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More from Barbara Boxer’s SF appearance

There’s not enough room in the print editions to include all there was to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s appearance today at the Commonwealth Club of California, so I figured I’d put some of the Q&A segment – moderated by former club board chairman Bob Saldich – up here.

Barbara Boxer @ Commonwealth Club 8-31-10 (AP Photo/Eric RisbergIt was largely a friendly crowd, as one might expect from San Francisco, and the first question was about how President Barack Obama could be convinced to listen more to the advice of Nobel laureate economist and columnist Paul Krugman. Boxer said she’s not sure how to get the President on board, but for herself, “I think the Krugman idea of more stimulus is a very good idea. The question is, how do you get it to move?”

That is, any such additional stimulus would face opposition not only from Republicans, but from Democrats feeling gun-shy in advance of November’s midterm elections. Boxer added she believes it’s possible to create more jobs in a fiscally responsible way; she said none of her current proposals would add to the deficit.

Asked if she would vote to eliminate the filibuster – a parliamentary procedure used by the minority party to stymie legislation – Boxer replied that’s a “complicated question.” The founding fathers intended that the House of Representatives would move quickly on legislation while the Senate would see more deliberation and compromise, but abuse of the filibuster “has gotten out of hand” and all of Democrats’ accomplishments of the past two years – health care reform, college loan reform and others – have been made more difficult by the tactic. She said she would support reforming the filibuster so that those staging one would have to physically remain on the Senate floor for the duration, and by lowering the threshold to invoke cloture and break a filibuster from 60 votes to 55.

Asked if she still supports California’s high-speed rail project given the hardships it could impose upon neighborhoods along the route – in the Bay Area, along the Peninsula – Boxer replied she respects local governments’ role in helping to plan such projects. “We can change the routes, it’s not impossible, it’s been done before so everyone can be made happy,” she said, but a majority of Californians believe high-speed rail would be an asset and so she still supports it.

One audience member sent up a question card asking if, given Boxer’s liberal spending record, there are any government programs she would consider eliminating in order to reduce the national debt. “The biggest one would be to end the wars,” she replied, adding she’d also like to see more enforcement to avoid rip-offs by government contractors; everyone paying their fair share in taxes; and no subsidies for companies that send jobs overseas.

Boxer noted that the biggest tax cut in U.S. history was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus, given to working people and families rather than millionaires and billionaires.

More after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

Boxer, Fiorina clash on education funding

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., was crowing last week that the $26 billion aid package for cash-strapped states includes $1.2 billion for California that would “keep 16,500 teachers on the job.”

This morning, the campaign of Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina sent out a news release saying California Democrats had other plans for the money: “Another day, another broken promise from Barbara Boxer.”

The Fiorina release pointed to a Sacramento Bee blog item in which state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said this new federal money could help plug part of the state budget’s gaping deficit. It also says that the federal money won’t be available before districts must plan their budgets and school starts, and that the money won’t flow through to schools under the Legislature passes a budget, so jobs will be lost at least in the interim.

Both Steinberg’s and Boxer’s offices shot back later this morning.

“The education jobs law and the guidance from the Department of Education could not be more clear: This funding can only be used to save education jobs that serve our children in public schools – and nothing else,” Boxer said in her statement.

And Nathan Barankin, Steinberg’s communications director, said Fiorina “fails to grasp the basic fundamentals of budgeting.”

“News flash to Fiorina: keeping teachers on the job does help the state balance its budget,” he wrote. “Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget proposes to slash school funding by billions, which would result in thousands of teacher layoffs throughout the state. This is an outcome that Senator Boxer and Senator Steinberg want to avoid. The federal money will ensure our schools can afford to keep teachers on the job and our children receive a quality education.”

Then there’s the issue of timing: whether the federal money would arrive and the state budget would be enacted in time to save teachers’ jobs.

Districts already have budgeted for this coming school year; when there’s uncertainty about the budget, they peg their budgets to the Governor’s May budget revision. The state Education Code dictates timing of budget-related layoffs, with a June deadline, so districts already have issued their pink slips for this coming year.

California applied for the federal funding last Friday, Aug. 13, the first day it was possible to make the request, so the governor’s office clearly was wasting no time. Secretary Arne Duncan told governors that day that the U.S. Department of Education anticipates awarding the money within two weeks of receiving approvable applications – in our case, that would be by Aug. 27; he also urged states to give districts an estimate of how much they’ll receive as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly.

The state need not wait for a budget to be passed and signed into law before passing the federal dollars through to the districts; the state Department of Finance can send a letter to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the caucuses can sign off on it and the money can go out. The hope is that districts would get it in time to choose whether to bring pink-slipped teachers back right away and staff up for this school year, or to save the money as a bulwark against further layoffs next year.

As California Watch’s Louis Freedberg noted last week, that won’t be possible everywhere. Some districts have started school already, and most others will do so around the end of this month. And local school boards would have to ratify whatever decisions are made on how the funds will be spent.

As Freedberg concluded, all levels of government – federal, state and local – are going to have to work very quickly and efficiently with clear communications if teachers will be re-hired and paid in time to greet most students returning to school this year. That said, I’d bet there’s not a school district in the state that won’t gratefully accept the money, whenever it arrives.

Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, California State Senate, Carly Fiorina, Darrell Steinberg, education, state budget, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

U.S. Senate debate is back on for Sept. 1

The planned Barbara BoxerCarly Fiorina debate on which I reported last week, later retracted as premature by the folks at KQED, is back on at the same time and date (7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1) but with a newly announced location: St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga.

As previously reported, the one-hour debate will air live on KQED Public Radio and KTVU Channel 2. KQED News is offering the debate as a special broadcast of The California Report, the station’s statewide news service; the California Report’s debate broadcast will be distributed live via satellite and available for broadcast by all California public radio stations.

KTVU’s political editor Randy Shandobil will moderate the debate, with questions posed by San Francisco Chronicle senior political writer Carla Marinucci; California Report host Scott Shafer; and La Opinion senior political reporter and blogger Pilar Marrero.

Said Fiorina:

“I am pleased that Barbara Boxer has accepted one of the many opportunities we have to debate before the people of California. I also want to thank KTVU, the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED for the time, resources and energy they are all investing to make this important debate possible.

“There is much at stake in this election, and the people of California should have multiple opportunities in all parts of the state to see the two of us together, debating our very different approaches to addressing job creation, economic growth and the role of government in our lives, along with many other important issues. That is why I have accepted more than a dozen other debate invitations. To date, Barbara Boxer has accepted only one. With more than 2.2 million unemployed Californians, a record national debt and the largest tax increase in American history slated to go into effect soon, there is much to discuss. I certainly hope she’ll agree that the people of this state deserve to see us debate many times between now and November 2.”

Said Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer’s campaign manager:

“We’re pleased that we will have the opportunity to debate and show the clear contrast between the candidates on jobs and the economy and so many other issues of concern to Californians.”

Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | 11 Comments »

The candidates’ positions on the Prop. 8 ruling

So the rhetoric was flying hot and heavy yesterday in the wake of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s invalidation of Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional; statements were coming in at all hours (they still are, actually), and we got most of the salient ones online.

But now that most quarters have been heard from, I thought it might be interesting to juxtapose the statements from the major-party candidates seeking the offices of state attorney general, governor and U.S. Senator. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Republican nominee for attorney general, was last to send his statement yesterday and we never got it online until now, so let’s start with him:

“Barring a law that is unconstitutional on its face, the proper role of an Attorney General is to enforce and defend the will of the People as manifested through the initiative or legislative process. The will of the People should be respected and not overturned easily or lightly. Today’s decision by a federal judge overturning Proposition 8 should be appealed and tested at a higher level of our legal system. The California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 by a 6 to 1 vote and declared it to be constitutional. Likewise, if the voters had approved an initiative legalizing same-sex marriage and a federal judge had ruled against it, I would also support an appeal of that decision.”

From San Francisco District Attorney and Democratic Attorney General nominee Kamala Harris:

“Today’s historic decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger was a monumental step forward in the fight for equality.

“From the moment Attorney General Jerry Brown issued his analysis that Prop 8 violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution, I have proudly concurred with him. That position has been confirmed by Federal Judge Walker’s opinion today and stands in a proud line of jurisprudence reflected so boldly in 1948 when California’s Supreme Court ruled that a ban on interracial marriage violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a conclusion finally reached in 1967 by the United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia.

“Attorney General Brown, Judge Walker, and I have all sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. So, if I am given the privilege to serve as California’s next Attorney General, I will not defend the anti-gay Proposition 8 in Federal court. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my opponent in the California Attorney General’s race, who promises to put the full weight of the state of California behind a defense of this discriminatory amendment.

“I pledge my support as this fight continues to another court and if necessary, the Supreme Court. I will continue to advocate for the defeat of Prop 8, whether we win that battle in the courts or at the ballot box. We may well face a lengthy battle on this issue but, as Dr. King said in 1967, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.’”

From Darrel Ng, spokesman for Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman:

“Meg supported Proposition 8 and believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Meg also strongly supports California’s civil union laws. Today’s ruling is the first step in a process that will continue.”

From California Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown:

“In striking down Proposition 8, Judge Walker came to the same conclusion I did when I declined to defend it: Proposition 8 violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry, without a sufficient governmental interest.”

From Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina:

“The people of California spoke clearly on this issue at the ballot box in 2008. That decision is being challenged through our court system and while I don’t agree with the judge’s ruling today, this is one in what will be a multi-step legal process.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“This historic decision is a step forward in the march toward equal rights and reflects a growing legal consensus that marriage equality is protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

Posted on Thursday, August 5th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, same-sex marriage, Steve Cooley, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Save the date: Boxer v. Fiorina debate

KQED, KTVU, and the San Francisco Chronicle will host the first debate between incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Republican nominee Carly Fiorina at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1.

The one-hour debate will air live on KQED Public Radio and KTVU Channel 2. KQED News is offering the debate as a special broadcast of The California Report, the station’s statewide news service; the California Report’s debate broadcast will be distributed live via satellite and available for broadcast by all California public radio stations.

KTVU’s political editor Randy Shandobil will moderate the debate, with questions posed by San Francisco Chronicle senior political writer Carla Marinucci; California Report host Scott Shafer; and La Opinion senior political reporter and blogger Pilar Marrero.

The debate’s location has yet to be announced.

UPDATE @ 1:58 P.M.: Hmmmm. Although this information came in a news release from KQED, I now have other sources telling me that this debate is in fact NOT a done deal, and is still under negotiation. More details as they emerge…

UPDATE @ 2:50 P.M.: “We have recently learned that the previously announced debate has not been confirmed,” KQED now says. “We apologize for any confusion that the miscommunication caused. More details will be announced as soon as they become available.”
I’ve reached out to the Boxer and Fiorina campaigns about this, but neither has responded yet.

Posted on Friday, July 30th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | 8 Comments »

PPIC: Gov, Senate races tight, drilling a no-go

The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll shows likely voters are closely divided between Democrat Jerry Brown (37 percent) and Republican Meg Whitman (34 percent) for governor, with 23 percent undecided. Independents voters are split – 30 percent for Brown, 28 percent for Whitman and 30 percent undecided.

The same poll shows a similarly tight U.S. Senate race, with 39 percent of likely voters supporting Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer, 34 percent supporting Republican nominee Carly Fiorina and 22 percent undecided. Boxer’s lead is similar among independents, with 35 percent backing her, 29 percent backing Fiorina and 25 percent undecided.

The numbers came as part of PPIC’s survey of “Californians and the Environment.” Of those likely voters saying that a candidate’s environmental positions are very important in determining their vote, 50 percent would vote for Brown and 16 percent would vote for Whitman; among those who say a candidate’s environmental positions are somewhat important, Whitman is favored 42 percent to 33 percent. Similarly, those who view candidates’ positions on the environment as very important are three times as likely to support Boxer (54 percent) as Fiorina (18 percent), while those who say candidates’ views on the environment are somewhat important are evenly divided, 37 percent to each candidate.

Among the poll’s findings on other environmental issues:

  • The Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster’s effects are clearly visible, as a solid majority of the state’s residents now oppose more offshore drilling (59 percent of California adults oppose, 36 percent favor), which is a 16-point increase in opposition from last year. It’s a partisan split; 72 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents oppose more drilling, while 64 percent of Republicans favor it.
  • Just 21 percent have either a great deal (8 percent) or good amount (13 percent) of confidence in the government to make the right decisions in dealing with the Gulf of Mexico spill; residents also lack confidence in the federal government’s ability to prevent future spills, with about three in 10 very (7 percent) or fairly (21 percent) confident, 32 percent not very confident, and 37 percent not confident at all.
  • Californians are divided (49 percent oppose, 44 percent favor) about building more nuclear power plants to address the nation’s energy needs and reduce dependence on foreign oil; 57 percent of Democrats are opposed, while 67 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents favor building more plants now. Overwhelming majorities favor increasing federal funding to develop wind, solar, and hydrogen technology (83 percent), and requiring automakers to significantly improve the fuel efficiency of cars sold in this country (83 percent).
  • Support for AB 32 – the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction law, now under fire by Proposition 23 – remains strong at 67 percent of California adults; it was at 66 percent last year. Asked whether the government should act to reduce emissions right away or wait until the state economy and job situation improve, a slim majority (53 percent) said California should act right away, while 42 percent said the state should wait.
  • And among other political findings:

  • President Barack Obama’s approval rating is at 56 percent among all adults, 54 percent among registered voters and 50 percent among likely voters.
  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating is at 25 percent among all adults, 24 percent among registered voters and 25 percent among likely voters.
  • The California Legislature’s approval rating is at 15 percent among all adults, 12 percent among registered voters and 10 percent among likely voters.
  • Only 15 percent of all adults believe California is generally headed in the right direction; that number drops to 11 percent among registered voters and 8 percent among likely voters.
  • Only 25 percent of all adults see good economic times ahead for California; that number drops to 22 percent among registered voters and 19 percent among likely voters.
  • Findings are based on a telephone survey of 2,502 California adult residents reached by landline and cell phones throughout the state from July 6 through 20, with interviews conducted in English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese), Vietnamese, and Korean. The margins of error are two percentage points for all adults; 2.2 percentage points for the 1,971 registered voters; and 2.7 percentage points for the 1,321 likely voters.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Carly Fiorina, economy, energy, Environment, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, polls, Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

    Poll: Boxer and her hair are in the lead

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is shopping around a new poll that shows incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., leading GOP nominee Carly Fiorina by nine percentage points – and Boxer’s hair leading Fiorina’s by five.

    The Public Policy Polling survey found that although voters have mixed opinions about Boxer’s job performance – her disapproval rating outweighs her approval rating, 46 percent to 44 percent – Boxer since last month’s primary has brought shaky Democrats back into the fold while shoring up her position with independents.

    Fiorina, meanwhile, since prevailing over Tom Campbell in the somewhat bruising GOP primary has 40 percent disapproval over 28 percent approval with 32 percent yet to form an opinion, the survey found. While both Boxer and Fiorina win 77 percent of voters from each of their own parties, independents now favor Boxer 48 percent to 38 percent.

    “Over the past few months Boxer has been successful at reassuring voters that she is an effective advocate for California in the Senate and has steadily increased her lead over Carly Fiorina” said PPP President Dean Debnam, who’s firm surveyed 614 California voters from July 23-25; the poll has a four-percentage-point margin of error.

    Does Debnam’s statement sound a bit like an official DSCC line? Perhaps that’s because Public Policy Polling is clearly a Democratic polling outfit. Other recent polls have showed a closer race, and although the Wall Street Journal, fivethirtyeight.com and Pollster.com’s Mark Blumenthal have given PPP relatively high marks for accuracy, others have noted the firm’s unswerving Democratic loyalties and sometimes – ahemincendiary questions.

    Which brings us to the hair. Inspired, no doubt, by Fiorina’s didn’t-know-the-mike-was-hot gaffe last month, this PPPC poll included a question asking, “Do you have a higher opinion of Barbara Boxer’s hair or Carly Fiorina’s hair?” The results: 19 percent for Boxer, 14 percent for Fiorina and 67 percent not sure.

    “Who frackin’ cares?” apparently was not among the options offered.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | 5 Comments »

    NRSC moves to help shape Fiorina’s message

    Brian JonesPolitico reports that Brian Jones, a former Republican National Committee communications director and senior communications advisor to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, has been tapped by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to give former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina a hand in her race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

    Jones – now a managing director at Mercury Public Affairs in Sacramento – also will be helping Nevada GOP senatorial nominee Sharron Angle in her race against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and whichever Republican finishes in Washington’s Aug. 17 blanket primary.

    Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports:

    Just as Republicans need to win Nevada to have any chance of capturing the 10 seats they need to win back control of the Senate, their path to the majority almost certainly also must goes through California and Washington. The NRSC disclosed Monday that they were reserving $1.75 million worth of TV time in California — a signal that they’re serious about taking on Sen. Barbara Boxer. In Washington, Republicans think Sen. Patty Murray is vulnerable but the party must first settle on a nominee. Dino Rossi, who has twice run unsuccesfully for govenor, is the establishment favorite while former NFL player Clint Didier has some tea party support.

    Jones is a seasoned press hand. In the 2008 cycle, he was initially the communications director for John McCain’s presidential campaign, where he worked closely with fellow top aides Terry Nelson and Rob Jesmer – both now top NRSC officials. Jones also worked on President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    What they’re saying about financial reform

    The U.S. Senate today voted 60-39 to approve the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, the Dodd-Frank legislation aimed at reforming financial-sector practices; it now goes to President Barack Obama for him to sign into law.

    Three Republicans – Scott Brown, D-Mass.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine – crossed the aisle to vote with most Democrats in supporting the bill, while Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., voted with most Republicans against it.

    From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

    “The reckless actions of Wall Street cost us millions of jobs and brought our economy to the brink of collapse. The landmark legislation we approved today will rein in casino-style gambling on Wall Street, create a new watchdog agency to protect consumers and safeguard taxpayers by holding financial firms responsible for their own costly mistakes.”

    From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

    “This bill is a bad for Utah and our nation. Our financial system needs to be fixed, but this so-called cure will cause more harm than good to our struggling families, businesses, farmers, ranchers and economy. This massive legislation is a job killer – it will hurt Main Street America’s ability to access much-needed credit. It will send American jobs overseas. And it will add layer upon layer of burdensome regulations on to the backs of struggling job creators.

    “This tremendous government overreach punishes those who had nothing to do with the financial meltdown and can’t afford an army of lobbyists and attorneys to get around these new regulations. What could be the most offensive part of this bill is what it’s missing: reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored agencies that were largely responsible for the financial meltdown and that taxpayers have been forced to shell out of $200 billion to support. That is outrageous.

    “The added burden of regulation and uncertainty brought by this legislation are more examples of why our economy is not producing the number of jobs we need. The Obama Administration and its allies in Congress are doing everything possible to create a business unfriendly climate that is anti job creation and anti growth, and then they wonder where the new jobs are.”

    Other perspectives, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2010
    Under: Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, Dianne Feinstein, John Boehner, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    Boxer far outraises Fiorina in 2nd Quarter

    U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., far outpaced her Republican challenger, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, in campaign fundraising during the second quarter of this year, leaving her with 18 12 times as much money in the bank – and it looks as if she’s going to need every penny.

    Boxer’s campaign reported receiving $4.6 million in the second quarter – a period that included two fundraising visits from President Barack Obama – leaving her with $11.3 million in the bank as of June 30. Fiorina’s campaign said she raised $1.39 million since May 20 (and she’d reported raising $889,163 from April 1 through May 19) for a total of $2.28 million raised in the second quarter; she reports today having $620,000 $950,000 cash on hand, which is exactly what she reported May 19 too. Fiorina has put $5.5 million of her personal fortune into the race so far, all before the June 8 primary.

    “Barbara Boxer is facing a tough campaign against a wealthy opponent who is self-funding her campaign. The response from our supporters has been overwhelming,” Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said. “With this kind of support, we will be able to let millions of voters know about Senator Boxer’s record and her plan to create jobs and turn our economy around.”

    “There’s no denying that we’re starting, and will probably continue to be, at a significant cash disadvantage to Boxer: we went through a tough and expensive primary and have only had a few weeks of raising cash for the general while Boxer has been stockpiling funds for 6 years.” Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “That said, we are confident we will have the resources we need to compete and win this race in November.”

    Fiorina continues to build on the name recognition she built in the tough primary fight against Tom Campbell, and on the anti-incumbent, populist sentiment that seems to be brewing for November. Boxer marshaled her resources throughout the primary season and only just recently took to the road to get her message out and her visibility up.

    Hot on the heels of tough poll numbers for Boxer and a move into the “toss-up” column at Real Clear Politics, the race got moved into the “toss-up” column at the Cook Political Report today as well.

    UPDATE @ 3:33 P.M.: Fiorina’s campaign just put out updated/corrected figures for her cash on hand, hence the strikethroughs up top.

    Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, campaign finance, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | No Comments »