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Rauner again attacks three rivals

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* Now that his three Republican opponents have essentially told him to take a flying leap at a rolling doughnut, Bruce Rauner has issued a new press release attacking all three…

Why Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, Dan Rutherford Won’t Denounce Efforts of Pat Quinn’s Allies

- Their Records Look a Whole Lot Like His –

Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford today refused to condemn planned attempts by Pat Quinn’s Democrat and labor union allies to hijack the Republican Party.

“GOP candidates for governor are refusing to stand up to Pat Quinn and his allies, and Republican primary voters deserve to know the reason. They are part of the broken system in Springfield that has been failing Illinoisans for years,” said Chip Englander, campaign manager for Bruce Rauner’s campaign. “The truth is all of them sat in Springfield for decades and voted with the Democrats to raise taxes, to create the pension crisis, for big spending budgets and for sweetheart deals with the government union bosses.”

    Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford supported legislation that called for hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending and pork.

    Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford supported increasing taxes and fees by hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford helped to increase the pay of legislators.

    Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford have taken tens of thousands in political contributions from government union bosses.

    Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford voted for pension legislation that has been cited as the primary driver behind Illinois’ record level of unfunded pension liabilities.

    Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford are career politicians who have spent the last two decades in Springfield.

- Posted by Rich Miller   117 Comments      


Propane emergency declared

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* Rob, my farmer friend I’ve told you about before, said over the weekend that the propane price situation is getting pretty darned scary. Let’s hope this move by Gov. Pat Quinn to declare an energy emergency helps

As the latest blast of frigid air hung over much of Illinois, the governor’s declaration is designed to ease weather-induced distribution problems that have left some industry observers worried that homeowners could run out of the fuel during an upcoming cold snap.

The declaration eases regulations on propane truck drivers in order to allow them to drive into other states to fill their tanks.

For example, an Illinois driver heading to Texas would be able to cross into the state for propane even if they didn’t have proper licenses, said Quinn spokesman Dave Blanchette.

(T)his was done because, due to the current propane shortage, additional drivers are needed to travel to Texas to haul propane back to Illinois,” Blanchette said.

In addition, state officials also have lifted limits on how long truckers can operate within a 24 period, in order to allow them to travel further distances to pick up loads.

* Background

The shortage, industry officials say, is due to a confluence of events: a Midwest pipeline being shut down for maintenance, a high demand for propane last fall to dry a rain-soaked harvest of corn, competition for pipelines and rail cars caused by increased oil and natural gas production — and the extreme cold.

“I prefer not to call it a shortage,” said Simon Bowman, a spokesman for Pennsylvania-based AmeriGas, the nation’s largest propane retailer. “I prefer to call it tight supply.

“There is propane to be had, but it’s just having problems getting to some of the areas of the Midwest and Northeast,” he added.

* Sen. McCann called for an energy emergency declaration late Friday afternoon…

State Senator Sam McCann (R-Carlinville) hand delivered a letter to Governor Pat Quinn Friday calling on the Governor to declare a State of Energy Emergency in Illinois.

Sixteen states have made similar declarations in recent weeks as prices for LP gas, like propane, have skyrocketed and supplies have dwindled to dangerous levels.

According to the Illinois Petroleum Gas Association, 35-40% of homes in Illinois are heated by propane gas. High demand during harvest and frigid winter temperatures have depleted supplies of gas throughout the Midwest. Prices have also skyrocketed from around $1.50 per gallon in the summer to over $5.50 per gallon in some places currently.

“Thousands of Illinoisans are struggling to heat their homes, and many business owners and livestock producers don’t know whether they will be able to access or afford necessary supplies of propane,” said Senator McCann. “It is my hope the Governor will join numerous other states from across the country in helping ease the burden and cost on many families and businesses in our state.”

If Governor Quinn declares an emergency, he may temporarily lift the 80,000-pound weight limit on Illinois interstate highways, to allow more gas to be shipped in. He could also provide increased assistance to low and moderate income persons through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and would allow suppliers to qualify for low-interest loans to reduce the carrying costs of purchases.

The Illinois Petroleum Gas Association says no such declaration has ever been made in Illinois, but that the state is experiencing historical cold and demand for the product.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* OK, here are the questions I came up with for our gubernatorial candidate questionnaire. I took your suggestions and your follow-up preferences, tweaked some of them and settled on those that I think the candidates are most likely to answer.

I like all the questions, but I really believe we need to whittle down this massive list. So, take the poll, eliminate as many as you want and then please try to explain your votes in comments. Thanks.

…Adding… A deep divide is emerging in comments between those who love the “wonky” questions and hate the more personal questions, and those who prefer some of the personal questions.

My own feeling is that at least some of these personal questions are helpful to figuring out who these people are. Plus, some of those were suggested by a few of our top commenters here.

The bottom line, for me, is that this doesn’t have to be a completely boring exercise that the candidates will ignore or evade.


customer surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      


Rutherford TV ads to debut during Olympics

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* Dan Rutherford tells Greg Hinz that his TV ad campaign will start during the Winter Olympics, which begin Feb. 7th

Mr. Rutherford declined to say how big or long the ad campaign will be. “We’re planning it out,” he said. “We are going to be sustainable.”

But he did say the spots will be “positive,” concentrating on what he brings to the table as opposed to ripping Chicago businessman Mr. Rauner, who’s been under strong fire on the campaign trail lately, particularly from candidates Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, both state senators.

Mr. Rutherford’s war chest is relatively modest by political standards, and certainly compared to Mr. Rauner’s horde. While Mr. Rauner is believed to have already spent millions on ads and has made it clear he’s prepared to write as big a check as is needed before the March 18 primary, Mr. Rutherford had just $1.4 million in the bank as of Dec. 31, though perhaps another $100,000 has come in since.

If he spends every penny on TV, Mr. Rutherford indeed may be able to stay on TV until the primary, but not with any vigor. Generally, it takes several hundred thousand dollars a week statewide to really make an impression.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Bill Brady piles on

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* The Tribune takes a relatively quick look at Bruce Rauner’s problems with his nursing home investments, including alleged deaths and major lawsuits

But earlier this month, attorneys for GTCR and the other parties called the law firm’s complaint a “fantastical, meandering tale.”

“Each successive pleading is more chaotic, implausible, melodramatic and absurdly far-reaching in the scope of its various conspiracy theories than the last,” the defendants’ lawyers said.

In a separate court filing this month, attorneys for GTCR said the equity firm lost “substantially all” of the $60 million it invested in the nursing home firm since 1998, including $20 million when it tried to restructure Trans Healthcare’s finances in 2006.

GTCR’s court filing went on to allege that the attorneys who won the $900 million judgment for the estate of the Gainesville man previously had reached a settlement with the actual operator of the nursing home for $575,000.

Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf labeled the damage lawsuits a “classic plaintiff lawyer scheme” to “go after as many deep-pocketed entities as possible,” including GTCR and other former investors.

From what I’m hearing, we can expect to see a lot more on this topic.

* From a Sunday press release…

Senator Bill Brady, Republican candidate for Governor, today challenged his opponent Bruce Rauner to come clean with answers to questions about his dealings.

“Bruce Rauner likes to paint himself as a hands-on businessman, talking about ‘being there in person, figuring out what matters … solving problems’ and how ‘in business it’s about getting to know them on a first name basis … getting to know each other personally.’ But Mr. Rauner apparently didn’t follow his own business philosophy when it came to dealing with corrupt insider Stuart Levine,” Brady said.

Rauner has said he doesn’t know and has never met Stuart Levine, even though Levine had a $300,000 annual contract with a company partly owned by Rauner’s firm GTCR, while Levine sat on a state pensions board awarding GTCR $50 million in state contracts.

In addition, his spokesman says he had nothing to do with the management of a health care company bought by Rauner and GTCR, which owned nursing homes where patients suffered neglect and died. He resigned from the board of another firm and sold off GTCR’s stock shortly before the company nosedived in an accounting scandal that resulted in conviction of three top executives, money to GTCR, and $285 million in losses to other investors, but again left it to his spokesman explain.

“If he’s not hands-on in business, how could voters depend on him to be hands-on when it comes to spending their tax dollars and managing state government,” Brady said.

“Mr. Rauner had a perfect opportunity at a debate Thursday to be forthright, but again stood silent on the reports that are now regularly coming to light about his dealings. The voters deserve those answers and I will insist that Mr. Rauner give them,” Brady said.

“The citizens of Illinois deserve a governor who will truly be hands-on dealing with the many challenges facing Illinois and building an economy that helps Illinois business grow and that benefits Illinois families.”

Discuss.

…Adding… Sen. Dave Syverson, who backs Sen. Dillard in the race, posted this on his Facebook page yesterday

Remember what the Democrats did to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital regarding Sensata Co. in Freeport. While he had nothing to do with it, the facts of the issue meant little in the political world. The stories now coming out on Rauner’s inves…tments, while I’m sure there is a long detailed explanation that shows no involvement, all the public sees is the Headlines (like below) and the Democratic spun commercials. Whether we like it or not this is Illinois and Dem’s will play Obama politics (do whatever it takes, the ends justify the means) . We need a candidate that has been vetted, who can be a uniter, who’s not controversial, who can bring in Independents and Reagan Dems, who can win a General Election not just a primary, and then one who can work with both sides after for the Illinois we deserve.

Hat tip: Illinois Review.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Fun with numbers

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* AP Chicago

Days ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of the State address, his budget director has sent lawmakers a letter detailing “encouraging” developments on Illinois’ billions in unpaid bills.

The Sunday letter says the backlog will be $5.6 billion by fiscal year’s end, down from roughly $10 billion. Budget chief Jerry Stermer says if progress continues Illinois will be in line with “private-sector benchmarks.” […]

A budget spokesman says there isn’t a connection between the letter and Quinn’s Wednesday speech. He says Quinn will later outline budget issues.

It’s AP Chicago, and it’s a quickie Sunday story, so those unfortunate realities make this story worth a closer look to see if it’s actually true.

* From Stermer’s letter

I am writing to you today with encouraging news. Over the past five years we have worked together and made progress on many critical issues, from reforming our pension systems to overhauling Medicaid, and we have made tough choices and focused on policies that drive our economy forward. Thanks to this collaboration, we are projecting that the state’s backlog of bills will be down to $5.6 billion at the end of this fiscal year. That is more than 43 percent lower than the $9.9 billion backlog at the peak of the recession. […]

If the outstanding bills are paid down – and not allowed to pile up again – the amount of bills making their way through the state’s payment system in any 30-day period ($3 billion or 10 percent of the state’s general-funds budget) will be in line with private-sector benchmarks. Thank you for your collaboration and feel free to contact me with questions.

* But if you look at the accompanying charts, you’ll see that the governor’s budget office actually projects that the bill backlog will be about $400 million higher at the end of this fiscal year ($5.6 billion) than it was at the end of last fiscal year ($5.2 billion).

And this is old news. At the end of March, 2013, the backlog stood at about $9.1 billion. It dropped to $5.5 billion by the end of April, 2013. It’s stayed pretty much constant since then, rising a little, falling a little, rising a little. It was as low as $4.7 billion last July, and stood at $6.4 billion by the end of this past December.

So, why tout this old news? Well, despite the denials above, this is all about setting the stage for the governor’s State of the State address. He’ll probably outline some grand new ideas and he needs to show that, fiscally, things are looking up.

In reality, it looks like the state did a good job last April paying down bills, but they remain stubbornly high now and in the foreseeable future. The budget office says they were “conservative” with their end of fiscal year projections, but it is what it is. The pile was reduced nine months ago, and it’s remained at about the same height ever since.

* Meanwhile, along those same lines, Gov. Quinn’s office touted some new pension numbers

The Quinn administration highlighted another part of the new estimates: if the pension law withstands a legal challenge from unions, the state will see its $100 billion pension debt immediately drop by about $24 billion instead of the previous $21 billion estimate. The better-than-expected projection is being driven by last year’s improved performance of the billions of dollars the pension funds have invested.

* But

New calculations show the state will save about $15 billion less than initially projected from the controversial major government worker pension overhaul that lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn approved last month. […]

Last month, House Speaker Michael Madigan championed the pension overhaul as saving $160 billion over 30 years. But when the financial minds at the pension systems covering state workers, teachers outside Chicago and public university employees took a look, the savings estimate came out to $145 billion.

The full report that the story is based on can be accessed by clicking here.

* Related…

* Quinn sure to tout pension deal in State of the State

…Adding… The Tribune has changed “The Quinn administration highlighted another part of the new estimates” to “Legislative supporters highlighted another part of the new estimates.”

Can’t speak for the Tribbies, but the Quinn administration is pointing at those unfunded liability numbers behind the scenes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


New ad buy attacks graduated income tax

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* Americans for Prosperity/Illinois is up with some new cable TV ads. From our friends at Comcast…

Americans For Prosperity
Targeting various IL House Districts
Agency: Mentzer Media, DC
1/27/14 – 2/2/14
Chicago $ Total: $49,690
Central IL $ Total: $2,401
Networks: CNN, ESPN, FXNC, HIST
Dayparts: All dayparts purchased
Zones / syscodes / $ total by zone
Bloomingdale / 6196 / $6,540 Target: IL HD 46
Oakbrook / 6217 / $7,925 Target: IL HD 46
St Charles Wheaton / 1733 / $12,465 Target: IL HD 46
Aurora Naperville / 1737 / $13,280 Target: IL HD 84
Kankakee / 1244 / $9,480 Target: IL HD 79
Champaign-Springfield / 0316 / $1,989 Target: All HD’s / State Capitol
Champaign Springfield U-verse / $413 Target: All HD’s / State Capitol
Total Order: $52,091

* They have several targeted ads on their YouTube page. Here’s a sample

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Things that make you go “Hmm…”

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* The Sun-Times profiled some concealed carry applicants

Peter Besenhofer, 47, worries that the gasoline tanker truck he drives to construction sites across the city and suburbs, sometimes carrying loads worth nearly $30,000, could make him a target.

“I don’t want to have to shoot anybody. Just showing a firearm can defuse so many situations. That’s one thing the statistics can never show you, because those instances never get reported,” said Besenhofer, who lives in Naperville.

He recalled one instance in the mid-1980s when he wished he had been carrying a gun.

“I was on my motorcycle and got turned around a bit and ended up at a stoplight right near Cabrini-Green. And people began looking at me and coming out of the woodwork like they were gonna jump me,” said Besenhofer, who sped away.

So, is he saying he would’ve preferred to flash a gun rather than just leave?

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Topinka earned it

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

I don’t think I’ve seen a Republican - or just about any candidate of any stripe - work as hard for an AFL-CIO endorsement than Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka did.

She assiduously courted the unions who represent workers in her office, worked to help the Teamsters pass a bill important to the union that jabbed at a non-union cemetery owner (the comptroller’s office regulates some cemeteries), built strong relationships with some labor union leaders and attended tons of their events and even endorsed the union-backed pension reform bill.

In other words, she went above and beyond her Democratic rival Sheila Simon on pretty much all counts. The Simon family has long enjoyed union support. Except for his successful US Senate primary bid in 1984, union leaders and members almost always backed her father Paul.

And the daughter would’ve likely had organized labor’s backing this year if she’d run for the open state treasurer slot instead of for comptroller against Topinka. So it was little surprise when Topinka received the Illinois AFL-CIO endorsement this month

It’s no secret that Illinois voters have tended to lean Democratic for quite a number of years, so successful Republican candidates have to prove they are not completely hostile to the prevailing state winds.

Voters know Topinka well, and many probably still kick themselves for voting for Rod Blagojevich instead of her. Blagojevich defeated Topinka by 10 points in 2006. You’d be hard pressed to find many people who were proud of that pro-Rod vote today.

And even though Topinka is well-known to voters, Simon’s family name still carries quite a bit of cachet, so Topinka has not rested on her laurels. Instead, she’s worked hard to outflank Simon on her left, and not just with the unions.

Topinka has long been aggressively outspoken on gay rights issues, and she upped her credibility on the issue with the gay marriage proposal, working the bill hard and then receiving a huge roar of applause when, during the gay marriage signing ceremony, she offered to serve as a “flower girl” for any couple who is married under the new law.

The state Federation of Labor will make fall election endorsements this summer, so I suppose it’s possible that they could go in a different direction. But Simon probably didn’t help her case any when she blasted the Topinka endorsement by “insiders” acting “behind closed doors.” The AFL-CIO always meets privately to discuss these endorsements, and it’s doubtful Simon would’ve been so concerned about the process if she’d received the nod.

Simon sent out a press yesterday shortly before the labor endorsement was announced praising herself for raising a mere $132,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013. Topinka raised even less, but her campaign claims she back-loaded her fundraising for this quarter. We’ll see. Either way, Topinka has $914,000 tucked away in her campaign bank account compared to $379,000 for Simon, and Simon now won’t be getting much if any major union contributions in the near future.

Topinka also endeared herself to many state legislators who don’t have second jobs when she immediately cut legislative paychecks after a Cook County judge ruled last year that Quinn’s veto of member salaries was unconstitutional. Quite a few of those legislators are African-Americans and Latinos, so Simon didn’t help herself with them when she criticized Topinka for her fast action and said she would’ve waited to see if the judge stayed his order.

And even Gov. Pat Quinn, who often nurses grudges, has seemed to brush off Topinka’s paycheck move. Quinn told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed this month that he “can’t praise State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka enough” for her work on animal welfare issues. Quinn is still reportedly not happy with his lieutenant governor for the way she abruptly jumped off the ticket a year ago when Lisa Madigan loomed large as a potential challenger, and for when Simon refused to endorse him last summer when it looked like he faced a difficult primary against Bill Daley.

Despite everything, Illinois is Illinois, so this campaign isn’t a slam dunk for the incumbent comptroller by any means. And that’s a big reason why Topinka worked so hard to win the state Fed’s endorsement this month. Very smart politics.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Quote of the day

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* Buried at the very end of an article about big money being poured into the gubernatorial race is this quote from Michael Keiser, who, according to the Tribune made his money selling recycled greeting cards and said he met Rauner through the charter school movement

“I think of public employees as the ‘haves’ of current Illinois society and the ‘have-nots’ as the private-sector taxpayers. And Bruce represents the have-nots.”

*** UPDATE *** Corrected to include the correct identity of the person making the quote. I was apparently moving way too fast earlier this morning and somehow misread the story. All apologies.

Keiser wrote Rauner a $100,000 check in December. He appears to have contributed $781K to various candidates since 1994.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Rate the new Cross web ad

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* Tom Cross’ campaign has a new Internet ad attacking Mike Frerichs. Rate it

* Script

From Washington to Springfield the typical politicians are failing us.

Dishonest politicians like Mike Frerichs.

Here’s Frerichs in his very first ad:

“In 2006 I ran for the State Senate where I led by example by cutting my own pay and ending free lifetime healthcare for legislators.”

The problem? It’s not true.

Frerichs voted against ending lifetime health benefits and voted to increase his own pay. Twice.

Now, Frerichs expects us to believe this:

“If you believe that what we need is accountability and honesty and ethics in the Treasurer’s office, then I ask you to join this campaign.”

Mike Frerichs.

Just another dishonest politician we can’t trust… especially with our tax dollars.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 - Brady responds - Dillard responds - Rutherford responds *** Rauner calls on opponents to speak out about impending media buys

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

* Bruce Rauner’s campaign sent this out earlier today…

It has been widely reported in news outlets including the Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times and Capitol Fax that Pat Quinn’s Democratic Party and labor union allies - a coalition that has invested $10 million in Quinn’s political career - are threatening to spend millions of dollars in this year’s Republican Primary trying to pick the GOP nominee for governor who they think will be easiest to beat in November.

The Republican Governors Association called it an “outrageous act of despair” that is an “attempt to subvert the democratic process.” The Illinois GOP condemned these types of “tricks, games and campaign schemes” and said they show “a blatant disregard for the voters of Illinois.”

Despite state and national Republican leaders speaking out against the planned efforts, GOP candidates Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, and Dan Rutherford have been silent on it.

“Republican primary voters deserve to know whether Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, and Dan Rutherford are working together with Pat Quinn and his allies to try to hijack the Republican primary,” said Chip Englander, campaign manager for Bruce Rauner. “Will they side with grassroots Illinois Republicans who want to choose our party’s nominee, or will they side with Pat Quinn’s efforts to attack Bruce Rauner?”

“The longer they stay silent, the more obvious it is that they condone and encourage this Democratic partisan attempt to meddle in the Republican primary,” Englander added.

At the same time, local Republican Party organizations are continuing to line up with Bruce. He has already earned endorsements from the Cook County Republican Party, Cuba Township Republicans, Wauconda Township Republican Club, Hanover Township Republican Organization, Palatine Township Republican Organization, New Trier Republican Organization, Palos Township Republican Organization, Republican Club of Evanston and the Northfield Township Republican Organization.

“Local Republican leaders and grassroots activists aren’t about to let Pat Quinn’s allies subvert the Republican primary, and neither should any of the other candidates running for governor,” Englander concluded.

Not a bad move.

*** UPDATE *** Natasha Korkecki has the Dan Rutherford campaign response

“Rutherford has absolutely no involvement in this rumored coalition. To suggest that Rutherford’s silence is ‘condoning or encouraging’ such activity is ludicrous,” said Rutherford spokesman Brian Sterling. “Anyone who has the money and wants to spend it buying TV time is entitled to their share of the airwaves. He, of all people, should recognize that. Rauner should be worrying about things he can control.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Dillard campaign…

Dillard-Tracy Campaign Manager Glenn Hodas today issued the following statement in response to Bruce Rauner’s press release: Quinn Allies Attempting to Hijack GOP Primary. . .

“Rauner’s correct when he says ‘someone’ is hijacking the Republican Party. HE is.

“Rauner is a Democrat in sheep’s clothing. Rauner doesn’t want GOP voters to know that he voted Democrat, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats to DEFEAT Republican candidates, and is on a first-name basis with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And let’s not forget the State Journal-Register story, where Rauner admits giving $300,000 to Ed Rendell, the head of the Democrat National Committee, because Rauner, “wanted to have influence with the head of the DNC.”

“Like a hedge-fund vulture, Bruce Rauner is staging a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. Rauner reminds you of an Illinois Gordon Gecko, but with a cheap watch.”

Ouch.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Brady’s response

“First and foremost, I have absolutely no connection to whatever efforts by third-party groups may be underway,” Brady said in a statement. “I’m working to defeat Pat Quinn and overturn the disastrous policies of Democrats that are driving Illinois jobs away.”

“Mr. Rauner fails to recognize that there are many union members – in both the public and private sectors – who are Republicans, who are disgusted with the failures of Pat Quinn, and who want to make sure their party nominates the best candidate to turn Illinois around,” he added in the statement.

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      


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