Announcements August 15, 2014

13 August 2014


AFSCME Sub-chapter 161


Dear member;

We will meet again at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant at 5203 Old Orchard Road, Skokie, Il. on Wednesday, August 20th.The meeting starts at 11 AM. Our guest speaker will be Council 31’s John Cameron. John is Director of Political and Community Relations. This Fall, he will be organizing the regional PEOPLE meetings. Retiree Sub-chapter 161 is in region 1. This region consists of Chicago locals and Sub-chapters as well as those of the nearby suburbs.

On Thursday, August 28th, our PEOPLE Chair and I will meet with other PEOPLE delegates to make recommendations to the statewide PEOPLE Executive committee regarding endorsements in state legislative races.

This election is important to us. The attacks on public employees and retirees have intensified this year. So have our efforts. As of today, I’ve contacted more than 75% of our members. By September 1st, the phone volunteers will be organized into groups that will call their legislator. In past efforts, small groups attended lobby days, town hall meetings, or made office visits. These phone volunteer/constituents will add their voices to ours.

During the past 2 weeks, volunteer members joined me to attend a picnic with the Skokie Organization of retired Educators. Their president is Fred Klonski, of Klonski’s Blog fame ( I’m inviting them to our meeting. Four of us worked with the Jane Addams Senior Caucus. We went to the State fair in Springfield to help them register voters and sign up support for raising the minimum wage.

Voter registration, voter education, and maxing our senior turnout will be our goal in the weeks ahead. All of you have a part to play.


Charles Hogan, President


New to our website:

Members Forum now contains new posts by Walt Esler and Charlie Hogan:

In addition to weekly “Alerts”, the link to Alliance for Retired Americans now includes celebratory notes for the 79th anniversary of Social Security.

There is now a link to Fred Klonsky’s blog.

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Announcements July 10, 2014

From President Charlie Hogan:

7 July 2014

AFSCME Sub-chapter 161

Dear member:

We will meet again at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant at 5203 Old Orchard Road, Skokie,Il. on Wednesday, July 16th. The meeting starts at 11 AM.

Our speaker will be Ms. Lori Clark of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus. The Caucus is a grass roots organization lead by concerned seniors in the Chicago metropolitan area. In past rallies, town hall meetings and retiree focused events, I would meet members of the Caucus who where running or attending the event. Their priorities are affordable senior housing, improving in-home healthcare and insuring on-site social workers in senior buildings. Because of mutual concerns regarding healthcare, I’ve asked Ms. Clark to brief us on past and present JASC activities. She is also coming to meet us and learn about our work.

This past week’s political news has presented opportunities and threats that I want to cover in remarks before the floor is opened for discussion. I want to hear your ideas on informing our friends and families about the serious financial situation in Springfield. Illinois’ mainstream media is busy cranking out blame-the-pensionors/public unions stories.

Our job will be to counter the media negativity through one-on-one education and to work with our members and other allies to create the pressure, the will for real reform in Springfield.

Council 31 political staff will be organizing a GOTV effort. They have asked me to educate all our members about how to vote early and by absentee ballot. So consider how we find and deliver votes like a precinct captain. Then how to build and maintain pressure for reform. The state Supreme Court decision gave us an opportunity to re-focus the Legislature on the real problem of solving the structural deficit with a Fair Tax. The November vote is critical.

Charles Hogan, President


Recent comments by members Walt Esler and Charlie Hogan can now be viewed on the Members Forum page.


From: “Illinois State Retirement System” <>

Sent: Monday, July 7, 2014 2:31:56 PM

Subject: New SRS Member Website

The Illinois State Retirement Systems (SRS) is pleased to announce a new interactive Member Website ( ) for our retirees and survivors.   The announcement of the new SRS Member Website will be mailed to all retirees and survivors the week of July 14th .

Use this secure website to access real-time account details and quickly manage your account, including:

  • View and print your Monthly Annuity Pay Stub (The June ’14 pay stub is available today and July ’14 pay stub will be available on July 18th.)
  • Review your SRS membership record
  • View and update your email address and phone number
  • View and print SERS forms
  • Review your 2014 Annual Benefit Statement
  • View insurance enrollment and deduction information

Additional features and enhancements to our Member Website will be implemented over the next year.   Attached are detailed instructions and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to assist you with logging into our member website.  In addition, we have included a link below to view an instructional video.   Please send your comments/questions to:  We appreciate your feedback and assistance in testing our new Member Website.   Thank you!!

Instructional Video

Support Contact Info

Below are the contact phone numbers and email addresses for the SRS Member Services website:

Technical Support   SRS Help Desk             (217) 782-4202

SERS Support           Member Contact        (217) 524-0389


To view a message about the AFSCME 41st International Convention, click here.

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Announcements June 3-13, 2014

From our President:

11 June 2014

AFSCME Sub-chapter 161

Dear member:

We will meet again at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant at 5203 Old Orchard Road, Skokie, Il. on Wednesday, June 18th. The meeting starts at 11 AM. Our speaker will be Jason Kay for PEOPLE, the political arm of AFSCME.

With the end of the Spring legislative session, attention will shift to the November election. While this is an off year election, it still presents us with opportunities to grow in strength and numbers.

Despite the failure to get the fair Tax Referendum on the ballot, the issue of necessary funding will come up in the veto and lame duck sessions this Fall and Winter. Because of the linkage of state funding to the services we and our families depend upon, we have to keep working for a just answer.

We are all angry at the legislature’s passage of a bad pension bill last year. We were told that drastic steps had to be taken in order to fund state services that would have been cut in order to pay pension debt. That Illinois and State government were broke. Nonsense. Illinois ranks 5th in State GDP. What is lacking is the political will to change the way we are taxed.

During this meeting, we need to discuss how we can create that will in our respective legislative districts. Many of you will have ideas based on our past actions at town hall meetings or Springfield lobby days.

We should participate in the PEOPLE program. The amount of money you contribute would be what you can afford. What we need to consider is how we can leverage our activities (in kind contributions) to convince Council 31’s political staff to use PAC monies to create that political will among our legislators when they are in Springfield. Think of this meeting as part of your senior citizenship OJT. We come to learn, share and have some fun in the process.

Charles Hogan, President


Attend a Public Hearing on a minimum wage for Chicago–click here for details.

A message from Amanda Kass, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (our speaker at the May 27 meeting):

Our analysis of the proposed FY2015 General Fund budget might be of interest. The PDF version may be viewed by clicking here. We’ll also be releasing our analysis of the new pension law in June.

To view the CTBA analysis of “The Cost of Doing Nothing” click here.

To view Two Truths and a Mystery from, click here.

To view Friday Alerts, June 13, 2014 from Alliance for Retired Americans, click here.

To view Friday Alerts, June 6, 2014 from Alliance for Retired Americans, click here.

To view Friday Alerts, May 30, 2014 from Alliance for Retired Americans, click here.

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Announcements May 23, 2014

At the monthly meeting on May 21, our principle speaker was Amanda Kass from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability ( or

AKass talking

After providing an overview of the legislative budget process, she explained how the recent law on pensions (which appears to be unconstitutional) does very little to address the structural deficit of the state.  The slides used in her presentation may be viewed by clicking here (also available under “Meeting Materials” on menu above).

A “Friday Alert” from the Alliance for Retired Americans may be viewed by clicking here.

A letter from Senator Dan Biss may be viewed by clicking here.

A letter from Representative Robyn Gabel may be viewed by clicking here.

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Announcements May 13, 2014

13 May 2014

 AFSCME Sub-chapter 161

Dear member:

We will meet again at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant at 5203 Old Orchard Road, Skokie, Il., on Wednesday, May 21st. The meeting starts at 11 AM.

Our guest speaker is Ms. Amanda Kass from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Ms. Kass’s qualifications are described below. I’ve asked her to breakdown the causes and consequences of Illinois’ chronic structural deficit. Some might feel that this is like asking the impressions of the Titanic’s lookout. It isn’t. Like the huge mass of the iceberg that is beneath the sea, the consequences of not reversing the state’s revenue shortage aren’t clearly obvious. But the damage will be widespread and generational.

I have asked Ms. Kass to educate us in order to have a consensus on just what the problem is and the work we have to do to help solve it. Before you make any call to a legislator, visit a district office, or attend a Town Hall meeting you’ll need the authority and conviction of her knowledge. The CBTA is a trusted source for budgetary advice by Springfield leaders and lawmakers. It should be ours as well. I think that her information can be used by our organized members in future actions. It can save not only our pensions and benefits, but our families’ futures as well.

In a past letter, I wrote the following:

“If politics is the art of the possible, then grassroots community action is required to create a basis for new political possibilities. We will have to build the required power to get reform in Illinois. No one will give it to us. We’ll have to fight for it, then use it. Doing nothing isn’t an option. The legislature will cut our pensions, benefits, and needed services because of money. Illinois has a debt problem because the legislators never dealt with the structural revenue problem. Our job is solving that problem.”


Charles Hogan, President


Amanda 2

Amanda Kass is Budget Director and Pension Specialist for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability where she focuses on the fiscal and economic effects of budgets and tax policy. Amanda is responsible for analyzing how state budget decisions affect taxpayers, families and communities. She helps develop policy proposals to enhance fiscal sustainability, equity, and accountability. She is also responsible for CTBA’s infographics and mapping. Since joining CTBA, Amanda has served on the advisory board for the IMN – Midwest Public Funds Summit and on the steering committee for Participatory Budgeting Chicago and represents the organization with the media and the public.

Amanda completed an MA in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her master’s thesis focused on post-earthquake reconstruction efforts in Haiti, which underscored the importance of fiscal policy in ensuring the public sector has the capacity to deliver crucial services. Before graduate school, she was a Geographic Information Systems Analyst for Stantec Consulting Services, an engineering consulting firm in Columbus, OH. Amanda obtained her BA from Ohio State University where she double-majored in International Studies and Geography.






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Announcement April 18, 2014

** The following article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and is recommended for all members by President Charlie Hogan:

Democrats say data show schools suffer if tax rate trimmed back

BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter April 16, 2014 9:34PM


The office of Senate President John Cullerton released data on Wednesday predicting dire consequences for Illinois schools if an increase in the state’s income-tax rate isn’t made permanent.

Updated: April 17, 2014 2:27AM

Illinois Senate Democrats are predicting grim consequences for schools if the scheduled rollback of state income tax rates goes into effect next year.

In all, school districts would lose more than $450 million in general state aid funding next fiscal year, according to data released by Senate President John Cullerton’s office Wednesday.

Chicago Public Schools would lose almost $174 million, according to the data.

“It’s going to have a major impact on the lives of students and the people who educate them,” said State Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge.

The state income tax rollback has been a contentious issue.

Gov. Pat Quinn last month said he would push for a permanent extension of the temporary 67-percent hike he enacted in 2011 to help pare a multibillion-dollar backlog of unpaid bills and pay increasing state pension obligations.

On Wednesday, after Democrats released their data, Senate Republicans shot back.

“We don’t believe the scenario they’ve created — that without an extension of their 67 percent income-tax increase the state budget will collapse,” said Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno. “We believe they are attempting to create a crisis to justify going back to taxpayers’ pockets.”

Schuh said Democrats “have not made education a priority” the past 10 years they’ve run the Statehouse.

“The Democrats have chosen to spend taxpayers money in other areas, so who would believe now that education would be a priority?” she said.


Dave McKinney


** To learn about the priorities of A Better Illinois, click here. To learn more, visit:, or:, or email to:

** To learn more about Fair Tax, click here.

** To view a petition to support the priorities of A Better Illinois, click here. This petition may be printed, completed, and mailed to the address on the bottom.

** To send a comment to the Executive Board of Subchapter 161, complete and submit the following (using your name and email address):

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Announcements, April 12, 2014


8 April 2014

AFSCME Sub-chapter 161

Dear member;

We will meet again at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant at 5203 Old OrchardRoad, Skokie, Il. On Wednesday, April 16th. The meeting starts at 11 AM. Our guest speaker is Mr. David Amerson, AFSCME31 Retiree Coordinator. You won’t want to miss his talk.

Attention SERS & SURS members:
David Amerson is a member of a Labor/CMS Management committee that is charged with resolving problems you have receiving services withthe new health insurance. He needs witness testimony and specifics onwhere the health insurance is failing you. Call AFSCME31 at (312) 641-6060 and ask the operator to connect you to David. If you get a message,leave David your contact information. Assemble you evidence before you call, so that you have answers to questions David will probably ask.

Before I retired I was a Local 1891 officer and bargaining team member.Contracts, even in the best circumstances, can have errors that have to be found and corrected through follow-up meetings with both parties. CMS isdelaying the correcting process. Since AFSCME isn’t a service model union(the “good hands” type), we will have to find ways of applying member pressure to DHS and the insurance contractor so they abide by the contract.That is why your particular complaints are necessary to this process of making the insurance work for you.

Attention IMRF, City and County Retirees:
If you have been following Mayor Emmanuel’s efforts and Rep Conroy’sAttempt to end the 13th check, you know the city, county and State’s fiscalsituations are serious. The politicians would like to make us solve their deficit problem.

Blocking bad legislation won’t be enough to protect our pensions.Illinois needs a fair and permanent answer to the structural deficit problemit has had for more than forty years.  Springfield has been in gridlock for years. Any reform will have to come from grassroots pressure. AFSCME Council31 and especially AFSCME Retirees know how to create and apply grassroots pressure. No onegenerously gave government employees a union. No SERS, SURS, City, County, or IMRF found a COLA or 13th check in their Christmas stocking. AFSME members, like you, fought for and won them.

Since an injury to one is now an injury to all.Since we are all in this together.We will be calling you to ask you to join in an organized effort.This means calling, writing, and e-mailing legislators to stop this theft.Your calls were enough to get Rep Conroy to pull her amendment to HB3898.Join us, call these legislators. This fight won’t be quick or easy. But we have to win it if we are to ever havePension security.


Charles Hogan, President
Cellphone: (773) 679-6835

Below are:

A letter from Ann Widger, Director, AFSCME Retirees
50,000 Stronger Resolution
Prepared Remarks for Lee Saunders, AFSCME President
A Letter from Henry Bayer, Executive Director, and Roberta Lynch, Deputy      Director AFSCME 31

See also an announcement from member David Rolston on our Members’ Forum Page


Good Afternoon —

Thank you for joining the AFSCME Retiree Tele-Town Hall last Friday, March 28.  We had hundreds of retiree leaders from across the country join the call. To follow up, we would like to share with you two things. First, a copy of the resolution we mentioned on the call. We are asking that ALL Retiree Chapters and Subchapters pass this resolution at their next executive board meeting.  Second, we are attaching Pres. Saunders remarks from the call so you can share them with your members.  Both documents are attached and pasted below.

Please let us know when you executive board passes the resolution so we can keep track of all of our retiree affiliates who have taken that step. Please send us a copy via email and/or regular mail. Also, as always, please free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

In solidarity,

Ann Widger
Director, AFSCME Retirees
1625 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-429-1274 (w)




Retiree Chapter ___
50,000 Stronger Resolution

WHEREAS, Working people organizing through the labor movement built the middle class in America, and as a result, raised living standards and working conditions; and

WHEREAS, Union density is now at its lowest level since the Great Depression and this resulted in an economy where workers are more productive than ever before but experience stagnant wages, eroding benefits and increasing workloads; and

WHEREAS, Corporate interests understand that AFSCME is the last obstacle to their control of labor markets, so they exploit vast resources to fund attacks on pensions, health care benefits and collective bargaining; and

WHEREAS, Corporate-funded politicians of all political persuasions stripped union members of their rights and benefits in states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, and states like New York, Illinois and Rhode Island also single out public service employees for attack; and

WHEREAS, The Supreme Court currently considers whether to ban collective bargaining for public sector workers; and

WHEREAS,The attacks we currently face are unprecedented in their scale, relentlessness and level of coordination; and

WHEREAS, Workers and retirees must mobilize like never before to force elected political leaders to respect collective bargaining, economic justice and worker empowerment; and

WHEREAS, AFSCME was built by women and men who stood firm, in solidarity, in the face of insurmountable odds and for the greater good, whether in Memphis, Philadelphia or Wisconsin; and

WHEREAS, We must draw inspiration from those who passed us the torch and ensure the next generation faces a brighter future than the last; and

WHEREAS, AFSCME leaders from across the nation recently came together and assessed the Power to Win program, which convention delegates adopted in 2006 to strengthen the union to withstand political attacks, improve public services and raise living standards for public service workers and the citizens they serve, and set specific goals and urged councils to adopt volunteer member organizer (VMO) programs to grow the union; and

WHEREAS, These leaders concluded that Power to Win is still the strongest plan to rebuild the middle class, along with the following four pillars:

1. Strengthen our foundation with local unions.

2. Grow the union by organizing the unorganized.

3. Build political power.

4. Strengthen the union through coalitions and allies; and


WHEREAS, We will strengthen our locals through internal organizing campaigns at the local level between now and the 2014 AFSCME International Convention; and

WHEREAS, This program will only be successful with the deep commitment of union leaders, activists and retirees across the country; and

WHEREAS, Recruiting and training Retiree VMOs not only builds our local unions, it also enhances retiree leadership skills and builds the internal capacity of our retiree chapters and subchapter.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, Retirees, working hand-in-hand with working members, will help sign up 50,000 new AFSCME members from those who were previously fee payers or non-members, and we will encourage a higher level of activism through education and mobilization. We will  help train an army of 800 activists to educate our prospective members and their families about what’s at stake and what our Power to Win goals are.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Executive Board of Retiree Chapter __ pledges to work with the appropriate locals and state councils and lend its full support to engage non-members and encourage them to fully participate in the union as part of the 50,000 Stronger campaign.  We will provide assistance whenever possible to further the following campaign activities:

VMO Training. One-on-one communication is the most effective way to activate workers and retiree members. We will recruit and train retiree volunteer member organizers who will gain the skills to educate and mobilize and sign up more members.

Resolutions. Retiree Chapter Board members will urge the executive boards of our subchapters – where applicable – to adopt a similar resolution in support of the campaign and to actively recruit retiree VMOs.

Information Is Power. We will support efforts to establish the most effective data program in order to communicate with and mobilize retirees, and our chapters will transmit updated membership rosters to the International union on a regular basis.

Political Power. Our plans will include goals to grow our political strength through PEOPLE sign ups. We commit to sign up ___ Retiree MVPs by the 2014 International Convention.



Prepared Remarks for
AFSCME President
Retirees Tele-Town Hall
Friday, March 28, 2014

Good afternoon AFSCME Retirees, and welcome! Thanks for taking the time to join us.

If you’re on this call, then you already know what we’re up against. These last several years have been tough. But right now, we’re in the most difficult and hostile circumstances our union has ever experienced.

We’re seeing attacks at every level, and a degree of unprecedented coordination by people who are passing bad ideas back and forth with a vengeance. These ideas take many forms: Stealing the retirement security our members have worked hard for all their lives. Wiping out bargaining rights. Outsourcing public services to private companies that get rich on the public dime. Making dues deduction illegal so they can starve us of resources.

AFSCME’s working members are standing on the foundation you built, brick by brick. You more than any other members know we’ve never had an easy road. No boss ever gave us anything; we had to fight for every right or benefit we’ve ever gotten. You remember how things were before the union, and you know how life changed for the better after collective bargaining. You know the “good old days” weren’t so good if you didn’t have a voice on the job.

Well, the old days could be making a return. It’s not breaking news that we’re under attack. But a case before the U.S. Supreme Court has upped the ante and threatens to bulldoze everything you built.

You’ll hear more about it in just a minute. It’s called Harris v. Quinn, and it was brought by several home care workers against the state of Illinois. The case began as a specific challenge to the union’s right to bargain fair share fees. But it has the potential to affect the right of public sector workers to choose a union as their bargaining representative.

Our union has a choice. We can either watch what we’ve worked for erode, state by state, or we can get stronger and change the trajectory for working people across this nation. For AFSCME, it’s really not even a choice.

In January, Secretary-Treasurer Reyes and I met with affiliate leaders to come up with a plan to fight back. We’re calling this plan the Four Pillars. In brief, here’s what it is:

  •       Number 1: Growing the union;
  •       Number 2: Building political power;
  •       Number 3: Strengthening locals through internal organizing and principally through our 50,000 Stronger campaign; and
  •       Number 4: Building partnerships with allies like the Alliance for Retired Americans that can add to AFSCME’s strength.

We’ll get into greater detail as this call continues. But I’d like to say a few words about our 50,000 Stronger campaign, because I know you can have a major impact on it.

We’ve got an ambitious plan to train 800 volunteer member organizers. These VMOs will help us organize 50,000 members from the ranks of their co-workers who are not union members. You will be some of our best VMOs because you understand the value of one-on-one, old-school conversations. Nothing is more effective than looking someone in the eye and explaining what solidarity is all about. And nobody can do that better than you can. You know how to build a union from the ground up.

With your commitment and experience, I know this program will succeed. To that end, we are asking you to take a resolution in support of the Four Pillars back to your chapters and subchapters. You’ll hear more about that later.

As I turn the program over to other speakers, I want to thank you again for taking the time to be part of this call. Our challenges are tough, but with the 250,000 retirees of AFSCME on the frontlines of this fight, as you’ve been for every fight, our union is tougher.



TO:  Local Government Local Union Presidents
Retiree Subchapter Presidents

FR:  Henry Bayer, Executive Director
Roberta Lynch, Deputy Director

RE:  Good News and Very Good News

Let’s start with the very good news.  We just got word that Rep. Deb Conroy, the chief sponsor of HB 3898, has filed a motion to table this bill.  As you know, this legislation would have abolished the IMRF “thirteenth check” reducing the retirement income of all current and future participants in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).

The legislation was sparked by a phony “scandal” manufactured by the right-wing Illinois Policy Institute, a corporate-backed anti-government group that seeks to abolish all public employee pension plans.  The IPI attacked the “thirteen check” as a “bonus” claiming it was ‘like retirees winning the lottery every year’.

Spurred by the press coverage these claims got, Rep. Conroy introduced HB 3898 to completely eliminate the 13th check.  Last week it passed out of committee on a bipartisan 10-0 vote.  But then AFSCME and our labor partners in the We Are One Illinois coalition immediately went into high gear.  Thanks to you and many of your members, we generated hundreds of phone calls directly to Rep. Conroy—as well as to legislators across the state.  Active and retired IMRF participants explained that the “13th check” provides important inflation protection comparable to that in other pension systems.

It’s rare that we can stop a bill right in its tracks, but that’s what we have done in this case.  Hopefully the outpouring of opposition was strong enough that no other legislator will attempt to move a similar bill.

And here’s the good news:  Governor Quinn’s FY 15 state budget plan does not make any cuts to funding for local governments.  That means that local governments will continue to receive their full share from the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF)—as well as grants for health care and other vital services.  And it means that school districts may actually see an increase in educational funding.

However, there’s still a big question mark about whether this budget can pass the General Assembly because it is contingent on legislators agreeing to extend the income tax increase that is set to expire on January 1.  AFSCME led a massive grassroots lobbying effort to pass the income tax increase back in 2009 and we argued strongly at the time that it should be permanent.  We continue to hold that position—and strongly support the plan to make it permanent now.  At the same time, we want to see a fairer tax structure in Illinois that can help to raise additional revenues.  That’s why we’re continuing to push legislators to vote to place the Fair Tax constitutional amendment, backed by A Better Illinois, on the ballot in the November election.

Be sure you let your legislators know that you support extending the income tax and passage of the Fair Tax.



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