Ada Commish Says “Good Ol’ Boys” Pervade County

We posted a little story earlier about alleged GENDER BIAS at the Boise Public Library to give folks to confirm or deny morale and personnel problems at the City.

Some readers responded with comments, but the gangbuster was a damning comment from Ada Commish Sharon Ullman revealing what she claims is a county workplace that is anything but tranquil. Her comment in her own words:

“I’m sorry to say that Ada County shares some of the same problems being reported by Boise City employees. Some male employees receive undeserved salary increases merely because they are buddies with my male colleagues. Poor or even despicable performance by these same buddies (and one former female supervisor who had an average 74 percent turnover rate of her employees for 12 years running!) is ignored because of the personal relationships.

“Unfortunately, Ada County does not have mandatory performance evaluations for all employees, or some of these issues would rise to the surface a lot sooner, before crises finally arise and are addressed.

“In a recent example, a female employee had been receiving inappropriate e-mail messages for EIGHT YEARS from one or more male Ada County coworkers. Many of these messages were increasingly vulgar and demeaning to women. Some of the messages were originated by the department head himself. The employee didn’t speak up for that long time period because she was so fearful of retaliation. I knew ten years ago that this department head was a terrible supervisor who promoted a hostile work environment demeaning particularly to women, but he is one of the “buddies” who receives special treatment, so my concerns are either met with combativeness or are simply dismissed entirely by my colleagues.

“When the work environment for the female employee who had been receiving the inappropriate e-mail messages had become so hostile that she had little left to lose, she finally filed a complaint. The investigation that ensued revealed that virtually every employee who has left that department in recent years has commented on the hostile “Good Ol’ Boys” environment and the retaliatory behavior that would ensue when employees spoke up about problems or concerns. The writing was on the wall, but only the Human Resources people and I were bothering to read it.”

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Someone should sue.

  2. This is not news. If you look into it, Ullman is as deep in it as the rest of them in terms of being part of the good ol boys, giving secret raises to those she likes, running off employees she doesn’t, having backroom meetings and making secret deals in violation of open meetings. It is despicable for her to now use her gender as though that makes her pure. She is the worst of all of them. And isn’t leaking all this confidential personnel stuff about a current supervisor, a current employee, and a past supervisor illegal anyway?

  3. Brian Vermillion
    Oct 25, 2011, 8:21 am

    As a good ole’ boy, where can I apply!

  4. Email on a government system is always subject to public records requests aka freedom of information. Why anyone would send any email they would not like to see on the front page of the daily paper in this day is beyond my ability to comprehend. Most companies and organizations have policies about personal emails on their systems and it would seem to me Luddites who persist in vulgar email activity on a company or government system need to be shown the exit doors.

    Most people have more than one email account and using the company account is bad form on the part of senders. I would think a three strikes policy with email complaints justified as inappropriate,demeaning to the receiver are grounds for termination. There is no “right to privacy” with company or government email systems.

  5. IMPORTANT POINT OF CLARIFICATION: There are pockets of problems within Ada County. Some divisions and departments – the Ada County Sheriff’s Office is a good example – are extremely well run and enjoy a highly respectful work environment. Even within departments in which there ARE problems, there are some top notch employees, coming to work and performing their jobs well every day. They are very much appreciated.

    In response to Cynical ~ There is no such thing as a “secret” raise in county government. Salaries of all employees are a matter of public record. I believe in pay for performance. Good employees should be paid for their contribution to the organization. Losing good employees to competing agencies or to the private sector is being penny-wise and pound foolish, because service suffers and recruitment and training cost a lot of money. As for “running off” employees I don’t “like,” it is beneficial to the county’s taxpayers when employees who make less than a positive contribution decide to leave. If a couple of them have done so because they realized I was aware of their poor performance, then that is a good thing for taxpayers and for the organization. I am not aware of any instance in which I have violated the Open Meeting Law. Perhaps you would be so kind as to enlighten me, and the readers of the Boise Guardian, so that corrective action can be taken if it is warranted? My gender is not at issue here. The fact that one male department head created a hostile work environment, particularly for some of the women who work within that department, is at issue. As far as leaking “confidential personnel stuff” I have provided no identifying information, but do believe the public has a right to know what is going on particularly when problems are escalating, as they have been since the beginning of this year.

  6. One Who Knows
    Oct 25, 2011, 1:38 pm

    Hey Ver,uh I mean Roger, er ah, I mean Cynical. Don’t you have better things to do at five a.m. other than making un-supportable claims and false accusations? Anybody who has even been remotely associated with Ms. Ullman knows she is not the type of person you claim she is. The mere fact that you said what you said leads me to believe you are either one the “Good Ol’ Boys” yourself or planning to run against her in May and are trying to make her look bad which, by the way, is impossible!

  7. gettin a kick outta you whiners
    Oct 25, 2011, 2:45 pm

    Wait… Cynical is Vern? Does that make Brian, Rick? wait I’m Rick not that Rick but another Rick…. looks like we need a score card to keep up….
    Lets face it we all know that Idaho politics is a good ole boys club… always has been always will be. It is not what most of you are used to IE Drug Scandals, Sex Scandals, the state being declared a safe haven for illegal’s and the like, but it is our form of corruption….not as glamorous as yours but then this aint Cali now is it

  8. One Who Knows
    Oct 25, 2011, 3:12 pm

    Perhaps you are right Getting a Kick, to a certain extent. People who come from the civilized world are aware of other forms of political turbulence. They have seen the results of hard work by elected officials who have an IQ that is above room temperature. People that have taken a stand against cronyism to force change in the work place policies of public and private employers. The 1900’s are over now. It’s a new day, a new century and, hopefully, a new future. Idaho is growing intellectually and having some growing pains as a result. You’ll be fine, you’ll get over it, you’ll see.

  9. Phew! I’m glad that’s cleared up. Sharon’s gender is not at issue here.

  10. Sis ~ The six kids to whom I have given birth are pretty happy about that, too! 😉

  11. gettin a kick outta you whiners
    Oct 25, 2011, 7:32 pm

    Ig Cali is so great why did all of you leave….. oh that right sex scandals drug scandals mexicans taking over….go home if its so great.. another thing I love about you Cali’s your gonna teach everyone how things should be… then leave when you run this place into the ground….

  12. I can say speaking from experience that Sharon was the ONLY one that would listen to anything we had to say about Nancy Cladis and probation. Both the good old boys chose to turn the other cheek.

  13. Talk about political hypocrisy. A certain unnamed female Ada county commissioner bemoans the “Good Ol’ Boys” syndrome that takes place but she is just as guilty as those she tries to put herself above. At least two current Ada county employees used county resources and county time to work on her election campaign for governor as well as the campaign of another commissioner who was recently voted out of office. These two commissioners then voted to give these employees promotions and substantial salary increases during a time of county wide pay freezes. What I find almost as interesting is that these actions are fairly common knowledge here at the courthouse and yet no one chose to investigate these incidents even though they were reported to senior leaders at Ada county. Talk about a really “Good Ol’ Boys” system. Do wrong and get a raise.

    I see she also states “Unfortunately, Ada County does not have mandatory performance evaluations for all employees, or some of these issues would rise to the surface a lot sooner, before crises finally arise and are addressed.” Does that include the elected officials? Wait, let me guess the response to this. It will go something like this. “The elected officials are evaluated by the voters and are rewarded / disciplined at the time of the elections”.

  14. Paul m ~ I have never had county employees work on any campaign of mine during work hours. I believe there is a conflict of interest in asking county employees for assistance on political campaigns. You might want to take a look at the campaign finance reports of candidates for commissioner, as you will notice that at least a couple of those candidates have taken several financial campaign contributions from county employees.

    I have supported promotions and raises for employees who have done an excellent job for the county. As I stated earlier, I believe in pay for performance. Good employees should be paid for their contribution to the organization. Losing good employees to competing agencies or to the private sector is being penny-wise and pound foolish, because service suffers and recruitment and training cost a lot of money.

  15. I was just wondering if Sharon, is kicking up dust to smoke and mirro her upcoming election. If memory serves right, one of the commishes had an investigation run on her awhile back. She is no saint and to make your comment that the Ada Co Sheriffs Dept is a shining example is a laugh. Maybe they should be investigated for the vulgar emails generating from their county computers. Another thing, the female employee you are painting as the victim here, more than likely retaliated because she was not doing her job, and felt it was in jeapordy. The way Sharon throws the term “Good Ol Boys” around sounds to me like she is suffering from penis envy. Of course there is a “Good Ol Boys Club”, and there are 12 Fat old bald Jewish MEN that run the entire world. Talk about your conspiracies. Something else that is shameful is that Sharon would post this in a public blog. I would really be careful what I said if I were her. It is so easy to be sued for defamation these days.

  16. “I have never had…” ” I did not have sexual relations….”—doesn’t that sound familiar? er/uh… Bill Clinton … Sharon’s response … “I have never had county employees …” Oh okay Sharon, you must have forgotten to insist those minions not speak/write about anything they were doing for your (and others) campaign. Oops ..better hurry and have the computer department delete the records, just like slick Willy should have made sure the dress was destroyed. Oh wait, nothing to worry about because as is the normal practice, your response to a public records request will state no records exist because you search (wink, wink) your own computer with no oversight. Another response could be, these minions are lying and the written proof (along with the camera footage that displaced employees from their work areas), were a figment of imagination. Yet another response could be you are always speaking the truth on behalf of the “poor/mistreated” county employees (like the one you just selfishly exposed after she trusted her leadership and sought help in a confidential personnel matter). In your haste to take out the Department Head that has turned down your unwanted advances for years, did you ever stop to think about what your posting would do to the employee that sought help? Oh wait, again, of course not, as it’s all about you and whatever issue you can jump on to fool the uninformed voters about you with your “savior” sound bites.

    Our response–yeah right, we get it! While your behavior may be despicable (or illegal), it’s apparently okay if you are the one doing it. These good ol’ boys that have settled lawsuits with cities, are working to rebuild destroyed relationships (that you and your good ol’ boy, former commish destroyed), got horses running back on the track, etc.—saving all local taxpayers their hard earned money, are the despicable elected officials that should be exposed. Yep, we get it. Thank you for making things clear for us.

  17. Very Disappointed
    Oct 27, 2011, 9:31 am

    I have read these blogs for years and up until now have refrained from commenting. However, I just can’t let this one go by without weighing in. Sharon Ullman has once again proven herself to be unqualified to hold public office.

    Given the detail of her public statement, I can name both individuals of whom she speaks. Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about county operations can do the same. The fact that she would put into writing such damaging comments is despicable. I hope the individuals in question take legal action against Sharon personally.

    Sharon’s comments are not in keeping with her position as a public leader and she should not be able to hide behind her position as commissioner; thereby requiring county taxpayers to defend her. She is personally and solely responsible for disclosing personal and confidential information. She should be held accountable for her libelous public statements.

    Let’s be honest, Sharon has not changed a bit since her last term in office. She has just gotten better at manipulating the truth and covering her tracks.

  18. I Know It's True Too
    Oct 27, 2011, 7:26 pm

    What is being posted is accurate. Certain current employees regularly and illegally assisted with the campaigns of the commissioners, even including the photo shoot that is mentioned by whoever Paul M is.

    Phone calls were made by employees to campaign directors who were used as front people while the actual campaign was run on county time by county people. The primary point person at the county was rewarded for this illegal behavior with a promotion and later a special raise that no one else of equivalent position received.

    Of more worry is that the fact is that for years, the commissioners regularly held illegal meetings on matters that should have been of public record. They engaged in all sorts of antics to avoid legal requirements. Sometimes they would hold sequential individual meetings (someone meets with Commissioner X at 9:00 a.m., commissioner Y at 9:30 a.m., and Commissioner Z at 10:00 a.m.) in order to avoid a quorum.

    Or sometimes they responded to a request for a meeting with the entire board by telling the person to meet only with one commissioner so as to deliberately avoid having to have a record of what was being said and promises being made. Private lunches and dinners took place with developers and others which then formed the backdrop for awarding contracts or approving planning and zoning applications.

    While I cannot speak to the particulars others mention as to Commissioner Ullman’s computers and public records requests, I assure you public records requests at the county are fulfilled carefully and selectively. If they involve items potentially damaging to the commissioners, the lawyers circle the wagons. I can only hope that the reign of terror at Ada County is finally coming to a close thanks to this publicity.

    Many people were fired over the last number of years, and employees at the county whisper about illegal activity but they are all terrified to speak up or do anything for fear they’d lose their jobs. Everyone was shocked when the commissioners took Allumbaugh House hostage and refused to fund it in order to try to force the City of Boise to pay for unrelated court facilities. The commissioners then brought a lawsuit against the city for the courthouse facilities issue to further destroy relations between the cities and the county.

    And let us not forget the $2 million paid to owners of Dynamis so they could pursue a private enterprise with county money. None of the meetings leading up to the signing of that $2 million contract were public. Dynamis never even posted a performance bond. Yet the commissioners couldn’t hand over that $2 million fast enough. And when there was griping on this very Guardian site about it, we were told by Commissioner Ullman the money would be repaid. And on and on it goes, as many have said above and as the recent Misdemeanor Probation lawsuit brought to the surface.

    It is time to speak out. Someone needs to take a broom and sweep out the filth and start a new day at Ada County.

  19. I’m surprised no one has stated a class action suit naming the county and certain commissioners. Maybe we need a recall election.

  20. Like someone mentioned earlier, great sound bites. Here goes another one from Channel 6:

    – how terrible is this … “I would think that people would be appalled to hear this is going on the County computers, on County time, one employee to another employee,” said Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman. “Not only the waste of time, the waste of resources, but the nature of the messages.”

    Lest we forget the first term of office where a man called the county complaining that a certain commissioner was threatening him from her county computer. (LIBELOUS COMMENT DELETED) When he didn’t accept the offer, many threats were hurled at him. As has been stated, she hasn’t changed, she has just gotten better at manipulating the truth and covering her tracks–she now carries around a personal laptop from which she performs her dastardly deeds.

    Too many skeletons in the closet commissioner but thankfully, you opened the door and you chose the forum for people to speak up. We’ll see how important the first amendment right is when others aren’t as fearful as they have been to exercise it. To the minions, if you aren’t running scared that you might get caught in the cross-hairs and go down with her, you probably should be–karma may finally catch you! The former good ol’ boy/partner is gone and hanging on to her skirt isn’t going to do you much good. Short sightedness, … big oops!

  21. Busters a bust
    Oct 27, 2011, 10:15 pm

    Hey Buster FYI the female Employee is the victim coming from one who knows the full scale of the story so before you flap your trap “T” Learn the FACTS

  22. Concerned Citizen
    Oct 27, 2011, 11:42 pm

    After watching the news tonight, I am for the first time very embarassed to be a citizen of Ada County. Speaking of public record, I read the post above about Dynamis, and how Sharon stated the money would be repaid. Who gives a flying flip???? So I guess the example she sets is such: One can go rob a bank [illegal as hell], but it is ok so long as one pays it back???

    My problem with Sharon is this. I think it is a tragedy that she would take personal and confidential matters to the news media. I thought it was American policy that one was innocent until proven guilty. All I can say is that if she is using her county computer for same unauthorized use then she can delete all the files she wants. Their is absolutely no way to remove the trail from the hard drive.

    As far as the illegal use of county appropriations and resources for her campaign, well that is great to know as any citizen of Ada County could file charges and start a recall. I find it convenient that the individual she is witch hunting, is the same one that called her on her sh*t last time.

    He is the better of the two commissioners squabbling. It is ok because there is an election coming up next fall for her seat, and the dirt Im finding on here and many other outlets show me that she is very vulnerable, and could easily be beaten in a race. Maybe she should concentrate on the job we as citizens elected her to do and let the Ada County HR Dept do theirs.

    Thank God we realized what a loose canon she is, before she had won as Govenor or even worse for Senate. Could you imagine her airing Idaho’s dirty laundry before the United States? This is a sad and tragic day for the people of Ada County. When we all get sued and thats what it amounts to.

    Our tax dollars will be the funds that pay a class action, because even if Sharon is personally named, Ada County has deeper pockets. Lets face it what is Sharon gonna do, claim she was acting on the county’s behalf? Acting on the county’s behalf would be shutting the hell up and get out of HRs way!!! They are the professionals and know the legalities of these actions. She is just a TEMPORARY PUBLICLY ELECTED official, its high time she remeber this. Sharon I would personally like to say, you should buy yourself a muzzle because we are the ones that will end up paying for your diarrhea of the mouth.

  23. The good ole boy network is very thick in Ada County and it’s not just department heads that are at fault. An elected official knows that people in their department work less than 40 hours, yet claim on payroll a full 40 hours for pay. This official has been given data to prove it and fails to take action. The same official has employees running side businesses on County time and refused to enforce County computer policies. When you see the men going to lunch together with certain other department heads (male also) and then changes occur, or when performance is poor they turn a blind eye-this is the norm.
    With the current economy everyone lower than the top is scared of becoming unemployed. Whistleblowers seldom are protected. The hoopla over someone who thinks Sharon has harmed them must have a guilty conscience as there are many women in supervisory roles that fit the description given. AND, perhaps Mr. Vern is feeding the fire! He appears all about working together, but he’s done nothing but stir the pot since taking office. It’s ALL ABOUT HIM! Wake up people-the situation isn’t going to change in my lifetime, even though equal rights happened in what, 1960s?

  24. Friend of a lowly ada county employee
    Oct 28, 2011, 10:01 pm

    I must be naive but I wish to see the slate cleared of the commish and start over. I have a friend that tells me of all the illegal activities Sharon participates in (some of which I am reading on here) and even if only a quarter of it was true, she still needs to go. Said employee also tells me if anything is leaked, everyone is interrogated with a “someone’s gonna lose their job” attitude. Look in times like these, the unhappy employees just keep their head down and hope voters wake up and start paying attention. (I’m not in Verns camp either by the way)
    The younger generations are slowly waking up and hopefully we all can force a change in politics. I hope the politicians abusing their authority are shaking in their boots cause things are a changing!!
    And thanks to the Guardian for doing your best in exposing these instances! I pass your blog on to everyone I know!

  25. I Know It's True Too
    Oct 29, 2011, 10:46 am

    In response to Friend of a lowly, your friend is telling the truth. When there were contentious issues at the county–such as an employee having been fired or a group of them being laid off or a questionable contract dispute, or whatever the case may be, heaven help us the person who posted anonymously on the Guardian or made any comment critical of the situation. Ullman was the first and loudest to demand their identity be exposed so they could be fired. Luckily usually saner voices controlled. As to Vern, my comments had to do with administrations prior to his coming on board. The reality is Vern stepped into an existing cesspool. And as only one vote, there is little he could have done in this last year.

  26. Concerned Citizen
    Oct 29, 2011, 2:01 pm

    I know It’s True Too… I agree with you post. Vern did step into a cesspool. He did a great job before as Commish, and I am sure because of his concern for the direction the county was headed he decided to step back in. The more I think of the news release the other night, the more ticked off I am. You could see the sneer on Ullman’s face. Maybe she did not realize exactly what she was doing to our beloved Ada County, but I am sure she doesnt give a rip… She seems to be a very narcissistic person. Sharon Ullman is out for Sharon Ullman and that is it. How could she push to get racing back into the Treasure Valley and then treat the current owners like villians? Going as far as to boycott the track? Hmmm is she bipolar or something? Sharon if you would like to qwell my doubts and take a shot at winning my vote and the votes of my friends back next fall, you can respond at anytime. What is your purpose to all of this? Did you honestly make a mistake and go shooting off your mouth to the news without regard to the “victims” rights or us as citizens of the county? Why did you push for horse racing and then boycott it? Finally, would you tell me why you would win your election with the votes we freely gave you and then turn around and screw with the City of Boise to which the majority of your voters are residents to? Please please please let us know why and what you’re thinking?

  27. Heard a rumor that Dynamis is getting more cash. Maybe they should pay back what they owe first. I remember a statement from commissioner Ullman saying the money would be paid back by last December. Now she wants to give them more. Sounds fishy.

  28. I Know It's True Too
    Nov 2, 2011, 7:25 pm

    to Paul M: Commissioners just signed a franchise agreement with Dynamis this past Tuesday. I do not know the details other than the claim that when they begin construction in spring 2012, theyll repay the $2 million. First of all, I do not believe the original contract called for repayment, but I could be wrong. however, even if it did, why on earth would Ada County lend $2 million for two years to Lloyd Mahaffey and the others who run Dynamis? Unfortunately, the citizens of Ada County don’t seem to give a darn about it. I appreciate your concern. But unless you can get the Attorney General or someone to look into it, I think nothing is going to be done about it.

  29. Someone Else Who Knows The Truth
    Nov 2, 2011, 8:50 pm

    Dear Concerned – Sharon does not want to respond. I am sure the advice from her primary minion is to be very quiet in hopes that taxpayers will bore and move on to another topic forgetting about her and her atrocities. The funny thing is, she typically doesn’t listen to anyone but this person (who “really” ran her campaign on county time and on county equipment for governor, along with the campaign for the former good ol’ boy commish and they both lost)!! Interesting question to ponder – what has this person done for her and why is this person the only one she will listen to??? (LIBELOUS CRUEL COMMENT DELETED BY EDITOR)

    Speaking as someone who knows her well, she is likely working night and day to try to figure out how to deflect her behavior on to someone else. The sad thing is, there are employees that are so innocent they have no idea they have been, and are, being used as her pawns but there are a few others that actively work to support her efforts–even going so far as to create false documentation/information, etc. to assist her. Those employees decided to get in line with her efforts because “they thought” she would be running the county by now and so did she. Commissioners Yzaguirre and Bisterfeldt thankfully have realized the destruction that has taken place at the county and they are working to rebuild/restore the damage done when the former good ol’ boy was in office and he created his strong alliance with Sharon. (MORE LIBEL DELETED)

    Thank goodness voters threw him out of office and that an effort is under way to start reversing the devastation the two of them caused to all local taxpayers. Unfortunately, we are approaching municipal elections this November but rest assured, I will personally do my best to remind voters of Sharon’s behavior when she comes up for election next year. I am so disgusted by what she has done that I am committed to making sure no one forgets.

    EDITOR NOTE–This comment will be the last from this reader. The GUARDIAN is no apologist for Ullman, Nancy Cladis, or anyone else, but we do our best to delete un substantiated allegations.

  30. Concerned Citizen
    Nov 3, 2011, 10:16 am

    Dear Someone Else Who Knows the Truth:
    Thank you for your response. I know for sure of one candidate that will be running against Ullman. No doubt it will be a slam dunk. As for her misappropriations of county resources during her past election, it will more than likely never be investigated. However, I know of several citizens that will be demanding the ISAG keep close watch over the upcoming election, and who’s to say there may not already be a mole watching her next move? Guess we willhave to wait and see. I still feel it is a shame, to have to go to such extreme measures to babysit our elected officials. I personally just want an elected official without a WiiFM [What’s in it For Me] attitude. Someone without an agenda, that truly wants to work for Ada County.

  31. Is this a joke?
    Nov 3, 2011, 11:21 am

    Nancy, so Sharon does not want to respond on the advice of her “Minion” just like your attorney must of told you not to do but u insist on doing anyway. Sounds like a lot of the behavior your pointing out you’ve done urself, like trying to deflect your behavior onto someone else and about how your innocent employees are being used as pawns. I’m sure your buddy Vern is beaming with pride that you’ve tried to come to his rescue once again.

  32. I agree with “is this a joke”. Nancy is clearly trying to deflect all the attention from herself and her problems onto Sharon and trying to “get even” in the process. Your problem with her Nancy is quite simple, she won’t “conform” with your views on Supervised Probation so your looking for any reason at all to attack her. And as is typical of you, you will resort to character assisanation to do it.
    The real problem in that office is your good pal Vern, NOT Sharon. Sharon has the guts to stand up for what she believes in and isn’t afraid to take a stand. Well….guess I should give Vern some credit too–he does stand up and take a stand when his “friends” need his help.

  33. Typical Nancy fashion! That’s all I have to say. She is one EVIL woman.

  34. I’m sure the county prosecutor has been given info on some if not all of the illegal activities at the county. Even if they believe the accusations to be false, it would seem in the best interest for all to look into them and decide if there is reason to move forward. I have been told by other county employees that there are no plans to move forward with any type of investigation. I also know that the state AG has been informed of the illegal re-election activities. The response basically said it was up to the county prosecutor to get the process started. Maybe the pressure should be applied there. I’m sure if they started receiving a few dozen calls a day it would be looked into.

  35. Concerned Citizen
    Nov 5, 2011, 7:03 pm

    Its good to know where the state AG stands and that Ada County PA is turning a blind eye as well. This is great information, that will be brought up during their reelection bids as well.

  36. Stay on your toes voters! These comments about Sharon describe the situation quite well.

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