After almost two years of nada, a political action committee for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez reported this month that it raised $5,000 in the last days of August, raising eyebrows across the county about what Gimenez, who is termed out in 2020, will do with it.
Will he run for mayor of Miami in 2021 against Francis Suarez, as some have speculated? Is he eyeing the Miami-Dade Sherriff’s seat, an independently elected office that will hopefully be created after it passes voter referendum in November? Is he raising funds for his daughter-in-law Barby Rodriguez‘s rumored run for city of Miami commission (more on that later)?
Or is this just to raise money to help Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo become the next mayor so the Gimenez friends and family plan is protected?
Or is it simply to fight the Miami strong mayor referendum he has so publicly and vehemently opposed?
All are good options. And it could be several of these at a time. But Ladra thinks the 2021 Miami mayoral race is a good bet.
It’s hard to imagine Gimenez giving up any of the power he has grown accustomed to abusing. He is also his family’s cash cow. I am certain someone close to him is telling him what great name rec he’s got and not to tarnish the brand with a fly-by-night city commission bid by a boozy, badmouthed bimbo who is, really, a long shot in the cold dark.
Read related: Carlos Gimenez abuses power in election interference for lobbyist son
Besides, some might say this is Gimenez’s dream job. This is where he was fire chief. This is where he was city manager. It would make for the perfect trifecta if Gimenez were to end his career as mayor where he started his career as a paramedic so long ago.
Sure, the budget is smaller, so there’s less to go around for everybody on his friends and family plan. That’s why he’s supporting Bovo. That way CJ and his wife and his brother and sister-in-law get to feed from both troughs. (Three, if you count MDX, and you probably should). And, in Miami, there are only three of five people to convince, rather than seven of 13.
Las malas lenguas say that BFFs and international travel mates Ralph Garcia Toledo and Alex Heckler are already making calls, asking for contributions.
The $5,000 contribution to Miami-Dade Residents First was made by PDS Development, the Palazzo Del Sol builders that earlier this year secured a $90 million loan to develop luxury condos on the island. It seems small, especially for someone who raised and spent around $10 million in his last re-election bid. And one might think that he would want to come out the first time after 24 months of nada with a little more than a single figure K.
But it was made the 28th. Which makes us very curious about what the September report will look like.

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There’s no mention of them in the lawsuit filed Tuesday by Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo against the city and Mayor Francis Suarez in an attempt to stop the strong mayor vote, but the county mayor’s family is involved.
While the emergency complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief was filed in Miami-Dade 11th Circuit Court by Jesus Suarez, an attorney with Genovese Joblove and Battista, an email shot out that very night shows who had to be notified as soon as possible: Tania Cruz, the mayor’s daughter-in-law, and Carlos Gimenez, who could be the mayor’s lobbyist son or the mayor himself — but there’s really no difference as evidenced by last month’s elections interference.
The email was sent just before midnight, two minutes and three seconds after Suarez got notice of the filed documents. It had only one word in it: “FILED” All in caps. Like “DONE” or “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.” Like he is reporting to his real boss.
Genovese Joblove and Battista has long been affiliated with Gimenez and once employed his other daughter-in-law, Barby Rodriguez.
Cruz, who is married to the mayor’s lobbyist son, was the attorney of record for the Carollo campaign and represented him, alongside Ben Kuehne, during the challenge to his district residency brought on by Alfie Leon. Is she consulting now, too?
And CJ Gimenez, the lobbyist son that this is probably addressed to, has been with Carollo since the campaign and now beyond, helping him get an extension from Papi as head of the county elections department for the wording on the strong mayor ballot question and, now, helping Carollo challenge the measure in court.
The lawsuit — which also names Miami City Clerk Todd Hannon, Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor (by proxy) Christina White and the political action committee Miamians for an Independent and Accountable Mayor’s Initiative as defendants — argues that the “ambiguous and intentionally misleading” ballot language doesn’t clearly tell voters what the mayor’s compensation will be under the strong mayor change (watch this become the crux of an anti campaign) and other changes that take power away from the commission. It also argues that the petitions themselves are invalid because some of the circulators are not registered Miami-Dade voters, as required by county code.
Read related: Carlos Gimenez abuses power in election interference for lobbyist son
Interesting  points that seem to have merit. Ladra is not sure she likes the strong mayor idea, either. I mean, look how great it’s been for the county. And the Suarez version is even more powerful and convoluted (more on that later).
But I’m more interested right now in how deeply involved Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is in this fight. And why?
First he abuses his power to intervene in the elections process on behalf of his lobbyist son and Carollo, getting the commissioner a one week extension because Carollo thought he could kill the referendum measure with time. Gimenez didn’t get the extension for Suarez, who had previously sought an extension of a few days but was told he couldn’t have one and wanted to have the ballot language approved at a special city commission meeting Aug. 6. No, he did that for Carollo, who still couldn’t deliver even after Gimenez took over the elections department and deemed himself the elections supervisor.
And now the Gimenez family is behind, er, um, consulted on a lawsuit against the ballot measure.
What lengths will Gimenez go to on this issue? Isn’t it too bad he’s not as passionate about rail?
A Getty miage captures a much happier and friendlier Francis Suarez and Carlos Gimenez on Marlins opening day.
Is this just an opportunity to muddy Suarez on behalf of Carollo and his son’s career, or is there something more personal at stake? Las malas lenguas say Gimenez has long thought about running for Miami mayor after he is termed out at the county in 2020. Is this the tailgate party? But then, wouldn’t he want the strong mayor measure to pass.
Some political observers believe it’s going to pass anyway, given Miami’s sewn-up vote, and that this presents Gimenez with an opportunity to muddy Suarez while allowing for the strong mayor vote to pass and then using the younger mayor’s inexperience against him in 2021.
It could happen. God help us. At least it is one explanation behind the Gimenez clan involvement in this lawsuit. Have another?

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Let’s say that the mayor of a big city calls one of his employees on a Sunday morning at home. This employee, who years ago he promoted to chief of her department, is in charge of municipal elections and, lo and behold, she changes her mind about a previously hard and fast deadline on an upcoming ballot. The mayor admits to a local paper that he intervened in this matter for his son, a lobbyist who works on behalf of someone with an interest in the ballot.
Sounds like Nicaragua, don’t it? Almost anywhere else, this would draw some drumbeats and possibly an investigation into what is obviously, at the very least, an abuse of power.
But this happened in Miami-Dade, where Mayor Carlos Gimenez admitted to the Miami Herald only a few weeks ago that he used his elected office to get his lobbyist son a week-long extension on the Miami referendum for a strong mayor — and everyone just shrugs their shoulders and moves along like there’s nothing to see here.
How is this not being investigated? Have we become so numb to these abuses of power that such an extension of the friends and family plan is no big deal?
For those of you who are just hearing about this like Ladra was a few days ago: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who wants to be a strong mayor (more on that later), was having a hard time getting the ballot language good enough for the commission to agree on it. The deadline for the language to be at the Miami-Dade Elections Department was Tuesday, Aug. 7. Suarez called White and asked for a few more days. She told him it could not be done.
A few days later, on a Sunday, Aug. 5, White gets a phone call from Gimenez who asks her the same thing. Now, the answer is different. Now the answer is, sure, why not? Heck, she could wait even a week more. But nobody tells Suarez, who called a special meeting for Monday, Aug. 6, during which the city manager calls White and, voila, gets a week extension, seemingly on the spot. That Emilio Gonzalez has magical convincing powers, right?
Wrong. Everyone finds out the later that day or the next day is that the week-long extension had already been granted — a day earlier and to another mayor, Gimenez. Mayor Giveaway told the Herald point blank that when he told his son about the extension, the suddenly hot lobbyist CJ Gimenez, Commissioner Joe Carollo, who CJ grew close to during the Miami commission seat campaign last year (photo, left), was sitting next to him. It sounds like Mayor Gimenez knew he was talking to both of them. Maybe on speaker. CJ always puts dad on speaker.
“I told them it wasn’t a hard date,” Gimenez is quoted as saying in the Herald. “That if requested, the supervisor of elections would probably be amenable to moving it back a week.”
Read related: We get Joe Carollo in Miami — and all the drama, interest that comes with
Can’t you just hear the Don Corleone accent? I told them that if requested, the supervisor of elections would probably be amenable to moving it back a week.
So, basically, Gimenez got the extension and Carollo played dumb at the meeting about it for some reason. Maybe Crazy Joe knows that Crooked Carlos shouldn’t have done that.
Reached Wednesday, White said she couldn’t recall if Gimenez had called her that Sunday in the morning or the evening and said it wasn’t that uncommon. “He’s my boss,” she said. “We do talk as needed.”
When Ladra asked her how often her boss calls her on weekends, White couldn’t even give a ballpark figure.
“Is it once a month?” No answer to that. “Twice a month?”
“When I’m in election season, as needed, if something comes up, there’s never been an issue in calling him or vice versa,” she said. Well, except for when he was running for office, she said. “We really did not communicate very often then. He really respected the fact that he was the candidate,” White volunteered. But what did they talk about those few times? How do we know what “very often” means?
This is especially important because Gimenez actually told the Herald he himself was the supervisor of elections.
“I’m the supervisor of elections. I delegate that power to Christina White,” Gimenez is quoted as saying.
Did he, for instance, call White the weekend in the summer of 2016 that he needed to submit another check to qualify after his first check was invalidated because it was dated 2015. Remember that second check that was submitted at 10:20 p.m., way after the elections office is supposedly closed for the day, and the questions surrounding whether or not he may have abused his power to get the office open? Or was he simply the elections supervisor then, too?
Read related: Carlos Gimenez submits late night campaign check (10:20 p.m.)
Did Gimenez call White to tell her to forget about the check that a candidate for school board had cancelled after his son convinced the man to drop out of the race against his sister-in-law? Remember that Richard Tapia never officially withdrew from the race after having lunch or whatever with CJ (photo left) who encouraged him to drop out so his aunt, School Board Member Maria Teresa Rojas, would have an easier ride in? Was Mayor Gimenez the elections supervisor then, too? Or does the county just forgive anybody and everybody who cancels their checks?
There have been several opportunities for Mayor Gimenez to interfere with and, indeed, manipulate the electoral process — and we still don’t know how often he calls the elections supervisor on the weekends.
“So, twice a month?”
“There is no figure,” White said, exasperated at very legitimate questions that really need to be asked after she is subpoenaed and under oath..
She did say she did not feel uncomfortable by his call or what she deemed as his “inquiry,” because she insists her boss did not ask her to extend the deadline. Gimenez simply asked, White said, if it could be done if it needed to be done — lke it was a hypothetical situation? — and she said why, yes, it could.
Did she happen to mention to Gimenez that Mayor Suarez had, indeed, asked for such an extension just a couple days earlier and that she denied it? “I did not tell him,” White told Ladra. Hmmmm. Don’t you think that would naturally come up in that Sunday conversation? I mean, if it wasn’t uncomfortable.
Read related: Beware of Carlos Gimenez Jr. at Gables School Board forum
The deadline exists, by the way, because of all the work that goes into putting together the general election ballot, starting the day after the primary. There are dozens of questions on the ballot with more than 20 questions in one city alone this year (North Bay Village) and each of those has to be translated to Spanish and Haitian Kreole, then have those translations “negotiated,” because they are never spot on the first time, then have them all approved before the ballot is laid out.
“He just wanted to know if I was asked for an extension would I have a problem with that,” White {photo left) told Ladra. “It’s not that big a deal for me to give a city an extra week, for one city for one question. Especially since I saw the meeting and they were struggling with finding the ballot language.”
But there are three problems with her story: One is that Suarez, too, had asked for an extension for just one city for just one question and she had said nananina to that.
“My recollection of that conversation is he asked ‘Is the deadline firm?’ and I said, ‘Yes, it is,’” White said.
Then why wasn’t it firm that Sunday in her conversation with Gimenez?
The second is that the meeting took place on Monday — and she had already told Mayor Gimenez she would extend the deadline a day earlier. Sp watching them struggle with the language had, literally, nothing to do with it.
And the third is that Gimenez himself told the Herald about a conversation that seemingly went differently. After all, he is the supervisor of elections delegating the power to White.
“To me, it’s important to get things right,” Gimenez told the Miami Herald. “Adding another week to get things on the ballot, I don’t see a problem with that. I would do it for anyone else who asked. That is the democratic process.”
White needs to be put under oath when questioned by ethics investigators and/or prosecutors. Yes, Ladra went there. This is by far the clearest evidence of abuse of power by a man whose friends and family plan apparently knows no bounds. It’s not as if they need someone to make a complaint, but if they do, I will.
Where are the authorities?

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Now that the mayoral election next month is all but a technicality, the real question is who Commissioner Francis Suarez, our next city of Miami mayor, wants to have serve on the dais with him. He’s been non-commmital because he wanted to focus on his own race. But now that he’s got no opposition, not really, he can put his considerable weight behind the right candidate.
Too bad he still won’t tell us. Now, we can only guess.
“I’m not supporting anyone right now. I get along pretty much with everybody,” Suarez told Ladra this week, adding that no mayor or elected supported him when he first ran in 2009 even though he started out 25 points behind Manolo Reyes, who is leading all the polls for the seat now.
“And I liked it that way. I didn’t even use my middle name, which is the same as my father’s,” said Suarez, a chip off the old block that is Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez, who was also the first Cuban mayor of Miami. “I wanted to rise on my own merits, my own ideas.”
The flip side of the coin is that he doesn’t want to piss anybody off.
“As mayor, you have a responsibility to create a coalition on the commission and set the tone and get things done. If you pick the wrong side, you may end up offending somebody and shooting yourself in the foot,” he said. “I want to hit the ground running. My responsibility isn’t to the candidates, it’s to the residents.”
But just who does Baby X think he’s fooling? Some political observers say he’s being a passive aggressive pussy who is secretly helping candidates but doesn’t have the cojones to publicly endorse them. “Like always, el tira le piedra y esconda la mano,” said one Miami voter and political junkie. It’s a Cuban saying that literally means he throws a stone and hides his hand but actually means he starts some kind of trouble and avoids the blame.
Read related story: Francis Suarez says definite maye to Miami mayoral race
Ladra, too, thinks that he does, indeed, have a great deal of interest in the two commission races (especially in one). Why else would he spend money polling the commission races along with his own race and issues every time? And it is very difficult for Ladra to believe that he and his dad and his political allies in Coral Gables and beyond would just pass on this opportunity to silently grow allies and build their machinery, especially trying to help the candidates that Suarez knows will be friendlier and happier to work with him instead of on their own agenda.
Yeah, Joe Carollo, I’m talking about you. The former Miami mayor and Doral city manager likes to be a star and the protagonist and could battle Suarez for attention and control of the commission.
Despite the fact that the two candidates are apparently sharing Steve Marin as campaign consultant, the two families sorta hate each other. Ladra can’t beieve that’
Suarez wants to sit on the dais with the guy who basically unseated his father from office in 1997 for absentee voter fraud that may not have been X’s doing (it was former City Commissioner Humberto Hernandez and former State Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who las malas lenguas say is helping Carollo now). The election was thrown out and a second vote put Carollo in office. So, no, Ladra does not believe that Suarez isn’t actively working against Crazy Joe. You can’t trusth him because he could turn on you at any minute, like he has on almost everybody, even calling a press conference to stab you in the back. Just ask former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre. We have to believe that Baby X is ABC — Anyone But Carollo.
Read related story: Crazy Joe Carollo adds twist to crazy Miami Commission race
Athough maybe not Tommy Regalado, son and namesake of the current mayor, tampoco. There’s no real love loss between these families either. Maybe also because Suarez had the nerve to try to run against Mayor Tomas Regalado four years ago before he had to abandon the campaign after several missteps. Suarez just got rid of one Regalado, you think he wants to be saddled with another? And compete for media darling status with another block chip?
That leaves us in District 3 with Zoraida Barreiro, the wife of Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, or one of the other three guys who don’t seem to stand a chance next to the legacy candidates. Zory, as she is known, makes sense because her husband is a colleague of the new mayor’s father. This allegiance has legs. Also, Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro has not lost one election. Not for State Rep. Not for county commissioner.
There’s also a small possibility that Suarez likes Alfie Leon, the former chief policy advisor, for Commissioner Frank Carollo. But Ladra is making that hypothesis only because someone in his camp has defended Leon in private and Coral Gables Commissioner Vince Lago, a top Suarez ally, is backing Leon openly.
Still, it’s practically a toss up between the other two.
One might think Baby X is helping Reyes, who he beat by 260 votes when first elected in 2009, since he is leading all the polls, after all. Suarez has reportedly shared the polls with people to help Reyes raise campaign cash. And also allegedly lent Reyes his professional fundraiser — Brian Goldmeier reportedly made some calls on Reyes’ behalf.
But, on the other hand, Manolo is tight with the Regalados so there’s that little snag. And Baby X has been seen with Ralph Rosado at some events and neighborhood homeowner association meetings. Rosado has also shown that he can raise more money, which could be important to Suarez– or both Suarezes — in the future.
Maybe he’s hedging his bets. Does that still count as passive aggressive?

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We’ve been robbed. Cheated!

The four biggest cities in Miami-Dade have elections next month without a single mayoral race. Not really anyway. The four frontrunners have zero or marginal opposition. That means there will be no debates, no conversation about the direction of these cities, no real choice for the voters of Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah and Homestead.

Also the commission or council races and the charter questions on the ballots in those cities will suffer from the lack of any real mayoral contest, which is always the main attraction.

In Miami, Commissioner Francis Suarez is the presumed winner after Commissioner Frank Carollo, who is termed out this year, failed to throw his hat in the ring. Everyone held their breath til the last minute on the qualifying deadine because Carollo was supposed to challenge Baby X. But many political observers speculate that his brother, former mayor Crazy Joe Carollo, le tiro la jarrita de agua fria by jumping into the commission race in Group 3 (more on that later), because it would be harder to get two Carollos on the dais and even if he did, then what? Yeah, sure, there are three others who qualified for the Miami mayoral race but none of them have raised any money or are considered real candidates, so they will go unnamed. Expect Suarez to get 93% of the vote.

In Miami Beach, former State Sen. Dan Gelber gets a free ride thanks to Commissioner Michael Grieco‘s self destruction with the secret PAC that he denied having anything to do with but that is now under investigation by a really selective State Attorney who has seemed to look the other way at far more egregious PAC problems (more on that later). Again, three others qualified, but, again, they will go unnamed because none has raised more than $6,000 (to Gelber’s $500K-plus account) and their names won’t matter after Nov. 7 anyway.

Read related story: Mystery Miami Beach PAC goes down, but new PAC is up

In Hialeah, Mayor Carlos Hernandez is apparently not termed out, as an attorney for former Mayor Julio Martinez had argued in court, trying to boot the admitted loanshark and absentee ballot bully out of the race. Alas, a judge ruled with the city’s warped thinking, which is that a half a term is not to be counted. Getting Hernandez off the ballot was the only way to get him out of City Hall. It was the only chance anyone had. There’s a lady challenging him, but while she’s very brave (her husband is a city employee), she stands zero chance of making a dent in the Hernandez election armor. That means that he can use more money earmarked for needy kids to give his needy staff vacations in Vegas.

And in Homestead, Mayor Jeff Porter — who has brought some stability to the county’s fourth largest city after the last mayor was arrested for corruption — is automatically re-elected de-facto after nobody dared oppose him.

Yawn.

If it hadn’t been for Annette Taddeo‘s win last month over former State Rep. Jose Felix “Pepi” Diaz in the Senate 40 race, this would be the most boring local election year ever.

Not that I don’t like Porter or Baby X or even Sen. Gelber (notice I didn’t include Carlitos because Ladra does, indeed, dislike the Hialeah hoodlum). Those three are all fine gentlemen with good track records, it seems, so far anyway. But I miss the process by which ellos se destacan. I want them to lay out their ideas and defend their positions and plans. You should too.

This just handing them over the seat seems like a bad idea.

It’s also a terrible reflection of our community that we didn’t have more qualified people vying for these important posts.


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Miami City Commission candidate Ralph Rosado sounds like an incumbent on the most recent mailer that arrived in some Miami voters’ homes Wednesday.

“Let’s talk about crime and it’s prevention,” it says on the front.

“I have worked to guarantee that our police department can count on the sufficient number of police officers to keep us protected and also prevent crimes before they are committed. That is why I spearheaded an initiative to hire 100 new officers,” it says on the back.

That may come as a surprise to the mayor and city commissioners.

“It’s a lie,” said Mayor Tomas Regalado.

“I know he is running and he wants to be elected but you can’t get into elected office through fraud. That’s an injustice to the voters,” Regalado said. “It’s also an insult to the administration and the commission who worked hard and had to make many hard decisions to get to this point,” the mayor told Ladra, adding that they are at more than 180 additional officers in the past two years.

Of course, Regalado is supporting another candidate in the District 4 race: Manolo Reyes, an economics teacher who used to work in the city’s and the Miami-Dade School Board’s budget offices. There are a couple of other candidates who have showed an intention to run for the seat vacated by Commissioner Francis Suarez‘s mayoral bid, but, so far anyway, this is really a contest between Rosado and Reyes, who is a perennial candidate — but at least he doesn’t jump from seat to seat (Rosado also ran for state rep) and exaggerate his laurels.

Last summer’s graduating Miami Police cadets

Because Rosado’s role in the police staffing increase was basically going to a budget hearing a couple of Septembers ago and urging the commission to hire more police officers. That’s it. He was the first of two speakers on that item. The second was pollster and radio show host (until last week) Fernand Amandi, whose home had been burglarized. It’s a  little disingenuous then to send a mailer where he basically takes credit — “spearheading” the initiative and all.

“I am not a commissioner and I have no power over the police department. But heck yeah, I was there for 11 hours and I met with people for days prior and I did the research,” Rosado told Ladra.

“Can I say only because I spoke did it happen? I can’t say that,” he admitted. “But if nobody brought it up, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.”

Really? Well then, I say don’t run for office. Just go to every meeting and speak on the issues we need action on. Because, most likely, the new hires would have happened anyway. The shortage had reached a boiling point. And Amandi spoke, too. Maybe it was his words that moved Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to make the motion.

In his email, Rosado also said that he “implemented a program that uses crime data with the goal of trying to prevent crimes before they happen and concentrate police work in the most dangerous areas. We can make our neighborhoods safer and I, as your future City Commissioner, will work harder than anyone to guarantee that we do.”

And that’s at least a little more truthful. But not entirely.

What he did was bring the FIT Zone program used in East Palo Alto, California, to the attention of the city commission, complete with a Power Point presentation on July 14 last year. The program takes data from the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system put in place in 2014 and finds public spaces near hot spots — a time and area where there is consistently a flurry of firearm activity — to then program fitness activities, targetting at risk kids and the people in the surrounding homes. Miami’s pilot program is on Monday nights with a basketball league and other activities at Overtown’s Reeves Park and it’s a huge success, Commissioner Suarez said.

“He did come up with the idea and the results have been incredible,” Suarez said. “He did discover it. He did study it, flying to Palo Alto to see how it worked there. And he convinced me to execute it here.”

So, why didn’t Rosado send a mail piece just on that? Why not be honest and include more details about the lives the program could be changing, which would be more powerful? Oh, wait, I know. Because Reeves Park is not in District 4. So it’s better to be vague. I would imagine that voters in District 4 who get this mailer could logically think the program benefits “our neighborhoods.” It doesn’t. And it won’t anytime soon. According to Commissioner Suarez, the next two hotspots under consideration for an expansion of the program are in Liberty City.

Kudos to Baby X because he represents the whole city and is not provincial. And kudos to Ralph for going out of his way to bring us FIT Zone.

But it doesn’t make it okay to exaggerate or misrepresent his role on campaign materials, which is what Rosado did with the two crime-fighting claims in this mailer. One’s an outright lie and the other is a half-truth.


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