WATERLAND BLOG VOTERS’ GUIDE: Q&As with Council Pos. #1 Candidates


On July 6, 2017, we emailed out a list of 10 Questions to all candidates running for Des Moines City Council in the Primary election, which has an Aug. 1 voting deadline.

We will be posting additional responses from candidates who answered our inquiry, grouped by position numbers.

Of the three candidates running for Position #1, all responded, and here are their answers – published exactly as they sent them – and listed in alphabetical order using their photos from the King County Elections website:

CURTIS HARMON

1. How long have you lived in Des Moines and why did you decide to live here?
I have lived in the Des Moines Area for the last 10 years.

2. What are your primary reasons for seeking election to the Des Moines City Council?
My life was long ago dedicated to serving my fellow man and all my neighbors. Yet we all have different seasons in our lives where, over time, we focus on different types of service. During our season as parents we serve our children. In our working careers we serve customers and our employers. We also have an individual responsibility to serve the sick and poor among us. Currently I see a city that is struggling financially and I feel a strong obligation to serve my community by restoring it to a sound economic footing. Now is the time and season in my life to serve the good people of Des Moines as a City Council member.

3. What do you expect to gain personally from serving in a Council position?
My reward will be as a member of a community that can finally afford to pay for adequate police and other vital services. I want to help Des Moines to come back from the brink of financial ruin. I expect nothing more for myself and for my family and neighbors than to be a part of such a community.

4. How should Des Moines react to the Port of Seattle’s proposed large and rapid expansion to Sea-Tac Airport and the increased noise and air pollution some say it will produce over the city?
Our proximity to the Sea-Tac Airport is like a two-edged sword. From one edge it benefits Des Moines with great potential for economic development, which can aid us in meeting our financial obligations and attaining our goals. From the other edge it represents a threat to our quality of life. If we damage the Port’s ability to operate profitably, then we damage our own potential to achieve our economic goals. But we can’t allow the huge benefits the airport brings to our entire region to disproportionately impact its nearest communities. We should partner with our neighboring cities to make sure the airport is prosperous, while also ensuring it doesn’t abuse any of us. Working together our chances for success and achieving a balance are much greater.

5. Do you consider the Marina seawall repair or replacement as a major financial problem facing the city and if not, what is the city’s biggest financial problem?
The seawall is certainly a major challenge, but one which should be manageable if we have a good economic development plan. Here’s four key points to understand. 1. Sea-Tac is the fastest growing airport in the United States. 2. Cruise Ships are the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry. 3. Every time a cruise ship docks it adds $2.6 million to the local economy. 4.Des Moines is the closest waterfront to the Sea-Tac Airport. The solution couldn’t be more obvious — we need cruise ships in Des Moines. With a solid plan for this type of development we can attract developers who will hopefully share in the cost of the seawall. Without it, we might even design and build a seawall that isn’t suitable for future use by cruise ships. The city’s biggest financial problem is a profound lack of vision for utilizing the unique advantages we have in Des Moines.

6. Do you believe paid Marina parking is the best way to finance the huge cost of the repair or replacement of the rapidly deteriorating seawall?
No, in fact, it’s one of the worst methods. Paid marina parking at this time is again working on the wrong side of the economic equation. Until a compelling vision of the Des Moines waterfront is defined we can’t attract new development and the revenue needed to address the seawall. Using paid parking now merely discourages use of the waterfront and drives away new development. It is essentially another tax — the same bandaid Des Moines has applied repeatedly over the last two decades and failed. This is the same logic that has led to the financial trauma Des Moines is currently suffering. Additional taxes can never compensate for a lack of fiscal discipline. Nor for a lack of vision.

7. What are your views on further development for downtown Des Moines, the Marina, and the city’s partnership with the Port of Seattle at the Des Moines Creek Business Park?
Please see my answer to #5 above. A new and improved waterfront to accommodate both cruise ships and an updated marina will undoubtedly spur new development in downtown Des Moines. Our city could potentially become an excursion destination itself, with hundreds of shops, restaurants, and other services for cruise ship travelers. But it could also provide services as a home port location. Regarding our partnership with the Port of Seattle at the Des Moines Creek Business Park, we should continue working with them for high quality development. Also, since they own the property beneath that entire business park, please see my answer to #8 below about police, property tax, and the Port.

8. Do you believe the Des Moines Police Department is doing a good job controlling crime in the city and, if not, what proposals for change would you recommend the Council adopt?
Yes, certainly, the police are doing a great job, given the resources they have.  But we need more budget for police and more police officers, because crime is far too high. Statistics show that crime in airport communities is four times higher than other areas. Our budget for police is paid in-part by property taxes, yet the Port of Seattle pays no property tax. So we need some type of compensation or mitigation from the Airport itself to assist with our police services. Without it, we are forcing our own citizens to bear the cost of providing security for properties owned by the airport. I’m also certified by Crime Stoppers and I recognize how their tools can help us significantly reduce crime in the city. I want us to utilize these tools more in the near future.

9. How would you propose Des Moines control increased card room gambling and marijuana sales along Pacific Highway South?
I would like to understand this issue of card room gambling more thoroughly, but it could probably be controlled through our zoning. We don’t need gambling in our city. It attracts crime. And as long as marijuana is still illegal in federal law, we place ourselves at risk by allowing it within Des Moines. Legalizing recreational marijuana in Washington state law doesn’t erase federal prohibitions. Placing ourselves in the middle of a conflict between state and federal law doesn’t benefit Des Moines. We have enough to worry about. Let other people carry the ball on this topic until there is no longer a conflict.

10. What is your view of the way the city now budgets and spends its money and where would you cut or increase spending?
There are many examples of other cities who have reduced their budgets by 10, 20, or even 30% without sacrificing services. The key is using our resources efficiently. Sandy Springs Georgia is a great example of a city operating efficiently. With about 100,000 residents they have only six or seven employees.  Most of their services are provided by contractors in a competitive market. I’m not suggesting we should go to that extreme, but we could do much better gaining efficiency without cutting services.

MATT PINA

1. How long have you lived in Des Moines and why did you decide to live here?
I have lived in Des Moines over 50 years. I grew up here, met my wife here, bought a home and raised my family here. The good people, the strong and diverse community, and beautiful surroundings are why we continue to be proud to call Des Moines our home.

2. What are your primary reasons for seeking election to the Des Moines City Council?
After serving for 8 years on the Highline School Board, partnering with community groups, citizens and representatives throughout the area, helping to turn around the financial, structural and educational challenges of the school district, I saw a similar need within Des Moines.

With the voters’ support I was elected in 2009. It didn’t take long to understand the multitude of challenges that have kept Des Moines from realizing its potential for the past several decades. As a leader and member of the city councils of the past 8 years, we have had to overcome a number of obstacles to move the city forward.  While there is more to do, we have accomplished a great deal in the past 8 years.

However, the biggest challenge came in January 2016 when I was selected as mayor along with Vic Pennington as Deputy Mayor. That night we were told that Des Moines was 18 months from bankruptcy and the City Manager would be retiring in 8 months. This picture was not acceptable.

Under my leadership with the partnership and joint commitment of the council, community and City administrative team we have changed the future of Des Moines. No stone was left unturned and all legal opportunities were reviewed. Our focus was to capture resources with as little impact to the City’s residents as possible. These have been difficult decisions, but had we not acted Des Moines would have gone bankrupt.
It took some very difficult decisions, but the tides are changing positively.

This is part of what we have accomplished in the past 18 months:

  • Passed a stainable budget (1st time in over a decade) – no longer looking at bankruptcy.
  • Ensured the structural revenue that supports City operations, Senior, Youth and Parks programs, and community support programs like the food bank etc.
  • Hired a new city manager and restructured the city to a collective leadership model
  • Added 6 new faces to our law enforcement team (5 positions and unfroze an opening)
  • Joined the regional task force against violent crime
  • Began a crime analytics program to aid in focused patrols
  • Developed a new comprehensive Policing model with enhanced policies that utilizes available resources to effectively address and the environment in which it thrives
  • Established a nuisance abatement program to clean up derelict properties that encourage crime and send the wrong message about our community
  • Restarted the road paving program that has not been active in over a decade
  • Worked with the Marina staff and tenants to address Marina finances, failing infrastructure and long term design issues (slips, floor layout etc.)
  • Created a Citizens Aviation Advisory to address the challenges of living next to one of the fastest growing airports in the country, focusing on remediation before mitigation.
  • Created a Citizens Advisory Committee to increase City/Community communications

These are examples of why experience maters. We have come a long way, but we are not there yet. I am running again to see that our progress continues and that we secure the livability, viability, sustainability and independence of the City of Des Moines for the long-term.

3. What do you expect to gain personally from serving in a Council position?
I am a lifelong resident and a known champion and representative for the Des Moines community. My personal gain is the same as that of the community. I will continue to contribute to the long-term health and viability of this City. I will continue to promote Des Moines as a destination and focus on preserving and enhancing quality of life issues for all of its citizens, both current and future. I want to assure that all who reside here have the opportunities and positive experiences that I have had the privilege of receiving.

4. How should Des Moines react to the Port of Seattle’s proposed large and rapid expansion to Sea-Tac Airport and the increased noise and air pollution some say it will produce over the city?
With respect to airport issues, I continue to advocate for Des Moines and the communities surrounding SeaTac Airport. This advocacy has included testifying before the Port Commission and the FAA about the need to address the impacts to the surrounding communities before growing the activity on the existing airport footprint. I have also been engaged in the discussion about tree management, highlighting the impacts and partnering with citizens groups to encourage alternatives. Additionally, I have helped to promote and support the creation of a Des Moines Aviation Advisory Committee and both recommended and supported the cities commitment to Representative Orwall’s particulate matter study. I also continue to listen and work with citizens groups like Quiet Skies.

Ultimately another airport must be sited. This will create a new location for some of the existing operations at SeaTac to move, providing the opportunity to limit activity on SeaTac’s existing footprint and relieve the impacts to Des Moines and the other cities in this area. I know this is doable, but acknowledge it will take work at multiple levels of government and require new types discussions.

Again, this is why experience maters. I will leverage my understanding of government and utilize my relationships with those in multiple positions to address any challenges to making this happen.

5. Do you consider the Marina seawall repair or replacement as a major financial problem facing the city and if not, what is the city’s biggest financial problem?
The City’s greatest financial challenge is ensuring long-term financial stability and services while addressing key infrastructure challenges like the repair of the Marina seawall. As noted in my prior comments, we are making great progress on all fronts.  However if we fail to address this seawall that is made of wood and over 45 years old with serious signs of deterioration, we run the risk of losing a major part of what makes our downtown and waterfront so inviting. In addition we will lose the emergency management benefits along with the future income and attraction that comes from being some of the most accessible waterfront in the region.

6. Do you believe paid Marina parking is the best way to finance the huge cost of the repair or replacement of the rapidly deteriorating seawall?
Many options were considered when determining how to find the resources to address the seawall issue before it fails. Many citizens aren’t aware that the Marina is a City enterprise fund and does not receive any tax payer revenue. This means it must cover all its expenses by the income it can generate. There are many forces that are limiting the Marina’s income potential (i.e. changes in fishing and leisure boating and the breakwater lease held by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that has increased  to over $110,000 per year, to name a few).  Paid parking is the only option that could generate enough revenue in the time necessary to effectively address the problem. Failure to address this failing infrastructure will cause us to lose much of our Marina possibly including access to the fishing pier. It is a matter of the right storm.

Key benefits provided by Marina Paid Parking include:

  • It provides the finances to repair (or bond for repair) the failing seawall.
  • It helps to recover Marina costs that come from users outside the City. (Approximately 75-80% of marina visitors live outside of Des Moines.)
  • It assists law enforcement in preventing illegal and nuisance activities in the Marina. Gates secure the Marina at night enforcing closure times. In the short time that paid parking program has been active, The Des Moines Police Department has already seen dramatic reductions in afterhours calls for service.  This makes more resources available to deploy into other areas and neighborhoods in the city, increasing the agency’s ability to provide a wider presence and more effectively fight crime in our community.
  • The north Marina area provides a critical link for regional emergency management services. Should there be an event in our region, it can support critical air (helicopter), land and sea access, providing necessary support to the surrounding communities.

In addition to the paid parking program, we are also working with our elected leaders in Olympia to get the DNR lease adjusted to a reasonable amount and possibly get some financial support that would allow us to address the repairs more quickly.

I remind the public of the violent storm that took out the Redondo Boardwalk. It was a healthy structure, just not strong enough to weather that storm.  At the time of this storm, the north parking lot of the marina was under water.  The Marina’s north seawall is not that strong and we were very lucky. The cost to repair that Boardwalk was over $4 million of which the City paid about 10%.  We are seeking that kind of multi-jurisdictional support to repair and secure the north seawall providing for the integrity of the infrastructure required to maintain the Marina.

7. What are your views on further development for downtown Des Moines, the Marina, and the city’s partnership with the Port of Seattle at the Des Moines Creek Business Park?
The partnership with the Port of Seattle in the development of the Des Moines Creek Business Park is an effective example of a public/private partnership. The property is in Des Moines but the Port owns the land. Panattoni Development is the private partner developing the property. This relationship is creating jobs and an ongoing economic engine that will help to not only sustain Des Moines future financially, it will provide the demand to enhance the quality of our downtown marina district (more shops and restaurants).  An added bonus is that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional headquarters will be located in this park. They will be able to experience and better understand the impact of their decisions locally.

8. Do you believe the Des Moines Police Department is doing a good job controlling crime in the city and, if not, what proposals for change would you recommend the Council adopt?
Under my watch we have created five new officer positions, an assistant chief and a detective position, bringing our patrols to full strength and ensuring effective and strategic engagement. A new policing model has been implemented that engages more of our already available resources, helping to eliminate attractive nuisance situations and aiding in the reduction of crime throughout the City.  The new detective position will represent the City on the Regional Violent Crimes Task Force, helping to effectively address gang violence regionally.  We have also enhanced our law enforcement abilities by adding Crime Analytics software to their toolkit. This allows them to visualize 911 calls for service and focus patrols as necessary.  We are also working with surrounding jurisdictions to improve communications between our respective departments and enhance the process for hiring new officers.

I regularly meet with members and leadership of the Des Moines Police Department.  I have also observed them in action during ride-alongs. Our police department is very professional, dedicated and competent. Looking forward, I will continue to ensure the effective allocation of resources and technologies that help our officers keep our city safe.

9. How would you propose Des Moines control increased card room gambling and marijuana sales along Pacific Highway South?
Marijuana sales are managed by specific zoning and state limited license availability. However under Washington state law, card room gambling can be an ancillary use for any restaurant. The City Council and City Administration pay a great deal of attention to these activities.

I will note that we are not having any problems with the current businesses, as they are well managed and have worked with our law enforcement team for guidance. For example, the marijuana store provides its own security team that wears body cameras. This has actually helped to reduce crime where they are located.

10. What is your view of the way the city now budgets and spends its money and where would you cut or increase spending?
Our key focus must remain on long-term sustainability. We have had to make some very difficult decisions. None of them were made lightly, but it is important for the community know that each one created a targeted solution to a serious challenge. We selected best option to address our challenges and take us forward as an independent, long-term sustainable waterfront community.

Some examples include:

  • Focused on the development of the business park. So far this has brought in over $600,000 in Real Estate Excise tax, in addition to other ongoing structural revenue.
  • Reorganized the City to maximize both budgetary and resource efficiency.
  • To address an understaffed police force, we installed red light cameras in high incident intersections and made sure the citizens were aware of these devices a month before they were activated. This has changed behavior positively, allowing our law enforcement team to remain out on patrol due to fewer accidents in these locations. They have also generated the necessary revenues to bring our law enforcement team up to appropriate staffing and provided dollars to support additional crime prevention and city management tools.
  • We have created franchise agreements with our utility districts that contractually ensure joint cooperation on community projects. These agreements define how the utilities will working together to maximizing the benefit and use of the public’s funds. The city does receive a typical franchise fee of 6% for use and access to our rights of way. It is important to note that these agreements were negotiated, not imposed, and agreed to by all entities.
  • Approved paid parking in the marina to help it generate the necessary revenues to address the long-term maintenance and infrastructure issues that come with being over 45 years old. Since tax payer dollars do not support the Marina, the solution had to be a revenue generator for the enterprise fund.
  • We now meet the appropriate reserve levels as required by the Washington State Auditor’s Office and for the first time in over a decade we have passed a budget with no one time moneys use to fill budget short falls.

In summary, there has been a great number of items to address so we can ensure the future of our great “Waterland” community. Under my leadership, working with the council, staff and citizens we have made some difficult be necessary choices. There are no excesses in the budget, only key allocations to get the City healthy and strong. This is why experience matters. We are on our way to being healthy again, but we’re not there yet.

ANTHONY MARTINELLI

1. How long have you lived in Des Moines and why did you decide to live here?
I’ve lived in Des Moines since I was 11. I moved here with my parents from Florida. Even when going to college and working in Olympia I chose to remain living in Des Moines and commute, rather than move, as I have a deep appreciation for the city.

2. What are your primary reasons for seeking election to the Des Moines City Council?
To bring forth progressive ideas and values to our beautiful city.

3. What do you expect to gain personally from serving in a Council position?
An opportunity to serve and improve the city I’ve spent the majority of my life.

4. How should Des Moines react to the Port of Seattle’s proposed large and rapid expansion to Sea-Tac Airport and the increased noise and air pollution some say it will produce over the city?
The city should do everything in its power to study the environmental and personal health impacts of overhead flights; prior to the results the city should advocate for stopping flight increases.

5. Do you consider the Marina seawall repair or replacement as a major financial problem facing the city and if not, what is the city’s biggest financial problem?
I believe it’s a major financial issue that needs to be properly addressed, but it’s far from our only financial issue. I believe a lack of proper funding for our police force, and social services, is also a big issue.

6. Do you believe paid Marina parking is the best way to finance the huge cost of the repair or replacement of the rapidly deteriorating seawall?
I believe strongly that Marina parking should be free for Des Moines residents. I do, however, think it’s a good idea to use parking revenue from out-of-city visitors to help repair the seawall.

7. What are your views on further development for downtown Des Moines, the Marina, and the city’s partnership with the Port of Seattle at the Des Moines Creek Business Park?
I believe the city should work to establish a centralized community center in the downtown area to help bring people together and give residents more things to do. In the same vein I support further renovations and expansions of city parks.

8. Do you believe the Des Moines Police Department is doing a good job controlling crime in the city and, if not, what proposals for change would you recommend the Council adopt?
I believe our police department is doing a great. However, do I believe they could benefit from an increase in the number of officers on duty at any given time (which is why I support increased funding for the department).

9. How would you propose Des Moines control increased card room gambling and marijuana sales along Pacific Highway South?
Placing a 5% city-wide tax on cannabis sales would result in nearly $500,000 in annual taxes for Des Moines based on sales data for the city’s only cannabis outlet. I support such a tax, and support allowing at least 1 to 3 more cannabis outlets throughout the city, stopping cannabis sales from being exclusively to Pac Hwy. As for card room gambling, if licensed and above-ground, I don’t oppose them, and believe they could bring revenue to the city if properly taxed. I believe increased police patrols along Pac Highway would go a long way in reducing crime.

10. What is your view of the way the city now budgets and spends its money and where would you cut or increase spending?
I believe the city should make an effort to reduce the cost of utility taxes, which for many people have gone up substantially in recent years and has placed a large burden on low-income families. I would like to see the city put more funding into their police department, which could be paid for by the above-mentioned city-wide cannabis tax. I also believe the city should spend more on infrastructure in order to increase jobs and grow the city.


Comments

23 Responses to “WATERLAND BLOG VOTERS’ GUIDE: Q&As with Council Pos. #1 Candidates”
  1. Rachel says:

    people should take note that Curtis Harmon is the father of Curtis Eugene Harmon who had his bail set at $1 million in 2015 when arrested for rapping and robbing two women and stealing a car with a child inside. obviously parents cant always be blamed for their kids, but I do thnk this is important for people to realize

    http://www.theolympian.com/news/local/crime/article26116672.html

    Rate: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  2. Allenman says:

    Pina listing paid marina parking as a success shows how out of touch he is

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 16

  3. A R says:

    Curious about all the typos in Anthony Martinelli’s answers. Was this how it was submitted, or are the errors from the way the blog transcribed the answers?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

  4. BirchCreek says:

    Look what “progressive” politics have done to degrade Seattle, so I would saw no to Martinelli.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 21

  5. micky says:

    pina has no new ideas and considers some clear failures (paid parking boooooo) a success. harmon at least has a new idea with the cruise ships, but that would really change our entire city for the worst.

    my vote goes to martinelli who actually has some new thoughts and ideas. we need a new approach and he’s the only candidate in pos 1 offering one.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 13

  6. Allenman says:

    the choice for me is clear. Pina is the same ol same ol that has caused our city to stagnate. Harmon is a bible thumper with an awful idea on cruise ships. Marinelli actually has some new and good ideas and has strong community support, everyone from the king county labor council to the founding editor of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 14

    • A R says:

      I support him as well. I’ve read several other responses written by him and they have been thorough, error-free, and painted a picture of a person who takes the time to know an issue before making a determination. Everybody has off days

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 13

      • A R says:

        Another first time council runner shared the editor of the blog said to keep answers as short as possible. Could be a factor to the brief answers. Blog – are all candidates asked to write short answers?

        Rate: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  7. D. Harper says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 18

  8. Barry Sellers says:

    Tonight I got a sponsored Facebook ad from Martinelli stating one of the first things he will do if elected is sponsor an ordinance to make Des Moines a sanctuary city. Is this really the person you want representing us as citizens of this City? He would do this knowing the City would then be jeopardizing possible federal money.

    I would urge anyone considering voting for Martinelli to vote for Pina. Don’t risk our city in the hands of someone so immature that he will let his liberal beliefs get in the way of legitimate city business.

    Below is a cut and paste of the actual ad I received.

    In order to protect those in Des Moines from the dangerous and heartless Trump Administration, I will immediately introduce an ordinance to make us a sanctuary city if elected to the city council!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 14

    • Kirubel says:

      thank you for pointing this out! as someone who immigrated here a few years ago, this makes me absolutely support martinelli! We need to have a heart and protect those in our city. trump is all talk he wont take away out funding.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 10

    • Michelle says:

      knowing he supports making us a sanctuary city makes me support him even more!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10

  9. Pat Nardo says:

    1,Our city is no longer “struggling” financially.
    2. The “brink” of fiancial ruin is history, thanks to Matt Pina’s leadership.
    3. Matt Pina has set up the terms for an Airport Advosory Commitee to work with our FAA.
    4. Is a cruise ship even able to navigate to the proximty of our mairna?
    5. The immediate and visible results of the marina parking fee is diminshed vandalism.
    6. Our business park is fully leased, thanks again to the Matt Pina team of council. men and women.
    7. Our budgetary recovery now has allowed actively recruitng four new police officers.
    8. Crime, though always a problem, is now drastically diminished with our Police Chief Geroge Delgado.
    9 Marijuana is a “problem” which also brings much needed revenue into Des Moines. It is being closely monitored to compy with legal business operations.
    10. Our city council and staff are as well paid as is affordable and there is little room for feather bedding here. Council is paid below poverty level.
    11, I would fight to the end against a “sanctuary city” defaming our beautiful Des Moines.
    Fiannly, I am more convinced than ever to vote for and keep Matt Pina as council member and, hopefully, continue as Mayor of Des Moines.

    Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

    • Marty says:

      pina is part of a “dynasty” family where numerous pinas have held office in the area for decades. before matt was elected ed pina was on the city council, and there are pinas currently on the school board and there has been for a very very long time.

      we don’t need this in des moines! we need new faces, not people elected because of their last name.

      Rate: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  10. Pat Nardo says:

    Well, we have the utmost confidence in Matt Pina and have already voter for him again. More confidence, having read all of the comments.

    Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

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