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SchoolWatch

Letters from the Community
 
 

Don't make us a separate state!

I am amazed that anyone would seriously consider statehood for Long Island ["Long Island: The 51st State?" News, April 1]. If there is an area less capable of governing itself and more in need of wiser heads to maintain oversight, I am at a loss to name it.

Consider our school systems. Yes, our children get a quality education, but at an incredible cost. Long Islanders routinely elect unionized teachers to school board positions and then scratch their heads over inflated salaries and featherbedding. Who can blame the lawyers for wanting a piece of the action?

We have a fine police force. We should, for the salaries we pay. County-level politicians seem incapable of maintaining police salaries in line with, for example, New York City (and I thought New York City was supposed to be run by spend-and-tax liberals).

Right, let's vote to make Long Island a state and eliminate whatever oversight we have over special districts.

Get real!

Alexander J. Kelly

Smithtown

 
 
 
 

Don't make us a separate state! I am amazed that anyone would seriously consider statehood for Long Island ["Long Island: The 51st State?" News, April 1]. If there is an area less capable of governing itself and more in need of wiser heads to maintain oversight, I am at a loss to name it. Consider our school systems. Yes, our children get a quality education, but at an incredible cost. Long Islanders routinely elect unionized teachers to school board positions and then scratch their heads over inflated salaries and featherbedding. Who can blame the lawyers for wanting a piece of the action? We have a fine police force. We should, for the salaries we pay. County-level politicians seem incapable of maintaining police salaries in line with, for example, New York City (and I thought New York City was supposed to be run by spend-and-tax liberals). Right, let's vote to make Long Island a state and eliminate whatever oversight we have over special districts. Get real! Alexander J. Kelly Smithtown

Dear East Islip Board of Education Trustees,



East Islip parents/homeowners are faced, year after year, day after day, with the daunting challenge to make ends meet, while trying to remain East Islip residents!


Over the years East Islip school personnel have been very fortunate, receiving well above average increases i.e., step, incremental and cost of living, along with their rich benefits packages. However, during these economically challenging times, many East Islip residents have not received yearly raises and/or if they did receive raises, they certainly were not enough to keep up with property tax increases (of which ~60% are school taxes!). Yeah, we know it’s like that all over Long Island, blah, blah, blah, blah…


So, why can’t East Islip strive to be different? Why can’t we be the district that breaks the mold?


Every year the school wants more and more, claiming they cannot maintain what they have with the previous year’s budget. The schools purposely schedule Art shows, and “Block Parties”, etc… prior to the budget vote to persuade parents to vote YES. Some teachers even discuss the budget in the classrooms. In most instances, the budget never passes on the first try so there is a re-vote. The PTA and all the so-called “Concerned Parents” campaign to persuade parents by saying that passing the budget will require a minimal increase in our property taxes. All the while forgetting that this years “minimal increase” is piled on top of last years whopping 12.69% increase, and on top of all the previous increases. I am a 40+ year resident of this community. I grew up here and went through the school system. I purchased my home in 1991, and have seen my property tax bill increase from just under $3,000/year to over $9,000 year, an increase of over 300 percent! That is absurd!


Bottom line, schools needs to become more frugal. They need to maintain and work with what they have. If our district would just cut out the fat…like the superintendent that hire others to do his job (hearing officers, three law firms, court reporters, consultants, PR firms, etc…), eliminate non-mandated positions, i.e., doctors, nurses, teacher’s aides, Union President’s salary. Most importantly, the BOE needs to stand firm on negotiating the teachers’ contract and teachers need to pay a larger percentage toward their benefits on par with the rest of the community.


Word around town is that you are ready to cave in and give away the store (I am not saying it; I am just repeating what I have heard.) Please, do not settle the contract just because you think it will help pass the budget! That will only backfire if we do not get real concessions. You need to eliminate the supplemental benefits, i.e., the Welfare Trust Fund contribution alone, takes away $1.1M per year from our kids! Did you know East Islip is the butt of jokes throughout NY State because of that Welfare Fund? We hear those jokes all the time when we are in Albany.


ELIMINATE THE WELFARE FUND CONTRIBUTION 100%! – It is not a common practice and you know it!


DECLARE AN IMPASSE! Without confidentiality, the union would lose its leverage!


Taxpayers are unquestionably squeezed. The school board as well as the administration of this district has an obligation to provide the best possible service at the least cost, what the taxpayers can afford. Of course, school districts have all sorts of "explanations", with some basis in fact but also with gross exaggeration - one of the most common being "state mandates." Yes, there are state mandates, and many are foolish, and exist only because of pressure applied by teachers and other unions. Nevertheless, far and away the bulk of every school budget is a function of school board decisions, e.g., what salaries to pay and how many employees to hire.


Our Community cannot afford anything less than a complete rewrite of the Teachers’ contract! Ultimately, your actions, not your words, will tell us whom you are representing…


Sincerely,

Frank M. Gerace

SchoolWatch

http://skoolwatch.tripod.com

PS Please do it for the Kids!

 

 

 

 

Hello Friends (and Cheerleaders)


Cheerleaders, this evening you have managed to astonish me more than any other time that a Cheerleader/`Lackey has done so and concomitantly you have once again managed to expose exactly how self absorbed, unsympathetic, and selfish your purpose is.


To state that the “voters” are despicable is an affront to everything that this great country stands for and belittles the struggles and sacrifices that were made to build this great country. Your feigning of interest for the benefit of all the children in the district is also an affront to the intelligence of any reasonably educated person reading your rubbish. I am once again rendered speechless at the lengths that you will go to contort the semblance of reality.


The focus of your agenda (“to get the High School Varsity athletes back on the field”).was as clear as ever in this last tirade except that it belied the fact that there is nothing else but your own misguided selfish interest behind it.


The “voters” that you so aptly insulted are part of a great community of hardworking people who have their children’s, their neighbors children’s and the community’s best interest in mind. And with your insipid remarks you manage, with a broad brush-stroke, to vilify all of them across the board – the senior citizens (which were described by one of your cohorts as a group of people foolishly dribbling money away on lottery tickets; the young families (I guess if they have no children they have no right to vote on how their tax money is to be spent); those with children (who apparently by your measure all have children who are “academically and athletically challenged” and who do not give a crap and apparently did not come out to vote); and all the rest who did vote but whom apparently should have voted differently because you pretend to believe that your wants come before those of the community’s.


My fellow neighbors, friends, parents, and families, tonight I will not urge you to take any considerations regarding votes, budgets, elections, etc. I would however urge you to consider the shortsightedness that has brought our community to this place in time. Shortsightedness that has resulted in a situation that is no longer sustainable.


Years ago, someone coined the phrase “think globally, act locally”. I think that motto is a good one to live by. Our great country right now is standing at a precipice in this time in history. Think about it; one of our brightest innovative companies IBM (Its PC business) was recently sold to a Chinese company. China (just until the recent past was considered a third world nation) will soon surpass the United States in manufacturing and in energy demand. China also now operates both ports at either end of the Panama Canal (and will be bankrolling the largest new construction project in the world – the widening of the Panama Canal, thus it is poised to have a major stake in all of the global economy. The education level of the majority of countries in Europe now surpasses that of the United States. How do we as a country, as a community (individual school district) even start to be relatively competitive if we don’t start thinking outside of the box and fixing our broken school systems? Newsday recently published an interesting article entitled “Getting In” describing the struggle of our brightest students trying to get into college. Even those who are extraordinarily talented athletes are having trouble. Why? Because the world is looking for something different, something that shines brighter. The age we live in is evermore competitive and we need to adjust. There is no way around it. Today our great school district also stands at a precipice and our actions need to meet the challenge ahead. Our future depends on it. The children’s future depends on it.


To the Cheerleaders/lackeys who want to insist that, I (or other reformers) are anti-sports. I am sorry but you are only deluding yourselves. I am a lover of society; the importance of sports and how it is intertwined into society is not lost on me. It is not lost on me that the greatest societies held these issues important. Such was the impetus for the great Coliseum in the Roman Empire (as just one example). It is also not lost on me that these great societies were made possible by innovative thinking, ability to adapt, and sacrifice.


Innovate we must. Adapt we must. Sacrifice we must (except that we have sacrificed far too much economically due to waste, mismanagement, corruption and cronyism).


I am getting tired now so I will get going. I wish you all a good night and good luck.


2007 Copyright Sandman


Sandmanxxx@netzero.net 

 

 

 

 

Open Letter to the E.I. Community:
 
We need a plan to prepare a budget that this community will pass next year. This week I had to try and explain to my daughter why she will only have library every other Friday. I saw two beautiful science labs in two buildings not being used at all. In this age of increasing technology where they say a tremendous amount of our population will be working in technical and/or health related fields it is outrageous that our elementary school children cannot use the beautiful science labs we built for them.

How many cuts will our children take before our teachers take one?????

In JFK primary chorus has been cut. We are fundraising to give our children the extra curricular activities necessary for a well rounded education. By my modest and uneducated estimation of the numbers posted, we will have raised at least 750,000 dollars for EIABC and SAFE by the time this school year is over. The teachers welfare fund is over a million dollars.

How many cuts will our children take before our teachers take one?????

I am known in this community for being a supporter of teachers and I am. I don’t have a problem with salaries. I think after 20 years of working hard in the same place and being creative and fresh year after year they should be compensated accordingly. I think the good teachers earn every dime of that salary. However the benefits need to step into this century. Health care alone in this country is completely out of whack but why, why, why does it have to only impact the tax payer.

How many cuts will our children take before our teachers take one?????

I cannot bear to look my seven year old in the eye and tell her again next year that the beautiful library we built, as a community, can only be seen by her class twice a month. I don’t think for the amount of taxes we pay that my son should see a study hall before 11th grade and we have 7th graders with study halls.

How many cuts will our children take before our teachers take one?????

How many years will it take to get back all the electives we lost in the highschool this year? How many years will it take to get back the gifted program that was lost the first time we were on austerity?

How many cuts will our children take before our teachers take one?????

Come on educators of Eat Islip, you work in beautiful buildings that have all been dramatically renovated in the last 7 years, you are safe here, you have a very supportive parental base that works with you to get you whatever you need in your classrooms. We admire and respect you and your work. We are grateful that most of our children are graduating with Regents diplomas and going on to 4 year colleges, you chose this profession and it is a noble one, but my taxes have gone up 55% in the last 10 years and I have given up many things to pay to live here now my children are sacrificing important aspects of their education to pay the tax bill.

How many cuts will our children take before our teachers take one?????

How many?????????????????

A plea from a mom...........................

Bonnie Buckley

________________________________________________________________________

 

 


Dear Concerned Residents,
 
SchooolWatch DOES have the children's best interest first. In order to have that, we, [the regular people of E.I.] need to know how our tax money is being spent. They have said repeatedly that we have a good school district. Have you seen how many houses are up for sale in E.I. and Islip Terrace? I have and have stopped to ask why at a few. About 75% said that taxes are out of control. You would be VERY SURPRISED to find out that they put alot of the blame on our teachers. It's not the teachers as it is the teachers union president that refuses to make concessions for the GOOD OF OUR CHILDREN!!! How many times in the past have we heard from the teachers union at budget time say,"It's for the kids.","Vote yes to protect your property values." Well, the first 2 years I lived here, I voted yes because I believed them. After I saw my school tax portion increase almost 40% in 3 years, I went to my first school board meeting. I didn't understand much, but I keep going. Is the school board wasting money? I don't know. What I do know is that unless we get some kind of tax relief, alot more homes will be up for sale and property values will continue to plummet. The only ones who can give us this relief is the teachers union. SOOOOOOO, I will ask again. E.I. Teachers union, will you help the parents of the kids that you profess to care so much about?
 
Mike Buksa
__________________________________________________________

Hey  did you want me to take up personnel or personal issues with the little guy? I thought this site was about helping kids who are hurting? Or is it really more about hiding behind that slogan in order to sanitize and legitimize the new PR campaign of an aging and greedy tax pac who had obviously lost touch with its parent base (if they ever even had one)over the last 10 years? Everyone knows the success of this web site and bringing down last year's failed budget in the EI re-vote was the hard work and brainchild of School Watch Founder George Deabold. I just hope he's not being used by tax pac. George is a dedicated and passionate man who has learned alot defending his own kid and others too from the unjust treatment and lack of services they've endured from the administration in our district. George won't give up the fight that protects student rights that Dennis Maloney not only ignores, but whose absence he has championed as good district policy. George also won't allow the teacher's union to portray themselves as victims of Mr. Maloney's power plays for they are just as complicit in failing to speak up for the special needs of the children they teach. He knows that teachers have tenure for this very reason....to speak up for our children whose problems many teachers refuse to even acknowledge on a daily basis simply because they don't want grief from a Dennis Maloney or a Pat Cuccia. The Union's silence is deafening but paid for handsomely with the double digit salary increases they have received over the past 10 years. So , what the HELL am I talking about and WHO do I blame for the EI failed budget? Well it's NOT George Deabold. I blame Dennis Maloney, Pat Cuccia and Nancy Close (Union President). Why? Because they have underestimated the perserverance, tenacity of all the Deabold type families in this community who have been screwed by the Maloney administration and the OLD BOE. Because these three leaders selfishness, arrogance and shortsightedness could not foresee a coalition of elements and forces coming together for all of the RIGHT reasons to produce a failed budget. That mistake....on a political level alone should, if there was ever any justice in this town, prove fatal to each of their respected positions. Each of them through their actions (or lack thereof) created George Deabold, and they've watched him transform from an isolated anguished/bereaved parent into the admired networked INCREDIBLE HULK-like child advocate whose advice and PR makes him one of the most sought after resources among parents and media on LI. Good job Dennis, Pat and Nancy. It's time for all of you to go. Oh, how it must burn you to see George Deabold's face on TV and be forced to deal with how your incompetence and apathy have created such a mess for our town! Well, batten down the hatches. All the forces for this storm have gathered. Good luck for our taxpayers trying weathering it through!

 

 
PTA Parent
 ______________________________________________________________

Open Letter to: East Islip Teachers' Association - Retiree Chapter


I find it very interesting that the East Islip Teachers Association - Retirees Chapter has so much to to say about SchoolWatch in their August 16th publication...


First, you bet our freedom of speech was violated - and you haven't heard the last of that one!


Second, we do not "continue to undermine reasonable attempts toward progress and order" as you so arrogantly state in your newsletter. To the contrary, we are attempting create change by building awareness of the issues among the community. A community that is tired and has been put through the wringer and needs a break!

Third, yes we've been very vocal in suggesting ways to trim taxes - However, we are not trying to do it all on the teachers' backs! We respect our teachers - It's the union that is the problem!


STOP TRYING TO DIVIDE THE EAST ISLIP COMMUNITY - BECAUSE YOU HAVE PICKED THE WRONG ONE TO DIVIDE!

THE TEACHERS UNION IS AN 800 LB. GORILLA THAT HAS THE GOLDEN GOOSE BY THE NECK! WHY DON'T YOU SQUEEZE A LITTLE HARDER AND END IT - BECAUSE THERE WILL BE NO MORE GOLDEN EGGS FOR YOU!


STOP TRYING TO SLANDER AND VILIFY SCHOOLWATCH!

Frank M. Gerace
President
SchoolWatch
______________________________________________________________

Dear East Islip School Board,

The East Islip School District reroutes thousands of taxpayers’ dollars into the hands of the teachers’ union every year, by granting paid release time for representatives to attend union activities and by financing the union president (Nancy Close - $120K/yr?) and I believe, other officers to take extended leave from regular duties. I believe this funding is done primarily through collective bargaining agreements but also through school board policies and administrative practices.

Release time for union activities may include attending local union meetings or workshops, negotiating bargaining agreements, etc.  Many school districts agree to pay a certain number of days per school year for their teachers to participate in these activities. The union either repays the district for the much lower cost of a substitute teacher or pays nothing at all.

A separate but related subsidy to the union involves paid leave for union officers. This practice includes granting extended leave to local union presidents and other local officers. In most districts where this occurs, the district pays the released teacher’s regular salary while the union reimburses a significantly smaller amount to the district. Some union presidents, who are performing full-time labor advocacy, receive advancement on the salary schedule as if they had taught in the classroom. Also, several districts have agreed to pay their teachers for days of service as officers in the union.

I strongly believe that policymakers should eliminate these subsidies, forbidding the school district from:

• providing employees paid release time from regularly contracted duties to attend union activities. For each day used by an employee for union purposes, the union should compensate the district in full at the employee’s daily pay rate, or the district should deduct the day from the employee’s accumulated personal leave.

• paying any employee for release time from regularly contracted duties to serve or hold office in any union. For each day used by an employee for union purposes, the union should compensate the district in full at the employee’s daily pay rate, or the district should deduct the day from the employee’s accumulated personal leave.

• releasing any employee from regularly contracted duties to serve or hold office in any union for more than one school year. During any such time, the union should pay the full cost of the salary and benefits of such employees.

• granting formal experience credit to any employee released from regularly contracted duties to serve or hold office in any union for one-half contract year or longer.

As long as the unions completely finance their own activities, granting them reasonable amounts of release time is acceptable. However, the current practice of the school district paying teachers to participate in union activities should end.

Paid release time can include general leave days to attend workshops and assemblies, half-year or full-year absences from teaching duties for local union presidents and other officers, or allotments of paid leave to teachers elected to serve in union positions. The practices vary from district to district.

Teachers’ unions are interest groups dedicated to the interests of their members. Therefore, any district financing of union activities constitutes a taxpayer subsidy to an interest group. In other words, when teachers take paid release time to participate in union business, money that could have been used for educational resources bypasses the students. These students are also left with less experienced and effective instructors in their classrooms. In some cases, the district pays both for the teachers released to participate in union activities and for the substitutes hired to replace them. Even if the union repays the substitute costs, the district still subsidizes the union with a cost differential that sacrifices teacher quality.

Many school districts grant recognized experience credit to teachers who take extended leave to serve as union presidents or other officers. While these teachers are busy doing the work of labor advocacy, they still advance on the salary schedule the same as a colleague carrying a full load of classroom instruction. Becoming a better labor advocate is not equivalent to becoming a better teacher. Taxpayer dollars should not finance union release time. Union officers should not receive educational experience credit for union work.

It becomes abundantly clear to me that the school district should stop harming the students and taxpayers by paying for teacher leave days to participate in union business and activities. This practice should be stopped immediately.

Please advise of your position or thoughts on this subject matter. If it happens to be a pending contractual issue or item, I will understand you not being able to discuss it. However, I believe you should still be able to advise on what this has cost us over the past year. Thank you.

Respectfully,

Frank M. Gerace
President
SchoolWatch

___________________________________________________________________
 
LETTER FROM JOE SARGENT ...TO EI SCHOOL BOARD 8-11-06 (posted here with his permission)


I CANT IMAGINE WHAT YOUR HOUSEHOLD FINANCE DISCUSSIONS MUST BE LIKE....DO YOUR HUSBANDS / WIVES HAVE TO SIGN IN TO SPEAK BEFORE THEY ARE ALLOWED TO..?

WHAT ABOUT IF THERE IS A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION....DO YOU WAIT TILL NEXT MONTH TO SIGN IN AND DISCUSS IT..?

HOW DO YOU RESOLVE MATTERS WHEN YOU ARE UNWILLING TO HEAR WHAT THE OTHER PARTY HAS TO SAY...?

HOW DOES THE PUBLIC KNOW WHAT GOES ON WITH TEACHER NEGOTIATIONS WHEN IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN KEPT A SECRET FROM THEM...?

PLEASE...DONT GIVE US THE STOCK RHETORIC THAT THE TEACHERS UNION HAS ALWAYS BEEN RECEPTIVE TO THE COMMUNITY.....IS THAT WHY WE'RE FORCED TO PAY THEM DOUBLE AND TRIPLE WHAT SOME OF US MAKE........ESPECIALLY THE ONES ON A FIXED INCOME....WHO BUILT THIS COMMUNITY....WHO DID ALL THE VOLUNTEERING FOR THE SCHOOLS AND KIDS .

WHY IS IT THAT WHEN WE CAN PUT TOGETHER A LARGE GROUP OF VOLUNTEERS FOR A SCHOOL DANCE OR FUNCTION, MORE THAN WHAT IS ENOUGH....WE MUST STILL HAVE A PAID TEACHER THERE...?

IS THAT A UNION THAT IS RECEPTIVE TO THE COMMUNITY..?

I HAVE LIVED IN THIS COMMUNITY FOR 42 YRS, (VOTED ON BUYING THE CABBAGE FIELD TO BUILD THE PRESENT SCHOOLS), HAVE HAD CHILDREN IN SCHOOL FROM 1964 TO THE NEAR PRESENT, HAVE VOLUNTEERED FOR EVERY THING THAT WAS NEEDED, FROM CHAPERONING DANCES AND TRIPS, TO FUNDRAISING AND BUILDING TWO PLAYGROUNDS, TO BEING ON THE INITIAL GROUP OF FTK, SCHOOL BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP, ROBOTICS, PTA, (FASHION SHOW, SENIOR BREAKFAST COOK, ...ETC )AD INFINATUM...WHATEVER NEEDED TO BE DONE...

I AM ON TWO YOUTH BOARDS THAT TRY TO PROVIDE ACTIVITY FOR THE KIDS…

I HAVE BEEN A VOLUNTEER ISLIP TERRACE FIREMAN

I AM A REPUBLICAN COMMITEEMAN (WITH A WALKING LIST OF ALL VOTERS)
I AM A MEMBER OF THE AMVETS, MOOSE, FORESTERS. DOES THIS GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF MY COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY?

I WILL USE ALL THIS ENERGY TO OPPOSE PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO THINK THEY ARE ABOVE THE LITTLE GUY AND CAN SHOVE YEAR AFTER YEAR OF WASTEFUL, EXHORBITANT SPENDING THAT LEAVES LITTLE ROOM FOR THE LITTLE GUY TO BREATH AND FUNCTION AND REMAIN IN THEIR HOMES. WE ARE TOLD TO ....."DIE"......"LEAVE"...."MOVE" SO SOME PEOPLE CAN HAVE THEIR GRANDIOSE SCHOOLS… I KNOW PEOPLE ALL OVER THIS GREAT COUNTRY AND KNOW THAT PEOPLE IN EAST NO-PLACE MONTANA AND MINNESOTA AND ILLINOIS, ETC. HAVE GOOD EDUCATIONS, SUCCESFULL CAREERS, EVEN BECOME MILLIONAIRES...WITHOUT HAVING GONE THROUGH THE GREAT EAST ISLIP SCHOOL DISTRICT.

I AM CONSANTLY REMINDED OF THE STORY OF "THE EMPERORS NEW CLOTHES" WHENEVER I HEAR THE CHEST BEATING RHETORIC THAT WE ARE THE BEST...AT WHAT?

TAXING US OUT OF OUR HOMES SO THAT OLD PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO MOVE....SO THAT OUR OWN KIDS CAN’T AFFORD TO LIVE HERE...

SO THAT OUR TEACHERS LEAD THE STATE TEACHERS IN THEIR QUEST FOR MORE MONEY...I HAVE KNOWN TEACHERS WHO BECAME TEACHERS BACK IN THE 50s AND 60s WHO KNEW IT WAS A LOW PAYING CAREER BUT DID IT FOR LOVE.....

DO WE HAVE A RUTH C KINNEY ANYWHERE IN THE TEACHERS UNION?

PLEASE DENNIS ET AL...DONT INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE WHEN YOU CUT OFF A SPEAKER BY TELLING US THAT THE TEACHERS UNION HAS ALWAYS WORKED WITH US... "SHOW ME THE MONEY." SHOW ME GIVE BACKS... NOT...DEFFERRED LOANS OR PAYMENTS. SHOW ME A WILLINGNESS TO LISTEN TO THE REQUESTS OF THE EMPLOYER - THE TAXPAYING LITTLE PEOPLE.

AND MOST OF ALL...

SHOW A LITTLE RESPECT FOR THE PUBLIC AND STOP RUNNING THE MEETING LIKE YOUR PRIVATE FIFEDOM.

IT'S A PUBLIC MEETING... IF IT GETS A LITTLE ROWDY...SO BE IT...
THAT’S HOW THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT!

I GET HOT UNDER THE COLLAR SOMETIMES WITH MY WIFE AND KIDS....DONT MEAN I'M NOT GONNA HEAR WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY.....

I COULD GO ON...AND ON...AND ON... WITH WHAT I PERCEIVE IS WRONG

BUT, ENOUGH FOR NOW.........


JOE SARGENT

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