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This just in… Supremes strip Blagojevich’s law license

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* 2:41 pm - The Illinois Supreme Court has just indefinitely suspended Rod Blagojevich’s law license

The rule to show cause that issued to respondent Rod R. Blagojevich on September 6, 2011. pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 77 4 is enforced, and respondent is suspended from the practice of law effective immediately and until further order of Court.

Order entered by the Court.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Notice to readers

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* I’m going to be pretty busy for the rest of the day, so most veto session updates will be in the live blog from now (noonish) on. So, click here to keep track of stuff.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x3 *** Question of the day

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* Earlier this week, Sen. Terry Link said the Senate Democratic staff was working with the governor’s office to devise legislation that reflected Gov. Pat Quinn’s wishes on the gaming expansion bill

“Our staff has been working with (Quinn’s) staff to put together his ideas into real form. And all of his concepts will be put exactly into a bill form, exactly the way he wants it so it will be his bill that I will be presenting,” Link said.

That bill surfaced earlier today. Click here to read it.

* Despite Link’s claims, Gov. Quinn derided any effort to bring his ideas to the floor for a vote

“We don’t need any charades. What we need is the Senate, which passed the bill on the 31st of May, to send the bill to the governor. Stop the game-playing, stop the delays or whatever else they’re doing over there.

“They passed their masterpiece on May 31. Bring it on. Make my day. And I’ll be happy to examine that bill and use the power of the governor’s office and the executive branch to send them how I feel about their bill.”


*** UPDATE 1 *** From the governor’s press office…

Hi Rich,

The bill that was introduced today is not a serious effort to address the Governor’s concerns about Senate Bill 744.

This is not “the Governor’s bill.” Instead of improving their current bill and having good faith discussions within the Governor’s framework amongst the House, the City of Chicago, the racing industry, the Gaming Board, and the Governor’s Office, some have chosen to put on a charade.

The Governor announced a framework – not a bill- for any gambling expansion last week. He will support a smaller, more moderate gambling expansion that prevents corruption and provides adequate revenue for education.

Governor Quinn looks forward to moving past the political games and towards sincere negotiations to reach a legitimate proposal that meets the framework he laid out to protect the interests of the people of Illinois.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Senate President Cullerton’s spokesperson…

What part of 747 inaccurately reflects the Governor’s framework? Staff took care to consult with the Governors staff to ensure that the draft was an accurate interpretation of the Governor’s press packet.

The failure of the Governor to appropriately engage the legislature by submitting an actual bill for consideration brings us to the point we are today.


*** UPDATE 3 *** Sen. Terry Link responds

“The governor was making phone calls trying to get people supporting this before we even had a bill written, so he was already making phone calls and I think he already felt that there was a lot of people out there who didn’t have the willingness to vote for his concept,” Link said. “The governor probably knows the roll call already, and that’s why he’s denouncing it and saying ‘this is not my bill.’ Well, governor, if you really want something, sit down with us and work on it.”

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* The Question: As long as the Senate bill accurately reflects the governor’s wishes, do you think it’s proper to bring this gaming legislation to the floor for a vote? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - Houses passes trailer bill *** Senate finds the votes for ComEd bill despite Quinn threats

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

*** UPDATE 1 *** HB3036, the “Smart Grid” trailer bill just passed the House 91-24 without debate. The bill now goes to the governor.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Apparently, some House members didn’t realize what they were voting on because several have risen in the past few minutes to ask that the journal be changed to reflect a “No” vote.


*** UPDATE 3 *** From Nicole Wilson

Senator Jacobs holds off on calling Smart Grid Bill for override despite the fact that he says he has the votes to restore.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* The Sun-Times editorialized against the “Smart Grid” trailer bill today

Quinn, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Citizens Utility Board, AARP and other critics say the bill would set ComEd profits at about 10 percent and could go higher.

But there is no comparable guarantee for ratepayers. A provision that their total bills won’t go up more than 2.5 percent lasts only two years.

ComEd and its Downstate counterpart, Ameren, have been fighting hard for this bill. ComEd argues that the new system outlined in the legislation would encourage the utility to invest in a better electrical system instead of just trying to keep its existing system running. And ComEd officials emphasize that they will be required to meet performance measures to get their full profits, though critics say the measures will be so easy to meet they are virtually worthless.

* The Tribune editorialized for it

We viewed this legislation with skepticism, and only now embrace it. We thought the formula for return on equity was too rich in favor of the utilities. With Tuesday’s trailer bill, it’s whittled down to a more reasonable level. We thought the requirements for hardening the grid against future storm outages were inadequate. The trailer bill addresses that too. ComEd even revived a good idea for a fund to cushion the impact of higher rates on the elderly and poor. As the legislation underwent a rigorous review, it got better. That’s how the legislative process is supposed to work.

If ComEd and Ameren do manage to pass this legislation, they take on a very significant commitment. The bill requires them to bring the state’s power system into the 21st century. But like all bills, it provides only a framework. The success or failure of the new law will come down to how the utilities implement it. They need to maximize the benefit to their customers. They need to deliver on the many important promises they’ve made. All of us will need to hold them accountable.

* My own opinion is the governor should’ve been far more involved in the process and tried to cut the best deal possible for consumers, without all the demagoguery

The Illinois Senate torpedoed what had been the governor’s No. 1 priority in the fall veto session, voting 37-10 to approve legislation sought by Commonwealth Edison that was part of a $2.6 billion rate-increase package.

The margin signals that senators have the votes to override Quinn’s veto of the main package.Shortly before Tuesday’s vote, the governor appeared before reporters, churning out sound bite after sound bite in a furious tirade against the utility company and rank-and-file legislators who pocketed its campaign contributions.

“There’s no way to put perfume on this skunk, and that’s what it is,” the governor said, referring to the legislation sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) that won Senate backing a short time later.

The governor derided ComEd’s so-called “smart-grid” legislation as a “smart-greed” bill and condemned “legislators with three loaves of bread under each arm, all the campaign donations they’ve gotten from the utility companies.”

“It’s harmful to the public and the public interest,” the governor said.

* More

The governor said Illinois utility companies including ComEd are trying to ram the so-called Smart Grid Bill down the throats of rate payers. He accused the companies of using lobbyists and money to convince a majority of state lawmakers to vote yes.

“We have some legislators who have three loaves of bread under each arm, all the campaign donations they’ve got the public interest,” Gov. Quinn said.

* The House sponsor of the original ComEd bill was not amused

State Rep. Kevin McCarthy, D-Orlando Park, who is shepherding SmartGrid through the House, said Quinn is coming close to insulting lawmakers with his talk of loaves and campaign donations.

“Trying to imply that because a person got a contribution that that’s going to stop and make them (change their vote), that shouldn’t be in the discourse,” said McCarthy.

* Neither was the trailer bill’s Senate sponsor

“There is nothing in this trailer bill that is controversial or bad for consumers,” countered Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who sponsored the measure.

* Gov. Quinn’s presser

* Related…

* VIDEO: AARP rally

* VIDEO: AFL-CIO to lawmakers: Grid Modernization all about jobs

* Lawmakers look for ways around Quinn’s opposition

* Marin: ‘99 percent’ out of luck in Springfield

* Illinois State Senate Approves New Smart Grid Bill

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Speed cam bill has some stunning consequences

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* Wow

Nearly half the city would fall into so-called safety zones where speed cameras sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel could flag fast drivers for $100 tickets, according to a Tribune analysis of camera legislation in Springfield. […]

The measures, one sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and the other by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, would render about 47 percent of the city eligible for speed camera surveillance, the analysis found. As originally introduced last week, Madigan’s bill would have covered about 75 percent of the city, but he promised Tuesday to scale it back.

* But the Sun-Times says the original proposal would cover 99 percent of the city

* As mentioned above, Madigan wants it scaled back

But Madigan, saying he was responding to complaints aired by Republicans on that Senate panel, said he would revise his bill to restrict camera use to between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. around schools. Near parks, speed cameras could be flicked on one hour before the park opens and stay on until one hour after it closes, Madigan said.

* Rationale

Last spring, the Chicago Department of Transportation collected speed information at seven existing red-light camera intersections within one-eighth of a mile of schools and parks and found that 25.7 percent of the 1.5 million vehicles — 360,000 drivers — were traveling above the 30 mph speed limit, officials said.

“This is about deterrence. I want our kids to get to school and be in schools safely,” the mayor said.

“I have a set of policies already put in place on the curfew, more cameras in schools, raising the fines for those who have guns near schools. And I want to make sure that people driving near a school or a park have a deterrence.”

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said that pedestrian deaths in Chicago are 68 percent higher than in New York City, with the overwhelming cause being a failure to yield.

* Gov. Pat Quinn was asked about the legislation yesterday and said he wanted to make sure the proposal wasn’t being used merely as a revenue generator

* And, of course

State records show Redflex has hired the influential lobbying firm of Fletcher, O’Brien, Kasper and Nottage, P.C., to push its interests in Springfield. One of the firm’s named members, attorney Michael Kasper, is the general counsel and treasurer of the state Democratic Party that Madigan runs. Kasper was also hired by Emanuel to beat back several residency challenges that threatened his mayoral run.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Madigan takes jabs at Quinn, AFSCME

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* House Speaker Michael Madigan unveiled a joint resolution yesterday which attempts to inject the General Assembly into upcoming state labor negotiations

Madigan introduced a resolution that would empower the Legislature to have input into raises that may be part of upcoming collective-bargaining talks between Quinn’s administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In a jab at Quinn, Madigan’s measure also states that no-layoff pledges, like the governor’s “side agreement with AFSCME,” can’t be part of collective-bargaining discussions.

“Gov. Quinn gave that away. I don’t think he should do that, and that’s why we recite in this resolution that should not be done,” said Madigan, chairman of the state Democratic Party.

* The Speaker’s rationale

Madigan said the state faces tough budgets for years to come, and much of the spending in those budgets will be employee salaries. The resolution states that payroll for AFSCME members alone in the current budget year would have been more than $2.76 billion had lawmakers not cut personnel expenses.

The resolution also states that cost of living increases for AFSCME members have averaged 4.25 percent a year over the past five years. From 2007 to 2010, the resolution says, the consumer price index has increased an average of 1.95 percent a year.

“We have a choice. We can stand on the sidelines and let those people go off and do what they do and send us a bill,” Madigan said. “Or, we can interject ourselves now and be present through the negotiations.”

AFSCME’s contract expires June 30.

* With many thanks to our friends at, here’s raw video of Madigan’s remarks on the House floor

* From Madigan’s resolution

[Resolved…] the State shall appropriate for no more than an X% increase for wage increases associated with any and all collectively bargained contracts throughout State government; and be it further

RESOLVED, That it shall be the policy of the State of Illinois that the size of, or a reduction in, the State employee workforce shall not be a topic of collective bargaining.

* More

Madigan implied Quinn and his aides — or “those people” — can’t be trusted to negotiate financially realistic contracts. Instead, lawmakers should play a role so that they don’t get any nasty surprises.

“We can stand on the sidelines, let those people go off and do what they do and send us a bill, or we can interject ourselves now and be present through the negotiations so that our position is known and understood as those people are bargaining,” Madigan said told fellow lawmakers.

Madigan said a House committee will determine an acceptable percentage for union raises in the next contract and then vote on the resolution before the Legislature adjourns its fall session next month. Senate President John Cullerton, D- Chicago, said he wants the two chambers to work together on the issue and he would review Madigan’s plan.

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson called Madigan’s resolution “an interesting suggestion.”

* AFSCME’s response

“Instead of stirring resentment toward working people and weakening their rights to bargain collectively, Illinois politicians should focus on fixing a tax structure that has never made rich people and big corporations pay their fair share,” said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall. “It’s wrong to shift blame from the tax-ducking 1% and the recession they caused to the middle class wages of average working people who care for veterans and the disabled, protect children and keep prisons safe.”

* Coincidentally, organized labor is holding a major Statehouse rally today.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

SB1652 – Your Constituents Speak Out

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

We know what ComEd and Ameren have been saying about SB1652, but what have your constituents been saying on the issue?

On October 11th a statewide survey was conducted with 800 registered voters in Illinois on SB1652. Check out the results:

    · 70% responded that their electric service was reliable.

    · 69% responded that they would be against an annual increase in their electric bill to improve reliability and prevent power outages.

    · 50% responded that they consider their electric bill too high.

    · 47% responded that SB1652 should be “amended to protect consumers” AND, without being prompted, 26% said “don’t pass anything”.

    · 52% responded that they would be “not likely at all” to vote for a candidate who allows electric utilities to raise rates annually – and 21% would be “somewhat less likely” to vote for a candidate who allows electric utilities to raise rates annually

    · 10% responded “State Legislature” when asked, between the State Legislature and the ICC, which group best represents their interests in regulating electric utilities.

AARP urges you to listen to your constituents and uphold the Governor’s veto of SB1652.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* The Senate’s is scheduled to convene at 9 o’clock. Video/Audio here. The House convenes at 10. Floor and committee Video/Audio is here.

As always, BlackBerry users should click here. Everyone else can kick back and watch. Also, if you’re using an iPad or iPhone, you need to use two fingers to manually scroll down. Click here for a quick demonstration video.

I’ll start things off with a few amusing Tweets from late yesterday and last night then move on to the current stuff…

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Yes to the smart-grid bill

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

A big step forward for an antiquated power system
Chicago Tribune Editorial – October, 26, 2011

“…a plus for Illinois businesses and citizens. We support it.”

“…This measure coupled with the changes offered in the trailer bill offers the best way available to secure the power system that Illinois needs for the future.”

“Right now, Illinois relies on century-old electro-mechanical controls that are inexcusably dumb. Upgrading to interactive, digital technology would enable customers of all sizes to buy and use electricity more efficiently.”

“…a good idea for a fund to cushion the impact of higher rates on the elderly and poor.”

“As the legislation underwent a rigorous review, it got better. That’s how the legislative process is supposed to work.”

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x1 *** At least make ‘em pay something while they hold a gun to our heads

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* Emil Jones is a Cub fan, but for once in somebody’s life that may be a good thing

Emil Jones Jr., the head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, told Crain’s Chicago Business this week that the agency is considering upping the amount the Sox pay in rent — currently $1.5 million annually.

“If you compare (lease terms) to other sports stadiums around the country, the Sox pay the lowest rent of all the facilities,” Jones told Crain’s. “It’s something we’ll be looking at.” […]

Questions about the lease payments come as the Sox prepare to open a new team store, and just a few months after the organization opened up the Bacardi at the Park restaurant — both built on state-owned land, Crain’s reported.

I’m a Sox fan, but I have no problem upping the team’s rent. That Bacardi at the Park restaurant did gangbuster business this year. It sits on taxpayer property, so the Sox ought to pay.

* And while this is being portrayed as sleazy, it’s pretty standard procedure for the opposition (ComEd/Exelon), and at least somebody is doing something for the state, unlike CME Group, which wants a huge tax break without offering up anything in return

Tenaska Inc., the Omaha, Neb.-based company trying to win enough votes in the Legislature for its planned “clean coal” power plant in Downstate Taylorville, has agreed to set up a $30-million foundation providing scholarships to disadvantaged minority students if the bill passes.

It’s actually a million dollars a year, not $30 mil all at once, and the foundation won’t be set up until after the plant is online, not when the bill passes.

The obvious danger is that legislators will try to use this to supplement the much-maligned legislative scholarship program. And unlike that state program, the Tenaska scholarships could be hidden from the public.

* Speaking of the CME Group, some opposition from traders is developing to its big tax break

After months of negotiations with Governor Pat Quinn and state legislators, the exchanges appear to have clinched a tax cut for electronic trades, which account for the bulk of their trading. […]

Just 11 percent of CME trading takes place on its two trading floors, one in Chicago and the other in New York. […]

Floor traders queried on Tuesday said the way the tax break is structured makes them nervous, because trading is already migrating away from open outcry and to the computer screen. If electronic trades get a tax break, they said, exchanges will have even less of a reason to promote face-to-face trading.

“It’s just another nail in the coffin for the floor,” said Chess Obermeier, a veteran corn options broker and trader at the Chicago Board of Trade. While nearly all CME futures are traded electronically, about 70 percent of options are still bought and sold on the trading floor. […]

“It’s not going to have a big impact on us but it keeps pushing the momentum away from the pit.” [Obermeier] said.

* Senate Republicans aren’t on board yet, either

“We want to keep CME in Illinois, but we also want to keep small and medium-size business that are also suffering,” said Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno.

Radogno is scheduled to meet with legislative leaders and Illinois’s Democratic Governor Pat Quinn later this week, “so that we can collectively fix the problems,” said Schuh.

It’s unclear what Cullerton will do next to push the bill through the General Assembly. The exchanges threatened to move key operations and perhaps thousands of jobs to a more tax-friendly state after the Illinois legislature in January raised the corporate income tax to 7%, from 4.8%.

Cullerton had expected executive committee approval on Tuesday and consideration by the full Senate on Wednesday.


The bill also includes an extension of the state’s research and development tax credit for businesses, which is expiring. That addition will cost the state another $25 million to $30 million a year in tax revenue, bringing the bill’s total annual cost to the $90 million range.

The Republicans object to the way that provision was drafted as well, Schuh said.

* The dealio

Mr. Cullerton’s office says the break would save CME $60 million and CBOE around $6 million. In addition, to lure Downstate votes, the measure also contains a clause that would revive the recently expired corporate tax break for research and development, costing another $25 million to $30 million or so.

And those figures could be low.

As I told you yesterday, the governor’s office says the figure is upwards of $100 million. Cullerton claims the governor’s office is wrong.

*** UPDATE *** Oops. I forgot to post this video of Gov. Quinn responding to a question about the CME proposal. He was noncommittal

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* And now, on to Sears

The battle over the proposed 15-year extension of tax breaks to Sears Holdings Corp. continued to rage Tuesday, with School District 300 unveiling a proposal that would allow it to receive a bigger share of property tax revenue from the corporate development than currently under consideration.

The district now receives close to $3 million a year from the development, which it says is far short of the $14 million it would receive annually if the tax break expires and Sears stays put. The district is proposing a structure in which it would get about $12 million a year.

Under a plan being developed by Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, it likely would get less, more in the neighborhood of $6 million.


[Sen. Kotowski’s] three-pronged plan would charge Sears a penalty if it left the state and require the company to keep more than 4,000 jobs in the area (the current EDA agreement calls for 2,500, and the amendment to Senate Bill 540, 4,000). It also would make sure the school district would “at least get double the amount of money they are receiving” from the EDA, he said.

We’ll save the ComEd/Ameren bill for a separate post.

* Related…

* Tenaska plant to get another look from legislators

* Hoffman Estates confident in Sears fight despite D300’s Springfield visit

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

STOP: The Misinformation Campaign

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

When the biggest utility in Illinois opposes competition and wants to protect billions in extra profits, they’ll gladly trample the truth if it gets in their way.

They support a so-called coalition that will stop at nothing and say anything, even if it’s not true.

STOP Claim: “Taylorville Energy Center electricity will cost SEVEN times market price.”

The Truth: In a cynical attempt to manipulate lawmakers, STOP wants to compare a price that includes 30 YEARS OF INFLATION with today’s historically low market prices. It’s like comparing the price of gas at the pump today with what we’ll pay on average between now and 2041.

STOP Claim: “Tenaska wants Illinois consumers to pay even if their plant produces no power.”

The Truth: The legislation was changed six months ago at the request of ComEd so this remote possibility could never happen. Which part do STOP and ComEd not understand?

STOP Claim: “We don’t need any new baseload. The speculation on the closure of baseload plants is just that, it’s speculation.”

The Truth: 239 coal plants (40 GIGAWATTS) have already announced they will close because of the new EPA rules. Industry analysts expect Illinois to lose up to HALF of its coal plants, which currently provide 45% of Illinois electricity.

AG Madigan, Senator Durbin, CUB and a diverse coalition from around the state know the truth which is why they’re supporting the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency and Investment Act, SB 678.

Vote Yes!

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition and a campaign roundup

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Indiana Plant Shows Why Illinois Should Reject the Taylorville Energy Center

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The Illinois legislature is expected to consider SB 678 that would force Illinois families, businesses and government agencies to pay up to seven times today’s market price for electricity to build Tenaska’s Taylorville Energy Center (TEC).

Illinois should learn from Indiana’s disastrous experience with a coal-gasification plant in Edwardsport, Indiana – similar to what Tenaska wants to build – and reject the TEC.

The Indiana plant has been in construction since 2008 and is still not complete. Its owners originally estimated the cost to be $1.98 billion, but the project has suffered numerous construction and engineering setbacks resulting in huge cost overruns. The project’s scope and complexity have driven costs up to a currently estimated $2.98 billion – a full $1 billion over budget! This includes a filing last week that upped the costs an additional $220 million.

Predictably, the plant’s owners are passing most of the costs onto consumers. The company has won approval to pass along at least $2.35 billion of its costs to customers. Click here to read a recent Indianapolis Star-Tribune article about this enormous mess.

Even if Tenaska’s TEC were built on schedule and on budget, it would still cost Illinois families, businesses, and government agencies up to seven times today’s market price for electricity for the next 30 years. And as Indiana’s experience shows, it could be far worse!

But it’s not too late for Illinois to reject the TEC. Please take a moment to let your legislator know that you oppose the Taylorville Energy Center. Visit to learn more.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Caption contest!

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* This is just too good to pass up…

Have fun, but let’s not allow this to devolve into some silly DC talking points flame war, please. Thanks.

Also, as always, keep it clean, people.

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      

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* It's just a bill
* "Trooper's trooper" laid to rest
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* Because... Chicago!
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Update to this morning's edition
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* It's Time To Put Our Progressive Values Into Action
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* Lock up your guns and vaccinate your kids!
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

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