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Personalities are only part of it

Thursday, Oct 29, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Quite a lot of political reporters, columnists, editorial writers and other pundits in this state have described the current stalemate as a duel between two stubborn people. But there’s far more going on here than just what Gov. Rauner and Speaker Madigan are demanding.

Phil Kadner

I think many Illinois residents are enjoying the power struggle between the Republican governor and longtime Democratic power broker Madigan.

[Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno] reinforced my experience during a telephone conversation Wednesday, telling me that she’s been knocking on doors during her re-election campaign, and people keep telling her “not to give in” and “hang in there.”

I’ve talked to several Democratic legislators who’ve said the same, exact thing as Radogno. Either they’re all hearing only what they want to hear, or their respective allies are completely on board for this war.

This is about much more than just two men. Madigan was absolutely right when he called this an “epic” battle.

…Adding… Most legislators are circulating nominating petitions these days, and MrJM explains what’s happening in comments…

For more than a decade, both parties collect signatures using lists that include only the loyalist members of their parties.

Democrats passing petitions are talking to people who voted in the last three (or more) Democratic primaries. Republicans are doing the inverse.

You couldn’t design a better echo chamber.


  1. - East Central Illinois - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:04 am:

    An epic battle . . . and the entire state population is collateral damage.

  2. - Abe the Babe - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    Seeking change through coercion and threats will never work.

    To Rauner and his defenders, spend your efforts building coalitions and winning elections. Then, if you are successful, you can remake IL into Kentucky. Until then, why don’t you govern like statesmen. And here’s a hint, that statesmen like governing may help you win elections.

    this isn’t rocket science.

  3. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:10 am:

    This is what people were seeking when the Governor was inaugurated. They were waiting for the fight.

    Republicans don’t believe that government does anything good.

    Democrats believe government serves people.

    The problem is that right now, only the neediest people (typically Democrats) are being hurt by this stalemate. Middle class and wealthy people (generally Republicans) need to feel some pain before this ends.

    When snow isn’t plowed on interstates and state highways, road kill not picked up, doctors not able to renew their license, and universities close. Perhaps that will bring this to an end.

  4. - Montrose - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:10 am:

    What East Central said, with the most vulnerable at the head of the pin.

  5. - 19th ward guy - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:11 am:

    “epic battle” Come on. This is about Madigan maintaining his majority and nothing else. He is agnostic on policy. It’s all about the game for him

  6. - Honeybear - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:12 am:

    The civic virtues of dialogue and compromise are dead. People of goodwill and self-differentiation are marginalized. It’s sad that this blog is now the “voice that crieth out in the wilderness”.

  7. - ChicagoVinny - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:12 am:

    It’s become a war because if the Governor’s hostage taking succeeds, this will become the norm for governing in Illinois. Folks on both sides should think about the implications of that.

  8. - Anon - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:16 am:

    I’m not really sure that I believe that she is door knocking 53 weeks before the general election and if she is, I would like to see how she’s sorting her target universe.

  9. - Roamin' Numeral - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:16 am:

    ==This is what people were seeking when the Governor was inaugurated. They were waiting for the fight.==

    I’m not sure about that. A lot of people voted for Rauner because getting rid of Quinn was a top priority.

  10. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:19 am:

    Anon, folks are passing petitions right now.


  11. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:20 am:

    Illinois government has lot its legitimacy with Illinoisans. While the state has been rocked by national economic downturns, Illinois government has been lead by governors who more often than not - ended up in jail.

    You cannot keep electing future felons into the governor’s office and expect citizens to remain confident in their government.

    After three failed governorships, two resulting in incarceration, Rauner is, for many people, their final hope. He campaigned on it. He spent millions telling us all about our embarrassing government. He ripped down what was left of any credibility state government had. He did this because he wanted to replace it with his version of state government. Rauner rolled into 2015 determined to throw Illinois state government away. He believed that he successfully bought Illinois and that it was primed for one of his venture capitalist strip and flips.

    Rauner doesn’t want to listen to anyone with any Illinois government experience. He doesn’t want to compromise. To him, everything in Illinois pre-2015 is illegitimate. He is doing to Illinois what he did so often with his other bought properties. He has no interest in differing opinion on how to get there.

    So - the man is not listening to anyone. Consequently he is failing to govern because he has no respect for what governing is. So, what we’ve seen is attack politics, bridge burning, name calling, negative ads, and disrespect. Rauner’s staff is filled with similarly disrespectful people.

    Problem is, he can’t get to where he wants Illinois to go by himself. Unlike a private corporation he could buy, government isn’t owned by the office holders. So you have to reach agreements with everyone. Rauner cannot do that easily - if at all. He is the wrong guy to be a governor.

    Rauner isn’t stubborn - he is closed minded. He isn’t sticking to his faith - he is willfully blind. Rauner can make multiple millions by shredding properties and has the personality to do that successfully. He does not have the right personality to run an open, democratic government with any bipartisanship - especially a government where he is in a distinct minority position.

    Voters hoped Rauner would make things better. Many still have hope. I don’t know how they can.

  12. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:20 am:

    What, exactly, are all those people telling Sen. Radogno to “hang in there” for?

    But since there is such grassroots popular support for whatever it is she’s supposed to “hang in there” for, wouldn’t take much to organize this wave of humanity for rallies for the cause at JRTC and Springfield.

    Let’s see it.

    I for one would love to hear an explanation from the grassroots as to what that bright sunny day will look like when collective bargaining and prevailing wage are eliminated.

    That’s what Sen. Radogno is “hanging in there” for, correct?

  13. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:20 am:

    === This is about Madigan maintaining his majority ===

    And that means what? Keeping his party’s base satisfied and the middle on his members’ side.

    That’s not as simple as you portray it.

  14. - Streator Curmudgeon - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:22 am:

    I hate to use a cliche, but it’s also about class warfare.

    To a large degree, unions were responsible for creating the middle class in the United States. Over time, they brought wages up so workers could buy homes and cars and enjoy a better quality of life. Even Henry Ford realized if he didn’t pay his workers a better wage, they couldn’t afford to buy the cars they were making.

    Now many will argue that small businesses do most of the hiring and they cannot afford to pay union wage rates. I get that. But they DO benefit from the purchasing power of people who earn good wages.

    The Governor would have us believe having large segments of Illinois workers making minimum wage with no benefits will attract employers to Illinois. But at what cost? A serf class?

    When I was a kid, the Democratic party was the party of unions. Then manufacturers and big business began contributing heavily to Democrats to hedge their bets.

    In the 80s, when millions of manufacturing jobs were shipped to India and China, Congress didn’t object. Along with those jobs went billions of dollars in income taxes.

    Couple that with a landmark court decision during a Caterpillar strike that let “replacement” workers (scabs) come in during strikes, and unions’ biggest weapon was destroyed.

    So now we have this “epic” battle with a governor who thinks union busting benefits everybody, and a speaker who thinks the governor’s demands go too far.

    Yeah. More than personalities.

  15. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:27 am:


    Some people have families, jobs, etc. and don’t have time to dig into the minutia of the news every day, or pass out petitions, or travel to Springfield to go to rallies.

    That’s why town hall meetings are filled with old people and presidential campaigns are filled with college students. They’ve got the time.

    You don’t have to have a graduate degree or be a savant on current affairs to know that there’s a sickness in Illinois government, different from the typical gripes in politics. They may not know how bad the state is gerrymandered, they may not know that the unions are so powerful they practically selected the GOP nominee, they may not know just how much influence the 1% have on policy, but they know that the “status quo” screws them. That’s why my legislators, Democrats, and the Dems in my neighboring districts, are sending emails that don’t sound like the Madigan talking points.

  16. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:29 am:

    Of course each side will hear “hang in there”. The majority of people who sign petitions are Hard R’s or Hard D’s. You don’t find too many indies who sign partisan petitions - maybe presidential and delegate petitions, but not so much primary petitions for State Rep and State Senators. That’s very narrowly-focused.

  17. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:30 am:

    I think the paying allies are on board with the war. That tends to produce worst-of-both-worlds compromises. The silent majority would like a sensible compromise of tax hikes / spending curbs, moderate business reforms from the turnaround agenda and significant political reforms from the turnaround agenda.

  18. - Norseman - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:32 am:

    We’re still in the early stages of our WW I analogy. The FY 15 budget fix agreement was our Xmas truce. Unfortunately, that was followed up by a renewal of hostilities with leaders resolved not to let that kind of coziness happen again. All the while, the home folks are cheering and proud of their sides noble efforts to win over the evil enemy.

    The human and financial cost continues to grow until all realize too late the horrendous impact this struggle caused.

    Truly, this is an epic battle.

  19. - Louis G. Atsaves - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:33 am:

    Hang in there is being heard by both sides. Epic battle? Same deal.

    The one thing different I hear while circulating petitions is that things have to change, this state is screwed up and Madigan is more of an obstacle than Rauner in bringing change.

    These comments are being heard from the Republican side.

  20. - illinoised - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:34 am:

    I am not enjoying the power struggle. I am not alone.

  21. - Elo Kiddies - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:35 am:

    Rich: the6 are passing petitions, which means they’re probably spending time in precincts where they’ll get lots of fast signatures, which may mean they hear a self-reinforcing message. And it may be that way through the primary, as they focus on winning support within their own parties. They may not focus on the district as a whole until March 16.

  22. - illini - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:35 am:

    VanillaMan - you have perfectly identified and characterized the biggest problem we have. Well stated.

  23. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:44 am:

    Personalities are a part, but here is what IS real;

    Collective Bargaining, Prevailing Wage, Hostages, and the decimation of Illinois Social Services.

    If Democrats, the Labor Movement, and Social Service organizations and their Advocates focus on the above issues and recognize that those ISSUES are reflective negatively on Raunerite Candidates (See IllinoisGO being included in Democratic Primary races) then the premise of it being about Rauner is just the residue of framing the issues around one the Raunerite Ideals and not about Bruce Rauner.

    Having Raunerites defend the Raunerite Agenda has a better chance of beating Raunerites than being “simple” and those groups do all the organizing hard work to make the campaign…

    “Because… Rauner”

    Can they do it? I dunno.

    But if it’s framed as “personalities”, the chances of defeating Raunerites is lessened.

  24. - Jockey - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:46 am:

    In my humble opinion, I think that the strategy that BVR is using is brilliant. Here’s why:

    1. He is, slightly, more popular that MJM
    2. He has a larger war chest that MJM
    3. He does not have to face election for 3 more years, unlike MJM. MJM needs to focus on keeping his super- majority.

    The strategy that I think BVR is employing is “Starve the Beast”. Here is a quote from Paul Krugman, which kind of reflects Illinois:
    “Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts could then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate an unsustainable budget deficit.”

    By not approving funds for these programs and with the diminishing credit rates, it is going to immensely harder for IL to borrow money. By not being able to fund these programs, with borrowing, cuts will be made. This will effect MJM more because he will no longer be able to provide for the legislators to “bring home the bacon” to their districts. The legislators will feel the flak most because they are on the front lines, and MJM grip on the House will begin to slip.

  25. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:49 am:


    =Republicans don’t believe that government does anything good.

    Democrats believe government serves people.=

    Actually, knowledgeable Republicans realize that MINIMAL government does things WELL. It does well when it provides for public education based on the needs and best interests of the people, not just the school bureaucracy, builds and maintains roads and other transportation, but NOT when it’s using public funding to enrich their buddies at inflated prices just because it’s “gubmint work” through prevailing wage. It does well when it provides for public safety (police and fireman), but not when it gives out benefits based on political clout rather than attracting qualified employees, and providing temporary assistance, with a goal of getting those getting it economically self sustaining again after economic dislocation.

    If you’ve been around Illinois very long, you should have learned that Democrats aren’t about “government serving the people”, they’re about “the people serving the government”. When they allow teachers to strike, and have taxpayers shouldering the increased cost burden of excessive contracts, the Dems are working against the public interest rather than “serving the people”. When they set up patronage networks and handouts, contracts and jobs based upon political favors and support instead of most efficiently providing NEEDED services, that’s once again about the people footing the bill for the GOVERNMENT’S best interests, not theirs.

    School choice voucher denial, corporate welfare to fatcats through “incentives”, forced unionism, it’s all about serving the narrow interests of politics and government, rather than “the people”.

    When Illinoisans finally get up and elect people willing to put THEIR interests ahead of the government’s, the state may actually be saved.

    Of course I don’t see that happening anytime soon…

  26. - ZC - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:50 am:

    Rauner was kind of screwed when he came in the door, because he campaigned on such a false premise - that he’d be able to fix the state’s budget problems and pension difficulties without a significant tax increase. Unfortunately the Pension Clause is a lodestone on all of that. No way around it.

    So Rauner really had only two choices: a) Immediately capitulate on the budget and hike taxes, making him very compromised for reelection or b) try for something more ambitious on the side, so he could claim a big conservative victory (union cutbacks, term limits, etc.) Because without that … what does he have to run on, four years from now?

    That doesn’t make me feel sorry for Rauner mind. He dug this hole. He ran on a fantasy campaign, dishonest even by politicians’ standards - the worst was his constant mantra, “My budget plan is coming … My budget plan is coming …” Right up through election day.

    I never thought we’d still be waiting for his budget plan, though, about nine months after he took office.

  27. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:55 am:

    “[They] are passing petitions, which means they’re probably spending time in precincts where they’ll get lots of fast signatures, which may mean they hear a self-reinforcing message”

    For more than a decade, both parties collect signatures using lists that include only the loyalist members of their parties.

    Democrats passing petitions are talking to people who voted in the last three (or more) Democratic primaries. Republicans are doing the inverse.

    You couldn’t design a better echo chamber.

    – MrJM

  28. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:58 am:

    Sheesh, claiming this is about personalities just continues the smokescreen we’re getting from Team Rauner. It isn’t about personalities. It is about one man’s radical anti-union agenda, and the damage he is doing to the state by holding the budget hostage until it is passed (spoiler alert: it won’t be).

    Let’s get past calling it an “epic battle” and a clash of personalities and let’s instead call it what it is: Rauner won’t do anything until he strips working men and women of their right to bargain collectively.

    That not a clash of personalities, it is one man’s personality disorder.

  29. - lost in the weeds - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 10:58 am:

    “Hang in there”

    Until everyone is a free agent fending for themselves.




    1900 America exists

  30. - morningstar - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:04 am:

    I had a friend in Germany who told me about a saying that applies here. It loosely translates thus: “It does not matter if two elephants are fighting or dancing — the mice still get trampled.”

  31. - lost in the weeds - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:07 am:

  32. - working stiff - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:14 am:

    =Even Henry Ford realized if he didn’t pay his workers a better wage, they couldn’t afford to buy the cars they were making.=

    ford paid his workers a higher rate to stop high turnover rate and time needed to train new workers that replaced them.

    =When I was a kid, the Democratic party was the party of unions.=

    back in the 50’s it was the republicans supporting unions.

  33. - GraduatedCollegeStudent - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:17 am:

    ===3. He does not have to face election for 3 more years, unlike MJM. MJM needs to focus on keeping his super- majority. ===

    If the super-majority isn’t workable, what’s the point of fighting to keep it. Aside from trying to protect his caucus, the super-majority is kind of a rhetorical red herring.

  34. - Cheswick - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:22 am:

    Well, when I wrote to my legislators, I detailed specific budget issues and solutions I am a concerned about, and yeah I did tell them to hold their ground, but not because I’m enjoying the power struggle. Hell no.

  35. - Streator Curmudgeon - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:22 am:

    ==The strategy that I think BVR is employing is “Starve the Beast”.==

    Jockey, I think you make some good points. BVR is taking a big gamble, but he doesn’t have much to lose. If he’s not re-elected, he just walks away with a billion dollars and goes back to what he was doing.

    Madigan, on the other hand, has made Illinois politics his entire life. Sure, he has the property tax law business, but he’s in a pretty sweet position: He only needs to get re-elected in his own district, and as party head, he vets every Democrat legislative candidate who wants campaign money.

    If Rauner’s strategy works, he’ll be looking at the White House. That’s tempting even for a billionaire.

  36. - Primary Target - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    Have Radagno to go out with Poe in his district. See how the numerous state workers who voted for Rauner now feel. Might get a little different response. Then take in to account the anti-Quinn vote in Southern Illinois, and look at those recent polls.

    Rauner will not accept any deal unless he crushes the union, and several dents to them will simply not work. Rauner instead is going to crush the Republicans that are willing to crush the needy to demand a crush of the unions and basic wage levels in Illinois. You listening Poe?

  37. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:35 am:

    Primary - by that logic, have Poe go walk with Radogno in her district and see what happens.

    I think that Jockey and Streator have it right. And since this is something we’ve never seen or experienced before, watch out. I know a lot of people wanna compare Rauner to Blago, but that’s a weak sauce argument. Rauner didn’t marry into a political family and he has his own cash. He’ll do whatever he wants, which is fairly evident by what he did in 2013 and 2014 and what he is doing now.

  38. - Blue dog dem - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:42 am:

    Just saying….some of the above comments are the best dialogue I have read posted. Not as much name calling, but the realization that Illinois has to make some changes. What these changes are, and how we get there have and will be interesting. Just an FYI. The school district were my son lives in south IL, has petitioned for the maximum property tax rate increse allowed under PTEL, also, the school board has managed to put on the upcoming ballot a 1% sales tax .increase.kinda figuring there will be an income tax increase in the future, I ask”how long can the middle class keep this up?”

  39. - Mama - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 11:55 am:

    ==”It’s sad that this blog is now the “voice that crieth out in the wilderness”.”==
    Honeybear, I say, Thank God we have this blog! I agree we need more news media folks to join forces with Mr. Rich Miller in shedding light on the truth.

  40. - Keyrock - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 1:11 pm:

    I just went to lunch with a liberal Democratic lawyer friend from Goencoe. He keeps up with the news. He dislikes Madigan. He is only vaguely aware of the social service cuts, and doesn’t realize the extent of pain that has already happened. He thinks the pension problem was caused by the relative handful of abuses, and not the state shorting the pensions to keep taxes low. He thinks Illinois pays higher income taxes than other states. And he’s glad Rauner is sticking it to Madigan.

    I responded to these points, and explained Rauner’s control of the Trib and Sun-Times editorial pages. But it was another (to me scary) example of Rauner’s successful disinformation campaign.

  41. - Arsenal - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 1:18 pm:

    ==by that logic, have Poe go walk with Radogno in her district and see what happens==

    Well, not really.

    Presumably, what, let’s say, 95% of the people who voted for Radogno also voted for Rauner, and 95% of the people who voted for Poe also voted for Rauner. So, IF- and I’m not actually convinced this is the case, but IF- a significant number of the Poe/Rauner population are now abandoning Rauner (and maybe even taking it out on Poe) then that still represents a real loss for the Republican base, regardless of whether or not the Radogno/Rauner population is staying put.

    But it may not be happening.

  42. - ZC - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 1:58 pm:

    Does Rauner’s entire argument really rest on Mike Madigan having 1 more legislator in his Democratic caucus, than in some alternate parallel universe?

    If say Madigan had 1 fewer legislator, would Rauner be like, “Oh, well OK, then, I’ve got to deal and compromise because the Democrats cannot pass their own budget with a super-majority”?

    I don’t think so , somehow. I suppose it’s impossible to summon up an alternate reality and prove it. But I think Rauner would just come up with some other rationale.

  43. - Vole - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 2:09 pm:

    The epic struggle occurred between gilded age plutocrats and the progressive movement and labor organizers. Some would have us return to that epic struggle by loosening all the governmental reforms that provided a workable balance between capital and labor. Rauner is a throwback. You want a real epic struggle? Give Rauner his head. Jeez, like the 0.01%ers ain’t already racking it up big time.

  44. - IL17Progressive - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 2:49 pm:

    So, How’s this ‘perception’ get changed? How’s the anti-plutocrat Rauner move quickly to show show the economic fraud he is.

    Start connecting D.Trump to B.Rauner. They have exactly the same attitude just slightly different huckster manners.

    Make you own ‘Truth About Bruce’ flyers and sticking to windshields around every Gov. Rauner event.

    Fill ‘Letters to Editor’ with ‘Rauner’s huckster campaing’ letters. I see very few in my local area and this is a supposedly high Democrat area.

  45. - bored now - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 5:52 pm:

    it’s not like everybody didn’t predict this when rauner was running. he has done exactly what he said he was going to do: run government like a business. businesses don’t need to be open everyday. they don’t need to collect income everyday. they don’t need to pay bills everyday. just like rauner promised, he has reintroduced herbert hoover (the original businessman in government!) policies and had equally disastrous results.

    but that’s what voters wanted. hard to complain when paralysis was exactly what people voted for…

  46. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 6:15 pm:

    == Personalities are only part of it. ==

    A very small part & most folks don’t seem to get it yet. It IS class warfare. You either support 1%`ers or the middle class and the less fortunate than that.

  47. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 6:21 pm:

    == Personalities are only part of it. ==

    A very small part.

    Make no mistake even tho it seems like most folks don’t get it yet.

    This IS about class warfare. You either support the 1%’ers or you support the middle class and those less fortunate than those.

    Make NO mistake about what this is about.

  48. - DuPage Grandma - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 8:17 pm:

    “For more than a decade, both parties collect signatures using lists that include only the loyalist members of their parties.

    Democrats passing petitions are talking to people who voted in the last three (or more) Democratic primaries. Republicans are doing the inverse.”

    Generally that is true in the precincts where the party (D or R) hold the majority. Where the party is a minority they have to go to the non declared or independents to get their required signatures.

    I have not walked a lot of precincts for this primary, but the ones I have walked (for D candidate(s)) have been R majority…solid. The R’s had walked the non primary voters before me which tells me this petition season is being used as an early campaign not just to fill the petitions.

  49. - fly on the wall - Thursday, Oct 29, 15 @ 8:56 pm:

    Seriously I like how most on here blame a guy that has been there less than a year and ignore the PERMANENT damage done by MJM. You policy wonks around here now deep down that nothing gets done in the statehouse until MJM wants it done. Rich Miller of the rest f the folks that have been around now that is a fact. So when MJM wants it to be resolved it will happen. MJM is just not use to someone standing against him and that is the facts. MJM and his supporters are the 1% and you can quit your bogus class warfare act. Who has ran Chicago into the ground the last 50 years. One Party

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