Jul 30 2007
11:09 am

Michael Silence says it is:

KnoxViews has linked to and commented on extensively the saga of politicians behaving badly in Knox County. I sense, that has had very little if any impact on local politicos.

Do you agree? Can anyone think of an example where a discussion on a local blog, here or anywhere else, has made any difference or changed any behavior or affected any outcome?

Also, I wonder how many local government officials and employees read this blog? We know that a couple do, because they post here from time to time. I wonder how many others lurk? And what if any benefit is it to them, or to the community at large?

rocketsquirrel's picture

one example from last night.

one example from just last night: I posted about Hart Intercivic, posing a question to Knox County Administrator of Elections about the test in California.

Within an hour, he posted a reply, expressing concern. "I am concerned about what I read in the New York Times about this. I agree with Rikki, let's wait and hear the whole story." (kudos Greg, and please keep us updated on what you learn.)

Did any Knoxville print or TV media follow this story in the NY Times or the SF Gate? Did they bother to connect the dots to our own brand of machines? Did they get a quote on Sunday night from the Administrator of Elections? Did they run a story the next day?

With the combination of my short post and Greg's short reply, KnoxViews managed to scoop local media on a national story with an important local angle. It also proved an opportunity to educate and inform local officials, the media, and the public at large who read KnoxViews to learn more once again about black box voting.

I'm not sure what "impact on local politicos" actually means. I am certain that blogs have very much impact on local media, and I am certain that this forum has significant impact on local officials.

Now does 24-hour lobster tale coverage "impact local politicos?" probably not. there are bloggers more interested in gotcha rumor and innuendo than digging deeper. The time some reporters spend on this blog yapping about lobster and how many tails are on a plate could be better spent digging deeper into conflict of interest between local officials, nonprofits, and corporations.

WhitesCreek's picture

I am suspect of a

I am suspect of a conventional media person questioning the effect of blogs on public discourse. It is the conventional media's failure to be trustworthy that drove us to this medium in the first place.

I understand the need to make money but not the willingness to lie and present a one sided view of things in order to do so.

Can we quantify our effect? Not in the short term but I feel certain we are affecting things over the long haul. I think the polls that show President Bush with less than 30% approval are an indication of America's acceptance of the information they receive from progressive blogs. Even in the State of Tennessee, Bush is only at 40% and I defy you to derive that from the mainstream press coverage.

More local politicians should learn the power of well presented facts and their conduit to their constituents.

Progressive blogs and non-mainstream press outlets (I'm thinking of the Shopper here) who are willing to pursue truthful information, whether good, bad, ugly, or beautiful...Will drive rational discourse more and more as time goes on and the public continues to come around to the mainstream media's part in misleading them, over and over.

Mark Harmon's picture

I Must Disagree with Michael Silence

I must disagree with Michael Silence. This blog is very useful to me. I have learned additional information about existing controversies, and about matters that need attention. Sometimes Knoxviews delivers heat, sometimes light. Its value is indisputable. I read it regularly, and post occasionally, and consider it a great community resource.

Mark Harmon, County Commissioner, District 2

ThomasD's picture

I read KnoxViews.....

I read KnoxViews on a daily basis and find it very useful. Thanks to R. Neal for operating and maintaining this blog. I may not agree with every post or every blogger but I respect them for posting their comments.
I think the majority of our elected officials read this blog or have someone reading for them.

Example - I used KnoxViews to complain that my name was not in the majority of the programs during the swearing in ceremony of elected officials. The Mayor's office had a call into me the same day apologizing.

I use my blog, (link...) to provide updates on school issues.

Keep blogging!!!

Thomas A. Deakins
6th District School Board Member

R. Neal's picture

Hey, Thomas. Thanks for

Hey, Thomas. Thanks for commenting. Didn't know you had a blog. Will add it to the blogroll in the next update...

R. Neal's picture

Off the top of my head, I

Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of recent examples.

The South Waterfront Project zoning appeals, for one, may not have come out to everyone's liking, but I was surprised that they rejected developer's desires re. setbacks and building heights. That was debated at length here, sometimes hotly as I recall. Now, as Steve said it's hard to quantify, but there was certainly a lot of focus on it.

Then there was the zoning variance the Mrs. fought over in her Mom's neighborhood. She blogged about it, but more important she went around the neighborhood stuffing flyers in mailboxes and getting the neighborhood folks organized and out in opposition to stop it. Again it's hard to say what role blogging had in that, but there was probably some.

Those were city issues, though, and maybe they're more responsive and have better government and leadership and whatnot.

Oh, and in the same neighborhood related to the same development, there was the "handshake deal" between Pinkston and the developer to build improvements at the park as compensation for messing up the park with a sewer pumping station. The developer never came through, and the Mrs. kept posting photos of the non-improvements and bugging Pinkston until it got done. Done by the County contrary to the "handshake deal", but done nonetheless. (And they did a very nice job, too.)

As Doug mentions, Greg Mackay visits often, and he gives and gets good feedback on running clean elections.

On the State level, Cup of Joe Powell and I were both all over this AT&T cable bill, and it was stopped. I'm sure that had more to do with the $millions the cable industry spent lobbying against it, but I guarantee you that Joe and I prompted some letters to our state Reps and Senators, and I got one back from my Senator who pledged to oppose it.

So as Steve notes, we may not always know exactly what effect it has, but there's no doubt blogs raise awareness of local issues and help keep the heat turned up when the mainstream media won't.

P.S. And I'll also guarantee you that Tamara here and Cathy at Domestic Psychology got some folks out to the school board meetings re. the new zoning. They didn't get the outcome they wanted, but the school board got an earful and some important discussion about the zoning and a broader range of issues occurred that I doubt will just go away any time soon.

R. Neal's picture

Mark Harmon's comments

Mark Harmon's comments (thanks, Mark!) reminded me of another one, that I have to give credit to #9 for starting. I don't recall exactly how it ended up, but there was a lot of controversy about copyright of PEG cable broadcast of government meetings.

As I recall (without remembering the specifics or looking it up) Mark took this to the Cable Committee and the PEG people and got it straightened out so citizens are authorized to use the videos on YouTube and such.

Mello's picture

We really need to talk about

We really need to talk about Letters of Agreement

Bill Lyons's picture

Plenty of local political figures read this blog

Plenty of local political figures read this blog or hear reports on things posted here. A large number of people in the media world do as well. Does it make a difference? One has to be expansive in the definition of "difference." Can someone point to a specific public decision that one could say is different from it would have otherwise been because of this blog? Probably not, but that would be a high standard of relevance for any media outlet to reach.

Can one say that the political agenda - what gets discussed or written about in what detail and with what underlying series of associated questions and concerns - is affected? A strong case can be made in the affirmative, at the very least on the margins. I can think of a number of occasions when I have received a call with a question about a local issue from someone the local print or electronic media relative to an interchange here or its previous incarnation. Once I said "You had to have just read that on SKB!" The response was "Sure."

I spoke to "Factchecker" at an event this weekend about this very topic. In my opinion Knoxviews has carved out its own relevant place in the world of local political dialog. And, as far as I can tell, very few local communities are able to support this sort of discussion before being overcome by the set of Internet "bad behaviors" with which we are all familiar. So, assuming that people agree, what makes this work, and what makes it work here? I have my own ideas.

R. Neal's picture

what makes this work, and

what makes this work, and what makes it work here? I have my own ideas.

Thanks for your comments, Bill. I'll be interested in hearing your ideas. I have my own as well.

Rachel's picture

Those were city issues,

Those were city issues, though, and maybe they're more responsive and have better government and leadership and whatnot.

(sarcasm) Ya think?? (/sarcasm)

Wrt to the impact of KnoxViews, I agree with Bill Lyons. By itself, it hasn't changed any major decisions. As a way for interested folks to exchange info about what's going on very quickly, it's stellar. And those interested folks often are direct participants in local processes.

KnoxViews gives local govt a chance to find out what some of us are thinking. Govt reps can, if they choose, post to correct bad information or to add additional information that hadn't been conveyed. Because KnoxViews leaders tend to be participative and networked, that information gets spread.

And I'll bring something up from k2k days. Some k2k'ers like to take credit for stopping the downtown jail. I think that's overstatement. But the concentrated citizen action generated by k2k conversations, added to missteps like turning the construction management over the sheriff, certainly did do the trick.

P.S. As to Silence's post, if he's talking impact strictly on badly behaving county officials, he's probably right. I'm sure Scoobie et al pay no attention at all to KnoxViews. But then they don't give a damn what any Knox County citizens think, so why should that be a surprise?

R. Neal's picture

But then they don't give a

But then they don't give a damn what any Knox County citizens think, so why should that be a surprise?

Well, there's that!

But in addition to .gov officials correcting and adding context to conversations as you mentioned, we also get official communications from time to time in response to goings on here.

The most recent example, of course, was Dwight Van de Vate's response to the p-card medical charges just yesterday. So something prompted him to write up a memo to County Commission on a Sunday afternoon.

And that's not the only example, just the latest. Not sure what difference it makes in the big scheme, but it does tell me that some folks in the local .gov at least take blogs and what people are talking about seriously. But I think we already knew that based on participation by some of them.

rocketsquirrel's picture

why blog

I think most who post and most who comment wish to influence the discourse. while that may seem obvious, the lack of discourse that can occur within traditional media stems in part from the "professional" aspect of media.

As a former journalist myself (Asheville Citizen Times/Knoxville Journal), I can say that it is often the case of editors and writers for "professional" media to limit discourse, not encourage it. "We'll put the facts together, inverted pyramid, and cut off the details if we don't have room." You have a question? Oh, write a letter to the editor. Even worse, broadcasters don't run viewer opinions. Troubling for traditional media, in a world where youtube snowmen are asking questions of presidential candidates.

Can I reach viewers on Sunday morning in response to a partisan shill on Gene Patterson's show? Not on his media channel. But I can on KnoxViews, with confidence that the folks that watch that show do read KnoxViews, whether they admit it or not.

So why don't more people comment on blogs at the TV station blogs and and the newspaper blogs?

One word: trust.

Not that they "trust" KnoxViews, but they know that it is less filtered. If I'm not an idiot, I can post to the top of the page. But if you want to vlog and enjoy the readership of the daily paper's web site, you better be a cutesy girl with a camera that documents her latest shopping spree, rather than, say, a video documentary submitted by a reader on a local topic. How many bridal showers and spa treatments can Random This cover?

CBT's picture

Silence apparently reads

Silence apparently reads KnoxViews. How about other KNS reporters? We know Bean and Clark do. Surely some from MP stop in daily. TV? All this can affect coverage.

As for officials, I know Van De Vate reads KnoxViews. I'm pretty sure someone from the Register of Deeds office checks in here frequently. If other officials don't, given lots of voters do, those officials are missing out.

I find it interesting that someone from the KNS, who has spent the last year developing a half-dozen or so blogs at their own website, should be criticizing other blogs. I've thought about posting on the KNS site, given I don't have the liberal bent of KnoxViews. But, the discussion is good and I'm ok with not posting and getting 'dittos'.

R. Neal's picture

Thanks, CBT. In Michael's

Thanks, CBT. In Michael's defense, he has done a lot to support and promote local blogs, and he mentions this.

I think Steve may be on to something, though, with regard to the local media's perceptions about blogs.

Average Guy's picture

Protecting the status quo

Mr. Neal you may want to see if Mr. Silence has any threads 102 post long. (link...)

Blogs are successful because they are a running conversation. Users can read info, can check that info, and correct or challenge that info in a matter of minutes. Unfettered by what the print might cost or what advertisers might say.

Can conventional news boast that?

R. Neal's picture

P.S. My apologies for

P.S. My apologies for getting a little "self important", but I'm pretty grateful for the folks who participate and contribute here to make this a great blog and apparently somewhat interesting. Thanks to everyone!

cafkia's picture

Rachel beat me to the k2k

Rachel beat me to the k2k mention but I'll go ahead cause, that's just how I am.

I sort of disagree with Rachel about the effect k2k had on the
jail issue and, it is indeed relevant here. It was probably NOT just active k2kers that stopped the jail but, it probably WAS the existence of k2k that did. Prior to that forum, we typically had to actually meet in meat space to discuss and issue and what response, if any might be made. With k2k educating us about the ability of the internets to provide for activism when it was convenient for the individual, we became emboldened. The established PTB became less so as they too had knowledge of the scope and depth of opposition to the project. It removed the ability to pretend that everyone would eventually forget their opposition and love them anyway. They knew if people were willing to buy news paper adds and print stuff, they would be willing to donate to and work for a political opponent. That not everyone was specifically a subscriber to k2k is largely immaterial. It was the knowledge of the existence of k2k that enabled many to overcome their natural reticence for political participation and political statements. Maybe it wasn't k2kers, but it was definitely k2k.

Current blogs function in much the same way. We not only know we are not alone in our disgust or joy, as appropriate, we discuss it and learn details from others we trust. It is ludicrous in the extreme to imagine that blogs have no effect. Their effect is NOT limited to large decisions or elections. Indeed, those things are rarely the focus. When politicians are aware of a certain level of scrutiny, they, like most any other human, tend to behave differently. They might well make smaller decisions that would cause less distress, if not outright mollify, the voting public. There is the strength, there is the effect. It is the knowledge that blogs, and by extension, the people, are actually paying attention that changes things. That doesn't happen with MSM. It happens with interactive sources.

Doubting or denying it will not change a thing though so, go right ahead.



It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

Bill Lyons's picture

Factors that make KnoxViews successful.

Randy, here are some of the factors that I see making KnoxViews successful. (1) Thoughtful posts, especially from you, to set the agenda for discussion. The k2k linear model just does not work nearly as well and just putting up a sentence and a link does not do the trick either. (2) Democratizing the format to allow others to start a discussion. This is mostly good, although some folks have not mastered the art and some do rather abuse the privilege. I don’t see any way to fix that other than through norms established by the readers. (3) A loyal base that includes a number of people posting under their own names or are pretty obvious in their identity. I think some degree of anonymity is OK, but there is a tipping point beyond which the whole thing falls apart. (4). Requiring registration before posting helps as does the peer pressure to deal with those with less than honorable intent. (5). A set of norms that, for the most part, keep the dialog lively and frank, and even a bit rough, but fundamentally tempered. I personally can do without the scatological and really insulting stuff but that just seems to go with the territory. (6). Respect for, and understanding of, the limits that can constrain elected and appointed officials when they do post

R. Neal's picture

Bill, thanks for that. I'm

Bill, thanks for that. I'm going to file it away for future reference.

I pretty much agree with all of that. I would sum up my thoughts as a) being (mostly) serious about (mostly) serious topics, b) the maturity and intelligence and thoughtfulness of the participants and the discussions (OK, for the most part), c) the great writing and insights based on each participant's unique personal knowledge and experience, and d) the self-regulating nature of the forum (with a little help from the moderators as necessary).

Although on that last point, it hasn't worked out quite like I hoped, partly because of limitations of the software we use (which, despite its shortcomings, is far superior to anything else I've found for something like this), and because I guess I had higher hopes that we could have a completely open progressive online community that would respect (a) and (b) above.

The Mrs. always says I'm too trusting, and people seem to keep finding ways to prove her right.

But that brings up another point I almost forgot. I think there's an element of trust here, as Dupree noted above. Trust that people here know what they are talking about, or will at least disclose that they might not, and that folks here can trust each other to be open and honest (brutally at times) about their motives and the basis for their point of view, and at the same time respectful of one another's privacy and/or whatever constraints any of us may be operating under, as you noted.

Thanks again for your comments, and your participation.

Factchecker's picture

I spoke to Bill too!

I spoke to "Factchecker" at an event this weekend about this very topic. In my opinion Knoxviews has carved out its own relevant place in the world of local political dialog.

It was a great pleasure talking with Bill on Saturday.

I find it interesting that someone from the KNS, who has spent the last year developing a half-dozen or so blogs at their own website, should be criticizing other blogs.

That about says it all about Silence's post. Not Invented There. (Boo hoo.) Impact, I'm more certain than ever, KnoxViews has to considerable degree. In terms of directly influencing local politics to be more progressive, maybe not. But that's not quite the same thing. As Steve states a little differently, ultimately it should have some of that effect too (becoming more progressive), via raising accountability and providing direct democracy on issues of the people (e.g., the cable bill).

David Oatney's picture


I think it speaks volumes that Commissioner Harmon not only reads KnoxViews but contributes here. You all know that I am a conservative, and I read KnoxViews as well.

People aren't just reading one another's blogs, but they are taking ideas from them and are acting on these things. This is a great measure of influence in my mind.

CBT's picture

I was active with k2k (I was

I was active with k2k (I was the token Republican and a site moderator for a short time). Geez, that has to be 12+ years ago. I left when it sort of fell apart and never went back.

KnoxViews is the only blog I read with any regularity. I scan others occasionally. I just don't have the time. I suspect a lot of people are like me and don't have the time, what with work, family, etc. So, there is a somewhat limited audience for blogs, which the KNS is apparently looking to tap into.

There are several local blogs out there, but they don't get the number of participants of KnoxViews. Some get almost no traffic/discussion at all. I have often wondered as numbers grew and more moderate and conservative opinions were posted on KnoxViews if Randy would make some change to somehow limit participation. I think that was the impression several weeks back when Uncle, #9 and others (?) left. There are more conservatives in these parts. I don't know that large numbers would continue to hang out here if they got ripped occasionally.

Don't know what the future holds. Guess we'll see.

Rachel's picture


k2k may seem like 12 years ago - it kinda does to me - but I believe it was started in late 1999.

bill young's picture

"Dubito,ergo cogito,ergo sum."

Knoxviews is a streaming & sometimes screaming political debate.Like the month of March..a thread..often comes in like a lion...& leaves like a lamb.

Also,context can be hard to nail down because one comment can send the thread down a whole new path.If linear thinking is your bag..Knoxviews will drive you crazy.

Futhermore,a thread can start with rumor,which invites conjecture.So one could come to Knoxviews,for the first time,read a thread,with 15 comments & think..this bunch goes on & on about something that just aint so.Of coarse this goes on at the Courthouse every day..the difference is...on Knoxviews it's the written word..if you post you're stuck with it.Forever.

"Dubito,ergo cogito,ergo sum."

"I doubt,therefore I think,therefore I am"

Influence..who knows...ignore it..I wouldn't.

kcarson's picture

As someone who servers in a

As someone who servers in a public office I think it is my responsibility to keep up with any and all modes of communication available. While I don’t post on blogs often, I will on occasion if there is an opportunity to address a specific question or present additional facts that may help clarify a post. I think some blogs can get caught up in back and forth comments that really have no potential for a positive outcome and tend to avoid those discussions. So, the bottom line for me is that KnoxViews serves as a window to the community’s perception of the actions of the Board of Ed and provides another mechanism for some two-way communication. I am grateful for that opportunity.

R. Neal's picture

Karen, thanks for your

Karen, thanks for your comment and for participating.

CBT's picture

Karen, Thomas...thanks for

Karen, Thomas...thanks for letting folks know you're reading.

Brian Hornback's picture

Indya Kincannon

reads and responds. Thanks to all Elected Officials that read and respond.

Knoxville and Knox County is blessed to have many different blogs and venues for communicating with one another.

KatoKnox's picture

Two issues at work here...

Two issues at work here:

1. M. Silence is an arm of the MSM, who benefit if the bloggers lose confidence, get frustrated and give up. I wonder why he didn't point out that...

2. If "local politicos" are *not* paying attention to the bloggers, they are idiots and it will come back to bite them.

(edited to add: I am glad to see some "local politicos" speaking up in this forum - it does mean quite a lot)


Bill Lyons's picture

This forum works because of the quality of what is written

One last thing before it gets overlooked. Fundamentally this forum works because of the overall quality of what is written here - posts, responses, and discussion. And Mr. Silence is by no means biased against blogs. Quite the contrary, as far as I can tell.

Relative to people reading this, I have had two elected officials and three others in government ask me who Factchecker is. It was great to talk with him (actually we had met before) and his identity is safe.

JustJohnny's picture

MSM Marketing

Silence is quiet the pro --think about what he did with his post: 1) brought in links to his MSM blog, 2) Boosted his stature among his MSM employers by dismissing 'blogs' as not effective (he is a reporter, after all) and 3) did I mention people are talking about his post and linking to it?

What more could an advertising bean counter in MSM world ask for? me the clicks...

ps. interesting that there are no comments on his post!

rocketsquirrel's picture


it just kills him.

Factchecker's picture

I have had two elected

I have had two elected officials and three others in government ask me who Factchecker is.

If they saw me in a public setting, not only would these people not know who I am, but I'd hardly be given the time of day based on my look or demographic.

I hasten to add that this is the best answer to the endless debate over anonymity. I doubt these government workers were thinking of me fondly. Though I intend to be fair, this is debate and commentary here (in spite of my tongue-in-cheek handle). No one should be afraid to state her/his own opinion.

Bill Lyons's picture

Merely Curious

Factchecker, for what it is worth, the folks who asked about you are good reasonable people who would not have been particularly bothered by anything you have said. They were merely curious.

CBT's picture

No one should be afraid to

No one should be afraid to state her/his own opinion.

According to someone it's easy for me because I'm a 'powerful GOP' something or rather. Some people apparently do read this blog because I've been teased about that line this week. Oh, if it were only true.

Canpflier's picture

Randy, you would be amazed...

at the numbers and potlitical demographics of the "lurkers" of your blog.I know of several officeholders, Repubs and Dems, Liberal & Conservative, who enjoy the comments, gathering opinion from a generally liberal pov. Personnally, I enjoy the reaction posts. It reinforces my faith in the voting public, and my faith has needed a boost over the last few years.

THere are so many conservatives who regularly take a look, just to see where the "left" or "progressive" publics' agenda is moving. Also, there's a bunch of very good information passed here (with only a little simple hyperbole). I've learned a lot about the way readers/posters view the relative competencies of the City/County. The current machinations are certainly obscuring the GREAT work a lot of County employees and a few elected officers are doing, and that is very sad to see. Having spent a large part of my life in public service, this is all very dissapointing.Keep up the great contribution to your community. Please?

P.S.-Damn hate to admit it but I LOVE Friday Bird Blogging!! Cant believe I said that.

Factchecker's picture

...They were merely

...They were merely curious.

Bill, when I thought about it again this morning, I got the proper context. Guess I had my paranoia tags turned on. :>)

According to someone it's easy for me because I'm a 'powerful GOP' something or rather.

OK, maybe not so "powerful," CBT, but respected and influential on the basis of your high level ties to the Republican party. You're a KnoxGOB (even if there's a current split in the factions), and that's not really a slam on you. You've attained rank. Any disagreement?

cooperhawk's picture

"very little impact"...

If this blog didn't have an impact, he wouldn't have brought it up. Keep firing, sometimes you hit something.

CBT's picture

You've attained rank. I'll

You've attained rank.

I'll disagree somewhat because there's no context to your comment. What's not evident is 'why'.

I've worked my butt off for dozens of candidates over the past 20 years, putting up yard signs, big signs at all hours of the night, working phone banks, stuffing envelopes, organizing fundraisers and about anything else you can name. Yes, I was elected as Republican Chairman, but it's just the glorified title for an unpaid volunteer leader. I had a vision and with the help of a lot of good people, we not only won elections but did things for the Party some didn't think were possible (website, weekly email newsletter and a permanent, full-time GOP office).

Too often so-called GOB's are referred to as if they were born into the right circles. I've just been willing to show up and work. It's no different than the charitable boards and other non-profit work I've done.

Pickens's picture

Didn't you raise a bunch of

Didn't you raise a bunch of money for your party (do I recall that correctly)?

How'd you compare to those who came before and after you?

CBT's picture

Yes, record fundraising

Yes, record fundraising during my term (thanks to a lot of great people and elected officials). We had some creative events.

I'll let others compare.

Factchecker's picture

I can see how calling

I can see how calling someone a GOB can imply entitlement. However, I also explicitly stated that you attained, as in achieved something you didn't always have.

What are we arguing over again?

JaHu's picture

Randy, reading the exchange

Randy, reading the exchange of comments between Factchecker and Bill Lyons made me curious about the days when SKB was running the show under obscurity. Now that your anonymity has been breeched, has it changed the way that you write? Did you feel a little more free to voice your opinions before, and now that your identity is now known, do you find yourself being a little more reluctant to post about certain subject matter?

Adrift in the Sea of Humility

CBT's picture

I've noticed in the last

I've noticed in the last week or so that the KNS website has links (titles) for certain stories, when you click to go to that story it has a paragraph or two then refers you for the 'full' story to one of KNS' own website blogs. Clearly, the KNS sees the value in blogs and discussions on various topics.

Is Silence's blog supposed to be dedicated to politics, local and otherwise? I confess to not reading it that often.

Sandra Clark's picture

WBIR-TV comments

I don't read Michael's blog, but has anyone caught the comments section on WBIR-TV's website? Brutal. You've gotta dig, but it's worth it. About 65 comments last night on the "Angry Taxpayer" story. -- s.

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