Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I-405 Widening Public Hearing Monday

The much anticipated first public
hearing by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) on the proposed I-405 widening project will be held Monday, June 4, 2012 at the Student Center at Orange Coast College, adjacent to Lot B on the map below.  (Click on the map to enlarge it)  Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the meeting will last until 8:00.  The presentation will run about a half hour beginning at 6:30, followed by time to interrogate staffers.  You can read about the project HERE.
This project, purported to be necessary to mitigate anticipated dramatic growth in traffic over the next 25 years, presently has four options.

  • The Baseline Alternative - build nothing at all
  • Build Alternative #1 - Add One General Purpose Lane In Each Direction
  • Build Alternative #2 - Add Two General Purpose Lanes in Each Direction
  • Build Alternative #3 - Express Facility Alternative
All of the proposals fall generally within the existing right-of-way.

Each of the so-called Build Alternatives will require the demolishing of the relatively new Fairview Bridge in Costa Mesa. CORRECTION:  Only Alternate #3 will require demolishing the Fairview Bridge and part of a ramp at Harbor Blvd. 

Of the three, Build Alternative #3 - which adds a High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane to the existing carpool lane - seems to be the most troublesome to our Northside neighbors and is shown below.  That option actually provides revenue to the OCTA, which is why it is THEIR preferred option.  However, of all the choices, that one serves Costa Mesa the least.  In fact, it actually will make it much more difficult for many Costa Mesans to use the I-405.

Plan to attend this presentation on Monday to get a clear idea of exactly what's in store for us with this project.  This public hearing if the first of four scheduled and the only one in Costa Mesa.

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Hangin' With Tamar

Readers here will recognize the name, Tamar Goldmann, from several previous entries.  I've mentioned her in the context of her tenacious, yet cordial, comments presented to the Costa Mesa City Council.

I first noticed Tamar as she spoke to the council a few years ago.  She approached the speaker's podium almost as though she was trying to sneak up on it and, once there, she quietly, respectfully - almost timidly - said her piece and stepped away.  She made me smile.

Since that time events have caused her to become more assertive.  It's clear from her comments over the past recent months that she is less patient with this particular council, although never disrespectful.  Those of us who follow the antics of the male majority on the council can certainly understand why she - or anyone else - might be losing patience with them.


Well, recently Tamar Goldmann - a long-time educator at Orange Coast College - was presented with OCCs Hanging of the Orange award, bestowed upon faculty and staff members who have gone "above and beyond" their regular duties on campus.  You can read all about it HERE.  She's shown here receiving the award from Doug Bennett, Executive Director of the Orange Coast College Foundation

Congratulations to Tamar, and to her patient husband, Dan.  I'm proud to know you...

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Fish Fry Is Here - And It Has Moved!

OK, Costa Mesans and all the rest of you who read this feeble effort to inform the populace - it's that time of the year again.  The 65th annual Costa Mesa- Newport Harbor Lions Fish Fry is upon us.  
After decades at Lions Park, this year the Fish Fry has moved to Fairview Park and, for the first time, a beer and wine garden will be part of the festivities.

As you can see form the flier below, it's bigger and better than ever.  (Click on the image to enlarge it)  So, plan your weekend around this kick-off to summer event.  This year you'll be able to view the beautiful Pacific Ocean from the top of the Ferris Wheel!  See you there.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Military Affairs Team Meeting Wednesday

The second meeting of the Costa Mesa Military Affairs Team will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Conference Room 1A at City Hall.


The flier for this meeting is shown below.  Any persons interested in knowing more about this group, or participating in the activities of this group is encouraged to attend and/or contact Dan Baker at the number shown below for more information.  (Click on the image to make it larger)

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Claire Flynn Named Asst. Director of Development Services

In an email today Peter Naghavi, Deputy CEO and Director of Economic and Development for the City of Costa Mesa, announced that Claire Flynn has been appointed to the position of Assistant Director of Development Services.  I agree with Naghavi that this is an excellent move for the City and wish Claire well in this new assignment.

The text of Naghavi's announcement follows:

It is with my honor that I announce the appointment of Claire Flynn to the position of Assistant Director of Development Services effective immediately.

Claire is a graduate of Costa Mesa High, and received her Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCI. She has 18 year of professional planning experience, and has been with the City of Costa Mesa since Aug. 2001.

Considering her professional qualifications, as well as her personal attributes, I am positive that Claire's appointment to this position will go a long way in making this department specifically, and the City organization in general, very successful in providing a high quality service to our residents and the development community.

Please join me in congratulating Claire on her new appointment, and wishing her the best for years to come.
Peter Naghavi,  Deputy CEO
Director of Economic and Development
City of Costa Mesa, CA

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Another Special Study Session This Afterrnoon

The Costa Mesa City Council will meet at 4:30 p.m. today in council chambers for the latest Special Study Session.  These special meetings have become a habit this month - this is the third one - due to the need for more time to discuss the extraordinary budget demands of this council.

Today the agenda includes:

1 - Review of Fairview Park Master Plan Improvements

2 - Summary of Capital Improvement Program and  Discussion of Funding Opportunities and Priorities

That first item shouldn't take too long, but I'm not so sure about the second one.  You will recall that Jim Righeimer added several million dollars worth of capital improvement items from his 5-year wish list to the original budget - the one that was within a couple hundred thousand dollars of being balanced.  The second version of the Preliminary Budget, HERE, shows that we will be several millions in the hole if Righeimer and the rest of the male majority on the council persist in placing potholes before people.  The only place money can be found for the kinds of capital projects they say have been "ignored" by previous councils - which, of course, included some members of the current council - is in salaries and benefits.  This should be a very interesting meeting, since they plan to "prioritize" the budget this afternoon.

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74th Assembly District - My Decision

Today is the day I'll complete my absentee ballot for the June 5th primary election.  It will be in the mail Tuesday.  As always, part of it is cause for consternation.  For example, we have twenty-five (25) candidates for the United States Senate!  Who in the world has the time, or inclination, to try to sort through all those folks to make an informed decision?  Even if you try to vote a straight party line, trying to sort out those of your party from the others can make your head hurt.

But that's not the reason for this post.  Nope, today I'm going to tell you who I'm casting my ballot for in the race for the 74th Assembly District, and why.

We've thrashed this issue around on this blog for a couple months.  To refresh your memory, you can read what I wrote about the Feet To The Fire Forum in April, HERE, and Leslie Daigle's reaction to that particular post the next day, HERE.  You can also read what I wrote about the candidate forum in Laguna Beach last Friday night, HERE.  That's the one Daigle decided to avoid, leaving only Allan Mansoor and Bob Rush to face the public and discuss issues.

So, off we go.  Let me preface my comments by saying that I don't ever expect to agree with every candidate for any office on every issue.  While a lovely fantasy, it's not the way the world works.  I look at each candidate based on what they potentially bring to the office they're trying to achieve.  I look at their track record.  If they've held elective office before I want to know what they accomplished.  I want to know if they have the intellectual horsepower to handle the new job.  Does their academic history form a solid foundation for the rigors of the work ahead?  What kind of preparation for this job has their employment history provided?  Politics is, in great part, the art of negotiation, so I want to know if the candidates have shown us that they are skilled in that area.  Are they willing to compromise where necessary for the greater good, or do they dig their heels in and not give an inch?

I also want to know if they've demonstrated the ability to build consensus in difficult situations.  Have they taken a leadership role when tackling tough issues?  Does their style unify or divide people?  In the case of the Assembly, since California is a very diverse state demographically, have they demonstrated the ability to reach across ethnic boundaries to solve problems?  Have they been effective in their professional lives and in other public positions they've held?  Will their personal lives - financial and otherwise - permit them to spend enough time in this new job?  What is their personal philosophy of governance?  What, or who, do they look to for guidance, mentoring, inspiration and financial support?  These factors, among many others, are things I consider when assessing candidates for any elected position and are among those I will look at when considering candidates for the 74th Assembly District.  Let us begin...

Allan Mansoor is a man about which I know a great deal.  I've watched him in action for eight years as a Costa Mesa City Councilman, including his multiple tours as mayor.  I actually knew a little bit about him before that, too.  He was a frequent commenter on the now-dormant Concerned Costa Mesa Citizens web site - basically a chat room created by some Costa Mesa residents as a place to "discuss" issues in the community.  Without going into all the lengthy details, suffice it to say that several items caught the eye of the local media - Daily Pilot reporter Lolita Harper wrote a 3-part expose' on the site - and the Orange County Human Relations Commission became aware of it and started nosing around.  One of the issues was the posting of anti-gay articles by Allan Mansoor who, at that time, was a member of the Costa Mesa Human Relations Committee.  Following the public scrutiny the owners of the site eventually just folded it up.  As a sidebar, during Mansoor's tenure on the city council the Human Relations Committee was unceremoniously defunded then disbanded without so much as a simple "thank you" to the participants, some of whom had devoted decades to the work done by that committee.

Mansoor was a career Orange County Sheriff's Deputy and, despite his presentation that he spent time in patrol and other assignments, most of his tour of duty was spent as a jailer.  That's not necessarily bad - those jobs are essential - but his performance on the city council clearly demonstrated that he had little, if any, grasp of real law enforcement.

During his tenure on the Costa Mesa City Council Mansoor was a divisive figure.  Although the son of immigrants - a badge he proudly wears and brings tears to his eyes in public - is personal animosity for the immigrant population of our city was evident in many of his actions.  Few will forget the night he had immigrants-rights activist Benito Acosta dragged from council chambers by a half-dozen officers and arrested.  That ham-handed handling of an already volatile situation split our city and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and Acosta's name continues to appear on warrants for payment to our legal counsel years later.  He was embraced by the radical right because of his "bravery" and made an honorary "Minuteman" by the Grand Pooba of that organization himself, Jim Gilchrist.

Mansoor's platform for the Assembly seat is founded on Pension Reform, yet during his tenure on the Costa Mesa City Council - including his time as mayor - he accomplished NOTHING in that area.  In his two years in the Assembly he has accomplished NOTHING.  He has shown no leadership in either job - which is not surprising to me, having watched him in action for more than a decade.  He is academically and intellectually unprepared for this job and his philosophy is only an echo of words provided for him by the leadership of the Orange County Republican Party, who have plowed lots of money into his campaign in the form of Independent Expenditures.

In a recent post on his blog, Civil Thinking, my friend, Bruce Krochman addressed this race and said the following:
"What Mr. Mansoor does bring, is the ability to stay in line with party leadership. In the broader scheme of things, of this group of candidates, that is the one quality that above all else makes Assemblyman Mansoor the one to vote for. "  And, in my opinion, that single characteristic is what makes him unworthy of my vote.  What we need in Sacramento are people willing and ABLE to work across the aisle to make things better for all Californians.  Mansoor does not possess the skills to do that - never has and probably never will.  He won't get my vote.

Leslie Daigle has been a HUGE disappointment to me.  I had high hopes that she would be a very viable alternative to Mansoor in this race.  She's been a member of the Newport Beach City Council for several years but I don't have a sense that she's been a consensus-builder in that role.  She won re-election two years ago, so I'm assuming the voters in Newport Beach thought she was doing a good job.  I WANTED to like her as a candidate and tried to establish a rapport with her early in her campaign.  Then came the Feet To The Fire Forum.

At that event, which pitted the egos of some journalists against the egos of politicians, Daigle failed miserably.  She was clearly uncomfortable trying to field questions from some members of the press who may have had an ax to grind with her.  I was not the only person who felt that way following the event and when I wrote about it Daigle took extreme exception to my characterization.  I wrote about that, too.

Daigle has managed to win very significant financial support from the Chairman of the Santa Clara County Republican Party, Charles Munger.  His group has plowed somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 into her campaign.  My mailbox has been flooded with literature supporting her and bad-mouthing Mansoor - and vice versa.  I've saved them all.  I'm not so naive to think that tons of cash wouldn't be thrown into this race - there's a lot to lose.

Despite my plea - which went unanswered, by the way - Daigle decided to NOT participate in what is likely the last chance for the three candidates in this race to meet face-to-face and discuss issues.  Last Friday night only Mansoor and Rush showed up at the Laguna Beach City Hall for the debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters and other community groups.  A chair on the dais with her name on it remained reserved for her the entire evening.  I suspect, considering her poor performance at the Feet To The Fire Forum earlier, she and her advisers may have decided tactically to just blow off this event for fear of doing more damage.  Well, it didn't work.  I heard not a single comment in support of her absence from that event that evening.

Despite her otherwise attractive - to me - more moderate positions on issues, if she is unwilling to discuss important issues with her opposition during a campaign, how in the world can we expect her to handle the interests important to the voters of the 74th Assembly District in Sacramento?  If she is afraid of confrontation she has NO chance of being effective up there.  Much to my disappointment - because I feel the Republican Party is letting this state slip away, and I feel we need strong, competent elected Republicans in both houses of the Legislature to improve things - I cannot support Leslie Daigle in this race.

Which brings us to Robert Rush - the political neophyte and freshly-minted Democrat.  I must tell you right off the bat, I wish Rush had chosen to register as a Republican for this race - he could have, after all.  His views on most issues are moderate, although he differs with the GOP party line on abortion and same sex marriage.  So, he switched from "Decline to State" to Democrat to run in this race.  I guess I understand why.

Rush, while never a candidate for any office before, has become an avid community activist.  He launched and led the battle against the proliferation of rehabilitation facilities in Newport Beach, a baptism by fire in anyone's book.  That activism didn't make him popular among many of the entrenched politicians in that city, but he plowed ahead.  And, he's a CPA and a very successful businessman, both of which are extremely desirable attributes for someone charged with trying to sort out California's abysmal fiscal situation.  He knows how to negotiate deals.

He was, in the view of many people, the "winner" at the Feet To The Fire Forum, demonstrating an ability to think on his feet and speak off the cuff and knowing when to just quietly sit there and let those around him implode.  At the Laguna Beach forum he also did well, handling himself with self-assured maturity and never hesitating to answer tough questions.  He just seemed confident.   At the time I felt he and Mansoor had a draw for the evening.  My opinion was based purely on how they each did that night.  Their differences were clear, as were the many areas in which they shared a common vision for change.  The question, of course, which of them can get that change accomplished.
The Orange County Democratic Party apparatus has been slow to embrace him.   I suppose that's understandable, since he's an unknown to them, too. 
I'm OK with that.  It actually makes him a more attractive candidate to me.  However, he's done a good job of reaching out to Democrat enclaves over the past couple months and has generally avoided the mud-slinging that Mansoor and Daigle have employed in their campaigns.

And so, as this new, scary Open Primary permits - and although I'm a life-long Republican who has NEVER voted for a Democrat in a partisan race before - I'm going to lean over and mark my ballot for Bob Rush for the 74th Assembly District seat.  I've decided that it is unacceptable to place an incompetent ideologue - Mansoor -  who has no chance at all of accomplishing anything in Sacramento, in that chair.  And Daigle - who might have been my choice except for her unwillingness to engage her opponents - leaves me no alternative.  Although I disagree on some issues with Rush, his centrist leanings lead me to feel he has a much better chance of influencing issues that cry out for change than either of the other candidates.  If he manages to be one of the two candidates left standing on June 6th, the November election will be even more fun.
Now, back to the rest of the ballot.  Heck, since Diane Feinstein will probably have this thing wrapped up again, I might just vote for Orly Taitz for Senate, just for fun.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Anonymous" Is Over And Out

Just a short note this evening to let you all know that this blog has been the focus of a spam attack in the form of messages signed "Anonymous".  When opened they contained gibberish and who knows what else!

As some know, in the past I've preferred to NOT have messages signed as "Anonymous" because it caused comment threads to get garbled.  I asked you to pick a pen name instead.  Most of you have done so and I'm grateful for that.  Some of you didn't.

Because of this spam attack on my blog, henceforth no messages signed "Anonymous" will be opened.  Each will be deleted as they arrive in my inbox without being read.

If you want to post a comment, pick a pen name that's not already being used and fire away.

If you simply want to tell me something, use the email address on my profile page.

Thanks for playing...

Editorial Got It Wrong

As a Vietnam-era veteran who lost several compatriots in that meaningless war, whose uncles proudly served this country in World War II and whose grand-nephew presently serves in Afghanistan, I was profoundly offended by the editorial published in the Daily Pilot online May 26th titled, "Honor the fallen in the civil rights war too", HERE.

The reason for the Memorial Day holiday is to pause and reflect on the hundreds of thousands of men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in ALL our military engagements, whether we called them "wars" or "police actions" or "skirmishes".  It is to pay our respects to those brave people who died in the military service to our country - ALL of them.

For the Daily Pilot to publish an editorial that attempts to somehow equate the death of Harvey Milk - a military veteran and openly-gay politician who was murdered by a deranged colleague -  to those men and women who died in military service to this country is a despicable act of disrespect to all who served and died, to those who served with them and to those who survived them and honor their memory this weekend.

During my tour of service nearly 50 years ago I served with men I knew to be gay and some women who were lesbians.  They did not hide their sexual orientation, but neither did they flaunt it.  All I saw were men and women proudly serving their country and I was proud to serve along side them.

In my view, it is completely inappropriate for an editorial that begins purporting to honor those who died in military service to this country to be morphed into a a gay and lesbian rights manifesto.  Whether the Orange County Board of Supervisors fails to designate recognition of Harvey Milk's birthday or not may be a subject for ANOTHER editorial, but not one that honors fallen military men and women.

I would be very surprised to learn that ANY member of the Daily Pilot Editorial Board has ever served in the military.  If they had,  they would understand just how inappropriate and offensive this particular editorial is to those of us who have served.  My comment is NOT an anti-gay screed, although I suspect some will attempt to characterize it as such.  It is simply an expression of my disappointment in the Daily Pilot Editorial Board for its insensitivity - nothing more.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Mansoor/Rush Debate Roundup

Republican Assemblyman Allan Mansoor and freshly-minted Democrat challenger Rob Rush debated important issues before an attentive crowd at Laguna Beach City Hall Friday night.  Newport Beach councilwoman Leslie Daigle - also a candidate for the new 74th Assembly seat, was a no-show.  She notified the hosts earlier in the week that she would not attend.
More than 80 people, predominantly senior individuals, paid close attention as Mansoor and Rush responded to questions provided by the crowd.  Once again, it was strange to be one of the young people in the room, but I digress.  The event, produced by the League of Women Voters and others, was well-run and turned out to be very informative, if the tone of the crowd following the program is any indication.  Moderator Joan Hake and her team of question screeners and timers did a fine job of keeping the event moving along briskly, but with flexibility where it was required.  There was no cheering or jeering at this debate - a very pleasant change.
Through the nearly 90 minutes of the program both Mansoor and Rush responded comfortably to more than 30 questions.  If there was ANY personal animosity between them it certainly did not show.  When they disagreed with each other they did so with maturity and professionalism.  Several of us wondered if that same cordiality would have existed if Daigle had shown up for the event.  Our guess was no, it wouldn't.

Mansoor, a far right Republican and Rush, a centrist Democrat, agreed on many more issues than I expected.  Two areas where they had very different views were on abortion and same sex marriage.  Mansoor is pro-life and does not support gay marriage.  Rush is pro-choice and does support gay marriage.  Although those subjects were mentioned more than once, they did not dominate the discussions.   

I won't try to provide a detailed analysis of every response, but will give you impressions of the evening.  My first impression was that both men came prepared and didn't fumble or stumble on answers.  The questions posed to them were done with courtesy and each answered with clarity and no hint of sniping at each other.

A main theme ran through many of Mansoor's answers - Pension reform - including buying "Air Time" and pension spiking -  is key to solving many of the problems in Sacramento and throughout the state.  It was a constant drumbeat through the evening.


Both men disagreed with Governor Brown's fiscal program and didn't like the idea of raising taxes on folks making $250,000 per year.  Curiously, both dodged a question about what, specifically, would they do to help the 74th Assembly district, instead addressing issues that were statewide concerns.  Rush mentioned schools and Mansoor spoke of Pension Reform - again.

They disagreed on whether illegal immigrants should be permitted to be tested for and receive California Drivers Licenses.  Mansoor said no and cited his legal immigrant parents.  Rush said yes, and cited the safety elements of having properly licensed individuals on the roads.

They disagreed on the need for more gun laws.  Mansoor says we have plenty of gun laws and Rush felt they were too lax, citing the ability for a person to acquire 9-10 guns a year.

When asked what causes gridlock in Sacramento they had different answers.  Mansoor said "special interests".  Rush blamed it on the extreme right and lefts inability to compromise to get things accomplished. 

When asked whether they support two items on the ballot - Props 28 (term limits) and 29 (cigarette tax increase) - they had different answers.  Rush supported the term limits issue and had not made up his mind on 29, citing relatives who had died from cancer.  Mansoor opposed both.  He felt 29 would just funnel money to Sacramento that might be spent out of state and, regarding term limits, he felt they should be eliminated altogether.


Both men opposed re-opening the San Onofre Nuclear Plant, citing the age and shabby safety record.

When asked what should be done to lower tuition in state colleges Mansoor cited Pension Reform and Rush mentioned, among other things, Prop. 13.  Unfortunately, that's a subject that is near and dear to most in the room.  He was referring to Prop. 13 as it applies to business properties, not private residences.  That part of his message was not clear until much later.


When asked about increasing revenues Mansoor said we need to change the things that are driving jobs from the state and again mentioned Pension Reform. Rush suggested further examination of expense cuts and, again, cited Prop. 13 - and again the crowd squirmed.  When asked whether they would sign a "no new taxes" pledge, Mansoor said yes and Rush said no.

Both men opposed the new early-release program that is dumping convicted criminals into the counties and cities because the state prisons are full.  Mansoor expressed that there should be "no unfunded mandates" - programs foisted off on local jurisdictions without a funding mechanism in place.  And on and on it went. 

In closing Mansoor reminded everyone that his door is always open - a phrase that permeated much of his dialogue Friday night.  Rush plans to meet with as many groups as he can to continue to get the pulse of the district.  He reminded the crowd that his strength is negotiation and a willingness to compromise to solve problems. 

How would I score the participants?  Well, after much contemplation, I would have to say it was a draw.  As almost everyone knows, I'm not an Allan Mansoor fan, but he did well in this venue.  Bob Rush continues to show me that he has skills and more to be tapped.  If he landed in Sacramento I have no doubt that he could be an agent of change.  I can't say that about Mansoor.  He's had two years to show us something and has failed to do so.

 I believe this is the final opportunity for the three candidates to discuss issues face-to-face before the election on June 5th.  Leslie Daigle missed a huge opportunity Friday night.  Instead, she
gets a big ZERO for not showing up.  I'll be mailing my absentee ballot on Tuesday and there will not be a check mark beside her name.
Interestingly, neither man had visible support from their Orange County party hierarchy.  Rush has not received the endorsement of the Democratic Party of Orange County, but Mansoor is the fair-haired boy of the OC GOP which is pumping a lot of money into his campaign.  Although each had an entourage of supporters and, in Mansoor's case, staff - none of the power players showed up.  I'm not sure how to interpret that.
Now we'll see how the money being thrown around in this campaign will affect the results.  Daigle, as most know, has received a huge influx of cash from Charlie Munger from northern California - around $500,000 so far.  She and Mansoor are trading hit pieces almost every day.  Rush is spending MUCH less and it's very difficult to measure the impact he's having.  Since this is the first time we will have an open primary, cross-ticket voting may play a big part in determining which two of the three will be left standing on June 6th.  We'll see...

In case you might be wondering what other folks are thinking about this race.  You can read my friend, Bruce Krochman's views from his blog, Civil Thinking, HERE.  And, you can read Jean Hastings Ardell's thoughts in her column in the Newport Beach Independent, HERE.

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