Monday, May 28, 2012

So Much Of What You Read In The Mountain Views News Just Isn't All That True

I know, that isn't the most shocking headline we have ever posted here. The sun coming up in the east would be equally electrifying news I suppose, and just as timely. It is coming up in the east right now while I am typing this article. The excitement is nearly unbearable. That and another cup of coffee could put me right over the edge.

And I've got to be straight with you, I have been trying to lay off the Susan Henderson stories. No, I really have. There are so many more important things to discuss these days that any further speculation about the poor dear is likely a waste of everyone's time. What would the point be?

But here's the thing. I have this unfortunate problem with newspapers that print things that are obviously false. And a lot of what you get in the Looney Views News is just absurd twaddle, in most cases designed to buttress the agendas of the same old tiresome people as all those other times. More often than not the troubled loudmouths of the Downtown Investors Club, along with the cheap local pols who have somehow built their dicey careers around carrying their water.

A case in point would be this weekend's giddy nonsense regarding the world's second most profitable retailer after Wal*Mart, the British food peddler Tesco aka "Fresh and Easy." If you haven't heard, they may be opening a new outlet on the DIC owned Howie's site. Whether this is good news or not is up to you, but quite obviously it has caused Susan flights of ecstasy that rival anything to be found at a late night rave at the L.A. Coliseum. And some of what she has written into her story as news is so obviously Tesco/Fresh & Easy manufactured propaganda that you have to cringe.

Fresh & Easy, says in its website, "Your groceries cost less because we design stores to save money. We install LED lighting and energy-efficient refrigerator doors that use less. And by using less, we're able to pass more savings on to you. We keep our prices simple too. In our shops, you won't find confusing sales gimmicks; just honest low prices every day for everyone.

Of course, it is only one more banana step beyond that for Ms. Henderson to take this to the next level, which is to suggest that the reason prices at Fresh & Easy are lower than elsewhere is because they are "Green." The message being that they are saving you money by saving the world.

In addition to Fresh & Easy's efforts to reduce refrigerant emissions, it also focuses on system energy efficiency, including the use of energy efficient doors on freezer and dairy cases; Triple-pane glass with an anti-fog coating on refrigerator doors, eliminating the need for door heaters for icing or fogging; night curtains on refrigerators to conserve energy while keeping product at the appropriate temperature when stores are closed; LED lighting in all chilled cases.

"On average, our stores use 30 percent less energy than a typical supermarket, which helps our customers save money while also helping the environment," said Tim Mason, CEO of Fresh & Easy a few years ago. "We've worked hard to make sure we are thoughtful in the impact we have on the environment and we're excited to continue to innovate in this area."

Now there is hardly a business in this state that hasn't claimed that they are saving the world from environmental collapse. It is a standard business practice in California. And that an international conglomerate like the British retailer Tesco should also do so is hardly surprising. Oil companies do it, so do real estate developers. As does Edison for that matter. Despite the fact that their coal-fired generating plants out in the desert are some of the most prodigious producers of greenhouse gas emissions in the western United States.

But proclaiming that the lower prices at Fresh & Easy stores are due to "green practices" is really taking it a step beyond even standard issue malarkey. The more mundane reasons for this are far more likely to be true. The sad fact is Fresh & Easy, like the Wal*Mart food retail locations it competes with, do not pay their people very much money. And woe to the employees who might attempt to organize anything approaching a union in order to obtain for themselves the benefits and better pay those employed at a Ralph's or Albertson's enjoy.

Here are several stories culled from the internet to back this one up.

Fresh & Easy Busted for Union Busting (click here): Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc., the U.S. arm of British grocery giant Tesco, itself the second most-profitable worldwide retailer behind Wal-Mart, has lost in a petition for review if a disciplinary order handed down by the National Labor Relations Board.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. has upheld the ruling of the Labor Relations Board pertaining to actions taken against an employee at a store in the San Diego suburb of Spring Valley. The Board held that Fresh & Easy was guilty of three separate violations of labor law against an employee during a union organizing drive at the store in 2008.

Administrative Law Judge Finds Tesco's Fresh & Easy Violated Labor Relations Act in Ex-Store Employee, UFCW Complaint (click here): Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market has been found by a Federal Administrative Law Judge to be in violation of a section of the U.S. Labor Relations Act, regarding an unfair labor practices complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) against the El Segundo, California-based food and grocery chain last year by Deana Kenton, a former employee of Fresh & Easy store number 1247 on East Lake Mead Boulevard in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

San Franciscans Clash With U.K. Grocer Over Labor Practices, Job Creation (click here): A British-owned grocery chain with a history of unfriendly labor relations in the United States is looking to open its doors in San Francisco's Mission District. Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market plans to build on a site that used to host two local grocery stores.

"In communities that they have been in the last four years, they have not kept their promises. They are blocking employees from advocating for improvements. We've been hearing horror stories," Oscar Grande told In These Times.

There are quite a few similar articles to be found in this vein. What is unfortunate here is that we have a multi-national corporation that uses environmental claims to embellish its credentials, but does so in part to cover up for their rather harsh reputation for poor labor practices. That so hugely profitable a company as Fresh & Easy parent Tesco would see fit to come to this country and work so hard to undercut the living standards of grocery employees, both their own and those of their competitors, is sad. But hardly atypical of the way things are going these days. This is hardly a golden era for workers.

But what I find to be worse is that our local adjudicated newspaper of record, the Mountain Views News, would somehow fail to cover both sides of the Fresh & Easy story. No matter how you might feel about the food retailer coming to Sierra Madre, I am sure you'll agree there is nothing "green" about nickel and diming the help. This is a community that treats its people with respect and dignity. It is a town of small independent shops and businesses where people have always worked together, and for the benefit of us all.

That is one of the things that makes Sierra Madre unique. It is also is something that begins with reporting the truth.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

56 comments:

  1. The Mountian Views News covers both sides of every story. Harriet Susan Henderson's and Harriet Poole's.

    Neuroblast Films

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tlWWTNinjk

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  2. I went into the Arcadia Fresh & Easy once, armed with the coupons that arrive like political mailers. It was clean, adequate, and lifeless. I left without buying a single item. Give me a Trader Joe's, or a Whole Foods, or a Sprouts, even a Ralphs or Albertson's, or a 99 Ranch anyday over an F&E. Kinda like a 7-ll without the heated food poison buffet.

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    1. I don't shop there often but what I really like about the store is taht it is NON UNION. Being a grocery cashier should be a part time job not a career with pension benefits. I like TJ's also...non union. At Albertsons Ralphs etc. the customer is paying a lot to cover the union benefits. I save for my retirement. I don't want to pay for other peoples retirement and medical.

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  3. Cheap & Sleazy

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  4. Susan is all excited because the Montecito Development Group might finally see a return for their investment back in the old DSP days.

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  5. I hope the DICS learned a lesson. Don't fall for Bart Doyle BS and gamble your money. It's a very dangerous proposition.
    I don't shop at Fresh and Easy in Arcadia, just down the street, why would I shop here?
    I suppose it's nice for people who don't drive, however, seniors won't like the place, because they like service.

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  6. Ever wonder who is part of the Montecito Development Group? I guess they have used Don Taylor long enough. The single most important corner in Sierra Madre, a Fresh & Easy. They even have prepare meals to help you decide what's for dinner. Now it will be easier to figure out what's for dinner, someone telling you what to eat.

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    1. Their produce will not be as high quality as what's there now.
      Nor will the meat.

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    2. I think that is the same group that wants to develop East Montecito into a Transportation Corridor with a Homeless Shelter. It is all about the Money. I think Montecito Development Group the Dirt investment vehicle.

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    3. Yeah 8:07. And what's with all those restaurants and their so-called "menus" telling us what to eat? Pretty soon Mao's picture will be everywhere.

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  7. Fresh and Easy is by no means cheaper than other stores. I'll take Taylor's any day, even when I end up with a rotten salmon fillet. Taylor's generally moves their meats, and if they don't, they glady will exchange. Prices are comparable to Fresh and Easy, except the meat from Taylor's is prime grade.

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    1. I agree. Fresh & Easy is low quality, and the buildings look cheap.

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    2. If it gets built, we'll have the DIC and the Special People to thank. Maybe Enid will sell them solar panels to help with their costs. Who's the broker for this deal? My money's on Judy Webb-Martin...

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  8. The community really wants a functioning store at that site, and I think it's a slam dunk for F & E. Trader Joes took a pass on the location, and so has everybody else who has looked at it - so I guess F & E is it.
    The food is heavily processed in the American cardboard style, lots of salt and sugar, and "Fresh" just isn't a part of it. The produce also tends to be old, but there are some organic selections - older organic produce needs to be eaten more quickly.
    There's a notice about the intention to sell alcohol on one of the old Howies windows - assumed it was for Taylors, but maybe F & E is already starting the process? Because they do have an aisle of beers and wines.

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  9. 7:29 Your right on! With the exception of TJ's there is another market right below the ones you mention. The ethnic small produce and food markets are all over the place around here. (the money they save by not paying the help finds its way into expensive advertising, which was not mentioned in the blog and that expense goes to higher prices) Try "Tropical Produce" out on Huntington at Myrtle or the ethnic markets on Washington in Altadena. These little markets offer good produce at lower prices and usually as much conversation as you want about how its done in the "old country". And as you said the "99 cent" stores have bagged lettuce from the same supplieres you find in high priced stores.

    We do shop Ralphs and Vons occassionally, but only with their Propriety Card and a fist full of coupons. (When the advertised product is not available we insist on a "rain check" for price and quantity). (FTC regulations are specific and strict as to availability of ANY advertised product.)

    The Propriety Card usuall results in as much as a 25% reduction in the bill. We are appaled at the number of people who go ahead and pay the rediculous prices charged without the card. We always offer the customer ahead of us without the card the opportunity to use ours which eliminates the smile from the face of the clerk.

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  10. Fresh and Easy will be a convenient addition to Sierra Madre. When my wife dragged me to the Arcadia location, I drag my feet throughout the store. It wasnt pretty. It felt like a warehouse. You have to bag your own groceries. After our continued stops there I did notice the cost savings and appreciated that. The food has to be eaten quicker or put in the freezer when you get it home as it seems to parish quicker than Ralphs.

    My only issue with FnE coming is that the architecture andthe homogenous nature of a national retail chain. Sierra Madre is a town of mom and pop shops. Unfortunately times have changed and having a mom n pop grocer in Sierra Madre most likely doesn't pencil out. The lot is large and needs a lot of revenue to support it. Kind of what happened to the drive-in movie concept. It became to expensive to own such large parcels of land.

    I guess having a FnE on that primary corner of town will put the cabash on the conspiracies of this blog that there is being planned a multi-story high rise with retail shops below. That was just comical.

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    1. Actually a multi-story Cucamonga looking thing was part of the Downtown Specific Plan around 2006. Yes, it would have been comical, like the LLC of local investors that wanted to build it. Don't know if Bottle Shop Billy is going to find this new incarnation of liquid corner commerce all that hilarious, though. Personally, I think a Bev Mo would serve the needs of the community better. Lot's of drunks in them thar hills.

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    2. Thank you Steve. Nice attempt to disguise your own inimitable style, but we know you're a shill for the realtor/broker network in town.

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    3. You got to hand it to Steve, he works at it. Probably the only thing he has ever worked at.

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    4. Well ya got me. I am Steve who commented above. But my guess is that you uncover me unfairly. As I believe the comments being made about me are of the Tattler. The Tattler has the ability to see where the comments are coming from by an IP address. So when my IP comes in they have it flagged as Steve. Gotcha Tattler!

      But none the less. FnE would be not be conducive to the general architecture of Sierra Madre. Thats why we need a specific plan overlay district that outlines architectural design requirements to conform to. FnE basically does a vanilla stucco shell with clerestory windows and plants their big logo sign on it. Planning Commission needs to require in the Conditions of Approval certain design elements that would make that building more palatable.Have them change their "massing". This corner is the gateway to Sierra Madre it needs to look nice.

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    5. For the record, IP addresses cannot be read on the Blogger platform that we use for the Tattler.

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    6. Fairly and squarely uncovered, Steve! Your philosophical leanngs, poor but consistent grammer, punctuation, and capitalization give you away. Nothing as sophisticated as an IP address

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  11. I applaud the fact that we can have a grocery store in Sierra Madre. But, having a big, green building on the corner of Sierra Madre and Baldwin would be completely out of place. If the Planning Commission can help them to make their store look like Sierra Madre, then I'm in.

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    1. Don't they go before the Planning Commission only if they can't fit their building into the site in compliance with Measure V and without needing variances?

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    2. There's one I would enjoy voting no on. Of course, I enjoy voting no on just about everything these days.

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  12. F n E is a lie. It makes uneducated Americans think they are in a cutsie European little market, when European little markets are very fresh and very friendly and much smaller. The bakery, the butcher, the candlestick maker, and each place is quaint and lovely.

    I shop in many small quaint ethnic places all over Pasadena and Arcadia. Once in FnE was enough. And no one is doing a study about this? Dear God, they study every other piddly useless project. Susan is still their godass.

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    1. "susan is still their godASS" good one!

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    2. Good point. Where is the $50,000 consultant? How much of our tax money will Mayor Morango and Macha Cha Cha want to splurge to make this happen?

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  13. I don't shop fnezy in Arcadia except when I need only one thing (fruit tray for a party) then I am in and out. It does NOT have a full line of products. If I am in Arcadia grocery shopping I make my rounds of Ralphs, Sprouts and TJs. Fnezy has it's ow label on spices and I fear they are from.China and full of DDT. However, fnezy would probably fit In the space ( they took over the old Vons at first then relinquished half to the $$ Store). For convenience many would get over their resistance. When Tesco first did their US market study they looked to see if they could compete with wal mart and started with too many stores and had to close some. I really wonder if it would succeed in Sierra Madre?

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  14. Perhaps a full and complete story would have shed light on the alternatives. How many times has Trader Joe's and Whole Foods been fined for the likes of false advertising and misleading statements. Food that doesn't really come from the places they say or is not really created in the "green environment" they claim.

    And while we are on the subject of the other retailers, is anybody else aware of the money and efforts that both of those chains have also made to fight unionization of their employees?

    Fresh and Easy certainly is not the retailer they make themselves out to be, but neither are the other retailers (Trader Joe's and Whole Foods) that people flock to like lemmings.

    Standard yellow journalism-report only on the small picture when in the context of the big picture the whole industry is just as corrupt.

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    1. OK, lemming I am not, and I do shop TJs almost exclusively. If you look closely, most TJ employees stay on for years because they are treated well and the pay is more reasonable than an entry level position at any other market. The working environment is casual and the crew members are encouraged to chat up the customers and be ready on the floor to assist finding stuff. Prices on wine, cheese and meat easily beat out the competitors and they usually carry a pretty wide assortment of organic everything. There are very, very good reasons for patronizing TJs. Whole Foods (so Whole Paycheck) - not so much.

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  15. I am loyal to the Albertsons on Michillinda. Cheap cooked chicken dinners is what won my heart.

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  16. Albertsons is so poorly lit that the food looks dreadful. Nice folks and easy in and out. When is it ever crowded? How do they stay in business . Oh, maybe it is their super liquor dept. I never leave home to shop there, just on way by late returning from some place that side of town.

    Don't be fooled by the 99 cent store, as they package their items at smaller weight...you are not getting any more for your money than .99 in value.

    Don't buy food or plastic storage items from China. Remember the dog food and baby formula with the melamine added that mimicked protein?

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    1. When shopping at Albertsons I have found it useful to leave my sunglasses in the car.

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    2. Wrong about the 99 cent store. The produce has everything - junk to the highest quality organic produce.

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    3. That explains all of the rabbits in the parking lot, 2:38. They're cheap little varmints.

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  17. BTW, MaryAnn's message wasn't the tear jerker of last years, but a very, very good message. Thanks, MaryAnn for your heartful address.

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  18. That Patch poll on Fresh & Easy coming to town is overwhelmingly NO. Good on them.

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  19. I tried to shop at Taylor's once but they seem to have a private routine or method that is not open to people. I left without buying because I could not figure out how they operate. There was no one at the check-out counter and they had no way to call anybody.
    It is easy to find something wrong with most retailers because most retailers are dishonest. Look at what we have ended up with our farmer's market. What a group of thieves they are!! And city staff likes them!! That calls for concern. How about just getting businesses in town that we need, that help make Sierra Madre self-sufficient. We do not need any more boutiques and stupid restaurants that block our sidewalks..How about a convenient place to shop for basics?!?!

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    1. Taylor supporterMay 28, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      Taylor's cashier has been out for several months battling Stage 4 cancer. They have not found a part time replacement. Part time because they are hoping she can return. When someone approaches the check out counter, one of the guys behind the counter comes over to do check out duty. So sorry your vocal cords were impaired and you couldn't make a courteous request for help. Works very well in most small markets. But then with your attitude...

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    2. yep. sometimes you gotta slow down a little, and dig the shop you shop, pop. they are run by human beings, and life may interfere, dear. you gotta be somewhere quick, richard? go to mcdonald's.

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  20. All grocery stores are sitting in the money and taking advantage of Americans. Huge corporations. That is why I shop many places for different items. Everywhere except FnE and never Wal-Mart.

    See the film Food Inc. And other documentaries. There is a profit motive for all food.

    Corruption rises into hungry greedy hands, ah mouths.

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  21. Did Mary Ann and Chris serve tea?

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  22. LOL, Tesco is fresh, and easy

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  23. well, it's certainly where we get the meat, men. LOL deux

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  24. Whatever we finally get in Sierra Madre in the way of a "complete" grocery story it will most likely succeed by default. FnEzy would not be our families first choice but we would shop there when we were not particularly heading for TJs, Whole Paycheck or Ralphs.
    I don't particularly like the idea of tearing down old Howies and building a new building unless the size completely conformed to our measure v.
    And I like Taylor's meats but only end up there on rare occasions as they are another stop where I don't find all my needs. What holds me back is the "grind of finding parking, get out of the car and getting the shopping cart AND waiting in another checkout line.". Got to be simple for me to head out grocery shopping. Then you have to put the stuff away and then COOK? Tough life, huh!

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  25. Reading through this litney of stupid stuff, its no wonder the advertising Super Markets get your busines; sometimes by design and sometimes by default. They have got youdr number. Why don't you have their's? Dumb, Dumb, Dumb!

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    1. Have a slice of baloney.

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  26. I once dated a girl who was fresh and easy...Good times!

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  27. Look at the bright side. Now it will be so much more convenient to pick up the Cancer causing, Genetically Modified foods filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup and Aspartame that Americans love oh so much. And isn't it also nice to know that Tesco will not pay a penny in taxes to contribute to the welfare that it's employees will be on.

    Ah, socialism. The monopolists best friend. If only John D. Rockefeller could have lived long enough to see this day.

    The New World Order is here and I feel fine.

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  28. Susan Henderson has never reported fairly/objectively on any subject since she absconded with the paper - that action alone does more than call into question her extreme lack of integrity - and it's not likely she'll report correctly on this item since she's supporting the development forum's interests. If the DIC has money in this property, any large retailer or grocer is welcome on that corner, no matter how inappropriate their business practices have been - it's all about money, money, money...

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  29. I went to F&E once. I had a coupon. It felt like a warehouse, everything was packaged in plastic, and no information on any of the produce as to where it was from. I was really uncomfortable buying any of that stuff. When I went to checkout, I discovered the cheap prices were because there were no cashiers. I had to scan and bag everything myself. I will drive further and pay more for the privilege of being helped by a cashier and having my groceries bagged while I wrangle my hooligans. I will not under any circumstances support or shop at a F&E.

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  30. @ Steve Tracker
    First off this is a blog and not an English class. So to have one's comments in perfect written order is not required. Typo's do happen and I am not going to spend the time to "proof" read if there is an error.

    But since your on the subject Steve Tracker um I must point out that you forgot the period at the end of your phrase that you structured as a sentence.

    Gotcha Back Steve

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    1. I so agree with you 10:58 am. Steve Tracker also made other errors. However you missed the point: Steve Tracker was telling you how he/she can track your identity - not lambasting you for errors we all make. It's the nature of the medium.

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