannot be settled, then it is brought to Council for a decision.”
I don’t know if there were any discussions between the Town’s Treasurer and Maddie Di Muccio once she had lodged her claim for $1,225.19 for the advertisement. But I did not see any report to Council which was supposed to happen if a councilor and the Town were at loggerheads over a disputed expense.
The whole thing flared up again as an issue with the Council motion of 30 March 2015. Once again, I asked if I could lodge a formal complaint, asking for the Integrity Commissioner to be brought in despite the existence of the “six month rule” (which prevents an investigation going ahead if the alleged violation happened more than six months before the filing of the complaint.)
After all I had been flagging up the issue with senior staff for ages.
But it seems the six month rule is an absolute and there the matter rests – until the next deputation.
Who said what yesterday.........................................
John Blommesteyn: I am here to talk about the information report that was published on April 26 that was made out to the public and to give you a bit of background. In April, you know, there’s been a lot of talk between myself and Town staff regarding this report. In April I met with the Acting CAO, the CEO (?) and Director of Human Resources to complain about harassment my wife has been receiving from members of this Council.
I believe and many members of the public have been fooled into believing my wife has been implicated in some sort of Mike Duffy type of expense scandal. And, were that to be true, then at a very minimum you owe the public some type of explanation and evidence that backs up your 30 March motion.
Now it is a matter of public notice or public information already that the Newmarket Era is going through the process of being sued for libel and, last week, published a notice withdrawing certain implications made in its reporting on this information report.
After this report came out I asked the authors of the report for two pieces of information which are posted up top there (Blommesteyn points to the screen).
I’ve asked to see a copy of the ad that was the subject of the report and I’ve asked to know why the report did not mention anything about the legal expense when your motion specifically asked for information about legal advice. And for the record, I’ve not received anything that resembles what I’ve requested there. And the question that should be before you right now is why not?
The report you asked for requires two pieces of information regarding former councillor Maddie Di Muccio. The report asks for information about an ad and about legal expense. But Mr Taylor’s motion, seconded by Ms Twinney, chose the wording very carefully. The report was to look at an ad quote
“while seeking the provincial nomination” and quote “personal legal advice”.
If there is any evidence of either then she would be off-side on the Council’s expense policy. But without those two amendments to the words “ad” and “legal expense” because, on their own, these two are very legitimate expenses for Council.
You all voted on this. You must believe that this information as modified is true. So I am here to ask you to produce what your staff cannot or will not provide me.
Where is this ad placed “while seeking the provincial nomination”? And what personal legal advice are you referring to? And, for your information, don’t point to the Kinahan invoice. Because when I visited your staff in April I brought with me a letter that was signed by Leo Kinahan confirming that Councillor Maddie Di Muccio’s expense related to her work as a councilor.
And I am very curious to know why the authors of this report didn’t include this fact when they published information the information report on April 26th.
On March 3rd I spoke before this Council imploring you to meet best practices in your work. None of you made a comment to me after my deputation. No. The way you responded at that same meeting was to table this information report that singles out my wife that was ultimately adopted on March 30th.
Now some people may think that Council expenses account motion was retaliatory or vengeful or mean. And we’ll leave that up to someone else to judge. But if you can’t sit in your chairs here and lie about somebody. If you don’t feel you have lied, then produce the evidence I am seeking. It is as simple as that.
Mayor Tony Van Bynen: Thank you. I take exception to the fact that you are suggesting that this Council lied. And I am going to rule that as an out-of-order comment. And I’ll just leave it at that. Regional Councillor Taylor.
Regional Councillor John Taylor: Thanks very much. You are asking questions about an ad and legal expenses and, out of an abundance of transparency, perhaps you would help things along if you would just tell us what the expenses were for since they were expenses…
John Blommesteyn: There was no expenses. Sorry. There was no ad “while seeking the provincial nomination”. There was no ad whatsoever and there was no personal legal advice.
John Taylor: Can you just tell us what the expenses were for then?
John Blommesteyn: I don’t know what to tell you. There was no expense. How can I tell you about this expense when there was no expense. There was no ad “while seeking Provincial nomination” and there was personal legal advice. So I can’t. It is almost asking me to prove a negative. There’s no such thing. It doesn’t exist.
John Taylor: Just tell us what those two expenses were for.
John Blommesteyn: And it doesn’t exist is what I am telling. You published those wordings very carefully when you published this Motion. If you go back to your motion…
Mayor Tony Van Bynen: OK. It’s just not clear. The Town did pay some expenses.
John Blommesteyn: But that’s not the wording of your motion. If that’s what you were interested in - those two expenses - then why don’t you pass a motion regarding those two expenses?
Mayor Tony Van Bynen….
John Blommestyn: No! You chose expenses to make it look like there was a Mike Duffy expense scandal and it wasn’t.
Mayor Tony Van Bynen: Thank you.
John Taylor: Just to acknowledge. There were two expenses. Can you just tell us what they were for?
John Blommesteyn: I cannot speak to any expenses in relation to your motion. I would be out of order.
Mayor Tony Van Bynen: Thank you.
John Blommesteyn: It is not relevant. It does not relate to you order.
Mayor Tony Van Bynen: Any questions? Clarification? Being none, Motion to receive the deputation?
Proposed by Tom Vegh and seconded by Jane Twinney.
Carried nem con.
(You can view this at 1 hour 19 minutes in on the tape)
Update on 17 June 2015: The Information Report Bloomesteyn refers to was published on 26 May 2015 not 26 April 2015
- Written by Gordon Prentice
Paul Ferguson, Director of Newmarket Hydro and President of Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution Ltd, will be presenting the 2014 financial statements of Newmarket Hydro Holdings inc and Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution Ltd on Monday morning (15 June) to Newmarket’s Committee of the Whole.
The hydro company, Newmarket-Tay, is jointly owned by the Municipalities of Newmarket (93%) and Tay (7%). There are around 70 mostly municipally owned distribution companies in Ontario.
Unfortunately there is nothing in the reports to show how much Board Members receive by way of remuneration.
In an exchange of emails in May I learned from Mr Ferguson that the Directors of Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution receive an annual retainer of $8,000 plus a per diem of $200 for attending Board of Director or Board Committee meetings. He says that there are six Board and four Committee meetings per year so the average annual remuneration is $10,000.
I was left wondering whether this information was publicly available and, if so, where it would be found. So I politely asked him.
Mr Ferguson helpfully pointed me to a Newmarket by-law passed in 2000 which set the remuneration which, he says, has not been adjusted since.
It was at this point that things went a bit pear-shaped.
Noting that Mr Ferguson would be presenting the financial reports to councillors on 15 June, I courteously asked him if there was any reason why the details of Board remuneration could not be included. I suggested it would be helpful if the sums actually disbursed (and not simply the annual retainer) could be shown. Entitlement to an annual retainer does not indicate whether it is, in fact, taken up.
Mr Ferguson’s testy and intemperate response invited me to contact those Board members directly “who capture your interest”.
Why shouldn’t this information be routinely disclosed? Why should Newmarket taxpayers who pretty much own the hydro company be expected to act as sleuths digging out ancient by-laws that are not on-line and writing directly to Board members?
Sunshine List controversy
After the brouhaha over Tony Van Bynen’s salary as reported in the Sunshine List I was left wondering if his declared remuneration included moneys paid by Newmarket-Tay Hydro. The Mayor is appointed by the Town to serve on its Board but any remuneration is neither paid by, nor reported by, the Town of Newmarket. It is left to the hydro people to disclose or not, as the case may be.
But that is not the end of it.
Annually, in March, every municipality in Ontario has to produce a Statement of Remuneration and Expenses for Members of the Council and Council Appointments to Boards and Other Bodies. You can see the one for Newmarket (March 2015) here.
Section 284 (1) (a) of the Municipal Act 2001 obliges
The treasurer of a municipality shall in each year on or before March 31 provide to the council of the municipality an itemized statement on remuneration and expenses paid in the previous year to each member of council in respect of his or her services as a member of the council or any other body, including a local board, to which the member has been appointed by council or on which the member holds office by virtue of being a member of council;
What the law says
284(3) of the same Act says a statement shall be provided to a municipality in the following circumstances:
If, in any year, any body, including a local board, pays remuneration or expenses to one of its members who was appointed by a municipality, the body shall on or before January 31 in the following year provide to the municipality an itemized statement of the remuneration and expenses paid for the year.
It seems to me that Newmarket-Tay Hydro should provide details of the Mayor’s remuneration to the Town of Newmarket and that information should be made publicly available without people like me having to make a big song and dance about it.
And who precisely does the Hydro Company report to at the Town?
Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua and his hydro remuneration
For purposes of comparison, I’ve had a look at the City of Vaughan’s Statement of Remuneration and Expenses for members of the Council and Council Appointments to Boards and Other Bodies. You can read the latest statement here.
I went to Vaughan (not just because it is in York Region) but because it had its own Hydro Company. Details of the remuneration paid to the Mayor, Maurizio Bevilacqua, for serving on Vaughan Holdings Inc (previously named Hydro Vaughan Holdings Inc) and Hydro Vaughan Energy Corp are set out in the statement above. In the case of the former, Mayor Bevilacqua received $8,125 remuneration and $158 benefits and in the case of the latter, $1,750 and $34 respectively.
The City of Vaughan’s 100% owned hydro companies were restructured in 2013. The new Vaughan Holdings Inc. holds 45.3% of PowerStream Holdings Inc. Six Members of Vaughan Council sit on the PowerStream Board of Directors and are paid. You can see the details here. Maurizio Bevilacqua is now Chair of Powerstream.
It seems to me that if the City of Vaughan can report these matters so too can the Town of Newmarket.
I shall be asking for details of the remuneration and expenses paid by Newmarket-Tay to the Mayor of Newmarket for the last five years for which figures are available.
I am taking this up with Bob Shelton, Newmarket’s Chief Administrative Officer who, wearing another hat, is also a director of Newmarket Hydro Holdings.
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