published Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Cook: Why do we dislike our teachers?

One of the most powerful rituals in our society is the burial ceremony of a veteran.

At my grandfather's -- he was a World War II colonel, and at one point, in charge of a POW camp in Italy -- they brought out all the stops: the rifle salute, the bugle, the straight-edge folding of the casket flag from one Marine's hands into another's, who then clutched the flag to his chest, boot-walked it over to my 96-year-old grandmother, knelt down until he was eye-level, and then handed her the flag as he said words that made me weep.

On behalf of the president of the United States and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation.

It was a way to confer blessing and honor upon the life of a veteran, sending the message that military service is something we value in America.

We should begin the same practice for teachers.

We should create a funeral corps that would accompany the burial ceremony of any Hamilton County teacher.

A folded flag, certainly. Maybe a solemn classroom bell, but no gunfire. Someone would recite the pledge, and then maybe Elizabeth Bentley's "On Education" or James Baldwin's praise for his Harlem teachers.

"When I could scarcely see for myself any future at all, my teachers told me that the future was mine," Baldwin wrote.

The corps would be made up of volunteers -- retired teachers and principals, current students, any public school graduate -- and its ceremony would send the message that teaching is a career of value, worthy of praise and synonymous with sacrifice. If we praise our veterans, we ought to do the same for our educators.

But we won't.

Because in our society, we don't like our teachers very much. On a macro-level, we do not honor in any meaningful way the labor and craft of teaching.

(Is it because our classroom teachers are women, and since our society still does not encourage women to hold positions of authority, we subconsciously learn to view education in lesser ways than, say, the business world with all its male CEOs?)

(Or is it because teaching is a calling, and for many of us, we ignored our own calling, which leads us to resent teachers?)

(Is it because we've allowed the pop-media-culture to dumb down society to the point that intellectualism now seems threatening?)

This much is certain: We continue to ignore the pressing issues (school starts times, classroom size, the way poverty affects learning) which sends the ho-hum attitude that education is not a pressing issue.

The latest example: health insurance.

Thursday night, the school board will vote on insurance changes for public school teachers and employees. According to Central Office emails, these changes are just the first pitch (or first nail) in a long game (or big coffin) designed to push more people off county insurance while steering those that remain into higher deductibles.

For so long, teachers got top-shelf benefits, like their own G.I. Bill.

Yet over the last several days, I've heard a grumbling, like rats scraping against one another in a barrel: Why should teachers get good benefits when I don't?

This is the consequence of a dog-eat-dog society that encourages a race to the bottom where nobody wins. It is almost a form of patricide: We're going to make suffer our most valuable elders (read: teachers) who are in charge of our most valuable people (read: kids).

We already pay them in lower-class ways. Our state government yanked many of their union rights away, while continuing to yoke them to a vampiric system of corporate-standardized testing.

Our local government remains horribly silent on these issues, just like our superintendent and half the school board. (Ever hear any of them make any formal statement about the TCAP fiasco, for example?)

It has reached these dire straits: Many teachers are telling younger folks -- students or their own children -- not to become teachers, a save-yourself mentality that says less about teachers and more about the rest of us.

Long ago, when I was teaching, I asked my students to say "thank you" at the end of class. Not just to me, but to every teacher they had.

Amazingly, it stuck. Kids made it a habit, and some kept doing it for years, even into college. More than once, I heard back from them about shocked teachers and professors, who were so moved by student gratitude.

Some said they had never been thanked before.

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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allicewhan said...

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August 27, 2014 at 12:14 a.m.
timbo said...

This was probably the dumbest, most narcissistic, post that wimp Cook has written.

Where to start.....

First of all, why does someone we taxpayers PAY deserve special honors over and above anyone else? We "honor" them with Cadillac insurance, a great retirement, job security, and a easy, cushy job already. Not to mention A PAYCHECK.

Teaching is a "calling?" Give me a break...Yea, the calling is that "I don't want a real job, 2 month vacations, one month at Christmas and lifetime job security with almost no chance of being fired no matter how bad I do my job."

Teachers are "our most valuable elders.." What a stupid narcissistic statement. What about people who invent the things that make us live better, what about doctors, what about policemen and firemen and above all, what about businessmen who provide taxes and the jobs which provide other taxes to pay your inflated, benefits and salaries.

You damn liberals just had to have Obamacare but only want if for everyone else. This is the bed you liberals made. If I were a school board member, I would suggest doing away with insurance all together and let some of you superior individuals (teachers) get Obamacare. Then you might find out what the rest of us have to deal with that don't live in your little protected "governmentland" ivory tower. don't want an idiot like Cook writing this kind of stuff. It makes your job harder and diminishes your stature because he makes you all look like narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, selfish, cry babies.

Believe me..this article made you all look bad. Why don't you guys go out and find you a small business person and thank them for providing the resources that keep you afloat. Yea...I won't hold my breath.

August 27, 2014 at 9:38 a.m.
TeaBagMocker said...

Big shout-out to Timbo for supporting the author's argument with his vitriol and ignorance of the teaching profession. Haters gonna hate, I suppose. And I'm not even going to stoop to ad hominem remarks (you might have to Google that one, Timbo).

August 27, 2014 at 3:10 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

If anyone wants a reason to why TN continues to rank towards the bottom in education, look no further than Timbo's ignorance. He is the prime example of what is wrong with this state. He'll one day be on his death bed and realize how little he meant in this world; that being a condescending ahole didn't gain him any additional wealth. He is also a liar. HCDE's insurance plan for teachers, is not a "Cadillac" plan. That is public knowledge if he wants to challenge me on that.

August 27, 2014 at 8:27 p.m.

Timbo is unable to respond tonight as he's attending the coronation of Rhonda Thurman after her glorious thousand-vote margin write-in victory.

August 27, 2014 at 9:34 p.m.
michaels said...

I seems that one of us has lost focus on what is important in this world. Ours is a society that is based on everyone doing the job he is best suited for. There are those out there that are meant to lead our youth to the next generation and to a better day. In our society the teacher serves to raise our consciousness to the potential each person has. The teacher paints a picture of promise and shows how one goes about securing the future.

The Hamilton County Board of Education and Rick Smith continue to infringe on the needs that teachers have for stability in an every changing world. I realize there are money concerns but the Board of Education appears to be working to rid itself of its most important resource, teachers. How do you hold classes with out someone to lead them. All the new shiny building in the world are worthless without a staff of committed teachers in the classrooms.

All these teachers can easily do something else and make more money than what they are getting paid now. They can still become lawyers, doctors, salesmen and sales women. If we allow the Board of Education to run them off we are to blame and the children of Chattanooga surely will suffer.

August 27, 2014 at 11:03 p.m.
timbo said...

Typical responses from the "I won't something free" crowd.

As far as hating goes, Cook is the only one that hates along with the rest of you education cheerleaders. You guys hate the rest of us because you don't care how bad it gets out in the real world for the people who pay teacher's salaries and benefits. This is basic, naked selfishness of teachers who want theirs no matter how bad it gets for the rest of us. They just don't care that everyone else is dealing with the Obamacare situation which, in part, was caused by liberal teacher organizations that supported it. If it is so great, why don't you teachers want to use it????????

The bottom line is NOT ONE...NOT ONE of you commenters even addressed the points I made.

Gaussianinter said, "This is not a Cadillac plan..." She said she could prove it but didn't. There plan is better than 90% of private plans period. To say anything different is dishonest.

allahyoungerbrother said something totally irrelevant about Rhonda Thurman. What an idiot.

Teabagmocker....I will address in the next installment.

Again, not one of these people addressed my I guess they agree.

along with these insults about me googling "ad hominem" and what it means

August 28, 2014 at 9:59 a.m.

timbo said...

"Typical responses from the "I won't something free" crowd."

Perhaps you should have listened to your English teacher.

August 28, 2014 at 10:31 a.m.
timbo said... ought to "google" the definition before you use words over 4 letters. The only ad hominem comment made in these posts were from you.

Are you really that uneducated?...or just plain dumb?

August 28, 2014 at 10:31 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Timbo, again more dishonesty from you. I never said HC teachers didn't have a good health plan, I said it's not a Cadillac plan; and it isn't. Just because it is better than "90% of private plans period", doesn't make it a Cadillac plan. That is a "point you made" that I "addressed". Another lie from you.

Another lie, is the whole "Obamacare" line you spewed. Obamacare has nothing to do with what is going on with the vote.

Another act of deception (I won't necessarily call it a lie) by you, is your false assumption that all teachers are "liberals" or that they all "support Obamacare". Do you ever step out of your bubble? Have you spoken to many teachers? I'm going to say no because you would have realized that there are many teachers that are "conservatives" that despise Obama. To stereotype all teachers as "Obama supporters" dilutes the majority of your last rant. Maybe you should be the one that needs to "Google ad hominem", because you are obviously confused of its meaning.

August 28, 2014 at 10:45 a.m.
timbo said...

allahisapissant...yea, yea...I am guilty of a typo...big deal. This stuff is so important, maybe I should hire an editor to catch my Cook. Did I spell "piss ant" correctly? I hope so..

August 28, 2014 at 10:48 a.m.
timbo said...

Gaussianinterger....Just to show you that your track record of being wrong all the time is intact...

According to Education Next from BLS data..."We estimate from these data that the national average of annual employer insurance costs in 2012 was $8,559 for K–12 teachers, and $6,803 for private-sector professionals. The difference between the figures has increased since 2004. Annual employer insurance costs for K–12 teachers rose 67 percent, compared to 49 percent for private professionals. The gap between employer costs was just 12 percent in 2004 but rose to 26 percent by 2012."

I would say that most of those plans are "Cadillac" compared to most private plans.

You were saying....

August 28, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Again, Timbo is mad at the education system because it failed him when he was a child. Anyone that types the plural of "knife" as "knifes" repeatedly (read his gun rant on for the proof of this), shouldn't try to speak intelligibly on education.

August 28, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

"I would say that most of those plans are "Cadillac" compared to most private plans."

Sorry, "Cadillac plan" has a specific criteria. HCDE's does not fit that criteria. Again, better than most, doesn't make a plan Cadillac.

And there isn't a national insurance plan for all school systems. So the info you posted may or may not be true for HCDE.

August 28, 2014 at 10:56 a.m.
timbo said...

Gaussianinterger....Typos...that just shows how shallow and intellectually bankrupt you guys are to go on and on and on about a typo...

Do you ever address any facts? Ever? Oh my gosh, I didn't use exact syntax and grammar..

By the way, I will compare resumes, education, and brain pans with any of you people any time. You know who I am..Tim Price...and you can call me anytime.

August 28, 2014 at 10:56 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Timbo, you haven't shown me to be wrong on even one occasion. So please tell me how you can conclude that I have a "track record of being wrong all of the time"?

August 28, 2014 at 10:58 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

I'm an actuary, you own a pest control business, how do you suggest we go about "comparing resumes"?

August 28, 2014 at 11 a.m.

timbo said...

"allahisapissant...yea, yea...I am guilty of a typo...big deal. This stuff is so important, maybe I should hire an editor to catch my Cook. Did I spell "piss ant" correctly? I hope so.."

timbo wrote: "Typical responses from the "I won't something free" crowd."

Your incorrect use of "won't" instead of the correct "want" is not a typo — it's ignorance. But spin away, timbo, it's hilarious.

August 28, 2014 at 11:17 a.m.
timbo said...

Gaussianinterger... Do you ever do any research at all??

Here is the NEA's official position on Obamacare,

"NEA's 3.2 million members, including teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty, have long been strong supporters of the need for access to quality, affordable and comprehensive health care coverage for all residents of the United States."

Not only that, they have endorsed liberals over 90% of the time in elections. Also, teachers are almost 2/3 democrat/liberal from K-12 and over 80% of college professors.

Do you even understand numbers? I might have a spelling problem but that must have been the only class you were awake in. Oh,...let me rephrase that...I ended that sentence with a preposition..

No..that is not right because more to the point, the only reason we try to avoid ending a sentence in a preposition is because a lot of your readers will consider it to be bad practice. In actual fact, this rule is a throwback from Latin and has no place in English grammar....probably something you didn't

Let me make it simple enough for you and teachers to understand..when your plan is better than "90% of private plans" that means it is a "Cadillac" plan compared to the rest of us. If we compared it to Obama or congress, the teacher plan might just be a really nice Impala. It is still better than the average non-government person who is driving a yugo. (Oh my gosh..did I spell everything correctly...)(should I have put a ? mark there..or...)

The absolute dumbest thing you said, was that "Obamacare has nothing to do with the vote.." Duh, your joking... That is why costs are skyrocketing you dolt.. Any businessman will tell you, since Obamacare, private plans have gone up 20% or more. Just the fact that preexisting conditions are covered has done that much.. I have a business...I deal with this everyday..I know how much it takes to cover my employees and the what is responsible for the increase.

Stop writing before you lose the little bit of credibility you still have.

August 28, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.
timbo said...

allahisanidiot...You are wrong again...if I always used the word "won't" instead of "want" I would be ignorant. Same as the word "knifes" versus knives. That is not the case because 99.999% of the time I use the word "want" and "knives" correctly.

It is flattering that these are the only kinds of things you can ridicule me about from my writing.

It is evidence of your stupidity that a one-time error is translated into "ignorance" because it suits your petty, uncreative, uninformed writing style. That is what the left always does to obscure your absolute disregard for facts or logic.

August 28, 2014 at 11:27 a.m.
timbo said...

Gaussianinterger...A pest control business...bah, ha, bah, ha...pretty funny...

You won't find my business by "googling" me.

I know, I am a famous jazz artist....

August 28, 2014 at 11:29 a.m.
timbo said...

Gaussianinterger....By the way, I "googled" the definition of "Cadillac" insurance plan and the definitions were all over the board. In my book, teachers paying no copay, $5 prescriptions, low deductibles, and paying $25 per month is about as good as it gets.

If teachers are as saintly as Cook says, why don't they want to contribute more themselves to help the children have more resources. That's right...they are selfish.

August 28, 2014 at 11:42 a.m.
timbo said...

None of you people is worth one more key stroke..

August 28, 2014 at 11:42 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

"By the way, I "googled" the definition of "Cadillac" insurance plan and the definitions were all over the board. In my book, teachers paying no copay, $5 prescriptions, low deductibles, and paying $25 per month is about as good as it gets."

A single employee pays 44.00 per pay check (about 88.00 per month) and a married employee with a couple of kids pays over 150.00 per paycheck (or close to 300.00 per month). {All of this info I have gotten from teachers and the HCDE plan}. So again, same ole song and dance from you, more lying about the "$25 per month".

And HCDE's plan does not fit the Obamacare definition of a Cadillac plan.

August 28, 2014 at 1:06 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

And Timbo, not all teachers are members of the teacher's union.

August 28, 2014 at 1:12 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

What timbo is calling a "Cadillac" health plan is actually what all Americans ought to have anyway. It is nothing more than good, comprehensive health coverage at an affordable price. Which is something that most other countries, through equitable taxation, have had for a long time. But the "haves" in this country like to make the "have-nots" believe you must be rich or privileged to get it.

August 28, 2014 at 1:15 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Timbo's foaming-at-the-mouth, visceral hatred of liberals and, today, of teachers in particular has never been so obvious. Take a deep breath, timbo. Chill out. We know you "won't" (to borrow from timbo's grammar book) to make all libs disappear but we're not going anywhere. History has proven time and again that liberalism always wins out in the end. You conservatives have enjoyed over 3 decades of austerity minded, trickle-down, anti-government bullsh!t and your suffocating reign of rich-old-white-man privilege will soon come to an end.

Capitalism as we have known it won't/can't last much longer. Either people will wise up and usher in a new era of much needed FDR-type socialistic polices, or this nation will crumble under the oppressive weight of this conservative, oligarchic regime of greed and self-serving policies for the one percenters.

August 28, 2014 at 1:36 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

"Employees’ monthly premiums went from $25 a month to $100 in the 2010-11 school year, Smith said. In the 2012-13 school year, he said, the cost for dependents increased by $75 a month."

More evidence that Timbo is a Dumbo.

August 28, 2014 at 5:23 p.m.
fairmon said...

Provide teachers a good health care policy that compares favorably to those in the private sector. However, there is no reason why a tax payer should provide a teachers spouse or children healthcare coverage. That cost, if coverage is needed, should be entirely at the employees expense.

A pay increase for teachers would be appropriate and teachers paying for the level of healthcare they select and if needed for family members require them to pay for it.

To have a predictable cost and be compared to private employers there would be a set dollar amount for teacher's benefits and the employee select the benefits they want up to the amount provided, with all beyond that paid for by the employee.

There are many good teachers that deserve our praise and respect but the remainder contaminates the reputation of all teachers. Observe and interview some people in the education business and see how dysfunctional and inept they are at managing a business. Make no mistake about it, education is a big business. Education as a for profit business would have been bankrupt years ago.

The teachers union will go to all lengths to defend the weakest among them. The union probably spends ~80% of their revenue on defending the weak 5% and on union fat cats and overhead.

August 28, 2014 at 10:08 p.m.
GameOn said...

Timbo...I agree with you 90% of the time but you said....Teaching is a "calling?" Give me a break...Yea, the calling is that "I don't want a real job, 2 month vacations, one month at Christmas and lifetime job security with almost no chance of being fired no matter how bad I do my job."

Sir you are a fu<k*-g idiot with that statement. The job of a teacher does not end at 3:00. The first shift is over and the second shift begins. I have been married to a teacher for 25 years and she does more work in 10 months than most people do in 12. Plus, those 2 months off in the summer and 1 month during the school year are really not vacations. She still averages 35 hours a week. She genuinely cares about children and their education. She busts her A$$ around 340 days a year for the children in classroom. This Labor Day weekend, she will be working 8 hours a day for a lot of ungrateful parents just like you. Get to know a teacher before you make stupid statements.

August 29, 2014 at 12:04 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Game On, why would Timbo "get to know a teacher"? Actually learning the truth would cripple all of the arguments that he posted on teachers the past couple of days. Besides, he learns all he needs to know about teachers from Rhonda Thurman.

August 29, 2014 at 6:10 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Ole timbo is lost in the north woods, to be kind.

Let's see, teachers are responsible to take our most precious assets and train them to be knowledgeable, productive citizens. We give our children to them and especially the Reds, complain if they do not learn social responsibility and become good citizens. We complain if teacher gives poor Billy a hard time or bad grade for screwing off.

As good capitalists, we ought to pay the people that train our children at least the value we place on our children (most of us would say our children are priceless, or invaluable); but by timbo's logic we ought to go find the least capable folks we can and hire them for the lowest possible salary they will accept to do the job.

Go figure the love of money and hairdressers.

August 29, 2014 at 11:13 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

GameOn, thank you for your personal account of the everyday life of your wife as teacher. I have known several teachers over the years and they all worked very hard, putting in much more than the typical 40-hour week. It does indeed take a special calling to be a teacher, and a good teacher is worth her/his weight in gold.

For one to display the utter ignorance, as timbo has done, of the workaday life of a teacher, is unbelievable. I doubt that he even has the good sense to be ashamed of just how ignorant he is and how ludicrous his comments were.

August 29, 2014 at 12:47 p.m.
timbo said...

Gameon...My father was a teacher and coach for 30 years. I grew up with it. My dad was a good man, but by 6:00 pm every day he was at home with his family sitting in his easy chair relaxing. It is not a hard job and you guys know it. It is sad that you think that other people don't work just as hard or harder.

I apologize if I was a little too critical of teachers but Cook's article about how we should worship teachers and "thank" them all the time pissed me off. As I said, their paychecks and benefits are enough thanks. This need to be thanked all the time is strange to me.

Also, I own a business. My day starts at 6:00 am and sometimes ends at 12:00 midnight. I also have to travel and was away from my family quite a bit to make a living. For that sacrifice I got something that was important to me...freedom and independence. I MADE THAT CHOICE SO GOOD OR BAD, IT IS MY FAULT.

Now I pay 20 people a wage that is twice the average wage of VW and their insurance to boot. Not because I have to, but because it is immoral to not to pay a living wage.

I also pay a lot of taxes in my business that support teachers. Without businesses there would be little need to educate or "train" these kids. I also know that without the employee there would be no businesses. The difference is that I found a way to create wealth for the me, my family, my employees, and by paying taxes that would not exist without the business, the country.

The difference is that I don't think I am superior to a teacher. I don't think my contribution is a "calling" that deserves everyone else to thank me all the time. I am sick and tired of government employees raising themselves above the rest of the public sector people. Teachers don't need to be thanked or saluted any more than any one else.

Just like any other endeavor, if you think you are unappreciated, underpaid, or under thanked, you can always find another job. That is what happens in the private sector all the time. Welcome to the real world.

By the way, your the only one I am sorry is mad at me. Rickaroo, inquiringmind, Gaussianinterger, and you can fill in the blank with any other loonie lefties on this page, I could care less what they think.

Oh my gosh,....I think I will take an hour and check all my grammar and syntax...spelling....Nah, who cares...

August 29, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.
timbo said...

I am just curious if any of you read Cook's insulting article.

If I was on the school board, I would have only paid for the employee and not the family. That makes it clean.

If you don't like it..Obamacare is still out know you love it.

August 29, 2014 at 3:36 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

old timbo, mind clouded with organic solvent fumes, sez, "it is immoral to not to pay a living wage," and claims he does. After he shows us his books I'll buy his claim, but if he is using teacher's wages as a norm, he is full of it.

It would be interesting to do a comparison. First how does the mean teacher's salary compare with poverty level in the 1960's which I'll guess is about the time ole timbozo's dad coached the boys with today's wage.

I have never heard a teacher use their status as a government employee (see timmies 3:28PM post) as a justification for a wage, the wage ought in a capitalist system to be comparable to the responsibility of the job.

I guess you all noted how timbo tried to dodge the main point I made because he has no counter. You pay for things according to the value. If he has low value for the education of his kids, then go for low teacher wages.

That mindset contributes to the number of poor teachers around town.

Of course in 99% of the cases, any father who willingly works 6AM to midnight deserves no recognition for being a great father but rather a slap on the face for not caring whether he is there or not to provide a fatherly influence....But then, perhaps this is an autocorrecting phenomenon, the kids won't be imprinted with the mindset of the absent father.

And by the way, my coverage is as good and my cost with ACA is lower than what I paid on a corporate plan.

August 29, 2014 at 3:52 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Timbo, you continue to display your mind-boggling ignorance. At the time your father was a teacher education was not in the dire straits it is now. Most schools were well funded, with adequate teachers and supplies to serve their needs. But for the past couple of decades schools have faced severe, constant budget cuts and layoffs, to the point that most teachers have to spend a large portion of their paychecks for basic supplies. And they have had to work increasingly long hours.

I seriously doubt that most teachers think of themselves as superior or that they expect to be thanked and called out for special attention for what they do; and most of them do not expect to be paid the wages of a neuro-surgeon or corporate lawyer. But the point is that they have been given the shaft for so long now that many of us believe they do need to have a little praise heaped upon them.

While teaching is certainly not a calling for every teacher, for those who thrive in their profession and stick it out in spite of the many hardships (especially for those teachers in the inner cities), it is indeed a calling, as it takes a very special person to not only tough it out but excel at what they do. School is the surrogate home to kids from pre-K all the way through college, and teachers are their surrogate parents. I would think that any parent wouldn't have to think twice about how important a teacher is in the life of their child.

August 29, 2014 at 4:45 p.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

Timbo proves his ignorance - doesn't know the difference between won't versus want. Thankfully you aren't on the school board. With your self absorbed me first-me only mentality you couldn't win election for dog catcher.

August 30, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.
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