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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoes, Round 5

Monday, Dec 13, 2010

* I think this will be the final round…

* Best Illinois state agency director

* Best Illinois congresscritter

* Best Illinois statewide elected official

After you’ve voted and have explained all your votes, you can suggest a couple more categories. I may extend the contest another day.

* Now, on to our winners which I didn’t announce last week…

* Best Statehouse contract lobbyist goes to former state Sen. Dave Sullivan, who helped pass the civil unions bill…

He’s been representing Equality Illinois for many years. Well before the public polling finally reflected the changing attitude… Dave also played a large role in AT&T deregulation.

Honorable mention goes to Mike Kasper…

Has he ever not delivered for a client? And he does his job without most people even knowing he is working a bill. To me, that is what every client wants, success and anonymity.

* Best in-house lobbyist was a hands-down victory for Eileen Mitchell of AT&T…

59-0 and 118-0 for the biggest telecommunications bill in Il since 85 - in an election year, and in a Demcratic state speaks for itself.

Pat Devaney with the firefighters wins honorable mention…

Pat Devaney is extremely effective. Got his guys pulled out of the original two-tier [pension] bill. Everyone on the labor side of the debate followed Pat’s lead in negotitaing their reform bill and it was quite reasonable in the end.

* Best “do-gooder” lobster is Jonathan Goldman

Jonathan Goldman led push in Springfield for education funding. Outside though, he tipped public and legislator opinion on TIF reform, which is pretty significant and did not go unnoticed in the capitol.

Dick Lockhart got a lot of votes, so he wins honorable mention…

His years of service alone should give him the award.

* Once again, the best Statehouse “insider” was no contest. Mike McClain

Even if he isn’t lobbying the issue, Mike McClain knows more about how things are shaking out that the next 10 guys combined.

I think we may just name this award after McClain next year so somebody else can win it. The man can’t be topped.

Honorable mention goes to Bill Luking…

He won best lobbyist last year but he should definitely also be considered for Best Insider. All information flows through Bill. The first question he asks anyone he runs in to is “What do you know?”. All he does is collect information.

* Best state legislative secretary/admin assistant is Nancy Beaty in the Senate…

Hardworking, always pleasant no matter the circumstance, 4o years of dedicated service, which most of us will never come close to says it all!

Robin Gragg gets honorable mention…

She’s frank with you, but never mean (in fact, always in a good mood). She has a personality and warmth of a mother — but the toughness too.

And in the House, we may have to name this award after Beth Hamilton

I know she’s won before, but I still have to go with Beth Hamilton. Efficient, super friendly and always tells you what you need to know. She’s so good, sometimes talking to her is even more effective than talking to Rep. Lang.

Honorable mention goes to Kristin Milligin…

She is the center of the whirlwind in Skip’s office and always knows what the real story is.

* We have a tie for best state Representative between Bill Black and Greg Harris. They both win…

This nomination is a “career” recognition, instead of a snapshot of this year, like Scorsese winning the Oscar for The Departed and not for Raging Bull, Goodfellas, etc. Black knew his job on the floor, knew his job for his district, and with all the drama, real or fake, no one can do it the way Black did. When you leave a void for the body, the caucus, and the district, you win.

And…

This year has to go to Greg Harris, for successfully spearheading the most significant bipartisan legislation of the year.

* Best state Senator is Don Harmon

He has become THE mover and shaker in the Senate. Incredibly smart, hardworking and prolific. Has his fingers in every important issue moving through the Senate.

Gary Dahl wins honorable mention…

Senator Everyman. Didn’t need the Senate. The Senate needed him. Doesn’t take the pay and doesn’t have an ego.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


33 Comments
  1. - Insider - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 7:55 am:

    State Director- Catherine Shannon at Labor. She knows more about her agency and how to get the important tasks done. I think she won last year so if she’s not eligible I apolgize. She is really good.


  2. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 8:16 am:

    Yikes how many awards you handing out? Gonna big a massive awards dinner Capt. Fax must be flush

    * Best Illinois state agency director—-Rocco Claps…survived Blagoof

    * Best Illinois congresscritter….Like father like son….gotta hand it to Dan Lipinski

    * Best Illinois statewide elected official…..No one can top Lisa Madigan…no nonsense…pulls no punches. Hope she asks USA Fitz about that massive hiring fraud he cited when he took over the Blagoof probe.


  3. - dave - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 9:11 am:

    **Best Illinois state agency director**

    I gotta’ go with Dir. Julie Hamos at HFS. She hasn’t been around long, but has already made that department a much more impressive department. She is very hands on, and is very interesting at changing things within the department. I don’t always agree with where she wants to take things, but the difference between her and her predecessor is like night and day.

    * Best Illinois congresscritter

    Gotta’ go with Durbin. He is far and away the most powerful of any Congressperson/Senator, and he is effective.

    * Best Illinois statewide elected official

    Lisa Madigan. Has has shown an impressive ability to separate herself from the Speaker while being very effective and chooses her battles wisely.


  4. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 10:07 am:

    State Agency Director:

    Michael McRaith: paraphrasing Senator Kirk Dillard: “I consider you one of the few bright spots in this administration.” McRaith isn’t the only bright spot, but he shines the brightest. His department is run with the utmost professionalism, and although he’s a Blagojevich appointee, folks across the spectrum consider him a top expert and the go-to guy on all insurance issues.

    Best Congresscritter: Aaron Schock may be an up-and-comer, but Jan Schakowsky has already arrived. A national spokesperson for her party, “Shack” is also a major local political player. Idealist or Ideologue, folks either love her or love to hate her.

    Best statewide elected official: There’s a reason that AG Lisa Madigan was mentioned by the NYT’s on their shortlist of potential First Madam Presidents. Madigan has transformed the function of the Illinois Attorney General’s office to become the state’s leading consumer advocate: in the courts, the legislature, and the court of public opinion. She’s also sharp as a tack when it comes to retail politics, never forgets a name, always has time for a handshake.


  5. - shore - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 10:11 am:

    Congresscritter: Congressman Mark kirk, thoughtful independent leader who has been a real force for a longtime and in an era of fierce partisanship has been a moderate stalwart

    Statewide official: senator mark kirk, already making moves and taking leadership on critical issues, it will be up to him to fix the messes of the previous generation of democrats who failed to lead the state.

    new category-blogger.


  6. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 10:14 am:

    There aren’t a whole bunch of stars as far as agency directors go, and that’s why Katherine Shannon stands head and shoulders above everyone else. Katherine is knowledgeable, professional and when necessary, as partisan as they come. However she does know when to put policy above politics and she isn’t self-promoting for higher office. Give me half a dozen Katherine Shannons and the Administration will be the better for it.

    Congressional - Although Dick Durbin would normally be an obvious choice, I sometimes think he’s forgotten Illinois in favor of being Majority Whip and enjoying the trappings of office. That said, nobody beats Tim Johnson when it comes to being attentive to constituents and delivering assistance when asked.

    Statewide elected official: I would have again said it was a tie between Dan Hynes and Lisa Madigan, but Hynes’ less than effective campaign for Governor left many, including me, wanting. Lisa Madigan, on the other hand knows exactly who she is and where she wants to be. That she didn’t run for governor isn’t surprising…why take on all that when you’re the mother of two young children. She’s effective where she is and will continue to be as long as she wants.


  7. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 10:17 am:

    Oh…didn’t see the last part…additional award could be for “Most thoughtful and/or thought provoking Blog Commentator”. Some good people out there…


  8. - Zora - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 10:29 am:

    But who won the caption contest? The range of references reminded me why I like this blog.


  9. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 10:36 am:

    State Agency Director: Julie Hamos, for preventing her agency from completely disintegrating. All the agency directors deserve credit for working with duct tape and WD40 to keep things running, but Hamos has one of the biggest agencies.

    CongressCritter: Durbin. Although he has taken on a lot as a leader in the Senate, the constituent services and attention to Illinois issues put him at the top. On the political side, he has really helped out the county parties with access to the vote builder program. And, he travel around the state meeting with voters and political constituencies large and small and always gives his attention to whatever issues are at hand.

    State-wide: Jesse White! It’s nice to have someone in office who wants to stay in that office and do well by the people of the state in that office. Lisa Madigan has done well as AG, but the constant head fakes toward other offices are distracting. Jesse has done a good job, is relatively independent, and is also just an all-around nice guy.


  10. - anon - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 10:45 am:

    Best Illinois state agency director

    Doug Scott, EPA: Bi-partisan, smart and hardworking. Director Scott is a happy medium for the position and works well with all.

    Best Illinois Congresscritter,
    Dick Durbin: There is nobody else who gets it done for Illinois like Sen Durbin.

    Best Illinois statewide elected official,
    Governor Quinn: While others tell you what you want to hear, Gov Quinn actually tells you what needs to be said. While few democratic governors won this last cycle, Gov Quinn ran under the worst times and campaigned honestly about the lack of state revenue and the need to raise taxes. He’s our own Mr. Smith. I would give the popular Jessie White runner-up. He’s happy in his post and does it well. I am appreciate that he does not view Sec State as a stepping stone to something else.


  11. - Team Sleep - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 11:04 am:

    I think Gary Hannig does a great job as agency director. He’s a former legislator who knows everyone, is well-liked and gets things done.

    John Shimkus is my favorite Congressman. If you leave partisan politics and policies out of it, you won’t find anyone who works harder and has a more attentive staff and field operation. And he always says what’s on his mind.

    My favorite statewide official is Jesse White. He was the only Dem for whom I voted in November. He runs a well-oiled machine and remains as popular as any politician I’ve seen in my short life.


  12. - 3 beers to Springfield - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 11:24 am:

    I second Doug Scott for best agency director. The guy actually shows up to represent the agency just about anywhere IEPA has an important project or announcement. He is knowledgeable about the issue at hand, articulate and publicly gives credit to his staff.


  13. - Nice Suit - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 11:54 am:

    Agency Director, Julie Hamos. Huge bureacracy, and she walked into an organizational cluster…keeps her head and is a very smart leader.

    Congressman: Tie between Jan and John Shimkus…Jan’s a really good voice for her constituents and plays in leadership well. Shimkus, we might not know what happened behind the scenes for him to not get the Chair for the Energy and Commerce Committee, but he played it right and is approachable by both sides of the aisle. His CoS is also a top notch guy-Craig definitely earns his pay.

    Statewide elected: It’s Lisa Madigan by default…and she gets dinged for not stepping up to a different office. Its hard to fathom any way that Mark Kirk defeats her statewide for Senate if she runs. She’s well loved by the other AG’s and she does a great job for the State…but the party (and the President)could’ve used her help, and she took the path of least resistance.


  14. - Bill F. - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 11:58 am:

    Marc Miller, DNR. It’s no surprise that Blago’s treatment of DNR ranged from benign to willful neglect. In Miller, Pat Quinn tapped a veteran administrator and an outdoorsman who actually cares about what he’s doing. In tight economic times, Miller has worked to preserve Illinois’ state parks and outdoors resources, rescued successful programs Rod tried to kill like the controlled Pheasant hunt program, dealt with ecological problems like Chronic Wasting Disease and the Asian Carp, and kept Illinois viable for the many folks who spend a lot of cash hunting whitetail deer, waterfowl and other game.

    In Congress, Dick Durbin remains above the pack. He has constantly fought to bring home federal resources. Politically, where the state Democratic Part has often had a narrower, more local focus (ahem), Durbin has filled the void, helping congressional candidates and building the larger party.

    Although his current job is nearly done, I will say I think Dan Hynes is the superior statewide officeholder. Honest almost to a fault, Hynes isn’t the guy you ask when you want to hear what you want to hear, he’s the guy you ask when you want to hear what you NEED to hear. No other officeholder has consistently and without emotion beaten the drum about our dire financial situation. I say this with no malice toward Gov. Quinn - I think Hynes would have offered the best plans to turn the state around - though it would have been so filled with tough choices, I’m not sure the legislature would have listened anyway.


  15. - K3 - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 12:30 pm:

    Agency director: Dan Grant at the Dept of Veterans Affairs. The guy is smart, dedicated and passionate about what he does.  He travels the state constantly and has a solid grasp on his agency.

    Congresscritter: Although she was defeated, I have to say Debbie Halvorson.  In spite of what was written on this blog, she was out in her district a lot considering the schedule the House maintained this year.  Plus, she was able to pass a substantial amount of legislation in her short two years.  And it goes without saying that she is an incredibly hard worker.

    Statewide: Lisa Madigan.  Her appeal is so broad because she is excellent at what she does.  Doesn’t play politics with the office.


  16. - Bill - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 12:31 pm:

    ==additional award could be for “Most thoughtful and/or thought provoking Blog Commentator==

    Let us not forget who won the first golden horseshoe in this very category. BTW, I’m still waiting for that trophy. LOL


  17. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 12:32 pm:

    Shore, I’m glad I’m not a gambler, because I never would have bet you would choose Kirk.

    Statewide elected official: Jesse White. His tenure has been relatively quiet in an office that’s been notable over the years for scandals. Plus, he stood fast and refused to play ball with the Burris appointment when a lot of big talkers lost their nerve.

    Congress: Hard to say. Does anyone really stand out? The delegation lacks any real heavy hitters. Actually, Congress doesn’t seem flush with figures we’ll be reading about in the history books someday. I guess it goes to Durbin by default for seniority in the Senate. Probably helps more than not.

    For agency director, I’ll vote for Vaught, simply because he has the most miserable job in the state dealing with a ridiculous budget situation, a boss who can at times be, shall we say, less than focused and a GA that, to date, has been playing a never-ending game of chicken rather than dealing with the problem.

    Yet, so far, the state hasn’t defaulted on any obligations and his office pulled off a pretty nifty tobacco bond to pump some much needed cash to strapped vendors.


  18. - OneMan - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 12:36 pm:

    I suggest Monken just so he will have something to remember his time as State Police Director, but that would be snarky. Also I suspect you can’t be an acting to win the award.


  19. - How Ironic - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 12:50 pm:

    Best Agency Directer- Tom Jennings/Agriculture.

    In my dealings with Tom and his staff, he is very professional, passionate about agriculture, and constantly looking for ways to run the department more efficiently without cutting core services.

    Ag not unlike DNR was treated as the red-headed step child of agencies under Blago. Director Jennings worked through those difficulties, and kept the agency on task.

    The last couple of years he has worked dilligently (along with the CFO) to lower the expense of pass-through grants by insisting on long needed consolidation in the county fairs, SWCD’s, and extension offices. Through those efforts Tom has finally gotten many to reduce the cost of operation to the State of IL.

    Not to mention that Tom is a really nice guy, and his staff as well.


  20. - fantasma - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 12:56 pm:

    Rich - Did I miss it, or have you not done best legislative staffer?


  21. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 1:08 pm:

    fantasma, you’re right. I did campaign staffer, but not legislative staffer. Tomorrow.


  22. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 1:19 pm:

    Once again, my own personal nominations…

    * Best Illinois state agency director: Mark Pruitt, Illinois Power Agency. Nobody has done more for the state with fewer resources.

    * Best Illinois congresscritter: Peter Roskam. Responsive to his constituents and a rising star in DC. Was crucial to getting conservative backing for Mark Kirk in the Senate primary.

    * Best Illinois statewide elected official: Comptroller Dan Hynes. A hostile comptroller can shut down a government by just paying a few state bills on time. Hynes lost the primary, but hasn’t played politics with Quinn on the budget this year. He could’ve completely undercut the guv and didn’t. He also runs a very solid shop. Topinka may wish she had run for treasurer again once she takes office. A thankless nightmare of an office run by a class guy.


  23. - Obamas Puppy - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 2:58 pm:

    State Director: rocco Claps for his steady leadership thru historical times
    Congresscritter: Gotta be Durbin, he is the go to guy for Illinois and can pick up the phone and get any administration official on the phone at a moments notice
    State wide official: Dan Hynes class guy thru and thru would have been a great Governor. A better public official than he was a politician.


  24. - Who Else Goes Down? - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 3:08 pm:

    Agency Director: Mike McRaith. The guy is smarter than most, and he knows how to get things done.
    Congresscritter: Schakowsky. She’s everywhere.
    Statewide: Lisa Madigan. Madigan is a strong smart woman with a strong smart staff.


  25. - Chad - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 3:32 pm:

    Roskam shows the best promise for the future, while doing a very good job for his district. Remember his days in the GA. He is very smart without being cocky, and this has been recognized by colleagues and leaders in DC (out there they are not threatened by that kind of talent). He goes to all the key meeting when Boehner needs 3 or 4 sharp people to do the bargaining. He has been selected chief deputy whip for next congress, which is a huge deal in DC. Makes him #5 among House GOPrs — what Hastert was when he stepped-up. He will essentially recommend what bills get called. He is also great for the district. Every call is returned promptly, and he will never suffer from forgetting what “the people back home” expect. 5 years from now the talk will all be about what Roakam has achieved for Illinois in Congress. Best staffer in DC would be Craig Roberts. He wins hands down for kindenss, effectiveness, and knowing everything and anyone relevant.


  26. - The Real Deal - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 3:37 pm:

    Director - Hannig. Knows everything about his agency, knows almost everything about the legislature, is friendly, straightforward and consistent.

    Congress - Someone above defaulted to Durbin due to his leadership position for lack of better candidates. I have to agree. Not a lot of inspiration found in that delegation.

    Statewide - Lisa, hands down. I get the Hynes votes and I like Dan a lot, but Lisa runs as good of a show as Dan, and she adds a dynamic that he doesn’t, which is that she inspires others. Lisa does in politics what great athletes do in sports - she makes everyone around her better.


  27. - In the know - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 4:32 pm:

    Catherine Shannon is a no brainer. The GA keeps passing laws for her department to administer and she gets all done with less $$$ and staff and no complaints! A woman in that gig is feather in the cap of this state.

    Durbin is the best in DC. Always on top of the issues.

    For Const. Officer I’ll go with Bill Holland if he qualifies. Very respected by both sides and doesn’t play favorites.


  28. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 4:33 pm:

    Holland is, indeed, a constitutional officer.


  29. - Nickname - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 4:51 pm:

    * Best Illinois state agency director
    —Mike McRaith - the man’s a swiss watch (and a sharp dresser).

    * Best Illinois congresscritter
    —Durbin - makes things happen for IL

    * Best Illinois statewide elected official
    —Quinn - gives it to your straight.


  30. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 5:42 pm:

    –For Const. Officer I’ll go with Bill Holland if he qualifies. Very respected by both sides and doesn’t play favorites.–

    Good call. I didn’t think of that, sad to say. Required reading.


  31. - HPA - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 9:52 pm:

    * Best Illinois state agency director
    Dan Grant–IDVA He is a great leader (a OEF/OIF Vet himself) and like a previous commenter mentioned, travels across the state to promote the great Vets programs and benefits the state has
    * Best Illinois congresscritter
    Sen. Durbin–brings home the bacon and still takes time to go to hometown events

    * Best Illinois statewide elected official
    Governor Quinn-whether or not you agree with his positions/actions, he is one of the most humble people you’ll ever meet


  32. - BadBoy12 - Monday, Dec 13, 10 @ 10:03 pm:

    I don’t know about the other categories, but for agency director, I have to go with James Sledge at CMS. Quiet, steady leadership. The only Blago holdover that Quinn not only kept, but re-appointed. Says something about the man.


  33. - King Tut - Tuesday, Dec 14, 10 @ 12:37 am:

    *Julie Hamos - sharp, smart, resourceful, capable and is absolutely doing a remarkable job. Huge asset to Illinois.
    *Sen. Durbin - an incredibly powerful person who is not cynical, works hard, and absolutely earns his keep.
    *Jesse White - is pure gold. I guess this is where I differ with the crowd. I have always found Lisa Madigan overrated and she does play some cheap politics to keep herself popular, def. overdoes all the sex predator stuff.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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        * CPD leaves commander in post despite assault allegation, DNA match
        * Business, Labor Leaders Urge Quinn Administration To Finish Fracking Rules


        * Bernard Schoenburg: Changes coming to Prairie Capital Convention Center board
        * Margaret Niederer: Bruce Rauner is not the change Illinois needs
        * E.J. Dionne: The GOP’s impeachment two-step
        * Esther Cepeda: Giving teachers their voice
        * State lawmaker's replacement named
        * Rauner says he'll be 'champion' for state's farmers
        * Our Opinion: Dangerous pedestrian crossing getting the attention it deserves
        * The GOP as the party of reform
        * John Cooney: Lawsuit abuse is a myth spun by big business
        * Quinn: Workers' compensation rate to fall in 2015


        * Sex offender accused of failing to register
        * Suspect linked to numerous burglaries arraigned
        * Herrin KC to host Steak Knight
        * Volunteers pave the way for Metropolis lighthouse
        * Kennel Club to host AKC dog show
        * Sign-up Saturday for Free Fair pageants
        * Big Latch On to celebrate Breastfeeding Week
        * Saline Masonic Lodge to host car show
        * Marion Senior Club to host potluck
        * Gospel sing to benefit family


        * Among trade deadline days, MLB is king
        * Forte looking for even more production this season
        * Mixed results for local teams
        * Sky prevails in Delle Donne's return
        * Dogs get carnival all their own in Palatine

        * Legislation would expand full-service comm...
        * Congressman wants to end CHA “supervoucher...
        * A Bipartisan Argument for Full-Service Com...
        * Schock Calls for Investigation into Chicag...
        * Was Rauner consultant behind anti-Schock a...
        * Full-service schools could benefit from le...
        * Schock helps introduce 'full-service schoo...
        * Congressmen Hoyer and Schock introduce Com...
        * Schock and Hoyer Introduce School Bill - C...
        * Heavyweight in GOP heads to Brimfield - Pe...

        * Markey Joins Rockefeller, Durbin, Nelson, ......
        * Markey Joins Rockefeller, Durbin, Nelson, ......
        * Markey Joins Rockefeller, Durbin, Nelson, ......
        * Markey Joins Rockefeller, Durbin, Nelson, ......
        * Markey Joins Rockefeller, Durbin, Nelson, ......

        * Durbin, Kirk push for federal action on As......
        * Sabato: Illinois Now Leans Republican, Qui......

        * The Weekend Desk Report
        * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing
        * Rauner leads Quinn; is that shocking at this stage of Ill. electoral game?
        * Short Division
        * Glen Brown. How you benefit from our defined benefit pension.
        * What did $4 million buy the state’s unions in the primary?
        * Guest ten minute drawing. Mike Klonsky.
        * Guest ten minute drawing. Jerry Mulvihill.
        * Chicago McDonald's Workers Rally In Response To NLRB Ruling
        * Earned Sick Time Chicago Coalition Delivers Petition Signatures To Mayor's Office


        * Rauner Rolls Out Agriculture Coalition and Key Supporters From the Agricultural Community Across Illinois
        * Governor Quinn Signs Law to Expand Health and Wellness Services in Communities Across Illinois - New Steps Will Help Expand Access and Quality of Healthcare
        * Pat Quinn: Patronage Will Prevail
        * Governor Quinn and Company Officials Open Nippon Sharyo Expansion in Rochelle - Passenger Rail Car Manufacturing Plant Expansion Creating 90 New Jobs
        * Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Expand Life-Saving Measures in Illinois Schools - Expands Epinephrine Law to Protect Illinois’ Students in Life-Threatening Emergencies




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