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Advice needed on countering email BCC in workplace email (Vanity)
Vanity Post | 12/8/2010 | jili

Posted on 12/08/2010 10:59:44 AM PST by jilliane

I sincerely apologize for the vanity post. I need advice from intelligent people in regards to a workplace problem. I've searched the internet, forums, career advice sites and can't find any relevant advice.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet
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A new director was hired for our department about 5 months ago.

He preaches transparency and claims that everything he does in managing the department is open. However, he is a micromanager whose actions suggest he suspects the worst in others. He is a poor listener because he’s distracted with his own thoughts, he interrupts people constantly, and arrogantly pushes his opinions on all. He disrespects others time by calling impromptu meetings that last for hours and then lectures everyone about what they are doing wrong, even though he must first question every detail because he has never done the job he’s criticizing. He constantly closes doors that were open and meets behind them with co-workers. I’ve been here 10 years and our department has never needed closed door meetings with co-workers.

He pontificates via email routinely and is intoxicated with his own verbosity. He bloviates so many emails per day with orders (even if the orders have nothing to do with your job), that when you follow up on the requests, he forgot what he asked for in the first place.

OK, here's the problem...

He recently started including me intermittently on email BCC (the intended recipient doesn't know I have been included or that their comments are viewed by others). Sometimes the email discussion is benign but they are annoying because they waste my time.

Recently I should not have been included on several emails and the senders would not have shared the comments had they known others were reading the email. No one ever has shared communications like this in the past so it’s been a trustworthy channel to communicate needs and issues.

These shared BCC emails included sensitive remarks a person made to him about a co-worker to which he replied (with me on BCC) with patronizing agreement that they both concur the co-worker uses bad judgment (by implication of BCC, he suggests I'm on that page, which I'm not).

He BCC'd numerous people on an email "privately" intended to his boss just to show off how stylistically he was able to "manage up" dissatisfaction about something the boss published.

He then BCC'd several people to an email he sent to me, lecturing me, ironically, on how he'd like me to communicate respectfully to his boss. The email also contained forwarded copy of a private email he distributed from someone else.

Yesterday, I picked up the phone and confirmed my suspicion with him directly that he'd in fact BCC'd the boss on the email correcting me and learned separately that he also BCC'd co-workers on the email reprimanding me like I was in 3rd grade. I called his boss and apologized if the tone was disrespectful but that I was documenting a workplace issue that only he could resolve.

There are at least 10 people I suspect are being BCC'd in various emails intermittently depending on who is being discussed. I would not expect this behavior from a teen at work, let alone our 60-year old department head.

He has created distrustful communications, used BCC as a power tool to fool people they are in his trust. I have since told 3 of them that their emails are being distributed. Everyone seems afraid that they’ll lose their jobs so they all treat him like he’s a god.

I am angry at enormous work distraction, the gossip feel of it all, the human manipulation, the betrayal of trust, the eroding of confidence in co-workers in each other, and I simply don’t know what to do to right the wrong. His boss defends him because it was his decision to hire the guy.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. We have no H/R department or grievance channels.
1 posted on 12/08/2010 10:59:47 AM PST by jilliane
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To: jilliane

IMO, blind copies are just that. a way to include others without anyone knowing who got a copy. of course it is sneaky.. but this director seems to choose this method of management.

Someone, hopefully someone he feels is a peer, needs to get this problem straightened out... and without bcc ing anyone.


2 posted on 12/08/2010 11:04:32 AM PST by bareford101 (For me, there is no difference in a tolerant, open mind and a cess pool. Both are open to filth.)
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To: jilliane

Is this guy in tight with one of the owners or the president? If not, I’d wait for him to pi** off the wrong person with these antics.


3 posted on 12/08/2010 11:06:09 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: jilliane

We used to bcc a former supervisor on things, then she’d “reply all” and our ruse was discovered. You could make it a practice to “reply all” to every message - including those on which you were bcc’d.


4 posted on 12/08/2010 11:06:43 AM PST by knittnmom (Save the earth! It's the only planet with chocolate!)
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To: jilliane
Let me guess- This is a government agency or he USED TO be an employee of a government agency

I have seen this before in people who leave or retire from a government job to start their double-dipping- collecting retirement froma their ‘20 and out’ years of gubmint service while holding another full-time job.

These people are un-trainable- this is how they think the REAL WORLD works too.

5 posted on 12/08/2010 11:06:56 AM PST by Mr. K ('Profiling' you would be worse than grabbing your balls!)
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To: jilliane

One of the very few appropriate uses of BCC is to hide email addresses from multiple recipients to prevent spam. The thing is, you BCC everyone on the distribution, not just select recipients.

This guy sounds like a real piece of work. Maybe you should get with all your coworkers and threaten his boss with quitting en masse unless he is let go. It sounds like an intractable situation.


6 posted on 12/08/2010 11:08:02 AM PST by Disambiguator
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To: knittnmom; jilliane

Reply All: Why am I getting this?


7 posted on 12/08/2010 11:08:27 AM PST by Optimist (I think I'm beginning to see a pattern here.)
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To: jilliane

>>>Any advice is greatly appreciated. We have no H/R department or grievance channels.

Absent that, have you/can you talk to his boss?? CEO??


8 posted on 12/08/2010 11:08:27 AM PST by Keith in Iowa (FR Class of 1998 | TV News is an oxymoron. | MSNBC = Moonbats Spouting Nothing But Crap.)
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To: jilliane

Tough spot..

Couple of thoughts.

- I do not believe our e-mail systems copies bcc’s on replies unless you do a “Reply All.” Not certain. I rarely bcc.

- Might try read receipts to see if that gets you any more info.

Otherwise, I would only use e-mail if you absolutely have to and certainly would not editorialize at all.

As I’m fond of saying: “Go darken his doorway” and provide opinions to his questions in person if opinion is needed.


9 posted on 12/08/2010 11:10:34 AM PST by IamConservative (Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day... Truman)
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To: jilliane
....save and document EVERYTHING!
10 posted on 12/08/2010 11:10:39 AM PST by Doogle ((USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated))
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To: jilliane

It sounds like you work in a liberal University.

Buck up, it is normal.


11 posted on 12/08/2010 11:11:02 AM PST by Dan(9698)
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To: jilliane

Save all the emails and threads. Print them out when no one is around, for your own protection and others’, and take them home. Carry out his requests regardless of whether he remembers them, and document both the request and your response. Otherwise, ignore or nod pleasantly but noncommittally. Do not mention. Have no opinion. Do not engage. You can’t change him, you can only change your reaction to him. Nor can you control who he BCC’s on his emails. The guy will self-destruct.


12 posted on 12/08/2010 11:11:42 AM PST by La Lydia
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To: jilliane

If you can't tolerate the style of your boss and the workplace environment, then do everybody a favor and find a new job.

Whiny, little shits who seek to use human resource triangulation deserver the union they end up in.

13 posted on 12/08/2010 11:11:42 AM PST by delacoert
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To: jilliane

Perhaps you should follow his instruction and communicate, respectively, with his boss. This would be far more effective if at least three of you each do this. It can be done as a group or individually if done in a short time frame.

And always good advice anytime, anywhere, keep your resume up to date and keep up contacts with others outside your company but in your industry.


14 posted on 12/08/2010 11:11:46 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: knittnmom

I thought the REPLY ALL option never includes the BCC recipients....


15 posted on 12/08/2010 11:12:18 AM PST by Badabing Badablonde (New to the internet? CLICK HERE)
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To: jilliane

I think most of what you wrote in post #1 would be a good thing to email him. Be sure to BCC everyone. ;)


16 posted on 12/08/2010 11:12:40 AM PST by stylecouncilor (What Would Jim Thompson Do?)
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To: jilliane

when i find myself in that situation “gossipy feel” and I am required to respond but am not sure who else may receive the email or be “bcc’d” if the organization and recipents are small enough, i generally forward the email, re-enter, mannually, the recipients I can see and delete “fwd”. If it’s a large managed list, I’m not sure how you could go about it but that is my personal way of doing things when things take on a nastier or more personal nature and you are not sure who ELSE is being “bcc’d”. chances are, you aren’t the only one.


17 posted on 12/08/2010 11:12:45 AM PST by sappy (criminalibs)
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To: bareford101
You could BCC the director the next time you supervisor BCCs you with negative comments about the director.

One thing I have found is that very few people read their emails before sending them. Especially in an environment where people feathers are getting ruffled I always reread my emails, trying to twist them in negative ways, before I hit send.

Another important thing is to use email correctly. Use it to your advantage to documents other peoples actions. Know when to not use email to protect yourself. I would hesitate to send emails to this supe that were critical of anybody since you know he has the propensity to BCC them. It sounds like this guy is a real winner.

Hey, you don't work in federal government, do you?

18 posted on 12/08/2010 11:13:10 AM PST by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: jilliane; xsmommy

jilliane,

If you have no HR or Ethics department to handle harrassment claims, your only recourse is to go directly to his boss with your concerns. If that is your only avenue and you choose to pursue it, you should keep both an electronic and hard copy of every single document that you can get your hands on that shows he has been doing this. (You need to have an electronic copy on some media other than the work computer to which you may lose access once you make a complaint.) If your boss or his boss then retaliates against you for raising your complaint, he is violating federal law. At that point, you will probably need to have a good labor lawyer on your side.


19 posted on 12/08/2010 11:13:36 AM PST by VRWCmember
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To: jilliane

Sounds like a first-class jerk.

Of course, you should speak respectfully to your boss’s boss. But I agree as posted above that you could lay low until his behavior does him in with someone else. However, if you want to address it, I think the thing to do would be to address it with him directly, privately, behind his closed door. All tact you could generate would be useful.


20 posted on 12/08/2010 11:14:14 AM PST by 9YearLurker
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To: jilliane

With no HR and you feel it’s making your work environment hostile, you need to contact your state’s labor resources.

If it’s just a bother, “accidentally” do an occasional “respond to all” from a BCC and include others in it. If your fellow employees follow case, dinko will knock it off soon enough. There are plenty of other ways to make him miserable, google it a bit.


21 posted on 12/08/2010 11:14:27 AM PST by Malsua
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To: bareford101

Ahh corporate politics. Something you never get taught in school....

Just follow along. Don’t engage in gossip, or be destructive and don’t do anything clearly unethical. Focus on the facts and the task at hand. There’s no way everyone can get along, no way you will like everyone, or that everyone will like you.

The boss may be a jerk, but don’t try to fight him, as you will suffer for it. He’ll probably get transferred, fired, promoted, or quit within a year anyway.


22 posted on 12/08/2010 11:14:44 AM PST by PGR88
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To: jilliane

Need more info. Is company privately held? Board? Family-owned? Publicly traded?


23 posted on 12/08/2010 11:15:45 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: jilliane

From the way this guy sounds, you may want to also document your spoken conversations with him, as well. An easy way to do this is to type up what you talked about (job specific) and get him to verify you have everything correct.


24 posted on 12/08/2010 11:16:44 AM PST by IYAS9YAS (Liberalism can be summed up thusly: someone craps their pants and we all have to wear diapers)
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To: jilliane

...buy yourself a paper binder (leave the price tag on it, put your name on it and mark it “PRIVATE”) and lock it in you desk!...DO NOT LEAVE anything on your desk or work station
Bosses that think your using company supplies automatically think they have the right to snoop. Using your own money to purchase “private” record keeping or documentation...BUT DO DOCUMENT EVERYTHING


25 posted on 12/08/2010 11:16:59 AM PST by Doogle ((USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated))
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To: delacoert

“Whiny, little shits who seek to use human resource triangulation deserver the union they end up in. “

you’re a peach


26 posted on 12/08/2010 11:16:59 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: jilliane
First of all, my sympathies.

Micro managers are a royal pain to work under. I've been there, done that. The situation usually doesn't improve, but you should give it a try.

Have you tried approaching this guy and asking him if he thinks this type of behavior is really appropriate? Or, if the impromptu meetings are really productive? Is he open to any suggestions at all?

If not, can you go to the person he reports to? I am suggesting that only as a next step if the direct approach doesn't work.

Make it clear to him (or, if necessary, his supervisor) that you like your job and remain enthusiastic about contributing to the company. However, micromanagement of this nature is really dampening you enthusiasm.

Continue to do the best job you possibly can, even under these lousy circumstances. My experience, over a fairly long work history, is that micro managers eventually burn themselves out and often sooner than you expect for the very reasons which you mention.

I've had over 35 years in the workforce, no more than 9 years in the same workplace, and have survived 6 different micro managers. I've had at least that many mediocre to great managers. The only micro manager I did not survive was because I took a better opportunity first.

Good organizations tend to value the people who do actual work. They also understand that a manager who holds an excessive number of meetings generally does so because they are afraid of making their own decisions, they do not inspire confidence in the people who report to them, or any other number of reasons, none of which are positive.

Good luck.

27 posted on 12/08/2010 11:17:47 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: jilliane

Reply all and ask, “What action should I take on this?” and have as many people as possible do the same to errode his power base. The more the merrier. This Boss is playing everone against each other in some twisted “workplace survivor” scheme to consilidate power. If he is related to the owner...forget this advice and move on.


28 posted on 12/08/2010 11:19:09 AM PST by John.Galt2012 (I'll take Liberty and you can keep the "Change"!)
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To: jilliane

I had a boss that did stuff like this. I dispatched him with a curare tipped toothpick.


29 posted on 12/08/2010 11:20:08 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Pablo lives jubtabulously!)
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To: jilliane

Search Google for software to unencrypt the BCC. BCC is only secure from novices.


30 posted on 12/08/2010 11:20:42 AM PST by Paleo Conservative
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To: jilliane

Don’t use email with him if at all possible. When ever he emails you something sensitive, ambush him in the hall or where ever. After you have the conversation, log your conversation in your journal and archive the message.

When he sends you an email, don’t click reply. Create a new message and mark the sensitivity to high and if in outlook you can set the do not forward option.

Also, on exchange servers, you can set your message to self-destruct after 24hrs.

There are many other tricks you can do.

Including embedding an image in the email so that it opens a file on your computer so you can log the names of the computer that open the email. If it is outlook and it comes from the Internet though, Outlook disables images for non-trusted contacts.

If you really feel miffed, you may want to have a conversation with him or add a statement to the bottom of this email stating “The contents of this email are intended for the addressed recipient only. The contents are private communications that may be subject to Federal, State, and Local Laws not limited to the Employee Privacy Act, Wire Tap Laws, and Attorney Client Privilege. If you have received this message in error, please notify the original sender.”

If you google, you will find other similar statements available for your use.

Unless he is reckless or is willing to consult a lawyer everytime he wants to do a BCC or spread the contents around, he won’t.


31 posted on 12/08/2010 11:21:22 AM PST by dila813
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To: jilliane

I agree with some of the others. “Reply All” with a message like “Please let me know what I can do to help you resolve this for the best result for our company..” or something of the sort. Add your boss’ boss to the CC field (but not directly call him out).

Make yourself look like the person who just wants to do what is best for the company, not get into any office politics.


32 posted on 12/08/2010 11:22:09 AM PST by mnehring
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To: jilliane

THE GOOD NEWS: this person is seeking allies and believes you to be a potential ally. That’s good news because at least they aren’t openly attacking you — yet. Don’t flatter yourself into thinking you’re the only one, though.

THE BAD NEWS: you don’t WANT to be their ally. Do you.

My advice is simple yet difficult to follow, I know. Kind of like how to lose weight: eat less, exercise more. Simple advice, tough to follow.

So here it is: JUST DO YOUR JOB. Do it to the best of your ability. To the maximum extent practical simply ignore all of the political crapola, the intrigue, the implications, etc. Think in terms of what’s best for your company and your company’s customers and do that, and only that.

Carefully consider and make ALL your decisions based on that criteria, including decisions on whether/how to respond to this weasel, and *in the long run* you will be respected, and succesful.

FWIW

FRegards


33 posted on 12/08/2010 11:24:38 AM PST by Nervous Tick (Trust in God, but row away from the rocks!)
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To: driftdiver

thanks

One thing I enjoy about the whiny style of one-sided internet-complainers-seeking-anonymous-advice is the occasional end of the employee's misery by being fired after the boss/management reads the same bulletin board.

34 posted on 12/08/2010 11:26:27 AM PST by delacoert
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To: delacoert

ahh if we could all be so perfect, wouldnt the world be great


35 posted on 12/08/2010 11:30:48 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Nervous Tick

that sounds like goo advice


36 posted on 12/08/2010 11:31:57 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: delacoert

So true

Google yourself often, if you come up in there, even if it looks good, that is bad.

Companies are even wanting to check people’s facebook page. If it has your name on it make sure it is classy and won’t be derogatory to anything you want to do in the future.


37 posted on 12/08/2010 11:33:36 AM PST by dila813
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To: jilliane
Send a BCC email to yourself (a mail with your own address in the BCC field).

At that point the phone will ring. When you answer it, no-one will be on the other end.

Exactly one week later you will be found dead in a cupboard, your face distorted in horror.

(Sorry, I'm know I'm not helping!)

38 posted on 12/08/2010 11:33:45 AM PST by agere_contra (...what if we won't eat the dog food?)
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To: bareford101

Never “Reply to All” unless absolutely necessary.


39 posted on 12/08/2010 11:35:59 AM PST by kevinm13 (Tim Geithner is a tax cheat. Manmade "Global Warming" is a HOAX!)
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To: Nervous Tick

> THE GOOD NEWS: this person is seeking allies and believes you to be a potential ally

I have found that people who gossip to me about other people is usually gossiping to the other people about me. This personality tends to triangulate everyone against each other in some distorted impression that they have a lot of “close” friends


40 posted on 12/08/2010 11:38:12 AM PST by Optimist (I think I'm beginning to see a pattern here.)
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To: La Lydia

Dang, you’re good! I want you for a coworker.


41 posted on 12/08/2010 11:42:25 AM PST by Cyber Liberty (We conservatives will always lose elections as long as we allow the MSM to choose our candidates.)
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To: jilliane

Only thing I’ve seen that works is to approach somebody that had been victimized by a BCC communication and let them know that this boss uses BCC, and to refrain from putting anything in writing that could be used against them either formally or informally.

Under no circumstances should opinions about people go in emails at work, but many are relying on discretion being the better part of valor in their company.

You then encourage them to tell others they trust that any email going to this boss is likely to be BCC’d in the future, and that they should pick a different way to communicate with them - like VERBAL COMMS ONLY.

I had two jerkwad middle managers ask me why everybody insists on giving them written reports rather than attachments, and why they get so many calls from internal employees.

I told them, “Your staff got wind of you backstabbing them with blind carbon copies and stopped trusting you. Nobody wants to go on the record with you two clowns any more.”


42 posted on 12/08/2010 11:48:14 AM PST by RinaseaofDs (Does beheading qualify as 'breaking my back', in the Jeffersonian sense of the expression?)
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To: delacoert
If you can't tolerate the style of your boss and the workplace environment, then do everybody a favor and find a new job.

An employee who does a good job and enjoys doing it is not willing to let a clueless boss wreck the situation. That advice you gave is worthless.

43 posted on 12/08/2010 11:51:33 AM PST by don-o (Wait. What?)
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To: Cyber Liberty

“Tire tracks all across your back. I can see you had your fun.” - Jimi Hendrix.


44 posted on 12/08/2010 11:51:43 AM PST by La Lydia
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To: driftdiver

I suppose. More likely and fun would be to turn this thread into one that features "complaints filed against me to Human Resources"

The first complaint filed against me happened when I was a newly hired junior engineer in a union shop. Seems I had turned the lights on in a room that had my office off on the side. It was a union rule that only a union member could turn those lights on. I had committed the grievous act of coming to work early. The room was dark (no windows) and I couldn't see the way to my office door without the room lights.

45 posted on 12/08/2010 11:53:30 AM PST by delacoert
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To: delacoert

You were turned into HR??? I never woulda guessed.


46 posted on 12/08/2010 11:59:28 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: don-o

As will all the advice be that is given to a one-sided account about the oh so grievous nature of the email infraction on an anonymous internet forum.

I think you already know that my post was more of a STFU than advice.

47 posted on 12/08/2010 12:01:52 PM PST by delacoert
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To: driftdiver

And proud of it every time. Never even got a wrist slapped, more like back slaps. I've never met or heard of a whiny shit or a union coward amounting to much until they grow up and stand on their own.

48 posted on 12/08/2010 12:06:29 PM PST by delacoert
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To: bareford101

Peer? That’d be good except he doesn’t have ‘peers’ in his view, just an audience with a great deal to learn from his “50,000 foot view of things.” He’s blathered on how his coaching sessions have been much needed by his boss who otherwise “stands alone in a complex situation that no one understands” (except for him of course, after all he’s been here for 5 months).


49 posted on 12/08/2010 12:14:35 PM PST by jilliane
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To: Badabing Badablonde

It does not. But when it comes FROM a BCC recipient, the original senders’ ruse is revealed.


50 posted on 12/08/2010 12:15:43 PM PST by knittnmom (Save the earth! It's the only planet with chocolate!)
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