From The New York Shitty Inbox: Greetings From Broadway

(in Brooklyn, that is)

NOTWANTEDnys

My anonymous tipster, “T” writes:

You may have seen these, but just in case. Posted up under the train along Broadway.. On almost every truss/pillar.

Actually, I have not. But then again:

1. I received this mailer from a tipster who resides in the 34th.

SayNO1

SayNO2

lapdogAARONSHORT2. I reside in the 33rd— wherein a great many of my fellow citizens seem to be in a state of denial that our incumbent City Councilman, Steve Levin, was the Chief of Staff and in fact mentored by this lovely fellow.

Why is this so? For starters, I’d hazard to guess that when compared to David Yassky or Ken Fisher, Levin’s predecessors, he seems like an improvement. The sad fact is, Levin probably is an improvement.

But that just goes to show how low the expectations are here in Greenpoint— and how disappointed I am that no attention by reformers is being directed to the “race” here. Yes, there is one

Supplemental/suggested reading: this tome by City & State. Here’s a choice passage:

…Possibly the most bizarre example of the staffer-as-candidate phenomenon is taking place right now in Brooklyn, where two former chiefs of staff to Assemblyman Vito Lopez, Council Members Stephen Levin and Diana Reyna, currently occupy neighboring districts. In a veritable warren of political intrigue, Lopez is running against Reyna’s chief of staff, Antonio Reynoso, while next door Levin is making every effort to pretend that his own re-election campaign has nothing whatsoever to do with the scandals plaguing his former boss…

Quicklink: WNYC

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Choice quote/teaser:

…The biggest jolt in 2010 was the naming of a new Finance Committee chair. Quinn and her predecessor, Gifford Miller, had given this prize to Queens the previous eight years, a reward for the linchpin role that the 16 Queens Council votes had played in their elections to the speakership by a majority of the 51-member Council. The ironclad control that the Queens party leadership exercised over its Council delegation’s votes for speaker had allowed it to dominate Miller and then Quinn’s committee appointments, and Queens had nine committees, including Land Use and Finance, the pillars of Council power. Chairs aren’t free agents, and the speaker would ultimately call the big questions, but their powers are considerable, and a magnet for contributions.

Quinn appointed Dominick Recchia as Finance Committee chair. Besides the powers, Recchia also got the $18,000 salary bonus that went with the job, a surprisingly important prize to Council members whose base pay is $112,500.  Recchia, who did not respond to requests for comment, represents Coney Island, but he was so obeisant to Lopez that he was, at that very moment, using $2 million of his limited discretionary funds to subsidize Ridgewood Bushwick, as far away from his district as a buck could fly…

Why should we care about this you ask my fellow north Brooklynites? Very simple…

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It would appear our incumbent Steve Levin (who, it has been established, is quite tight with Ms. Quinn) has accepted the above donation from Recchia— or at least his “friends”.Please take a moment to give this post by WNYC a listen. An informed voter is an empowered voter!

Closing on a related note, I feel compelled to share what is by far the best, B-E-S-T, campaign mailer yours truly has received to date (Lopez notwithstanding)…

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Quicklink: By Their Friends Ye $hall Know Them…

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Ever wondered who this fellow is? I know I have. This is because I see his mug all over north Brooklyn.

QCscreencapCIAFANOWell, Queens Crap has the low-down. Here’s a teaser:

Astoria attorney John Ciafone is running for City Council District 22 (Astoria) to replace outgoing Peter Vallone, Jr. He has run previously for the council as well as for the assembly… What you may not know is that Ciafone currently appears on Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio’s slumlord list (for a property located in Greenpoint no less — Ed. Note). To his credit, he is on the “most improved” list, having reduced his violations from 195 to 2. He tried to donate to DeBlasio, but it was returned. Local council member/Vito Lopez protege Steve Levin and Queens BP candidates Peter Vallone and Melinda Katz apparently have no qualms about keeping his money, however…

Read it for yourselves here.

NYCCFB

Otherwise, I will leave you with this footage from a campaign event from Christopher Olechowski’s campaign for 50th Assembly District Democratic Party Male Leader. At 0:28 you can see John J. Ciafone, Esquire, himself…

I encourage you all, gentle readers, to give ALL these videos (there are five total) a watch. They’re, um, interesting.

(Image Credit: Ciafone making aluminum siding look good comes courtesy of Queens Crap)

Live From Last Night’s Debate: The Questions Commence!

And the conclusion!

Greenpoint Photo Du Jour: No Spitting

NOSPITTING

This one never gets old. What’s more, Alex Low of the New Kings Democrats not only noticed— but made sure that all attendees present at this evening’s proceedings minded their “P’s” and “Q’s”…

This is the first installment of this evening’s debate. More to come. Given my site is acting up again (Yeah, I know) I’ll continue adding footage as I can. Otherwise, I’d advise everyone to check my YouTube page. There you will find it all!

Josef and Levin

Josef, one of the Greenpoint community’s more colorful characters, talks up Councilman Levin after said proceedings.

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: Join Us!

Earlier today I noted the meeting regarding crime scheduled for this evening has been cancelled —and a public forum regarding crime has been organized by our city Councilman, Steve Levin, is scheduled for August 27th. Well, it has been brought to my attention the previous evening, August 26th, there will be a sunset “meet and greet” at 475 Kent Avenue, replete with cocktails, on the rooftop!

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A few thoughts/observations:

  • This email blast (which was in turn forwarded to yours truly) was sent to someone who is not a resident of 475 Kent Avenue.
  • However he/she has attended Loft Law workshops publicized by NAG (Neighbors Allied For Good Growth).
  • NAG is a recipient of city funding for activities like Williamsburg Walks.
  • The tenant organizer for NAG also happens to be a member of Community Board 1— and she was appointed by Councilman Levin.
  • The NYC Loft Tenant Group is a city-wide group.  Are they conducting “meet and greets” for all city councilmembers up for reelection this year— or only Steve Levin?

Now On Manhattan Avenue: Christine Quinn

August 17, 2013 ·
Filed under: 11222, Crosstown Local, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

hotair

As the Mister and I were coming home from taking one of the furkids to the vet this morning, we spied a most interesting sight: Christine Quinn and Councilman Levin and Bramer speaking at the India Street stop of our very own Crosstown Local. I went in for a closer look and spied my buddy Charlie, the block mayor of India Street.

Charlie: She wants to cut the fare for the ferry in half on weekends.*
Me: Of course she does. This is because it is an election year. The rest of the time she could not give a fat rat’s ass about this neighborhood.

Charlie nodded in agreement and I went home.

*This is all well and good— but is it really going to be an effective replacement for no G train service (as opposed to, say, more buses)? This is thinking in triage terms at best…

UPDATE: Here’s what CBS has to say:

“The MTA should step up and help with financial to accelerate CitiBike; to make sure that the CitiBikes come to Long Island City and Greenpoint immediately,” Quinn told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria. “That would help people get to where they need to go more easily while the train tunnel is under reconstruction.”

Quinn also said a ticket for the East River ferry should cost the equivalent of a MetroCard swipe while G Train service is partially down…”

This is all well and good— but it does not really address the transportation needs for seniors, those who are mobility-impaired (the ferry stop hereabouts is kind of a schlep) or do not have credit cards so as to secure a Citibike in the first place. We need more buses. Plain and simple.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Word From Stephen Pierson

piersonNYS

I know what a lot of you are thinking, fellow Garden Spotters:

Who the hell is this guy?

Well, registered Democrats of the 33rd City Council District listen-up. He’s running against “our” incumbent: Steve Levin. And here’s what he has to say to us. Actually, Mr. Pierson wants to hear from us— which is even better. I do not recall Mr. Levin doing this. But I am getting ahead of myself…

Dear North Brooklynites,

pierson2My name is Stephen Pierson and I am running (as a Democrat) for City Council in our district (the 33rd) against the incumbent, Steve Levin. The election is September 10. I am a 15-year Brooklyn resident, a CB2 member, a (very lucky) husband, the father of a two-year-old daughter (with another on the way), and the Director of a nonprofit that runs an after-school tutoring program for at-risk youth and produces several arts/literary publications.

For too long I’ve watched with dismay as our local politicians cut backroom deals that benefit themselves at the expense of our community. Steve Levin is the very embodiment of this unethical culture and represents the continuation of Vito Lopez’s dynasty. His symbiotic relationship with Vito—which dates back to his time as Vito’s Chief of Staff—has had been detrimental to our community. Among other things, Levin has taken money away from North Brooklyn, sending over six million of our tax dollars out of the 33rd District to Vito’s corrupt nonprofit.

North Brooklyn deserves better. Getting functional toilet seats installed in McCarren Park shouldn’t have to be the job of crusading bloggers.

Over the course of this campaign, I’ve spoken to hundreds of Greenpoint residents, attended dozens of meetings, and spent many mornings at G train subway stops and at the India Street Ferry terminal. Drawing on these (and my 15 years in Brooklyn), here are but a few proposals towards a better North Brooklyn:

(1) (OVER)DEVELOPMENT:

  • Ensure that developers build sufficient infrastructure for the rest of the community that they impact. The Bayard St. condo developments should serve as a warning: I’ve spoken to numerous Bayard St-area residents—people who have lived there for decades without problem—who suddenly, since the condo constructions, find their basements flooding with every big rain storm, costing them thousands of dollars in damages. Current residents shouldn’t have to pay for developers’ (and politicians’) shortsightedness regarding infrastructure. I will also work with the City Council to explore transportation impact fees to be paid by developers.
  • Ensure that the right numbers and types of affordable units are built at Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial St. The memorandums-of-understanding (MOUs) that promise roughly 25% affordable units at both need to be legally binding (for once), and need to have significant financial penalties built in that compel these developers to follow through on their promises. Furthermore, building 50% of its affordable units at 80-to-120% AMI, as Greenpoint Landing proposes, is neither acceptable nor truly “affordable.” We need to fight for more 40-to-80% AMI units.
  • Additionally, these MOUs should provide that a substantial percentage of these affordable units will be guaranteed for local residents.
  • And note that this assumes that Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial St. will proceed as planned. I do believe that there is still room–and much reason–to fight for downzoning on the waterfront to prevent this rampant over-development.

(2) TRANSPORTATION

  • Better G-train service. Period. As a member of the Riders Alliance, I have long helped advocate for this. The MTA needs to fully and immediately implement all the recommended changes contained in their just-completed Full Line Review.
  • More frequent ferry service during peak hours. Service every 20 minutes during rush hours isn’t good enough. And it certainly won’t be good enough as the waterfront becomes significantly more populated over the next several years.
  • Strongly support Assemblyman Lentol’s proposed dedicated bike lane on the Pulaski Bridge, and study the construction of a dedicated bike/pedestrian bridge that runs parallel to the Pulaski. The recently-completed DOT study that suggests replacing a lane of car traffic on the Pulaski with a dedicated bike lane is a large step in the right direction. However, I do worry that it doesn’t sufficiently account for near-future surges in traffic that will accompany North Brooklyn waterfront development. With Long Island City looking to become the next big tech/startup hub, we may need a dedicated bike commuting route that doesn’t impact the Pulaski. I would advocate for a feasibility study, jointly funded by Brooklyn and Queens developers (as the building of such a bridge would also serve their interests).
  • Bring Bike Share to Greenpoint ASAP. While this needs to be implemented responsibly, in conjunction with the street-facing needs of local businesses, I strongly believe that Greenpoint significantly benefits from Bike Share—both by providing Greenpoint residents with more transportation options, and by making it easier for non-Greenpoint residents to visit Greenpoint and positively impact local businesses.
  • Enforce existing truck routing laws to decrease truck traffic in North Brooklyn. Currently, the BQE is the only legal “through truck route” that passes through North Brooklyn. All other truck-legal streets (like McGuinness Blvd., Greenpoint Ave, and Kent Ave) only allow for trucks that make local deliveries. Far too many through-trucks cut through North Brooklyn to either avoid BQE traffic or circumvent the LIE/BQE junction. This is illegal, and it results in more traffic, accidents, and noise/air pollution in North Brooklyn. It needs to be stopped immediately by setting up enforcement stations and putting up signage.
  • More traffic enforcement at dangerous intersections like Lorimer St. and Bayard (where the four-way stop is often disobeyed), and especially all of McGuinness Blvd. (which is, statistically, one of the three most dangerous streets in Brooklyn). Consider installing traffic cameras at these locations.

(3) OPEN SPACES / QUALITY OF LIFE

  • Build a dog park in north Greenpoint! This is way overdue. The only dog run in Greenpoint is in McGolrick Park. It is not a viable option for anyone who lives north of Greenpoint Ave. Thus, dog owners are using Transmitter Park as an ad hoc dog run. This is not a viable solution for anyone. We need to build a new dog park now, even if it’s only a temporary run on undeveloped land off of Commercial Ave.
  • Direct revenue back into North Brooklyn’s parks. North Brooklyn residents are already shortchanged regarding open spaces. If Brooklyn Flea/Smorgasburg are a fait accompli, the least that can be done for residents is to have this revenue reinvested into improving other neighborhood spaces, instead of being absorbed into NY State’s general park fund. At the initial CB1 liquor license hearing for Smorgasburg, pressure was placed on certain members of the SLA Committee to pass it. What is revealing is the likelihood Mr. Levin, my opponent, was trying to extract meaningful concessions from the proprietors of Smorgasburg/Brooklyn Flea.
  • Enact significant changes to the process of filming on Greenpoint’s streets. Greenpoint residents are continuously inconvenienced by a massive amount of filming in their commuinity. At minimum, three proposals bear strong consideration: (1) Reduce the number of permits issued; (2) eliminate alternate side parking rules on surrounding streets during a shoot; (3) ensure that some of the revenue generated by these shoots is directly reinvested back into the community.
  • Construct a better Community Board 1 (CB1) that’s more representative of the current community, and more responsive to the community’s needs. I’ve heard far too many stories of residents being told by CB1 that their complaints don’t matter. A more responsive CB1 can be achieved by instituting term limits, making the appointment process more transparent, and directly involving community organizations in the appointment and interview process (and there should actually be an interview process!).

These ideas are, of course, only a small starting point. More than anything else, I want to hear from you! I envision a City Council office that works directly with residents, actively soliciting and discussing ideas, and making its decisions in a completely transparent manner. You can contact me at: stephen@piersonforcouncil.com or 347-471-0388.

So there have you.

Closing on a related note, here’s a press release as issued by Mr. Pierson’s Campaign Manager, Diana Gonzalez. It is calling for a series of debates through-out the amazingly diverse district that is the 33rd.

emailNYS

I for one think this is a sterling idea. Anyone have questions/concerns to voice to Mr. Pierson? Contact him! Otherwise, in terms of venues and/or moderators anyone have ideas? Let’s make a debate in Greenpoint (and Williamsburg) happen!

Live From The Informational Meeting Regarding the Respite Center at 122 Java Street

kentstreet

Spotted on Kent Street February 21, 2013.

mysteryflier

Forwarded to me by a concerned citizen from Java Street, February 20, 2013. He/she writes:

hey there, father john (and miss heather). you may have seen the attached flyer by now, but i wanted to pass it along to make sure you’re aware of it. i saw it in our vestibule… this morning and have been seething ever since. after the contretemps on milton street, those of us who pay attention to such affairs are aware of the character of the opposition and you’re probably more than prepared for tomorrow evening. we’ve all heard the nimby exaggerations about public pee-pee and poo-poo, but the suggestion that ascension will be “making money on the backs of java street residents” was particularly galling…

agenda

Let’s review numbers and facts.

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from people and public officials who not only gave their names, but also contact information! To this end I will share footage I shot from last night’s meeting. Here we go!

Anyone who:

  1. wishes to be apprised of the sex offenders in Greenpoint can do so here.
  2. wishes to volunteer at the Respite Center (and get to know the men who use it) can do so by contacting Pat McDonnell at Outreach via telephone at (347) 925 – 5532 or email at: ptmcdonn7 (at) aol (dot) com.
  3. wishes to get the scoop/details on the homeless “situation” hereabouts are invited to the Greenpoint Homeless Task Force Meeting. This will come to pass March 7th.

I am particularly interested in the lattermost. I want to know what resources are allocated for Greenpoint/North Brooklyn’s homeless women. I asked Mr. Sheehan if this would be covered at this meeting (provided one asked). He said it would. So there have you!

More to come…

Notes From The Respite Center Community “Forum”

January 24, 2013 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

lettertolentolNYS

 

NOTE/CAVEAT: It was agreed that any/all press (including “blogs”) refrain from posting commentary from the attendees present. I intend to respect this.* However, there was plenty of very informative information tendered by Councilman Levin, Rami Metal, representatives of the Department of Homeless Services, Common Ground and Pastors Kansfield and Aull. This I will endeavor to share. For the sake of simplicity I have opted to organize the two hours worth of “discussion” by topic. If there is anything I missed or mistook, please let me know via comments!

Exactly how did this facility come into being?

The Greenpoint Homeless Task Force

It was explained to everyone present (albeit in a discontinuous fashion) this respite shelter is the culmination of several years of work on the part of a number of people. Mr. Levin’s “right hand man”, Rami Metal, in his previous capacity as the same under David Yassky (Levin’s predecessor) started something called the Greenpoint Homeless Task Force. He did so because he was disturbed by the number of homeless men residing in our public spaces (parks) and waterfront. This body, which includes employees of Outreach, the 94th Precinct, The Department of Health (because a number of our homeless have issues with addiction), the Parks Department (because that is where Greenpoint’s homeless tend to congregate/live), among many others came together with the common goal of addressing Greenpoint’s homeless problem.

The first step in this process was actually identifying exactly how many homeless (men) there are in Greenpoint and learn who they are. To this end Common Ground was brought in. For those of you who are not in the know, Common Ground has a contract with our fair city and does all of its homeless outreach. INTERESTING FACT/ASIDE: one can call 311 and (for wont of a nicer way of putting it) alert the city of a homeless person in his/her community. The operator will ask the caller to give a detailed description and an outreach team will be dispatched within two hours. Outreach discerned that there are fifteen bone fide homeless individuals in Greenpoint and got to know them. Presently ten of these men are using the respite center at the Greenpoint Reformed Church on a daily basis. In other words: this respite center is not seeing a “revolving door” in terms of occupancy— but I am getting ahead of myself.

Communication with the Department of Homeless Services

Upon entering office Councilman Levin took up the matter of creating a shelter (and I am using the term quite loosely) for these individuals with the head of the Department of Homeless Services: Robert Hess. He seemed amenable to the idea and stated if a location could be found for such a facility, he would fund it. However, Mr. Hess was replaced by (the current head) Seth Diamond. He did not seem as enthusiastic so the matter was tabled.

This changed once it became apparent that at least one homeless man a year was dying due to hypothermia for wont of a safe, warm place to sleep. The rather brutal assault which came to pass in McCarren Park last summer also made it clear something needed to be done. So the plans for a respite center were made a priority.

Initially the Church of the Ascension was to be the location for this facility. Reverend Merz negotiated with the Department of Homeless Services and Common Ground (among others) an agreement was made in regards to funding and it seemed to be a “go”. However, Mr. Merz had to withdraw. His reason for doing so was a very sound one: he had a contract pending with a developer to utilize unused FAR for the “public hall” of his church. Given that churches in general are strapped for cash, this makes sense. However due to this turn of events, he could not obligate to the six month minimum contract as required by the Department of Homeless Services. He had to withdraw. Thus, it was “shopped around” to other churches in our community. The Greenpoint Reformed Church, despite serious trepidation (as was made quite clear by Ms. Kansfield and especially Ms. Aull), stepped up to the plate.

The final details for the respite shelter were finessed “two to three weeks” before Hurricane Sandy hit. The Nor’Easter which followed pushed the timetable forward. Thus, this facility was opened November 18th— apparently without Mr. Levin’s knowledge. However, the Greenpoint Reformed Church did announce it on their site. The contract they have (via Common Ground— the Department of Homeless Services cannot dispense funds directly to a religious organization) runs through June 2013 and it was made explicit therein that the Greenpoint Reformed Church has “veto power” over who can and more importantly— who cannot— “reside” at this respite shelter. Councilman Levin made repeatedly clear he was very apologetic as to the lack of awareness raising on his part. He claimed total responsibility and hoped (as did the other representatives present) that there will hopefully be better communication moving forward.

Exactly how does this “respite shelter” work?

First, let’s consider how it is different than 400 McGuinness. As a Department of Homeless Services representative explained (and this is keeping it very simple): there are shelters such as BRC’s assessment facility at 400 McGuinness (which are part of larger “system”) and ancillary shelters which are geared towards what she called “street homeless”. The objectives of both are the same: to provide homeless individuals shelter, treatment and, ultimately, permanent housing (more often than not, in SROs**).

The difference lies (at least in terms of the respite center at the Greenpoint Reformed Church) in methodology. More specifically, the latter is local in scope and seeks to house individuals who are unwilling and unable to enter the “traditional” shelter system. The reasons for this are many. As it pertains to the respite center at the Greenpoint Reformed Church, the men they serve have language “issues” (READ: as Polish immigrants, they do not speak English fluently) and have addiction problems (alcoholism, mostly). While these men have “priority” in terms of shelter at BRC’s facility at 400 McGuinness (which assesses homeless men from the city in general), they have not elected to use it. Entering a shelter is purely voluntary; it cannot be forced. Like I previously wrote: the needs of these individuals are very specific and as such this respite shelter was created to address them.

The “nuts and bolts”

The respite center at the Greenpoint Reformed Church is staffed by two employees from Common Ground. As I previously stated, this is the organization which has been contracted by the city to do homeless outreach. They are the operators of this facility. Common Ground staff meet the ten homeless men in question at Greenpoint Avenue and Manhattan Avenue every evening at 9:00 p.m. They escort these fellows to the shelter. After dinner is served the beds are rolled out and they go to sleep. The employees stay with them. The following morning (at 5:40 a.m.), they escort these men back to Greenpoint Avenue and Manhattan Avenue. It was also noted they do patrols of Milton Street (between Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street) to ensure there is no malingering/”trouble”.

Does this respite shelter have a bathroom? (Because this being New York Shitty it deserves its own heading)

Yes it does! What’s more, the Department of Homeless Services has approved funding for a shower. The rationale for this is quite simple (and lest I have not made it clear via these notes thus far): as chronically homeless men, the goal is to get them sheltered and care so they can, hopefully, be “reintegrated” back into society. Obviously personal hygiene is essential to making this happen.

What will happen if/when the ten men at this facility presently are placed in permanent housing?

As it was noted by both representatives the Department of Homeless Services and Common Ground, this can take years to happen. However, the intent with the respite shelter at the Greenpoint Reformed Church is to target a specific homeless population: Greenpoint’s homeless population. When Greenpoint ceases to have homeless individuals, this facility will have served its purpose.

Since I have promised not to publish any of the discussion from tonight’s two hour meeting, there’s really not much more to write. HOWEVER, the Common Ground representative present, Doug Becht, made quite clear:

  • If anyone has problems of an urgent nature regarding the conduct of any of the men who use this facility, call the 311 (the police).
  • If anyone has concerns of a less severe but chronic nature, contact Common Ground at 347-573-1746.

In closing, it was announced there would be another community meeting in “about one month”. Those who signed up at this evening’s convocation will receive notice as to when this will happen. When I hear something, I’ll say something here.***

P.S.: For those of you who are wondering, here is a roster of public officials who turned out at tonight’s meeting: Linda Minucci (50th Assembly District Democratic Party Female Leader), Steve Levin (City Councilman for the 33rd District), a representative from Joe Lentol’s office and, in an albeit unofficial capacity (Community Board 1 was apparently not notified of this convocation), the Public Safety Chair of Community Board 1.

*With one exception. One attendee noted:

There is no application to be a member of the (this) community. (One does not) audition to be a member.

**Single Room Occupancy

**On a more provocative note, one attendee informed the Mister (who arrived late) that there will be a meeting of individuals opposed to the respite shelter January 31st. No further details were given.

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