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Golden Horseshoe Awards - Round Two

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

* Once again, the Golden Horseshoe for best Illinois Congresscritter goes to US Sen. Dick Durbin

Dick Durbin is not only the best member of the Illinois delegation (which includes several other stars) but one of the best in the country. He manages to be a floor leader and advisor to the President, top leader to Reid, key fundraiser for colleagues around the country, national D spokesperson, dogged advocate for many causes he cares deeply about, and a full-time advocate for Illinois.

* Runner-up is Congressman Bob Dold

Always willing to listen to a position, even if he was initially opposed to it. Always out in the district meeting voters, elected officials of municipalities and groups. Not afraid to either buck his own party position to the detriment of party support, or to support his own party position to the detriment of what his constituents thought. Worked 16 hour days 7 days a week. A sharp individual who could quickly understand a subject and always tried to do the best. With the passage of time, he will be sorely missed by the 10th District and the State of Illinois.

* There was no clear consensus for Best Agency Director, but last year’s runner-up Malcom Weems is a good one…

I would never ever want his job and trying to untangle the mess that agency is dealing with after years of mismangement would drive me crazy. Somehow Malcolm holds it all together and is working to streamline the agency. He is a nice guy too which should count for something.

* Runner-up is Amy Martin at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency…

Even though she’s only been there less than a year, she’s moved quickly to pull an agency literally and figuratively stuck in the past into the 21st century. She’s brought a keen marketing eye to promoting historic sites and finding new ways to bring fresh faces into Illinois History (last week’s Santa reading for kids at the Old State Capitol was a huge success, as was her earlier legislative reception at the Dana Thomas House). More importantly, she has the clout to get things done. Not only was she smart to keep Catherine Shannon with her at the agency, but she’s quickly assembled a very strong management team in a very short period, and has them focused on modernization at every level. After years of neglect, IHPA is an agency that’s going to be a lot better when she leaves than when she found it.

* On to round two…

* Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist

* Best Legislative Liaison

Don’t forget, this is about intensity, not about the number of votes. So fully explain your nominations, please. Also, do your very best to nominate in both categories. Thanks much.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


STOP THE SATELLITE TV TAX!

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

HB 5440 calls for a new tax increase on the 1.3 million Illinois families and businesses who subscribe to satellite TV. A recent statewide poll conducted by We Ask America confirms there is universal opposition to the cable industry’s push to place this NEW 5% tax on satellite TV service. The poll was conducted on November 14, 2012 yielding 1,288 responses with a margin of error of +/- 3%.

Key findings:

* 84% of all respondents oppose a new satellite tax
* 81% of cable subscribers even oppose this concept
* Opposition is strong among both Democrats & Republicans – 83% (D) and 87% (R)
* Regional Opposition

    o Chicago 81%
    o Suburban Cook 77%
    o Collar Counties 84%
    o Downstate 89%

Cable pays rent in the form of franchise fees. Satellite companies don’t pay franchise fees for one simple reason: our technology orbits the earth. Why should satellite customers pay for a service they do not utilize?

With family budgets already stretched to their limits, this is one new tax Illinois consumers and families cannot afford.



Tell Your Lawmakers to Stop The Satellite TV Tax
Vote NO on HB 5440

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Two coalitions come together on gay marriage

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

* Two “new” coalitions have been formed around the gay marriage push. The opponents usually work together on Statehouse issues

The “Coalition to Protect Children and Marriage”, announced on Tuesday, includes the Illinois Family Institute, Eagle Forum of Illinois, Abstinence and Marriage Partnership, Illinois Citizens for Life PAC, Lake County Right to Life, Concerned Christian Americans and Family-Pac.

Paul Caprio, director of Family-Pac, said that the coalition would use the resources of those organizations to lobby against same-sex marriage in Illinois.

Not included in the coalition, however, is the Catholic Conference of Illinois, which is somewhat interesting.

* The pro-gay marriage side announced a new coalition today [fixed link]. Its members include groups that don’t usually work on gay rights, including

AFSCME Council 31

Chicago Bar Association

Chicago Jobs with Justice

Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Illinois State Bar Association

SEIU

United Electrical Workers, Western Region

* The inclusion of the American Academy of Pediatrics should help counter the opposition’s main argument, which seems to currently be focusing on “the children.” From a press release…

Paul Caprio, Director of Family-Pac, said, “Traditional marriage, between one man and one woman, our existing state law, developed and survived for thousands of years because it is the best familial arrangement for the protection of children and, therefore, for the future continuation of society.”

Said David Smith, Director of the Illinois Family Institute, “Government did not create marriage. It merely recognizes and promotes this type of relationship that exists and which protects the rights and serves the best interests of children and, therefore, of society. Research has consistently demonstrated that children fare best when raised, whenever possible, by their biological parents. The state has a vested interest in promoting this institution because it provides the ideal environment in which to raise the next generation of healthy and productive members of society.”

Said Penny Pullen, former state legislator and President of Eagle Forum of Illinois, “As foundational as the family is to our society and especially to the well-being of children, it would be both wrong and dangerous for our state to interfere with the family for the sake of a social experiment whose results we cannot know for decades. The risk to future generations is too high to take this chance.”

Mary Anne Hackett, President of Catholic Citizens of Illinois stated, “Only a marriage of heterosexual persons can produce children and secure the future of society. The protection of the lives and development of children must take priority over the personal gratification of even one single adult. The definition of natural marriage must be between one man and one woman, unchanged by whims and claims of equality.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Illinois’ Education “Fiscal Cliff”

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Illinois is facing its own “fiscal cliff” in the current House budget – a $200 million shortfall for education funding if we don’t take action to address this serious gap. Illinois already ranks dead last in the nation in the amount of school funding provided by state revenues. We simply cannot continue to underfund our schools.

Beyond this, there are other ways our state is falling behind. Current state revenue laws have not been modernized to keep pace with the changing times. However, there is assistance on the way: House Bill 5440, which closes a corporate tax loophole on satellite television providers, delivers much needed funding relief for Illinois and adapts to the current marketplace for TV service.

By closing off this loophole, HB 5440 would generate up to $75 million in additional revenue for the Illinois education fund, ensuring that satellite providers industry standard fees to support our state.

Don’t Shortchange our Students! Vote YES on HB 5440! To learn more and make your voice heard, visit www.YesOn5440.com.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Gun stuff

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

* The TRS board isn’t scheduled to meet again until February, but staff is taking a look at its investments in gun manufacturers

Illinois’ largest pension fund is gathering information about investments it might have in gun manufacturers in the event the system’s trustees want to re-evaluate those investments.

The Teachers’ Retirement System took the action after last week’s mass shooting at a school in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System said Monday it is reviewing its investments in a private equity firm that, in turn, owns the company that manufactured the rifle used in the shootings.

“We are going to be gathering information about whether any TRS assets are invested with gun manufacturers, in the event that the board of trustees decides to re-evaluate any investments in the portfolio,” said TRS spokesman Dave Urbanek. “With a $37 billion portfolio, it takes some time to go through the layers of business transactions and the depths of corporate ownership to get to what might be there.”

* The California move could cause a decline in some gunmaker stocks, but not everybody is convinced

With this recent tragedy, gun sales are up, Ruger and Smith and Wesson shares are down. That is a typical short-term market reaction that represents a buying opportunity. Ruger is not likely to have a major revenue decline even if there is a return of an assault weapon ban and high capacity magazine ban. In California, if anything, Ruger benefited from the nation’s tightest assault weapon ban. Ruger’s equivalent .223 caliber rifles, with wood stocks lacking pistol grips, remained on the market, albeit with 10 round magazines. Ruger does have a gas piston AR15 type rifle priced at the high end of the AR15 market, so a decline in sales or loss in sales of this rifle are unlikely to have a major impact on Ruger’s bottom line.

* And Illinois is in the top tier on background checks this year

The [FBI] reported more than 16.8 million background checks by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System through the first 11 months of 2012, already the highest total for any year since the system was introduced in late 1998 — and nearly double the total from a decade ago even without data from December. Among states, the number of checks performed so far this year is highest for Kentucky (2,329,151), Texas (1,196,176), California (981,798), Illinois (923,920) and Pennsylvania (835,293).

As mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, a background check is required in order to buy any firearm at retail. The background checks don’t necessarily correlate to the number of guns actually sold as buyers might have changed their minds about their purchase, or might have bought multiple weapons.

* Sales are soaring and prices are rising

With President Barack Obama endorsing sweeping gun restrictions in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, prices for handgun magazines are surging on EBay (EBAY) and semi-automatic rifles are sold out at many Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) locations. […]

On EBay Inc.’s auction website, shoppers have recently bid up gun magazines. The current bid for four Glock handgun magazines, ammunition for one of the guns used at Newtown, is $118.37 compared with $45 on the day before the shooting. The bid for seven Glock magazines hit $201 on Dec. 17 from $71.01 before the massacre.

* Nate Silver looks at demographics

Gun ownership has declined over the past 40 years — but almost all of the decrease has come from Democrats. By 2010, according to the General Social Survey, the gun ownership rate among adults that identified as Democrats had fallen to 22 percent. It remained at about 50 percent among Republican adults. […]

White voters were substantially more likely to own guns than Hispanics or blacks. But white Republicans were more likely to own guns than white Democrats.

And based on demographic inertia, the differences seem likely to grow over time.

About 35 percent of Democratic voters age 65 and older reported having a gun in their home, against about 25 percent of those ages 18 to 29. But gun ownership rates bore little relationship to age among Republican voters, and were constant at about 55 percent among all age groups. That might suggest that gun ownership will continue to decline among Democrats while holding steady among Republicans, further increasing the partisan gap.

Gun ownership rates are highest in rural areas, where guns are more likely to be used for hunting as well as personal protection. A slight majority of Democratic voters in rural areas said they had a gun in their home, according to the survey, although the rate was somewhat higher, 65 percent, among rural Republicans.

In urban areas, 40 percent of Republican voters said they had a gun in their home, while 20 percent of Democrats did.

The differences are most apparent in suburban areas. There, 58 percent of Republican voters said there was a gun in their household, against just 27 percent of Democrats.

* A good friend of mine has a son with Asperger’s, and that kid is now having problems with other kids at school because of the Connecticut shooting. So, this was a welcome piece

Critics, though, say that if you want to understand how such a statement might be taken, try this hypothetical substitution: “Law enforcement officials said they were closely examining whether Mr. Lanza is gay.” There is, for a reasonable person, the suggestion of cause and effect. It is very unlikely that that sentence would have appeared in The Times without further explanation.

* Meanwhile, back when Rahm Emanuel was running the DCCC, he was infamous for recruiting conservative, often very pro-gun Democratic candidates. In other words, he helped create the gridlock over the federal assault weapons ban. When he became President Obama’s chief of staff, he deliberately put an assault weapons ban on the back burner. As Ted McClelland notes, “the anti-gun Brady Campaign gave Obama an F during his first year in office.” Sun-Times

Author Daniel Klaidman wrote in his book “Kill or Capture” that after Holder said he would push for the ban, “Emanuel was furious. He slammed his desk and cursed the attorney general. Holder was only repeating a position Obama had expressed during the campaign, but that was before the White House needed the backing of pro-gun Democrats from red states for their domestic agenda. The chief of staff sent word to Justice that Holder needed to ‘shut the —- up’ on guns . . .

* But now, Emanuel is demanding an assault weapons ban. Maybe it’s because he’s mayor of a city with way too many gun-related murders. But as we’ve discussed before, the assault weapons issue has become standard Democratic schtick every time something bad happens.

* Earlier this week, CBS This Morning pressed Emanuel on his record. He mostly filibustered

O’DONNELL: And that you went – and said – the chief of staff sent word to Justice that Holder needed to shut up on guns.

EMANUEL: (unintelligible) Let me say this, Norah: President Obama always stood for getting this done – number one. Number two, I passed the Brady Bill, the assault weapon ban. It is very, very important that we do that. The fact is, in 2009, the President and the entire government was very clear to say this, as the attorney general knows, in getting all the President’s legislation done and working with Congress to do that.

O’DONNELL: But I want you to explain that, because, were you worried about the political backlash of taking on and pushing for the assault weapons ban? Why didn’t – why didn’t Obama do that?

EMANUEL: No, because, first of all, the President’s record is very, very clear on this. It’s clear when he was a state senator. It was clear when he was also a U.S. senator. It was clear also as a President, and he was dealing as you well know with a myriad of issues. And he was pushing very hard and making sure, also, that we had the funding to do everything we needed to do in the Justice Department.

O’DONNELL: But the Brady campaign, I mean, in the first year, gave Obama an ‘F’ - an ‘F’!

EMANUEL: Yeah, well, you know – yeah, but-

O’DONNELL: You know? And there was a report in The New York Times on Sunday that after the Aurora shooting, that the Justice Department – I know you weren’t at the White House then - but that the Justice Department went to the White House with ways to expand the background check system, in order to reduce the risk of guns falling in the hands of mentally ill people, and there was a decision made not to go that far. What I guess I’m trying to ask is not assign blame, but politically, how hard is it to take on the NRA?

EMANUEL: First of all, having fought to pass the Brady Bill and the assault weapon ban, the last time we really had gun control, it is very hard. That’s why what you have to focus on is criminal access and the type of guns and make it a law enforcement issue. When I worked for President Clinton, we had all the police chiefs in D.C., and that’s why I also think now the proximity to the vote is very, very important. I think it’s essential to have a vote of conscience - put it up, people notice what happened here – number one. Number two is – it has to be about people – the type of criminal access to the type of gun, which is why you showed earlier the type of gun, because I think when people see that, it’s clear that gun is not for the streets. It’s not for sports. It’s really a gun of war.

Video is here.

* Related…

* Teachers union rips idea of arming teachers: “It’s ridiculous to think bringing guns into a school or classroom would somehow make that area safer,” said Charlie McBarron, a spokesman for the Illinois Education Association. “It’s hard to understand how a sane person could make that serious suggestion.”

* Chart Of The Day: At least according to Google’s search stats, Friday’s shooting is clearly making an impact

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

* I’ll announce yesterday’s winners a little later today. We’re doing nominations in two parts today because we’re simply running out of time…

* Best Contract Lobbyist

* Best In-House Lobbyist

Keep in mind that an unexplained vote will not count. Also, please do your very best to nominate in both categories. Thanks much.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Pack consequences

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

* One thing that happens when a high-profile person gets in a spot of trouble is that the media pack tends to start kicking over rocks in the hopes of finding a new scandal. Ergo

State Sen. Donne Trotter, the 2nd Congressional District candidate facing a felony gun charge, tried to thwart state efforts in 2010 to recoup a $1.25 million state grant after a now-indicted ex-south suburban police chief allegedly was caught skimming the public funds to pay herself rent and to hire her brother.

The case in question surrounds job-training money Trotter helped arrange as a top Senate budget negotiator to We Are Our Brother’s Keeper, a nonprofit organization once run by former Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans. She sought state help to fix up the historic New Regal Theater on the South Side, which had fallen into disrepair. […]

“Miss Evans and her husband both came to my office and said they felt they were being harassed, that there was no merit to the issues that they’d brought up,” Trotter told the Sun-Times in an interview before his arrest earlier this month on a felony weapons charge for allegedly trying to take a handgun through a security checkpoint at O’Hare Airport.

“They had not shown me any documentation and had just asked whether I’d try to intervene and find out if there are problems, and if they were just technical ones,” Trotter said. “She seemed very sincere in wanting to do something positive in the community, not a for-profit venture, but one that was also giving back to the community and having this job-readiness program. It wasn’t just like, ‘Enrich me.’ ” […]

“I was surprised when I saw details of some of the things she’d done. I don’t know when she got off track. That wasn’t the track that they were on. I didn’t look at them as con people,” he said. “I thought they were — and still think they are — decent people, but somehow [they] have just gone someplace else, got in over their heads.”

There are two different schools of thought about this phenomenon as relates specifically to Trotter’s campaign: 1) The media may eventually succeed in hounding Trotter out of the race; or 2) When the “white” media attacks a black candidate, black voters often tend to rally around that candidate.

* And you gotta wonder whether this story would’ve emerged had it not been for Trotter’s arrest

It might surprise some citizens that, in addition to being Chicago’s most powerful alderman, Ed Burke is a private eye.

Ald. Burke (14th), who chairs the influential City Council Finance Committee is, according to state records, a licensed private detective, trained and authorized to carry a semiautomatic weapon.

Burke also is a licensed private security contractor.

He is approved by Illinois statute to carry a gun while “in the performance of his . . . duties” and carry it “to and from” his place of employment.

Where is that place of employment?

Burke’s application is silent on that except to say that Ed Burke employs Ed Burke.

* Related…

* Gun Violence Plays Heavily in Illinois Special

* Robin Kelly’s 2nd District House Campaign Team

* Democrat says congressional hopefuls should back gun limits: Her agenda includes refusing campaign contributions from “organizations that oppose reasonable gun-safety legislation.”

* Robin Kelly’s Open Letter To Fellow Candidates On Gun Violence

* Robin Kelly Adds Alderman Will Burns To Her List Of Endorsements

* Toi Hutchinson campaign team: Illinois 2nd c.d. special election

* Jonathan Jackson Won’t Run in Illinois’s 2nd District Special Election

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


SEIU to spend $500K to blast Rahm for aping anti-Obamacare companies

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

* Greg Hinz

The state council of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, has approved a $500,000 plan seeking to demonize Mr. Emanuel as “the national poster child for Neo-Liberals who are hell-bent on adopting regressive policies.”

That language comes from a document approved by the SEIU council — a document whose authenticity I have confirmed. It calls for spending $100,000 on polling and “opposition research” aimed at Mr. Emanuel, and $200,000 each on “targeted ward work” and paid communications, including texting, radio ads and posters on Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains.

In a phone interview, council President Tom Balanoff declined to comment on what might be in the council’s budget. But Mr. Balanoff, whose union was neutral in Mr. Emanuel’s 2011 election race, wasn’t at all shy about attacking the mayor, who recently implemented a new maintenance contract at O’Hare International Airport that the union considers deeply flawed.

“I think he’s trying to save some money, and he’s taking it out of people who can least afford it,” Mr. Balanoff said. “And at the airport, he’s not saving (taxpayers) money, he’s saving airlines money,” since all revenue the city gets from O’Hare is plowed back into airport operations rather than going to the general city operating budget. […]

According to Mr. Balanoff, the contract, which covers private firms that clean O’Hare domestic terminals, is shortchanging workers on pay, health care and other benefits. A similar pact for maintenance services at police stations resulted in workers being shifted to part-time work of less than 30 hours a week, which allows their employers to avoid paying for their health insurance under provisions of the president’s national health insurance program. […]

Adds the [Emanuel] spokeswoman: “It is very unfortunate that the SEIU leadership has decided to spend a half-million dollars on an investigation to smear the mayor instead of focusing their attention on helping their members, organizing the new janitors at O’Hare or providing other important job resources. The mayor remains steadfastly focused on and committed to what really matters: collaborating with labor unions to save and create thousands of new jobs in Chicago, not false attacks and smear campaigns.”

* According to the document, the O’Hare maintenance worker deal signals that Mayor Emanuel is…

using the City’s procurement process to take advantage of a loophole in Obamacare to jettison the health insurance costs of many city contract work. Essentially, Rahm is doing the same thing to city contract workers that Applebee’s, Denny’s, Papa John’s Pizza and so many other Right Wing nationalemployers have announced they are doing to their workers in the lead-up to the implementation of Obamacare.

In the coming months, the national news will be dominated by these types of stories. We feel strongly that Rahm Emanuel can be made the national “poster child” for Neo-Liberals who are hell-bent on adopting these regressive policies that are designed solely to delay or even stop the implementation of Obamacare.

* The budget

* Background from Progress Illinois

For several weeks, the workers, represented by SEIU* Local 1, and their advocates have called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to rebid a contract with a janitorial company that slashed hourly wages to $11.90 from a pay range of $12.05 to $15.45. The $99 million contract also cuts employee health benefits, changing them from family health care plans to individual plans that cost hundreds of dollars more to include family members. The city is not saving any money under the contract, according to SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff, because the funds that pay for the contract comes from the airport’s airlines.

The contract also failed to ensure that the workers, many of whom have worked at O’Hare for several years, would keep their jobs; instead allowing the company to offer an “open enrollment” process, which required the workers to reapply for their jobs. Only a handful, approximately 20 to 30, of the more than 300 workers have been rehired to continue working at the airport.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Calling out the governor

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

* An e-mail from a longtime subscriber…

It’s been great reading the dialogue on the blog about mental health care and society, some very intuitive comments. I work on behalf of a number of providers across the state that have struggled with steadily reduced state funding to support their programs..people slip through the cracks, even with as hard as they are trying to get people help and find those who need help.

We all heard Governor Quinn stand up during his budget speech last year and lay down the gauntlet on rebalancing to support community based disability and mental health care…then his budget tried to cut community mental health care funding by $56 million.

The legislature did everything they could to preserve funding for community mental health care at last year’s levels in the state budget (it’s dropped from $230 million in FY08 to $115 million in FY13), but then the Administration cut funding to providers by $21 million anyway.

Right now, at this very moment, even as the national discussion on mental health care is as high as it’s been, we are on our own fighting just to get $12 million back into the budget so community providers can try and restore some crisis care services and psychiatric support. WE CANT EVEN GET THE ADMINISTRATION TO ACKNOWLEDGE OR EVEN SUPPORT US IN NEGOTIATIONS!!

Sorry, I don’t know why I am venting to you…

So far, Gov. Pat Quinn has focused his post-Connecticut comments almost solely on guns. He wants an assault weapons ban, for example. But the hard reality is he’s been shlashing funding for community mental health care even as he closes state mental health facilities.

The governor needs to be called to account.

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      


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* Full Statement from Senator Duckworth on C......
* Tammy Duckworth applauds new rule letting ......
* Tammy Duckworth Offers Resolution To Allow......
* Senate Votes Unanimously To Allow Newborns......

* Sunday in Brooklyn.
* ISBE report: CPS special ed services “delayed and denied.”
* Mission accomplished.
* The Columbia University student revolt. 1968.
* Is Illinois ready for a potential influx of stoned drivers?
* Daniel Weinberg loves Abraham Lincoln (and especially Abraham ‘Linclon’) more than you do
* The time Chicago skinheads beat up a Nazi
* Weiss Plaza Facelift Gets Underway
* The [Thursday] Papers
* Martysaurus Rex: A Creative Life More Important Than Football


* IEMA Highlights Role of Volunteers in Disasters
* Governor Rauner activates State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield
* February Flooding Information
* IEMA Urges People to Prepare for Severe Weather
* Governor issues state disaster proclamation for flooding in Iroquois, Kankakee, Vermilion Counties

  
* Widescreen laptops are dumb
* Alexa is becoming more personal with custom responses
* Lyft will invest ‘millions’ in effort to become completely carbon neutral
* Huawei Nova Youth steps up to Android 8.0 oreo with EMIUI 8.0 update
* Gold Galleon hackers target maritime shipping industry
* Intel to shut down wearables team behind promising Vaunt smart glasses
* Watch this robot bend pipe cleaners into hearts and stars

* Rutherford, Adolfo among top performers
* Despite offense's heavy lifting, White Sox fall
* Top prospect Jimenez to rejoin Double-A
* Moncada's 1st career slam highlights big effort
* A’s beat White Sox 12-11 in 14 innings; Sox fall to 4-11
* White Sox Minor League Update: April 18, 2018
* Moncada's 1st career slam highlights big effort


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