Jacqueline King addressing Sweetwater board meeting.
  • Jacqueline King addressing Sweetwater board meeting.
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During public comment at the March Sweetwater Union High School board meeting, Jacqueline King, a resident of Chula Vista who has worked in real estate development for 36 years, addressed the trustees regarding the district’s quirky surplus property deal on L Street.

King asserted that the district has “an abominable record of managing property” and regarding L Street transactions, “the layers of ownership and the crazy financial deals that you [Sweetwater] put together…are being looked at not only by the state but by the federal government as well.”

In 2004-05 the Sweetwater school district, with superintendent Ed Brand at the helm, concocted a complex real estate scheme to purchase property on L Street in Chula Vista—ostensibly to build a new district office and corporate/bus yard.

On February 1 2005 the loan agreement for L Street was signed. The property was purchased for $25,415, 000 in variable bonds, with another $8,235,000 in variable bonds to finance the payments and interest for subsequent years. But the name on the loan documents is not Sweetwater Union High School District, rather Plan Nine Partners LLC. (The property is now said to be worth $12 million.)

On the same day, February 1, 2005 the district signed a lease agreement to lease back the property from Plan Nine.

In 2004, in anticipation of the land acquisition deal, the district tied several pieces of surplus property (Third Avenue, Fifth Avenue and Moss Street) to the ill-fated L Street property in a land exchange agreement signed by Ed Brand and Marc Litchman of Plan Nine Partners LLC/California Trust for Public Land.

Regarding these elaborate transactions, one source suggested the point was to circumvent the education code and public participation: “The district could have gone by the high road — they picked the low road.”

The high road — or what normal California school districts do, is dispose of surplus properties (like L Street in Chula Vista or Third Avenue) in accordance with California Education Code (Section 17388), often referred to as the 7-11 plan.

This means that an advisory committee of no fewer than 7 and no more than 11 parents, students, and members of the business community meet and decide the best use of the district property and take their recommendations to the trustees.

In a recent interview, Litchman of Plan Nine Partners/California Trust gave his interpretation of the logic behind this byzantine deal-making.

Litchman said that initially, in 2004-2005, the district wanted to develop district headquarters on L Street. However, district offices cannot be built with school bond construction money.

So the idea was to develop condos or apartments on some of the district’s surplus land and use the capital generated to build district headquarters on L Street.

The district, according to Litchman, brought him into the deal because they wished to avoid the 7-11 education code process which would have made the district’s surplus property available for other public entities to purchase. Litchman also said the process is lengthy and expensive.

After the property was purchased, the real estate market tanked. According to Litchman, “the cost of labor and materials to build the headquarters had skyrocketed as a result of the real estate boom.”

Litchman says that his board (California Trust for Public Schools) believes “the highest and best use of the land is public use.” To that end, Litchman is pursuing the idea of developing a state-of-the-art soccer facility for youth clubs and league soccer on L Street.

Litchman says, “We [the Trust] feel we are serving the district’s needs by assembling a plan for them that shields them from an enormous financial loss while at the same time providing much needed services.”

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Bob_Castaneda April 9, 2013 @ 12:35 p.m.

Before anybody starts yellin: "Hang em High" in the Re-Elect Bonnie Dumanis D.A. courthouse, there are some salient FACTS about this issue that demand reverberation and clarification; they are: #1) Many if not most of the South Bay celebrated the resurrection of Ed Brand's dominace at Sweetwater; #2) This travesty is Brand's and his "go right over the cliff with ya" lieutenants; #3) finally, it is odd, but not really if you know this D.A. -- Ed Brand was neither investigated nor indicted.

As for subjective speculation to all yee beleaguered property owners struggling to pay your/his property taxes, be prepared for an Ed Brand increase to Miller Roos, he claims proudly the law allows him to do it without going to the dwindling few that pay the freight. And if he does take the "high road" with another bond campaign, please, in the name of all that is holy vote NO!


eastlaker April 9, 2013 @ 3:30 p.m.

1) There are many people who have known from the get-go that Ed Brand is bad news, we tried, but we couldn't get enough people to listen. I hope people are listening now.

2) How soon will they go over the cliff? Do you promise?

3) It sure would be great to get some more info on all this...

And--the Mello-Roos fees need to be closely monitored, because Brand has been playing fast and loose with them for far too long!

Great to hear from you!


Bob_Castaneda April 9, 2013 @ 4:47 p.m.

The problem with "they" going over the cliff, which they will, they take a BOATLOAD of public bucks with them!


eastlaker April 9, 2013 @ 5:52 p.m.

When they go, we will still celebrate. But it can't be soon enough.


eastlaker April 10, 2013 @ 9:27 a.m.

In fact, I know some people who would be more than happy to sell tickets!


anniej April 9, 2013 @ 12:50 p.m.

Bob_Casteneda - ah yes, I was one of those that you refer to, dumb me, I swallowed the John Mccann kool-aid and welcomed Brand. I then met with Brand - hoped we finally had someone here who would focus on the kids. I WAS WRONG. I had no knowledge of his past, that is on me, I failed, as many are now doing. to stay in tuned with what was going on in my own community.

Hang em High - I would just prefer to have SIRI take Brand home to the North County, up where they let accomplished what we are working on doing - getting rid of him.

L Street- Brand, Russo and Hussin own it - yet here we are being educated by Susan Luzzaro of The READER once again. The district, they remain mute.

Regarding Dumanis, well I did write that check and have been far too busy researching Sweetwater to call for that mental evaluation a previous Castaneda (you?) recommended.


Bob_Castaneda April 9, 2013 @ 4:44 p.m.

I did, apologies. But apparently you have seen the light. This, or previous statements from me are not meant to excuse elected members of the board; heaven knows, there is enough blame to go around, But today's institutional corruption and dysfunction scares me; it truly does. Societies fall apart when people STOP believing in their institutions - if history tells us anything, it tells us that.


anniej April 9, 2013 @ 11:13 p.m.

Mr. Castaneda: No need for an apology Sir, that is what makes humans interesting - our differences of opinion. You words regarding institutional corruption are true indeed. Surely, as intelligent people WE ARE CAPABLE OF MUCH MUCH BETTER!

What message are we sending those who will come after us?


erupting April 9, 2013 @ 3:04 p.m.

I heard that Mr.Lichman is unable to build what he wants on the property without Sweetwater's approval. Does this mean that more of our tax dollars will be spent in litigation?


eastlaker April 10, 2013 @ 8:58 a.m.

If the district has in effect given Mr. Litchman a gift of the L street property...but the district still has if not ownership, then liabilities of certain kinds, shouldn't the district figure out what would really benefit the district?

Why should we assume that Mr. Litchman's views on how the property should be used/developed are the same as what would be the best usage for the district? Of course, I am speaking of ideals right now. Ideally, if good leadership were in place, with people who were capable of assessing the situation with accuracy and foresight...we might be able to get somewhere.

As it is, we are rather hobbled with our Board (The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight...render that, Think Straight) and Brand (the Head Dementor), as we know they as a group are completely incapable of making a good decision. Blinded by greed, lashed by invisible cords to some kind of machine comprised by the sum total of all Brand's schemes...I could almost feel sorry for Cartmill, Ricasa, McCann and sometimes Quinones if I didn't know that they are actually human beings with free will who could step up and do and say the right thing.

But they somehow--inexplicably--would rather bow at the altar of the false god, Ed Brand.


joepublic April 9, 2013 @ 3:30 p.m.

anniej: You're right, the public has (once again) been kept in the dark about an important issue. I looked at the board agenda for tonight's meeting and couldn't find anything relating to it. Why not? As this article states, the public spoke about it at the last meeting, and I believe I saw a previous article about it. It's on the public's mind, and questions are being raised by the taxpayers. Where are the answers? Where are the school board members? What's the big secret?


eastlaker April 9, 2013 @ 3:34 p.m.

The board is hoping the public memory is very bad--and it is becoming more and more difficult to keep up with all the horrific abuses of our public funds and our educational system. Friends of Brand keep turning up on the most awkward way!! Must be those terrific $30,000 contracts that don't need anyone's approval, because Brand bamboozled the weakest board in living memory to give him everything plus the farm last Sept.


eastlaker April 9, 2013 @ 3:35 p.m.

Please, everyone, the news from the U-T is that McCann will be deployed to South Korea for a few weeks for his reserve duty. The short article mentioned that he hoped to be back in time for the May Board meeting.


So--the only board member not under indictment will be out of town during the trials. Does that mean that Ed Brand gets even more of a free pass? Not that McCann would ever stand up to Brand on an issue, but still...


oskidoll April 9, 2013 @ 3:48 p.m.

I'm not sure the actual trials are that imminent. I recall that the in January/February, the new judge postponed the arraignments until April so she could have time to more fully understand the issues.

I believe there were some motions from the defendants that needed to be dealt with prior to arraignment. I think the arraingments are on the docket next.

In any event, it is my understanding that the judge will (one can hope) set actual trial dates for the defendants, who are guaranteed a right to a speedy trial --- but we are not! Speed is in the patience of the beholders.

The item about McCann is on the Star-News site. He can now brag about going to Korea to protect all of us from harm doing his job in the Naval Reserve. No doubt we can expect some new 'hero' stuff in speeches at upcoming graduations.


eastlaker April 9, 2013 @ 5:54 p.m.

It's the virtually the same article in the U-T, press-release journalism is what it is called.

But with the photo they are running, McCann sure looks happy to be on his way out of town!


erupting April 10, 2013 @ 11:02 a.m.

Sorry about my cynicism but I'm in agreement. I also heard he volunteered to go because the reserves have not been officially told they were going. They asked for volunteers and he responded. People are saying he needs to get the tarnish of his crown and this will help. I agree and believe when he returns we will hear endless stories again about his service to his country. I should be ashamed of myself,but this is how I truly feel. It will help in his run for being the next mayor of Chula Vista.


eastlaker April 10, 2013 @ 11:57 a.m.

It may help him, but only if he actually gets some perspective on what he does, as opposed to what others do.

He never quite gets it--"it" being whatever the salient point of the moment is...just not quite there.


Visduh April 9, 2013 @ 9:11 p.m.

There can be nothing good coming out of this ongoing saga of corruption, illegality, and self-dealing, except for one thing. With these clowns under indictment, I just betcha there are dozens of school board members and school administrators elsewhere in the county and state who were dealing with temptation and who are now toeing the mark like never before. It's called being "scared straight." Will the San Dieguito district play fast and loose with its half billion dollars of bond money, OR will it be very, very careful to do it all by the book? I'd expect the latter. Those affluent and elitist types who run that district do NOT want any investigations, indictments, or lawsuits by parents. And we can, in part, thank the Sweetwater and Southwestern boards for that. Too bad that you only get religion and put in smoke alarms when you see your neighbor's house burn down. Too bad that "honest" people are kept honest only when they fear going to jail.


eastlaker April 10, 2013 @ 7:25 a.m.

I guess the people in other districts can say "Thank goodness for small favors" then...

Brand has such a firm grip it makes one wonder what's behind the grip. I keep saying it. Why do McCann, Cartmill and Ricasa fall into line--they take part in this three-ring circus, and do not seem uncomfortable being Brand's loyal henchmen. Reprehensible.


erupting April 10, 2013 @ 11:06 a.m.

One would think that they would be on their best behavior because of thr DA's watching. Shows a great deal about their arrogance.


anniej April 9, 2013 @ 11:43 p.m.

The board meetings at SUHSD are as dysfunctional as dysfunctional can be. Case in point one of the agenda items, tonight, that had to do with a new Bond Oversight Committee member. It was shared at the meeting that the selection committee for new members recommended two. A man and a woman, ( I do not want to use their names as part of my commentary out of respect). The woman who was recommended was listed the gentleman was not. He was there this evening. There he stood the perfect candidate recommended by his Chamber of Commerce, an outstanding long time volunteer in the community of National City, WHY he asked was he not selected? You could tell he was hurt and confused. This gentleman, based on his lengthy previous volunteer work, obviously takes community service seriously. No answer from Dr. brand who had, allegedly axed his name.

Then Bertha Lopez read previous information from a past board meeting in which it was stated that the superintendent would have nothing to do with the selection process. The obvious question WHY DID BRAND AXE THIS MANS NAME? Brand refused to answer. Lopez asked again, no answer. Then Lopez advised the board and the community that she had received an email in which one of the BOC candidates stated that Brand began to speak of Burt Grossman. Hmmmmm, you mean the same Grossman who ran against Lopez. Yep, that is the one. Soooooo, it appears that the rumors just might be true Brand just might have been a part of Grossman running against Lopez. Interfering with the election process, undo influence?

But heres the corker, Arlie Ricasa then decides to lecture, I mean lecture the audience and Lopez on the importance of respecting Brand, Ricasa reminded the audience and Lopez 'we hired mr. Brand'. The lecture continued for about 3 minutes. Now remember Lopez had just pointed out that Brand had taken it upon himself to eliminate a viable selected BOC member, yet, Ricasa chose to lecture Lopez on respecting the very person who had broken board rules. AM I IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE???????

Ricasa, who is facing how many FELONY INDICTMENTS wants to lecture the community and Lopez on respect. I am sorry but HOW DARE SHE?????? PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!

The person that Ricasa should have been reading the riot act to was Brand, but that is right she ALWAYS votes the way Brand tells her to.

Board members, each month more and more VOTERS are seeing first hand the obvious dysfunction of this board. The majority of our board are choosing to spend our hard tax dollars in the most questionable ways, and could care less.

The NOW OF SUHSD, the questionable illegal behavior, Brand may refuse to answer the community and Lopez, but I know an authority he will not be saying no to.


eastlaker April 10, 2013 @ 7:28 a.m.


Back in the sixties, about the worst thing you could say about someone was that they were a sell-out.

Pretty sure we have at least three sell-outs on the board, Ricasa being one of them. The pretend concern--what a laugh.


Visduh April 10, 2013 @ 9:29 a.m.

This board should be remembered as the "Twilight Zone" board in that whenever it convenes, takes itself and the public into the Twilight Zone where nothing is quite as it seems to be. If someone, such as the Reader's Mencken, wanted to satirize a school board, he would be hard pressed to come up with weirder and edgier things than happen routinely in the SUHSD board meetings.


bbq April 10, 2013 @ 6:05 a.m.

I unfortunately had other committments on Tuesday night and could not attend the Board Meeting, What a shame, I think I would have been easily spun up with the/another lecture about Civility and Respect, however it would have been interesting hearing Arlie Ricasa, say anything coherent. I realize she "has" to respect Dr, Brand as yes, she did hire him, a second time, what does that say about her and the rest of the Board. It does not mean anyone else has to respect him.

I see a big (in Stature) man standing (usually sitting) behind what was once, I suspect, a lot of caring individuals, much like the "All and Powerful Oz". I have yet seen him stand up and speak of any issues with regards to the district, it's situation, or it's future. I am a huge advocate for getting a reasonable conversation going between the adminstration/board and the stakeholders of the district, We the citizens of the southern portion of the county.

I am waiting to hear the financials at the townhalls next week and see if we will get "UnBranded" and "UnBoarded" information, I do have a OK feeling about Dr. Alt at this point but the future will tell.

I am rambling a bit, but my biggest fear is the power vacuum with the indictments, (today) and the possibility of the regional political incest bringing Mayor Cox or some other "Political Celebrity" into a power position at SUHSD. I believe it's about time to clean house so to speak. BBQ


eastlaker April 10, 2013 @ 7:33 a.m.

Yes, Arlie does not seem to realize that just because she was part of the vote that gave it all away to Brand, that would NEVER give the public grounds to respect Brand. Detest, maybe. How can anyone respect someone who so blatantly disregards all standards of ethical behavior, and in such a public setting?

And he always seems to be motivated by personal pique...and selects people (MacLaughlin) who are also motivated by personal pique. Because I guess you get your money's worth out of those types, they must love working overtime to get their revenge. Sick, sick, sick.


cvres April 10, 2013 @ 7:06 a.m.

What draws my attention in this story is the last few words of Mr. Litchman "sheild them from enormous financial loss." Them being the district. So we have been hearing the distant beat of financial collapse...and the district seems unable to cut the fluff spending but able to cut the core spending...

I wonder if the district was taken over if expendable programs like charters and iPads would go and the county would get the district down to the business of educating the actual students in the district's charge?


eastlaker April 10, 2013 @ 7:42 a.m.

But can we believe Litchman? What if his financial interest and the financial interest of the district are not one and the same? Do you think Ed Brand and crew would ever tell us. Not likely. Until we get the complete financial picture, we will never know--and they do not want us to have the complete financial picture.

When has Brand EVER done anything with the pure motivation of it just being the right thing to do? Anyone?

With that 160 million in mello-roos in the bank and with the knowledge that it grows EVERY MONTH, as payments come in from taxpayers' escrow accounts to the county and then are doled out...we need to know what the real numbers are.

And wouldn't it be great if the nonsense of the charters and iPADS and the other churned fluff Brand likes to throw into the mix would disappear, so we could start buckling down on some of the real issues.

Keep eating those rare steaks, Fast Eddy. Add lots of drawn butter and rich French sauces. You can skip the gym. You've got better things to do.


bbq April 10, 2013 @ 9 a.m.

Eastlaker, The Mello-Roos accounting is one of the main questions posed to Dr. Alt at the district. It is my understanding from Dr.Alt that next week's Townhall meetings will be the current budget much like what we've seen before from previous CFOs, but the following Townhall in three weeks or so will include an audit of the current Mello-Roos account, how monies are borrowed from said funds, etc. I was also told there would be a review of current Properties owned or linked to the district that are unused or under utilized along with the current mortgages and values(?). As I said earlier, Al Alt has been fair in my conversations with him so we'll just have to wait and see what the Board and Dr, Brand approve for him to tell us at the Townhalls. Sent with hopeful optimisim. BBQ


eastlaker April 10, 2013 @ 9:54 a.m.

Maybe Alt is hoping he will still have a job when Brand eventually departs (by what means, or any means), so that he does not want to appear to be completely in Brand's pocket to the public.


anniej April 10, 2013 @ 7:47 a.m.

Cvres: when one looks at how many, how VERY many of our tax dollars were spent to purchase L street, and then considers the fact that we do NOT own the property, that Brand, under Ricasas watch simply GAVE IT ALL AWAY.......

Ricasa then, Ricasa now..............


eastlaker April 10, 2013 @ 9:05 a.m.

And aren't we still waiting to hear about those famous 9 partners? And who has brokered real estate deals for the district in the past? And who is brokering for the district now?

Shouldn't we know exactly who gets to profit from all our tax and bond monies?

Because, if nothing else, I'd like to make sure they were paying the right amount of taxes! Sure hope it's all being reported on the correct forms!!


joepublic April 10, 2013 @ 10 a.m.

bbq: I share your fear of the power vacuum with the indictments and the possibility of regional political incest bringing political predators into power positions at Sweetwater. You're absolutely right, a thorough housecleaning is in order. Also, I sure hope we get some answers to this L street mess at the townhall meetings.


bbq April 10, 2013 @ 10:09 a.m.

I had wishful thinking that the arraignments were today, not Friday.... I tried to contact the south county representative at the County Board of Education on the ability of SUHSD operating without a Board and recieved no return calls, I suspect it is more bury your head in the sand governance we are getting so used to around here. \ If all of this wern't so painful it'd be funny BBQ


oskidoll April 10, 2013 @ 11:59 a.m.

Ricasa got it partly right: it is the board's responsibility to HIRE the CEO. However, it is also the board's responsibility to FIRE the CEO when that becomes necessary, and in between the two actions, to set policy for the CEO to implement. Seems she is only one for three. Also, she should be reminded that it is the public's money that pays Ed and CO, not the board's.


angrybirds April 10, 2013 @ 12:44 p.m.

BBQ you mentioned a budget forum happening next week, do you know where, when and will the public be notified?

I sat in the back of the room last night and was amazed at the dysfunction with this board. Holy crap it took them 45 minutes to get a motion passed. The only people that make sense up there most of the time are the student rep and Ms. Lopez.

Lopez ripped into Brand for sticking his nose in where it doesnt belong, I thought he was going to pop a vein. I guess he was never taught if you play with fire you are going to get burned.

Dont these idiots realize that this community is a working community and they need skills not some compact for SDSU. All kids dont go to college because they can't afford it or just dont want to and we have cut off their life line. Yeah Yeah talk is cheap from Ms. Ricasa who says she understands, maybe if the lady from the Philippines stood up and spoke she would have voted different. She was a Doctor in the Philippines and just came to the US a year ago for a better life for her and her kids. She has to start at the bottom and is studying phlebotomy and guess what Ricasa you cut off the legs of one of your own.

They have no clue about anything but themselves and their personal issues, they don't care about anyone else.


bbq April 10, 2013 @ 1:24 p.m.

The Budget meetings are not on the District calendar yet, but April 16 at Chula Vista HS 6:00 -8:00 And April 18 at Olympian HS 6:00- 8:00 but recheck the District calendar. Again I am not hoping for much different as this is the Interium Budget Report, but if you want to get anything added to the next planned Townhall (Sometime in early May) you may want to attend and ask questions. I have been talking with Dr. Alt to get some of the Citizens questions answered, what we get back will have been vetted by the Board and Dr. Brand.
As I have been saying I'll keep working at it until I'm proven an Idiot or fool! BBQ


oskidoll April 10, 2013 @ 2:20 p.m.

Good for you and us, BBQ, and thanks for your leadership.
As BBQ points out, we may need to step up (again) and participate in a process proposed and orchestrated by the District. Although we may be cynical and discouraged, it is important to keep their feet to the fire and keep repeating the questions and demand solid, detailed answers to how Brand and Co are spending OUR money.

If we don't participate, the District can easily say 'no one wanted to participate in the process' and go their merry way. We may be disappointed (again, but we do need to make the effort to get answers to our legitimate questions and not let them off the hook.

Thanks BBQ!


anniej April 10, 2013 @ 3:33 p.m.

bbq - Thank You for your efforts and for posting this information.

Do you have any idea when the district will post the meetings on their web site? We are a week away and it would help people to keep the times open.

Again, Thank You


VigilantinCV April 10, 2013 @ 7:33 p.m.

One of the responses suggested we find out who the other "partners" are, as in " Marc Litchman of Plan Nine Partners LLC." I was in a meeting with Mr. Litchman and we asked him that question. There are NO partners -- Mr. Litchman is the single entrepreneur. He told us the story of where the name "Nine Partners" came from, but I have forgotten it.


eastlaker April 11, 2013 @ 3:35 p.m.

So perhaps it did originate from "Plan Nine from Outer Space"!

Is anyone convinced that soccer fields are the way to go here?

Why don't we find out from the city of Chula Vista if there is anything else that would fit into the city plan?

Can you give us more information about this meeting? Is there anything else the public might like to know?


bbq April 12, 2013 @ 5:47 a.m.

Update on the Financial Meetings, they are posted in the district calendar for April 16 Chula Vista High Performing arts center, 6:00 to 8:00 and April 18, Otay Ranch High School, Multi 6:00 to 8:00. We may have to push a bit to find out info on the second Financial meeting I have been talking to Dr. Alt about so a good turn-out would be helpful.... BBQ


Susan Luzzaro April 10, 2013 @ 7:58 p.m.

"Those affluent and elitist types who run that district do NOT want any investigations, indictments, or lawsuits by parents. And we can, in part, thank the Sweetwater and Southwestern boards for that. Too bad that you only get religion and put in smoke alarms when you see your neighbor's house burn down. Too bad that "honest" people are kept honest only when they fear going to jail. "

Visduh, I love your optimism, which I understand is underscored with realism. Perhaps the flips side of cynics is hope...at any rate, the South Bay needs whatever a person wants to call it--a wakeup call, a cleansing breath, a clean sweep...


Visduh April 10, 2013 @ 8:52 p.m.

Realism? Skepticism? Cynicism? All points along a continuum, I suppose. The mess you have been reporting is so unprecedented in the county and especially in public education that one scarcely knows what to think. How did it get so bad? How does it stay so bad? When will it improve? But I do still think that these indictments are showing other people in other districts that they better watch their steps. I really don't think we'll learn of this sort of abuse elsewhere in the county.


anniej April 10, 2013 @ 9:42 p.m.

Ms. Luzzaro - with each month that passes by, with each issue, dysfunctional behavior - the one constant that this community can rely on is Susan Luzzaro of The READER, to not just show up, but to report the facts Huntley Brinkley style.

In a city this size, the community is totally dependent on a free newspaper for factual news.

At last nights meeting, ALL could be heard 'you want to know what is going on - read The READER'!

Yes, READ! THE READER!!!!!!?


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