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« Your Newspaper

Is this Government Watch, too?

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Published June 1, 2011

Untitled document

We’re in the midst of our Government Watch project at The Vindicator, which includes tracking public salaries and other public expenditures.

At a recent charity golf event, the impact of our Vindy effort came up as conversation within our foursome, two of whom were nonVindy guys. The chat grew from watching government spending to watching government actions. We were all in agreement of our tough, but necessary, role.

Fast forward to the dinner afterward, and we joined some other players at a table. Without exchanging names or workplaces, we sat down and just simply started talking golf — the day's heat, the round, the scores, etc.

Within 10 minutes of idle golf chat, one of the guys handed me his business card. He was a court employee for a Valley court system.

“Hey — if you ever get in trouble with a ticket, let me know.”

I fumbled the card in my fingers a bit. The rest of my group kind of paused and hushed -- sensing the irony. I said “Thank you.”

But I could only wonder ...

If this is the benefit I get after just 10 minutes of empty golf banter, what’s he ding for his neighbors? More concerning — what’s he not doing for his citizenry.




Comments

1grand4dad(196 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

So why did you take it and just say thank you???

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2AnotherAverageCitizen(1174 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

What does this have to do with unions?

I've read the article several times and see nothing about UNIONS whats so ever. Its funny how everything negative that happens in the valley becomes the unions fault. But very few commented about the sales on the GM Cruze, being a positive for the valley.

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3block50(128 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

What's his name? Where's he working. Sorry Todd. I'm not beleiving much of this. A bunch of fat rich guys playing golf and someone comes out of nowhere and offers a break on a ticket. Was he joking? Probably. Maybe you should have used your notorious newshound chops and investigated. But no, innuendo sells your agenda so that's what you went with.

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4badeepster(111 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

The great Todd Frankfurter 2011 witch hunt reaches new levels!!

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

In The Valley we aren't endowed with many rocket scientists and this fact is very evident with the criticism of Tod . They expect everyone to be corruptable . Only the corrupt will criticize any exposure of corruption .

MAKING A DIFFERENCE . . ..

http://www.americanmafia.com/News/10-...

10-6-02
FBI retiree reviews his career. The imprisoned mob boss wished the retiring agent well.

By PATRICIA MEADE, Youngstown VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
BOARDMAN — Robert G. Kroner Jr. would be a retired math teacher today — if his dad, a Pittsburgh cop, hadn't worked extra duty at a garage where FBI agents parked.

In 1971, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was on a hiring binge.

In the garage one day, the agents said, "What about your son?"

With his father's encouragement, the 25-year-old math teacher at South Fayette Junior High School (near Pittsburgh) applied

The early cases involved gangland murders. Kroner learned who locally had ties to La Cosa Nostra in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Organized crime, he said, is a constant learning process.

"As we got better, they got better. As we would bring them to prosecution, they would learn the techniques that we used to catch them," Kroner said. "They'd be much more discreet and confidential in what they did and try to avoid us."

Most of the mobsters are dead now. Some, like Joey Naples, Charles Carabbia and Ernie Biondillo, died by assassins' bullets. Others, such as Jimmy Prato, died as old men.

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6grand4dad(196 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Maybe I just don't get it or am naive? Why is it ok to just take the card and say thank you?? If you're opposed to this type behavior, why not say no thanks. You didn't have to do it in an aggresive or insulting way. And you could have taken the guy aside later and simply informed him you won't participate. You seem to be so adamant about wanting to stand up to what is right but you let this opportunity go by giving the impession that you're ok with this. Then you blog about it??

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7AnotherAverageCitizen(1174 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

JD
""It's a common collective Mahoning Valley union mentality to act like a thug/punk while displaying in your face power powers,""

WOW you really don't like unions do you? You will try to make everything in MV a Union issue. You are so negative on UNIONS that even with a court system employee, the Union gets the blame.

REF GM bail out, was it the UNIONS fault for the Bush 800 Billion Dollar bailout of wallstreet? YES Govt helped GM, but the Govt also helped many banks(nonunion usually). Why did the banks need bailed out? Too bad you can't blame that on the unions also.

Why do you stoop so low and have to use THUG/PUNK with unions. Most union workers are hard working, trying to make a living, raising a family just like YOU and I.

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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

NoBS :

"I'm surprised none of the haters on here caught that.Selective reading, maybe?"

Well, if you don't have the card then you don't have proof of the offer . The card is now evidence of the offer . It's not rocket science . . ..

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9AnotherAverageCitizen(1174 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

JessieDavid, poor post

You have proved no piont. All you want to do is slam UNIONS and the unions have nothing to do with this business card. Remember, all PUBLIC TAXPAYERS are not union. All union members are not thugs/punks.

TO: All Vindy Readers'

Seems to me TODD is the corrupt one for accepting it. How should we honor him? Many people were happy that Tressel stepped down after knowing about corruption, hiding names, and activities. Maybe Franco should do the same.
Therefore, step down Franco or speak up with names and all the truth.

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10AnotherAverageCitizen(1174 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Govt watchdog.

Todd if you believe in Govt Watchdog why didn't you call the proper authorities? Instead you and your buddies sit quiet. I hope my dog doesn't sit and watch a thief. I expect my watchdog to bark her head off.

Hypocrit watch needs started.

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11Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

During the years gone by the corrupt ones tried to discredit Robert G. Kroner Jr. but he was too refined for their BS to have any effect . They couldn't match wits with him and he retired in dignity . You boys are fighting a losing battle to besmirch Todd as he also is too refined for your BS to have any effect .

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12JME(801 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

"Without exchanging names or workplaces, we sat down and just simply started talking golf "

NoBS, the irony was that the court employee didn't know who he gave the card to - unknowingly offering a "favor" to the person behind Government Watch.

How is accepting the card bride-taking/corruption? Now, calling the guy up and cashing in on the favor would be hypocritical and condoning corruption.

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13VindyPost(436 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Todd Franko:

You are simply a journalist...acting as an investigative spy.

Please be "fair and balanced" and report ALL details of TRUTH and HONESTY.

Also, as a Government Watch advocate REPORT ABUSE IMMEDIATELY---Don't just hold on to a business card with a "name" and ACT like you got the bull by the horns and only journal bits and pieces.

Perhaps be a reporter like you were "educated" to do, speak and write the whole truth, be straight forward, and act appropriately upon it with ALL details and credentials. (since you are a law-abiding citizen)

Sounds to me what took place, YOU as an individual is covering it up, also!

Therefore, since you have in your possession a business card and ( won't publish the name on it ) you have revealed a knowing existence of corruption and bribery... Consider taking the next steps beyond this journal and contact the authorities with THE WHOLE TRUTH.

I think you got yourself into a royal mess!

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14toddfranko(99 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Some beautiful observations ... but some of you -- puhleasse.
-- I didn't out him at the table as I took that as the rude thing to do. He wasn't rude to me. He was just unethical.
-- I don't owe him anything as he had no idea who I was. That's what was stunning. He did not offer it to me because I was "Vindy guy." I was just "nice guy at the table" -- and for being a nice guy, I have this offer.
-- I love the Valley ... in trying to demonstrate how quickly and simply the public process can be corruptable, and showing it, I am the "bad guy" and in "a royal mess."
-- I agree with AnotherAverageCitizen that my example has nothing to do with unions. Same for Government Watch. The unions have called GW "anti union." But there's just as much focus on administrators as anybody.
-- I love Block50 and "fat rich guys" ... if you still picture "Caddyshack," you've not been to a golf course in a while. I would bet there are better players in the UAW than in the bar association.

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15toddfranko(99 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

PS: I appreciate the journalism advice from some. You're certainly correct. But missing is this role: We also find things and create a chance to show who we are.
Sure, I could have refused the card, or quietly called the boss and never shared this, or said nothing to you all and cashed in on the offer.
Or -- I can share the instance and allow you all to dissect its significance. That process allows for debate and whatnot.
Of course, you'd have to believe I'm being truthful.
You don't have to believe. It's your choice.

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16grand4dad(196 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks Mr. Franko for the explanation. I for one do believe you are doing good things. And not for a minute was I suggesting you be rude to this man. But we're all presented with situations in our lives when we can take a stand or just look the other way. You lost an opportunity to set the example for a correct response and just politely decline the offer. No explanation needed, nothing rude about that. That would have said a lot to the others at the table as well as readers of this story. That's a lot more powerful than just appearing to play the game so as not to offend someone.

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17charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Todd,

You did the right thing - the understandable thing. You certainly did not promote the conduct and by taking the business card - you did not endorse the man's actions. There are many checks and balances in the court system and I really doubt that the man could have "delivered" on his claim.

As far as the anti-Government Watch people saying GW is anti-union, I think you could make the argument that it is pro-union. Public employees who are unionized should have no problem having their compensation schemes made public. In fact, they should be proud of all aspects of their work, including their pay. When will we have a meaningful response in the paper from public employees about failed school levies? I don't mean the "hurt-feeling - woe is me" letters... I mean letters that express gratitude to the taxpayers for making public employment so stable, enjoyable and remunerative. If GW is seen as a threat to unions, that threat merely exists in the paranoid minds of union folk.

I've got a suggestion - instead of waiting for the "big-bad" Vindicator to come knocking at your door asking for salary information - why not contact them and volunteer the information. Public employees, don't be so defensive. Maybe people will side with you if you don't look like you're always "hiding the ball."

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18James_S(268 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Keep up the good work Todd.
And..........
Stan is the Man :^)

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19jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Todd...again, I ask: Why the unsubstantiated version? If this event happened, DO YOUR JOB AND REPORT IT. Tell the employee's boss, file a police report with the authority having jurisdiction, and write about it. You put not only YOUR journalistic integrity but that of the Vindy itself on the line by remaining so vague with the "facts." That is unless maybe there aren't any..?

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20jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

If this happened its sad and pathetic on the part of whatever employee would be so dumb. I believe a similar incident happened when a court employee "tried" to "file" his own OVI so it would "go away"-LOL. Don't think it worked so well. But seriously, Todd...name names. If this happened its bad and the employee needs outed, if not just plain fired. But something about your story, as written, seems a little too contrived....

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21AnotherAverageCitizen(1174 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Charms,

Why, just because of who one WORKS for, should some come out and say how much they get paid. You think a school secretary should say how much they get paid, but a secretary for A private company does not need to disclose income.

Why should a lawyer be able to chage $175.00 an hour? Which 40 hour work week lawyer gets $350,000 a year. But an educator of your child making $48,000 is over paid. A plumber wanter $75.00 just to walk in my door, and add to bill after that. But school custodian making $19,000 is over paid.

sb5 need voted down !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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22jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

NO-vember 8th! So easy a regional chamber employee could not screw it up...oh, wait...

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23charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

AAC,

I didn't ask to see the information provided in Government Watch - but it sure is interesting. Both from the perspective of how lousy a job Canfield and Poland BOEs do - but also in exposing the weaknesses of the school system compensation scheme. I don't like judging peoples' worth - but as a taxpayer, that's my responsibility.

The taxpayers are getting a good value for their employee dollars in the 19K custodian - but may be overpaying the 48K employee. Give me other examples and I'll give you my opinion. My point is this: public employees - we pay you so like any employer you've got to reveal what you make. If you are naughty (overpaid), there should be consequences at the ballot box.

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24VindyPost(436 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Todd Franko:

It's not that you're a bad guy---It's that you shall become a better guy!

Since you and the Vindicator are promoting the Project of Government Watch tracking public salaries and expenditures....Why in the world would you just journal to "stir the pot" and not PUT OUT THE FIRE?! (this is an example to call a firefighter to the scene to Watch something BURN!) Perhaps, do something to put an end to raging fire that we suffer from.

As a Government Watch Advocate, you have just Watched and Journaled but the next steps to STOP and APPREHEND is a better choice. So as an investigative journalist, Let's just WATCH crime go on and do absolutely nothing about it---but present an article (which we already know this crime, corruption, bribery exists).

Again, take the initiative---take the next steps to report it to special authorities. That's where you can be the bigger, better, person upholding justice in this community. Your next articles will substantiate.

Please, since you have the business card and "Name", turn it in and explain exactly what you have experienced. (and it won't end here on your part, you could not only end up with another article---possibly a book!)

So, practice what you preach as in relations to Government Watch--Not only WATCH but ACT upon it!

In Essence..........................

*** The statement here is: I'm Todd Franko, I'm Government Watch, But I Don't Want To Get Involved! ***

(you have involved yourself)

And folks here yes, compassion is a good thing...but I believe morally right things to do are just as important.

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25VindyPost(436 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

P.S. Perhaps, you owe it to your community and readers, (as Government Watch) and NOT enable yourself to cover it up! It's a business card w/"name". Do your duty- There will be alot less off your shoulders once you release the business card. Morals, Values, and Ethics make community and society--not justifying to smooth it over and sugar-coat with compassion.

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26VindyPost(436 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

P.S.S. BTW, then the community will Golf with you and you can hand out vindy cards! : )

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27jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

the sad simple fact is Todd should have labelled this blog under "fiction."
Interesting that Todd's employer so desperately rails against any real or perceived threats to public records laws... Todd the feds will give the identity of the "big, bad, bizness man" in antonini's case if you give up the identity of the mysterious card peddler..."OOOHHHH THE INTIRIGUE!" Its beyond comprehension or acceptable for Todd to publish what thus far is an unsubstantiated account of an event of some jerk wanting to be a big shot...
...Unless Todd feels that this is the scoop of the decade. In that case if Todd feels that the offending party's behavior rises to the level of criminal behavior todd is quite possibly guilty of complicity BY NOT REPORTING this "event" (LMFAO) to the proper authorties....Both Todd and the offending party (if he exists) should be forced to listen to Billy Joel's "Big Shot" on an endless loop for a few days. (If this event happened)....both of you-GET OVER YOURSELVES!!!

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28commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

AAC, what are you doing pulling figures "out of thin air"? When you say $48,000 for a teacher is that the starting wage? What custodian only gets paid $19,000? If you want to state an opinion, at least be truthful.

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29jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

and Charms...your posts are "cute" in that way that juveniles can sometimes be when they are first trying to exert their independence. But your oh-so-myopic worldview comes to a screeching halt when exposed to that damnable substance: logic. You see while it is true that one must pay taxes, no where is it stated that failure to pay taxes revokes one's citizenship. It is the CITIZENS of a community which public employees are beholden to...not "taxpayers." Your right to vote is not contingent upon tax paying status, is it?
All too often it seems when observed with logic it seems the "You work for me" camp (ie "I'm a taxpayer and you are my public SERVANT) suffers from an almost overwhelming sense of ineffectualism and powerlessness...both in their personal and professional life. It's really rather funny if it weren't so tragic. "Public employees are overpaid, blah, blah, blah..." but let's all rush home to watch tv shows about cops and firemen. A Chief died this week...and the Vindy couldn't help itself but give him front page billing. I'm surprised you haven't decried the possible cost of the funeral. Is the investigation ongoing...? By and large its almost as if this anti-governmnet sentiment is the new "racisim." Public backlash is too great when the ignorant attempt to make themselves feel better by discriminating against people based upon the context of race...but if your life sucks because of poor choices, feel free to bash public employees. Gentlemen, gouge away. See you NO-vember 8th...

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30jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Rather than writing "hard hitting" blogs If I were Mr. Franko and the crack team at the Vindy I would be looking for new revenue streams...Word around the campfire is that folks are talking. Folks are getting fed up. Folks are getting plain angry about being made into scape goats. Folks are tired of being lied about. And word has it that these folks, union or not, are planning on a little lesson in bizness 101: "The CUSTOMER is always right." Gonna be awful hard to keep on printing lies and "slanted" truths when advertisers (Todd's bosses) are 'losing' customers because of their association with this paper. There are LAWS regarding paying taxes, but no one can FORCE a person to buy goods and services...or a whole "sector" of those very same persons. Market forces, gotta love 'em....

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31charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

jupiter,

Racism? You are one sick puppy!

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32VindyPost(436 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

** Harboring or Concealing or Withholding Information:

Whoever harbors or conceals any person who he knows, or has reasonable grounds to believe or suspect, has committed, or is about to commit an offense...

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33jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

no...the analogy works. I am not by any stretch advocating racism...But c'mon! Open your eyes. The way ALL public employees have been vilified? Teachers as the bad guys? Its almost like we have stepped into a Kurt Vonnegut novel from hell...
...And all the while the big boys at the top of the pyramid sit and laugh as we destroy ourselves. Listen-Hear that? Its John Kasich and the ghosts of Lehman brothers belly laughing. Hear that? Its every AIG exec that got a bonus while their company got "corporate welfare." Want more? Listen to that disgusting Ode to the Rich that Dan Rivers was broadcasting...We have met the enemy-and he is US. wake up, quit drinking the "cruel aid flavored tea."
I mean really, even Vonnegut (the guy who said there is no greater symbol of man's HUMANITY to man than a fire truck...) could not have invented the Tea Party. "Let's go protest the gov't. today!!!" "sorry, billy bob...gots to wait for the postal clerk to drop my SSI check first...." Really...??? WAKE UP!!!

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34jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

thank you, vindypost(#43)....my exact point regarding this matter: (If) it happened, it needs reported...if it did not then I believe some one needs to go to work for Harper Collins or Double Day...not work as "WatchDog."
Unless of course we start prefacing his work with statements like "Todd Franko is no more associated with true journalism than Dogg The Bounty Hunter is really representative of law enforcement..."

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35Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

You sound very vindictive jupiter . Has the exposure been too harsh on your sensitivity ?

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36jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

no stan...but watching guys like you insult and villify people has. Its been my experience that criminals love silent victims...I refuse to remain silent any longer. I am NOT A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN. The word "teacher" "police officer" or "fire fighter" is not a swear word. I honestly cannot believe that there are people as easily hoodwinked as you guys sound? Are you really this dumb? Or is your life really that miserable? Senate Bill 5 is not putting any money back into your pocket. FACT. Public employees have the same rights which you attempt to claim for yourself. FACT.
Where is your righteous indignation for the people that tanked the economy in 2008. Here is a clue...one of them sits in the governor's office as we speak.
Vindictive? Not at all...just defending the truth. its all right for good guv'nor john to talk tough...expect the same in return.

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37jupiter(116 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

and stan..I am going to start with you. CIVICS 101. Hear me know and hear me later and hear me once again in case you forget to hear me know: PUBLIC EMPLOYEES DO NOT "WORK" FOR THE TAXPAYER. THEY WORK FOR RESIDENTS OF VARIOUS POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS. YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE-the true application of political power-IS NOT CONTINGENT UPON TAXPAYING STATUS.
Your battle cry of "...I am a tax payer..." is akin to declaring that "...I have gas..." or "...I wet the bed..." It is an assumed condition that has no legal bearing on 14th amendment rights or their extension to individuals.
Speaking of voting....see you NO-vember 8th.

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38AnotherAverageCitizen(1174 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Common, Yes $48,000 was pulled out of thin air. I was looking at Youngstown city school teachers on Govt Watch and many teachers between $42,000 and $55,000. very few over $55,000. School principal at $68,000. Struthers janitors all make $19668 and under. Custodians around 31,000. And those salaries are not only for the school days in session, but 214 days and 260 days.

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39charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

jupiter,

Whatever "floats your boat." If you need to personally slam people to "get your blood up" to campaign for SB5 - so be it. But your good arguments are getting "lost in the shuffle" of your obvious disdain for others.

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40VindyPost(436 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Todd Franko,

You've had plenty time "to Wonder" ...have you since come to a conclusion?

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