Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall, right, leaves the Justice Center with his attorney Ron Smith on Monday during a lunch break.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall, right, leaves the Justice Center with his attorney Ron Smith on Monday during a lunch break.

Wall found guilty of DWAI

Routt County Sheriff also found guilty of failure to dim headlights and prohibited use of a weapon

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— Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall was found guilty of driving while ability impaired, failure to dim his headlights and prohibited use of a weapon today in Routt County Court, where a six-member jury rendered its verdict after a three-day trial.

DWAI is a lesser charge than driving under the influence of alcohol, a charge Wall faced after an incident on Oct. 27, 2007, when a Colorado State Patrol trooper pulled Wall over at U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road for failure to dim his headlights. The sheriff was subsequently charged with that traffic violation, suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and prohibited use of a weapon.

For the DWAI conviction, Wall faces maximum penalties of up to 180 days imprisonment, a fine of up to $500 and as many as 48 hours of community service, according to state law.

Had Wall been convicted of DUI he would have faced a one-year suspension of his driver's license - on top of the yearlong revocation he received for refusing any tests of his blood alcohol level that night. He also would have faced penalties of up to a year imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000 and as many as 96 hours of community service.

About halfway through deliberations today, the jury came into the courtroom to request clarification from Senior Judge Cecil Wayne Williams on the differences between DUI and DWAI.

The DWAI and failure to dim headlights convictions are traffic misdemeanors. Failure to dim carries a maximum fine of up to $100. The prohibited use of a weapon conviction is a class 2 misdemeanor and carries maximum penalties of 18 months imprisonment, $5,000, or both.

A hearing to determine Wall's penalties has not been set. Williams said he wants Wall to complete an alcohol evaluation prior to that hearing.

Days after the traffic stop in October 2007, a state official said Wall's citations would not hinder the sheriff's peace officer certification, which then was pending completion.

John Kammerzell, director of the state's Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, said only felonies and a few select misdemeanors can jeopardize an officer's POST certification.

Wall cannot be removed from office except through a recall election.

Following today's verdict, delivered shortly after 6 p.m., Wall embraced his wife Jenny, and the two solemnly left the courtroom with Wall's lawyer, Ron Smith. Both had taken the witness stand earlier today. Wall's trial began Monday.

Wall did not return a message left on his cell phone seeking comment after the verdict.

Sheriff's Office Deputy Lance Eldridge, who on Tuesday delivered some of the most damaging testimony against Wall, resigned from the Sheriff's Office at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. Eldridge drove the Walls home after the traffic stop. He testified that Wall appeared to be drunk that night and that, based on his observations of the sheriff, he would have arrested Wall for DUI.

While on the stand today, Wall recounted the evening, said he drank only one glass of red wine and conveyed his belief that there was a "bounty on his head" and a calculated effort to frame him for DUI.

"I knew that I was a target," said Wall, who said many people have told him this even before he was elected in 2006. "It was common knowledge among my officers that I needed to be careful. : My officers told me, 'Gary, you better be careful.'"

Comments

constant1 6 years, 2 months ago

most of you above belong on JERRY SPRINGER! what a bunch of whining mental midgets. we should set up a boxing ring @ the rodeo grounds and sell tickets to watch you "TRY" to beat the crap out of each other! i mean reeeeeeeeeely....................

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Benny 6 years, 2 months ago

So Routt County loses a good man of great integrity so that we get to keep Wall as Sheriff? Wow.

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dundalk 6 years, 2 months ago

Lance...An honest man you are. Pride and integrity are in your soul. Good luck.

Cantstanya...I must concur with your assertion...Very sad!

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outsiderlookingin 6 years, 2 months ago

Dollars to doughnuts- Eldridge is on the ballot for the next sherriffs election

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Joe_Mama 6 years, 2 months ago

I have it on good authority that he's planning to move away.

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katrinkakelly 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh, what a tribulation. Lance the truth has set you free!

Many of us "wholeheartedly" thank you.

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stmbtprof 6 years, 2 months ago

hmm the plot thickens...rumor has it Lance was asked to leave position as dean at CMC before he ventured into law enforcemnt...

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steamvent 6 years, 2 months ago

Regardless of what you think of Wall, you guys are all pretty quick to decide which deputy was telling the truth. Just maybe Lance isn't so noble and was getting in a last jab before flying the coop. His actions to cut and run may actually remove any credibility from his testimony. Yes, the plot does thicken.

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Montana 6 years, 2 months ago

Steamvent-who would you believe? The deputy who was arrested for domestic violence (mackey) and can't afford to lose another cop job or the deputy who has nothing to lose by telling the truth.

Seems obvious to me who is telling the truth and I commend dep. eldridge for that.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 2 months ago

Steamvent- so does this add to Mackey's credibility:

"Mackey said he did not observe any signs of Wall being intoxicated. But under cross-examination by Romeo, Mackey admitted the situation was awkward and that he did not try or even want to form an opinion about whether Wall was drunk.

"I could not tell whether he was under the influence of alcohol or not," Mackey said."

He did not TRY or even WANT to form an opinion.

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Montana 6 years, 2 months ago

Isn't a trained cop supposed to recognize the signs of whether or not somebody is intoxicated? Mackey, "could not tell whether he was under the influence of alcohol or not."

Mackey's own statements on the stand point to the fact that he is not being forward with the truth. Has he arrested anybody for DUI? How can he be certain those he arrested for DUI were under the influence if he "could not tell" whether the sheriff was drunk or not??? Sure sounds like mackey is covering up to save his butt.

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shadow 6 years, 2 months ago

They were both under oath, I believe they both stated their true opinions. They just had different opinions.

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dundalk 6 years, 2 months ago

correct me if i am wrong, but opinions are just that - opinions. under oath, testifying in a criminal trial, acting as a law enforcement officer - all this should add up to testifying as to the FACTS of the case, not your opinion.

Wonder if after Mackey's statement, other drunks will question whether or not a law enforcment officer can tell the difference between anything. i believe that Mackey's testimony has done great disservice to all his fellow law enforcement officers who take an OATH to protect and serve the citizens of this county.

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Montana 6 years, 2 months ago

shadow-1 stated his opinion and did not waiver. The other stated his opinion, then changed it, and then changed it again (all while on the stand). Read the testimony article-mackey says 1 thing which is stated at the beginning of the article and then says 2 different things which are at the end of the article.

Mackey goes from saying the sheriff was sober, to saying it was an awkward situation and he did not want to form an opinion, to saying he could not tell whether or not the sheriff was under the influence (3 completely different statements while on the stand).

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rsssco 6 years, 2 months ago

Wall's lawyer, Ron Smith, kicked off Wednesday's proceedings by playing a short segment of a recorded interview of Eldridge conducted by Trooper Brett Hilling on Nov. 5, 2007. Eldridge made a comment in the recording that appears to contradict his courtroom testimony.

In the recording, Eldridge answered, "No, I did not," when Hilling asked if he observed any signs of intoxication or impairment in the sheriff.

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Montana 6 years, 2 months ago

Why was the jury only allowed to hear the 1 portion of that tape? There is a clear indication that the tape was not the full story and that the tape did indeed back up Eldridge's testimony when listened to fully. What a disservice to not allow the jury to hear the whole tape.

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Montana 6 years, 2 months ago

Wall didn't take the sobriety test and now says that he wishes he would have. He says this after dragging the whole Sheriff's Office, and its employees, through the mud.

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Benny 6 years, 2 months ago

Hopefully the tape, in it's entirety, will be made available to the jury as evidence.

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shadow 6 years, 2 months ago

It's my understanding that the roadside tests are used to indicate if a breathalizer test is warranted. If Wall didn't take the roadside test (or any other test) how could anyone determine if his BAC exceeded the legal limit? Apparentlly both Mackey & Elderidge inadvertently contradicted themselves. I would say from the paper's article neither had conclusive testimony. I would also guess that they were called to the scene to get Wall home, not determine if he was intoxicated. I believe that's why they can only offer an opinion.

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bandmama 6 years, 2 months ago

Lance is an honest intelligent man. Kudos to you Lance for having blls. Although knowing you, I realize that blls have nothing to do with it. It is called a streak of integrety and honesty.

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bluegrassguy 6 years, 2 months ago

There is only ONE reason that Wall refused to take a sobriety test, under penalty of refusal his license would be revoked for one year. There can only be ONE reason for this, he knew he would be over the legal limit, and the embarrasment of having hard proof of his intoxication would be higher than having to explain why, as the county's top law enforcement person he refused a test a flaunted the system. There is NO way around this I don't care how many times you try to look at it differently. The crap about he wishes now he would have taken the test is simply that, crap.

I knew for years that under Werner's administration there were problems and concerns, but at least he ran a reasonably clean and honest office. What a laughingstock and joke the RCSO has become now. It has been one fiasco after another, between Wall and the county commissioners, Bustos driving a department vehicle and having a wreck out of state, people resigning, and no credibility whatsoever. Thanks to Mr. Wall, the good law enforcment people in this community have just had their job made much harder. this has been and will continue to be the longest four years Routt County has seen in regards to fair and unbiased law enforcement. This is destroying our system.

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five_o 6 years, 2 months ago

Do I hear an AMEN!! Bluegrass, you summed it up and tied the bow....AMEN!

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Benny 6 years, 2 months ago

I'll give ya an AMEN! It's not like Wall didn't know what would happen by refusing.

Well, gee, uh, wow, wish I woulda taken the test, gee whiz, cuz, well, ya know, I woulda passed it and saved all this taxpayer money in court, and maybe Lance's job....

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five_o 6 years, 2 months ago

And let me just add, while Wall continues to make a mockery of the very troop he leads, Mackey continues to step in it..

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rsssco 6 years, 2 months ago

I wonder how many of the malcontents and crybabies on this thread even took the time to go sit in on the trial and listen to the testimony. Or, are y'all just shooting off your mouths as usual based on individual quotes taken out of context during a three day trial. Pretty funny that dundalk has anything to say after the way she dragged a dead girl through the mud with her self-righteous BS. I wonder what's worse--having a glass of wine at a social function and then driving a county vehicle or, as dundalk did, smearing a dead girl who can't defend herself by claiming she drank herself to death when in fact she died of a medical condition. What a bunch of hypocrites - especially the cop's wife and chief smearer--dundalk.

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five_o 6 years, 2 months ago

Your remarks in the above blog are extremely tasteless. This is about an elected "official", and furthermore, who needed to sit in the courtroom and waist time for the past three days, we all know how the script writes. Let's stick to the matter at hand. If you have to side show the main event you're part of the problem!
We know which side of the courtroom you were taking up air. You were there, right?

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rsssco 6 years, 2 months ago

Yeah--why burden yourself with facts five_no. Another typical know nothing heard from.

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five_o 6 years, 2 months ago

Because I didn't sit in a courtroom makes me oblivious to the facts? You sound bitter and misunderstood... Rest assured oh bitter one, I have the facts and know how to vote. I believe you there is a typ-o...it's five-o (not five-no).

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dundalk 6 years, 2 months ago

rsssssscccccoooo

you poor little thing.

in response...in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with attending a social gathering and having a cocktail. however, when you are an elected official, voted to uphold the laws, it seems a bit more prudent to completely abstain from the cocktail, wearing a loaded firearm, and driving a county owned vehicle which MY tax monies helped pay for. god forbid you do encounter the law, it seems that taking the stupid roadside could have solved all these problems and deferred this monumental circus show which is wasting MY TAX MONIES and DEGRADING THE GOOD AND DECENT LAW OFFICERS IN THIS COUNTY.

poor gary pants and pines during his testimony that he should have taken the test. oh such pathetic laments from a man who continues to be a lame sheriff.

as for your other comment which has nothing to do with this post....I HAVE PINK BALLOONS for you. Do you want some?

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rsssco 6 years, 2 months ago

Well dundalk you just showed what a piece of human garbage you are as your reference is to the balloons that were provided at the memorial service for the girl you smeared after she died. You really are a piece of filth.

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five_o 6 years, 2 months ago

You two need to take this personal issue to another venue.

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rsssco 6 years, 2 months ago

No I'm done with dundalk. It's disgusting that the wife of a Steamboat Police officer would still, three years later, make fun of the death of a young member of our community. I've seen a lot of low stuff in this town, but dundalk--and we all know who she is--takes the prize. Absolutely disgusting.

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spukomy 6 years, 2 months ago

Wonder how long the Appeals process will take.

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five_o 6 years, 2 months ago

If he had any class or integrity this would be the final word, he would take his punishment and set an example for the youth and young adults of this town. I hear they are always looking for Cabana Boys down in Mexico..... ***LANNING FOR SHERIFF***

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Frumunda 6 years, 2 months ago

As I always say.... It's not IF you're going to get pulled over for drinking & driving in this town....it's WHEN!

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steamboatwatchdog 6 years, 2 months ago

Mackey already went to trial and payed his dues. The real issue is about Wall, not Mark. It sounds like there are a few bitter people who got a DUI or ticket from him. If you feel he did you an injustice you should have spoken up when you had a chance. Justice was served to Mark and Gary.....it's a small town and we all hear the same things....Mark paid the price with his job at SSPD and we'll see what's in store for Gary. Lance is a great guy and kudo's to him for his actions, but can you blame Mark for trying to stay neutral. He did what almost everyone on this blog would have done if in the same situation. Nobody is perfect nor is the judicial system but it's what we have to work with. Let me also detract from the "nice way to log on Mackey" comments because in truth neither one of these guys is my personal favorite....but its who we have for now. Have a nice day :)

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bluegrassguy 6 years, 2 months ago

Hallelujah! Justice is at least somewhat preserved. Thank goodness for those jurors who had the fortitude and integrity to do the right thing. Maybe this will finally be the catalyst for change at the RCSO. Thank you jury for standing up for what is right and preserving some sense of justice in this county. I quite frankly am amazed and surprised. And, rssco, what the heck are you talking about? Your interjection, even if remotely true has nothing to do with the subject at hand! Why don't you take some deep breaths...you know in with the good, out with the bad so to speak. Maybe you could start a charity fund for your sheriff's defense fund!

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madmoores 6 years, 2 months ago

So, tell me this...does every person arrested by this Mackey guy get off the hook now? Is everyone arrested by him for DUI/DWAI in the future going to have an "out" because he does not know how to recognize an intoxicated person, or doesn't want to? At least Wall was convicted of something and not let off Scott free, be thankful for that. The sentencing will tell....

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truthingovernment 6 years, 2 months ago

I wonder if the discrepancy in the two deputies accounts of the situation could be used in future cases. If the two witnessed the same situation, but can't agree on what happened, and both are allegedly trained in observation I believe this may work to the advantage of someone in a future case.

Just from personal experience, I was stopped by Mackey several months ago. He was very polite and gave a warning for an alleged minor violation.

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dundalk 6 years, 2 months ago

All those rosaries have paid off. Thank you Mother Mary. Hopefully Gary will do the right thing and slink off to some hole and let the decent, hard working law enforcement officers of routt county do their job without being marred by their boss's inability to accept reality.

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weallnutz 6 years, 2 months ago

YEAH!!!, Next headline should be, Wall Resigns....however with his continued lack of self accountability the next headline will be Wall Appeals. Wish I owned stock in whatever whiskey Gary's drinking tonight....demand just went way up.

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shannonh 6 years, 2 months ago

He messed up ...it's as easy as that, but he should have admitted it...is Steamboat coming down to a Mayberry R.F.D style...he should have to pay his actions...come on folks who is kidding who.

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nmypinon 6 years, 2 months ago

I am sure he will play the victim in this case & continue to make this county look like a JOKE. How many other counties do you know of that have a LAW BREAKING SHERIFF?

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dundalk 6 years, 2 months ago

truthingov't; A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME THAT mACKEY IS LEADING THE DEPT IN DUI ARRESTS. if this is true (i don't doubt it) then i say bully and bravo.

i don't think that mackey's stuff with the sspd is relevant to this issue. whatever happened with that...its in the past.

for whomever said that the majority of people on this blog would have done the same thing - not true i hope. telling the truth regardless of the outcome is always the best avenue to take. being able to walk away with your head held high is worth something.

it really does sadden me that mackey is taking heat on this, but the bottom line is that, if the court reporter covered it correctly, there are 2 vastly different scenarios being covered here, and some people are going to have to make the intelligent choice as to who is more on the up and up. eldridge's resignation leads some to believe that he may be the person with a more astute dialogue.

i am more sorrow filled that the entire department, eldridge and mackey included, have been marred by this whole thing.

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Benny 6 years, 2 months ago

Don't drink and drive! As I've posted before, I drove after having a few to drink ONE time and turned around and parked my truck. Lesson learned because it scared the crap out of me. For some it takes more, but thankfully no one lost a life in this case. That may seem like an extreme, but it happens all the time. People think they're okay to drive and then someone loses their life on a back road. Life is much to precious.

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rooster 6 years, 2 months ago

Here is the question, Is it more beneficial to take breathalizer or not to? You may lose your license for a year, but it might be worth it for your record.

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Christina McLean 6 years, 2 months ago

Who needs the SSPD when we've got a local vigilante force in place? Who needs facts when we've got the local blogfest in place? Who needs Shakespeare in the Park when we've got Lady Macbeth and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern performing daily? Geez. Take a few yoga breaths. Whether you agree with it or not, justice has been served. It's so damn easy to be self-rightous from the passenger seat. Try getting into the driver's seat and heading for a solution instead of continuing to spiral on and on and on and on about how that 'friggin' Gary Wall opted out of taking a BAC test.' Organize a recall effort or someone else's election campaign in 2010; it would be refreshing to read something here that was rooted on action not just reaction from the Rightous Wing.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 2 months ago

kk- how do you know dundalk is Melinda Wiggins? You're wrong, of course. I happen to know dundalk quite well. I have to laugh since you always have the "inside" info concerning illegals, whether or not you can prove them to be illegal or not.

Rooster- you can also bypass a breathalyzer and ask for blood to be drawn. Much more accurate, too, since all you have to do with a breathalyzer is swish alcohol around in your mouth without swallowing it, then you can blow quite a high BAC. Tested it out long ago and also with swishing Scope mouthwash. Scope gave me a DUI reading, but that was at a bar that had a public breathalyzer back in 1990. I would hope the equipment is more sophisticated now.

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justathought 6 years, 2 months ago

As I stated on the other blog: Alcoholics never recover until they admit they have a problem, they can even lie to themselves convincingly, Wall is still in denial, for this the citizens of Routt lose.

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StbtReader 6 years, 2 months ago

katrinkakelly

Dundalk is NOT who you think she is. You are wrong and to post someone elses name is also wrong too.

This forum allows a person to remain anonymous. Dundalk has chosen that path as you you have.

What is your full name?

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dundalk 6 years, 2 months ago

kat...melinda wiggins is a great lady and you do yourself an injustice by implying that dundalk is her. have a nice day regardless

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424now 6 years, 2 months ago

As the designated driver for most every party I go too, I would like to say the trail may be over and justice may have been served.

But,

I am not comfortable with a man who drinks and drives with a weapon on his hip.

I won't be voting for Mr. Wall.

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seabirth 6 years, 2 months ago

so dundalk says this: "Cantstanya...I must concur with your assertion...Very sad!" (too bad cantstaya's anti-mark post was deleted)

and....

"i believe that Mackey's testimony has done great disservice to all his fellow law enforcement officers who take an OATH to protect and serve the citizens of this county."

and then has the balls to write this: "it really does sadden me that mackey is taking heat on this"

but she rally's when she says this: "melinda wiggins is a great lady and you do yourself an injustice by implying that dundalk is her."

which is the most accurate statement dundalk has ever stated on this forum... because it would be a slur to be called dundalk.

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madmoores 6 years, 2 months ago

With all due respect, what is your problem with dundalk seabirth? Just curious why someone would repetitivly attack another poster on any thread about anything, makes no sense to be so mean. What did she do to YOU??

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Christina McLean 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't think anyone is being mean, madmoores. In fact, only when it comes from someone else's psydonym does it seems to be considered "mean." Dundalk, on the otherhand, has somehow annointed herself (himself?) to Steamboat's civil guardian and social conscience; thus, can speak/write with little or no restraint. Sure, there is oftentimes a summarily "have a nice evening or day" which is supposed to be her/his absolving salve for the unfiltered and questionable facts he/she throws out on this blog with the greatest of authority. Some of it may very well be right; some may be inaccurate; and some may be a hybrid of what's really going on. The self-rightuous delivery and intolerance to actually engage in respectful, objective dialogue with differing opinions that doesn't dead-end in some sarcastic offer of an object to borrow or reference to some Googled tidbit is what puts fellow bloggers on the defense. In response now, I'll probably get a snappy reply soon along with the offer of something I can borrow from dundalk with a good tidings of the day, night, or luck. But mean, madmoores? Mean is pulling the wings off butterflies.

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