Tag Archive: Board of Elections

Sep 04 2014

Update The State BOE Website NOW

Let’s bring it into the 21st century.

There’s a few things New York can do to improve voter turnout, for starters they could put the primary date and time clearly on their website.

Many of us have become very familiar with the New York State Board of Elections homepage, however if you were viewing the page to find out the election date, you’d be lost because the website is directly out of 1999.

In the Mayoral election, voter turnout hit a record low with only 24% of registered voters casting a ballot. That works out to barely over one million of the 4.3 million registered voters in New York City. If this is our measuring stick for the statewide primaries, turnout will be abysmal. 

So how do we improve the situation? Let’s start with updating the NYSBOE website to at least post the date CLEARLY on their homepage. See for yourself:

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 9.28.45 PM

it’s one step away from a BBS.

Note, the Primary date wasn’t posted until this week. And when it was, it was tossed into an excel column at the bottom of the page.

This website is outdated, boring, and confusing.

To see a better example, check out the city’s BOE website which posts the election date at the top of the homepage, including the time in five different languages.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 9.28.05 PMWe’re not saying that updating a website is going to improve turnout. Same day registration, weekend voting, online voting, there’s a lot that we could do. But honestly, how much money would it cost to redesign the website? Let’s make it a little more visual and interactive. The City did it, why can’t the state?

Sure, we can rely on candidates, NGO’s, and the like, to GOTV, but where is the central hub to connect all voters, to urge and remind them about upcoming elections?

The BOE website is there, that is, if you like to look at artifacts.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/09/update-board-of-elections-website/

Mar 05 2014

Gentile Questions Dysfunctional BOE

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Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) is the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Investigations

It’s time to eliminate the patronage and dysfunction at the BOE says Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Clearing house and then rebuilding the foundation is going to take time and a lot more oversight. Luckily, the hearings are bringing it to light.

[From The Brooklyn Daily Eagle] The council’s committees on Oversight and Investigations and Governmental Operations jointly held the hearing to probe more deeply into a recently released report from the Department of Investigations (DOI) that detailed a shocking level of institutional dysfunction and patronage at the Board of Elections (BOE).

NY1 News reported that the DOI’s undercover probe found that the BOE is dysfunctional, is overrun by nepotism, and that there are dead people still listed on its rolls.

In its report, issued in December, the DOI issued more than 30 recommendations for the BOE to adopt.

“Our work here today was a positive step towards a better democratic process in New York City. This is one step in the effort to address concerns raised by the Department of Investigations report, which showed how far we need to go to support and oversee New York City’s elections,” Gentile said.

“I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to increase efficiency, transparency and accountability at all levels,” Gentile added.

The BOE needs to move away from and “opaque hiring system of nepotism and patronage,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side), chairman of the Committee on Governmental Operations.

For full article: http://brooklyneagle.com/articles/council-holds-hearing-patronage-board-elections-2014-03-05-173000

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/03/gentile-questions-dysfunctional-boe/

Nov 04 2013

Voting Information Links

While most readers of Queens-Politics are expected to vote, just in case, and for reference, we’ve included links to your poll site locator as well as the NYC voting registry.

Polls will be open on Tuesday from 6 AM – 9 PM. Please vote.

Find your polling site here: http://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/Search.aspx

Lookup your voting information here: https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us

Need info on a candidate? Do a search on Queens-Politics.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/11/voting-information-links/

Aug 01 2013

Erik Dilan: Executive Director Of The BOE Or Future Assemblyman?

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If I were to advise Dilan, I’d keep my distance from Lopez, I’m not willing to disparage him just because of the association.

Looking beyond the rumors of Erik Dilan seeking the $173,000-a-year job at the Board which has been vacant for nearly three years, sometimes the media is not fair when it wants to link someone to Vito Lopez just for a racy headline.

Underneath this “coverage” is a story yet to be told.

Erik Dilan has always been an independent victor in the City Council fighting leadership, but the news wants to link him to Vito Lopez, and truthfully that’s fair. Dilan has been an ally and supporter of Lopez and Ridgewood-Bushwick.

But anyone who knows Erik Dilan knows he is not owned by anyone especially Vito Lopez. Generally speaking, just because you’re an ally doesnt mean you’re controlled by them. So beside the potential move to the executive director position everyone seems to be gossiping about, this term limited councilman deffinitly has a lot more options at his disposal. Let’s take a look.

Most pols at the end of term limits find themselves with their back against their wall with no where to turn but Dilan is known as a talented and loyal public servant. He’s a formidable candidate: Dilan is a hard worker and a tireless campaigner.

What a lot of folks seem to have overlooked is that Dilan is the leading candidate to fill what many people expect to be an open assembly seat when Assemblyman Rafael Espinal wins the 37th city council district.

But wait, that’s not all. Dilan will also have options in a Thompson or DeBlasio administration as a possible Deputy Mayor – not to mention opportunities for this rising star in the private sector.

But perhaps what was most telling was Mayor Bloombergs desperate attempt to increase his chance of defeating stop and frisk legislation by having Dilan vacate his seat, truth is Eric Ulrich is also rumored to be weighing his options at the Board, but we digress.

A year wiser, a year stronger, Dilan also has a greater chance at beating Congresswoman Nydia Valasquez now more than ever should he throw his hat in the ring.

Needless to say, sky’s the limit for this term limited councilman from Brooklyn.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/08/term-limited-dilan-has-plenty-of-options/

Jun 28 2013

Did The BOE Fire Her Because She’s Black?

Rolaine Antoine

Rolaine Antoine, a former BOE employee explains why our electoral process is always in a state of jeopardy.

An Ulrich loyalist demanded a BOE employee to give up her office chair and forced her in the corner, right before she was terminated.

For far too long we’ve heard stories about the bungled mismanagement over at the Board of Elections, but no one has ever written about specific instances which embody the status quo. It’s common knowledge that the entire building is a refuge for nepotism and political favors. And like most organizations, public or private, it’s subject to office politics; the only difference at the BOE is that these are the people whom are entrusted by the people of New York to oversee the entire electoral process.

But there are victims, countless victims that are in fact professionals, executives, people who bring leadership and experience to the table that are often the first to be fired with politically trumped up charges only to be replaced by those less qualified. Rolaine Antoine was one such person. Please take note that it’s such cut-throat politics and paybacks which gets in the way of real work – but not just any work- the sacred duty of carrying out the democratic process. This is one of those stories.

On Wednesday Rolaine Antoine, mother of two, went to work at the BOE, just as usual. She was prompt, on time and ready to work – the same way she has been for the past two years. Colleagues said she’s intelligent, resourceful, respectful, but above all else a pleasure to work with. During her tenure she was never written up for any reason, never complained or made an out of place comment. She’s the kind of employee many supervisors dream about having. As a former Wall Street executive, Rolaine had the experience and knowledge of logistics, office management, and operations to carry out the work of the BOE – and by all accounts she did her job well, that is until they didn’t need her anymore, her refusal to sign a petition just two months ago which circulated the Board asking Phil Ragusa to step down as Chairman may have been her undoing.

Regardless of the political consequences, Rolaine refused to yield, she thought it would be best to let the voters decide, and then she was terminated.

As a civic minded citizen from Queens Village, Rolaine quickly became a local leader. If there was a problem in the neighborhood she would get to work on solving it. Her accolades led to her election as a Republican District Leader, recognition for her activism on behalf of civic organizations. “I wanted to help people vote and it gave me a great feeling knowing that working at the BOE was an extension of that”. Rolaine couldn’t have been happier. She had the opportunity to enlighten new immigrants and members of a community as to how to become active and responsive to issues that pertain to where they lived. Working at the BOE gave her great satisfaction, that is, until Wednesday morning.

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Letter of termination.

On Wednesday morning, Rolaine’s supervisor Alba Martinez, who was running the absentee department approached her desk. “I needed to report to the Deputy Chief Clerk to return the chair.” Which chair? Asked Rolaine.  Martinez replied, “the one you are sitting in”.  Rolaine was confused, well where do you want me to sit? Martinez pointed to a broken chair and said “all chairs belong to the BOE”. “Why does she want my chair?”  Martinez said she didn’t know, “I am just the messenger bringing you the message.”

Rolaine was beside herself. “Well since you’re the messenger, tell her [Deputy Chief Clerk Gisela Mengler] I will not give up my chair and if she wants it, she’ll have to come down and get it.” Martinez stormed out of the office. About an hour later, Scott Jordan and Gisela Mengler, the Deputy Chief Clerk,  instructed Rolaine that she had to give up her seat, that she had to give it up for someone else that needed it, meanwhile she was the only one that was asked. Rolaine was a little confused, she had the chair since she began working at the Board of Elections, and in the meantime all of the employees had seen new chairs being delivered – there was even a new chair wrapped in plastic in the Deputy Chief’s office. So why should she have to give up hers? After all it was where Rolaine did the work she was paid to do and there were plenty more available. It all seemed so trivial. Racial flashbacks had been stoked. How often is it that a hardworking African-American female is told to give up her seat and go to the backroom?   While they towered above her desk, Rolaine looked up at them and asked to speak to Commissioner Michel – she wanted Michel to tell her she had to give up her chair and then and only then she would comply. Unfortunately he couldn’t be reached in time. Shortly afterward, Scott Jordan and Robert Pataky presented her with a letter of termination. “The reason for your termination is due to insubordination and racial accusation,” it read. Rolaine was devastated. What racial accusation? She had only asked if her firing had anything to do with being an African-American, which at the time appeared to be a reasonable question given the circumstances, and especially since Michel’s appointment, there has been discrimination against most of the minorities, who have been severely disciplined or let go, she said.

When Michael Michel came in, he came with a voracious axe and basically terminated people who were associated or deemed to be loyal with the County organization. Rolaine was the last of the Mohicans. But she couldn’t just be terminated, she had an excellent record, never been written up, always on time, well-liked by colleagues and poll workers. The musical chair scenario turned out to be an elaborate ruse to terminate her.

A culture of fear.

What the voters need, they are not getting because all of this is going on she explained, “we are failing the voters. When they complain, they are right,” referencing the slowdowns, technical malfunctions, and logistical mishaps which plague every election administered by the BOE.

“Everyone is working out of fear…and you can’t run an office with employees that are working out of fear… it’s getting worse and worse because people fail to speak up.”

Rolaine was talking about the blatant good ol’ boys club the BOE has morphed into. According to Rolaine, Councilman Eric Ulrich put his key people onboard right down to the poll workers. He even had Bart Haggerty, whose brother embezzeled millions from Mayor Bloomberg, now a BOE employee as a lead trainer in charge of instructing the very people that will be training all of the poll workers. All of this happened right after the new commisssioner, Michael Michel, was placed into power following a paper mishap. And when he came in, he was ready to fire anyone that was loyal to the County organization. Rolaine said these new people that were handpicked will report directly to Ulrich and company with no problem, hence their hiring.

In all fairness there’s something odd about a partisan political hack hired to oversee a “fair election.” A conflict of interest? While she never had a conversation with Ulrich, the writing was on the wall. “Ulrich is running the show,” she said.

Just two months ago, Councilman Ulrich came into the office to meet with Gisela Mengler, to ask her to stay on board and postpone her retirement. They needed her, after terminating Deputy Chief Clerk Marie Lynch and until they placed an Ulrich pal in the seat. Rumor had it she agreed. Now Gisela isn’t well-liked at the Board, she was rude and contrite but that didn’t matter, she was politically connected. Rolaine was not exempt from the hostile work environment Gisela had created for her and to make matters worse, the woman she was about to fire was the one who had written letters in response to voter complaints which Gisela was responsible for writing and who also prepared reports that were too complex for Gisela to produce!

In the aftermath, Rolaine reached out to her Union President Gwendolyn Youngblood, a labor attorney as well as the media, and she’s not going to stop there. Rolaine Atoine is a hero, a hero to everyone that had been fired for trumped up political reasons. Her termination is the reason why the Board of Elections is dysfunctional, why our democracy is constantly in jeopardy and why our electoral process is the laughingstock of the nation.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/06/did-the-board-or-elections-fire-her-because-shes-black-rolaine-antoine/

Dec 07 2012

Scholar Blasts Politics As Usual

An open letter from George C. Onuorah, author of  The Political Diary of a Rising Son.

REFORM THE NYC BOARD OF ELECTION NOW

The 2012 election in NYC taught us anything, the lesson would be that our Board of Election needs serious urgent reforms. Why? The reason is that unless we redress the anomalies we saw last November, we are in for some rude awakening with the next mayoral race around the corner. Personally, I had experiences that convinced me we need to do something now or never. I waited more than an hour to cast my vote. The lines where I voted were stretched long and tempers flared to almost boiling point. In the end, I decided that I should wait it out and exercise my democratic right. For more than a decade and half I have never failed to vote and I asked myself why should I now not cast my vote. Since young age, I have learnt not to be discouraged by the discouraging vicissitudes of any game. Many civil right leaders such as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for us to have the right to vote and we must not allow man-made obstacles and impediments to pull us back. Many who tried to vote in last election have different experiences and I am sure some may have given up and never voted.

Our elected representatives, civic and others must see the problem at our City board of election as endemic desiring of fixing. The New York City Council held a hearing yesterday seeking to address matter. Unless we fix it we are in for unexpected unhappiness at elections. We hear about working together or cooperation. Now this board of election issue is one that beacons those who want smooth and efficient democratic process. Democracy as we know it means and implies letting citizens vote and to have a say in who represents them. Therefore, not allowing all eligible citizens to vote runs counter to the Greek meaning of denying us universal suffrage.

Furthermore, many new and young voters get discouraged by a process that undermines their new enthusiasm for supporting leaders such as exemplified by President Barack Obama who challenged them like late John F. Kennedy in “Ask not what your country can do for you, Ask what you can do for your country”. The youth, the young and the newly enfranchised want a process that is ‘free and fair’ not one that is marred by inadequacies and inefficiencies’. We should allow democracy to rein.

While I am not a political expert, as a citizen and political scholar, I feel we can address some of the problems at last election by adapting the following measures.

  1. We can consider hiring election / poll worker from colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. By selecting from this caliber of workers adequate premium is placed on competence not mediocrity.
  2. Do away with politics as usual, reward competence and not political cronyism. Our party leaders as guardians and custodians of our democracy should understand that how disgruntled many felt and do something now. To procrastinate may not bode well for our democratic process.
  3. Finally, politics aside, the efficiency of our voting process might be a starting point for political cooperation between the parties who pay lip service to the concept of working together and yet fail to embrace it.

George C. Onuorah

Author, Political commentator and Civic Leader

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/12/scholar-blasts-politics-as-usual-reform/

Sep 21 2012

De Blasio responds to low voter turnout

Help is on the way as Public Advocate Bill De Blasio implements a plan to raise awareness, keep people informed and on guard to ensure our ballots count for the upcoming Presidential election.

The poll sites changed and then the BOE sent erroneous notifications. Meanwhile voters were disenfranchised in a variety of different ways. Turnout has reached record lows and more often than not small groups of voters continue to reelect incumbents that depend on low turnout. It’s surely a recipe for disaster.

The Public Advocate In collaboration with ANIMALNy.com has a comprehensive plan to empower voters. Expect to see the following Voter’s Bill of Rights posters appear in a neighborhood near you. You should memorize them.

The 10 rights are:

 

  1. You are entitled to up to two paid hours off of work to vote if polls are not open for four consecutive hours before or after your work day, provided you notify employers.
  2. You should receive a mailed reminder informing you when and where to vote.
  3. You have until October 12 to register to vote in this year’s general election. 
  4. If you have recently moved within NYC, you can vote at your new poll site with an Affidavit Ballot, even if you have not updated your registration.
  5. If your name is misspelled on the voter rolls or you recently changed your name, you are still allowed to vote using the standard ballot and machine.
  6. If your name is not on the voter rolls, you can still vote using an Affidavit Ballot.
  7. Only some first-time voters are required to present I.D. at poll sites if they didn’t submit the needed information when they registered.
  8. You can request an absentee ballot be mailed to you if you are unable to vote in person.
  9. Voters with disabilities are entitled to assistance from poll site staff, as are non-English speakers.
  10. You cannot be prevented from voting if you accidentally wear campaign paraphernalia at a polling site, but you should remove or cover it as instructed by poll workers.

Read about the new partnership below:

Received via email: Not many people know that New York City has one of the worst voter participation rates in the nation – especially among young voters:

In the 2009 Mayoral election, fewer than 4 percent of eligible 18-29 year old voters cast ballots.  Even in the 2008 Presidential Election – a high point for youth turnout – fewer than 17 percent of the same age group voted in NYC.

A huge impediment to voting in NYC is the widespread confusion many New Yorkers have about poll locations and voting procedures. Our joint effort with ANIMALNewYork.com seeks to rectify this problem.  We will distribute thousands of posters across the city clarifying exactly how to register, how to locate your polling station, and how to ensure your ballot is properly cast at the polls.

We encourage you to tell your readers about our informational poster and online voting guide at http://nycvoting.com. By spreading the word you’ll be empowering New Yorkers to get out there and perform their democratic rights.

You can find a copy of our poster and additional voting resources at our online hub http://nycvoting.com. The poster will be distributed in the upcoming weeks in partnership with a series of civic organizations and elected officials.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/09/de-blasio-responds-low-voter-turnout/

Jul 31 2012

J.D Kim Campaign Documents Appear to Encourage Illegal Petitions

Queens Politics is calling on the Attorney General to investigate the matter.

Recently obtained documents from the Jung Dong Kim campaign for Senate District 16 indicate unlawful activity regarding the collecting of Designating Petitions.

According to the Board of Elections, the first day to circulate Designating Petitions was Tuesday, June 5th. However, the campaign document instructs petition collectors to begin BEFORE the legally required starting date and extend petition collecting past the last day to file, July 12th.

If this is any indication as to how that campaign is being run, I’m wondering what other type of unlawful and unethical practices have been occurring here.

More on this to follow.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/07/j-d-kim-documents-encourage-illegal-petitions-july12/

Jul 15 2012

This is the offical record of objections for the Queens Democratic Primary

I challenge you!

Through ojections we can help assure that our elections are reliable and that candidates have met the legal requirements for ballot access in New York State.

Take a moment and skim through the record, it’s very revealing.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/07/queens-politics-board-of-elections/

May 25 2012

When Your Time Is Up This Is What They Do

(l to r) Leroy Comrie, Dan Halloran, Katherine James, Shirley Hintley, Ruben Wills, and Serph Maltese present Katherine with a proclamation signed by Speaker Christie Quinn and the entire Queens republican and democratic delegation for her service to the borough. A few lines of the proclamation had to be extracted so all the signatures would fit on it.

A seemingly innocent invitation is causing a storm of controversy in GOP party politics and has prompted the ‘retirement’ of one of its top officials.

In a recent article by City and State, an anonymous reader sent a copy of an invitation for Catherine James’s Retirement Party which set off a fury of allegations. Katherine, the former Deputy Chief Clerk at the Board of Elections, was accused of soliciting campaign contributions for her ‘retirement party’ using BOE resources, according to the article. However, the headline, RETIRING QUEENS BOE EMPLOYEE USED OFFICE RESOURCES TO SOLICIT “CONTRIBUTIONS” TO POLITICAL CLUB is erroneous and misleading.

Katherine James did not know that BOE resources were used for the invitation. Katherine did not even know about the party as she wasn’t part of a planning or organizing committee and she certainly didn’t oversee the design of the invitation. The event was a complete surprise.

Some questions remain. Why would a Republican club – a club where Katherine is a board member – list the BOE as the return mailing address? Did she think 300 recipients would turn the other cheek? Perhaps it was a snafu, a really brainless snafu that screams conflict of interest to every recipient both democrats and republicans alike? Sounds like nonsense.

For 50 years Katherine has been around a political element. We doubt she’d make a rookie mistake or mastermind her own destruction. Nevertheless anyone with an axe to grind now has the perfect stump for a clean chop.

Tensions were brewing up. On March 24th the Queens County Executive committee informed Katherine there would be a meeting to discuss endorsements of congressional candidates. Katherine served as one of the highest-ranking officers of that committee as the Vice-Chair. On the day of the event she couldn’t attend due to a family commitment. She returned to work on Monday to hear that Chairman Phil Ragusa endorsed Alan Jennings, a democrat, through a Wilson Pakula in the new fifth congressional district. Katherine is the District Leader for the 32nd AD, which is an AD in the 5th congressional district. Katherine didn’t get a phone call and it was in her hometown where Jennings would receive the GOP line. She felt bypassed and refused to go to future events unless amends were made.

Despite the makings of a quirky political feud, it’s unlikely that Ragusa or Tabone sent the problematic invitation. Both are smart enough not to encourage negative press on the Party. So, then, who engineered the mail piece? Who would benefit from Katherine’s retirement and an opening of a coveted patronage post? Was another audit from the Comptroller’s office or a visit from the DOI part of a calculated risk – a means to an end? Or was it more sinister, a power-grab, or retribution for a past offense?

It appears that all members of the Queens County Executive committee come under the spotlight for a periodic scrutiny and it was Katherine’s turn to finally be picked off by forces unknown.

Was it the butler? The strategic plan to take out the low guy on the totem pole was likely executed by whoever is upset with Tabone, Ragusa, or Steven Graves who is said to yearn for the day when he can throw County under the bus even though there are allegations of corruption, fraud, and bribery against Graves.  Adding insult to injury, rumors are floating around that stories are being pitched to the NY Post for the final humiliation.

City and State mentions Katherine as the President of the Women’s Republican Party of Queens. This is incorrect. Katherine resigned that position when Serphin Maltese and Frank Padavan were the last two Queens Republicans serving in the Senate. Katherine served ex officio as Vice-President.

Katherine is the mother of four children, now adults. Her husband is a retired Fire Captain. She attended Queens and Brooklyn College and got her start in politics when she went to the Conservative party for guidance and education. She ran for the school board where she won and served for 10 years. Katherine was also the NYS Common Cause downstate director and she worked for the Jamaica Service program for older adults – a 36-year-old social service agency, including ten years of service in the City Council.

Katherine carved out a reputation in Queens as an activist. She volunteered for the Salvation Army, the Girl Scouts and a myriad of other service based organizations. Years later, she heard of a vacancy at the BOE for a republican office worker. Then-chairman Serphin Maltese met Katherine and quickly hired her for her energy and enthusiasm.

Katherine James didn’t willfully retire; she was fired and removed from the payroll. The headline is the proof in the pudding. She could have felt it was coming down the pipeline, but she probably didn’t think she would be framed and caught up in a web of allegations at the twilight of her career. Down at the BOE, Marie Lynch, the former Director of Equipment  has become the new Deputy Chief Clerk. For Katherine, the way it was done was neither professional nor commensurate with the service she performed to the county of Queens.

We call that Queens politics.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/05/was-katherine-james-set-up-to-vacate-her-post/


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