Don't even think about $dbh->quote(), use SUBSTR instead of LIKE whenever you need to test the start of a string against a LIKE-pattern
First, sometimes you should think about using quote(). Second, if you use SUBSTR(), again, the database won't use the index on the column, unless your database supports function based indexes (and I assume Postgres does and that there's an index on Lower(a)), and you have a function based index on the column, etc.
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