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Owner of solar-powered home fights neighbor's trees, gains little ground - "Right to sunlight"
Tampa Bay - St. Petersburg Times ^ | May 20, 2012 | Will Hobson

Posted on 05/20/2012 7:21:57 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

LARGO — Last summer, Mike Zwalley put a $65,000 solar energy system on his roof. The system — a 30-gallon solar water heater and 44 black panels that convert sunlight into electricity — cut Zwalley's electric bill from $300 to $400 per month to $10 to $20.

About two months after Zwalley installed the system at his waterfront home off Indian Rocks Road, his next-door neighbor planted three cypress trees, each about 10 feet tall, along his property line.

Zwalley, a 58-year-old car salesman, was not happy. He had asked the neighbor, Wade Gibson, not to plant the trees there.

Zwalley found several websites that estimated the trees would grow to between 70 and 100 feet. At that height, they could cast shade on Zwalley's solar panels.

Gibson told Zwalley that he did not think the trees would get that big, but if they did, Gibson would take care of it, according to Zwalley.

That answer wasn't good enough for Zwalley. He called city management. He called state legislators. He called legal experts. They all gave him different forms of the same answer: In Florida, the law is not on your side.

It would be in a few other states, though.

As energy costs continue to rise, legal experts say courts should expect more battles over solar panels and a property owner's rights, or lack thereof, to sunlight.

"We're going to see more and more, and if it's on your rooftop or in your back yard, you're going to be concerned about your neighbor growing trees," said Scott Anders, director of the Energy Policy Initiatives Center in San Diego. "And growing trees is a good thing, right?"

If Zwalley lived in any of the following places,...

(Excerpt) Read more at tampabay.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government
KEYWORDS: environment; green; lawyers; regulations; sucker
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To: BookaT
Your points are very valid.

And most here on FR would agree wholeheartedly, including myself.

But the point for me really isn't about the supposed cost savings. Its really about the guy being an @$$#0L3.

51 posted on 05/20/2012 8:06:00 AM PDT by mountn man (Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life.)
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To: SunTzuWu

I have a friend that works in solar and he says the panels are only expected to last 15 years at best. If his electric bill is $300 in the winter he must have a small indoor marijuana grow going.


52 posted on 05/20/2012 8:06:48 AM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: ace2u_in_MD

Not saying this guy is right or wrong but I will say again that it has to be great to not need the electric company. It also has to be great to not have to pay taxes on the electricity from the electric company.

How many of you have “smart” meters. This guy doesn’t need to worry about(at least at the level us who buy electricity from an electric company) the government regulating his electricity use, through the end game of “smart” meters that have the ability to transmit data on your electricity usage, what you use when, when you are home, when you are probably awake or sleeping, etc.

Eventually, “smart” meters will probably be used to cut your power down or off when someone deems it necessary.

This guy probably wont have to worry about those things as much as us.


53 posted on 05/20/2012 8:09:45 AM PDT by BookaT
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To: Calvin Locke
So maybe an investment in a property surveillance system?
54 posted on 05/20/2012 8:10:08 AM PDT by mountn man (Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life.)
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To: Calvin Locke

And I’d be suing the tree trimming service in small claims court. They have an obligation to make sure the person ordering trees cut has the legal right to do so. I might also put up some surveillance cameras watching the property line and recording on a 24 hour loop.


55 posted on 05/20/2012 8:13:50 AM PDT by MtBaldy (If Obama is the answer, it must have been a really stupid question)
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To: SunTzuWu

In Eighteen years those panels will have been replaced a couple of times, stretching the breakeven point out another twenty years.


56 posted on 05/20/2012 8:17:40 AM PDT by pallis
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

It’s going to take approximately 15 years to pay off the cost of his system, meaning he’ll be over 70 years old. Hope he plans on working past retirement a few years.

How the hell does a 58 year old CAR SALESMAN afford a $300 to $400 electric bill, not to mention a $65,000 solar system.

Really?

And what kind of dumbass thinks he can tell his neighbors what to do with their own land.

Nevermind, the questions all answer themselves.


57 posted on 05/20/2012 8:19:13 AM PDT by TheZMan (Obama is without a doubt the worst President ever elected to these United States)
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To: mountn man

That’s usually close enough to make the tree look lopsided.


58 posted on 05/20/2012 8:19:33 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

$65,000 spent to save $380 per month. Am I missing something here?


59 posted on 05/20/2012 8:21:08 AM PDT by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
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To: USNBandit

If you are growing MJ indoors for just a few dollars more you can eliminate the tell-tale electric bill by investing in LEDs.


60 posted on 05/20/2012 8:24:50 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

How long before a hurricane comes and takes the solar panels and the trees out? This might not be a problem for very long.


61 posted on 05/20/2012 8:25:08 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: Sequoyah101
Better than the stock market though?

Not the best comparison for the past few years, and probably less so going forward as the whole system collapses upon itself.

62 posted on 05/20/2012 8:25:37 AM PDT by jiggyboy (Ten percent of poll respondents are either lying or insane)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
... Mike Zwalley put a $65,000 solar energy system on his roof.
The system — a 30-gallon solar water heater and 44 black panels that convert sunlight into electricity — cut Zwalley's electric bill from $300 to $400 per month to $10 to $20.

The rest is tripe - this is the crux:

Pay $65,000 & save $300 per month - and I seriously doubt even that projection as it doesn't even address batteries and equipment maintence & repair - even if you believe all of it.

By their own numbers that is an 18 YEAR break even point

63 posted on 05/20/2012 8:26:06 AM PDT by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Interesting how "alternative energy" trumps all other ecofascist dogma.

Wherever and whenever "alternative energy' is involved, they suddenly they don't care about trees or pollution or endangered species.

64 posted on 05/20/2012 8:26:28 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Do I really need a sarcasm tag? Seriously? You're that dense?)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

So dude is saving (for now) $300/month, meaning he’ll get his $65K back in about 19-20 years. Of course, the panels will have worn out before that, but who cares, right?


65 posted on 05/20/2012 8:28:15 AM PDT by OCCASparky (Steely-eyed killer of the deep.)
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To: TheZMan
And what kind of dumbass thinks he can tell his neighbors what to do with their own land.

I saw this sign next to some property for sale in Central Hoosierland

Photobucket

66 posted on 05/20/2012 8:28:36 AM PDT by digger48
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To: TheZMan
Depending on where you live a monthly electric bill can be anywhere from $30 to $500.

I'm assuming this guy has all electric with no gas. He has little heating required except HOT WATER.

Depending on your lifestyle that can be expensive, and even an old fashioned copper pipe solar heater can whack that cost back big time!

He may have overspent. Or maybe he has a couple of chillun' in there who use an iron lung half the day.

67 posted on 05/20/2012 8:29:03 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

There’s no mention of the fact that:
1. There is a 1/3 Federal tax credit to the cost of the system
2. Florida gave $10-20K cash rebates for the systems

So, Federal and Florida taxpayers are already probably subsidizing this individual’s reduced monthly utility bill. If I was an apartment dweller, I’d be pissed.
How do I know this? We took advantage of the same credit and rebate to pay for our 5 kilowatt system.


68 posted on 05/20/2012 8:30:10 AM PDT by dontreadthis
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To: bill1952

Only if treated as a single investment opportunity by a business. This is an individual and properly treated the ROI computation will be quite beneficial to him.


69 posted on 05/20/2012 8:31:17 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Can that setup really produce that much kilowattage? Or is he comparing his highest bill in July with ac running, to his lowest bill, say during really mild weather?

Will this contraption actually run his air conditioner?


70 posted on 05/20/2012 8:31:52 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: EGPWS

I’ve still got one very tall poplar and I learned my lesson about screwing around after they die. I ended up with one in my bed with me.

I’ve got lots of other trees but they’re all pine and good strong maple and hickory.


71 posted on 05/20/2012 8:33:39 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife; SierraWasp; tubebender; Ernest_at_the_Beach

We had a similiar event in our area, except it was a self inflicted enviro wound.

A nice but not the brightest couple decided to help the earth and installed a huge, expensive and similiar solar system.

They failed to consider the growth of the 100 + year old native oaks on the south and west side of their property. In a couple of years the oaks on their property were blocking most of the sunlight.

They tried to get permission from the homeowners group to cut the tops of the native oaks, which kills oaks in about a year.

One of their neighbors across the street is a rabid and powerful greenie. She got some of her green lawyer and enviro buddies to warn the solar dreamers not to prune or top their oaks.

So each year their expensive and tax supported solar system was less effective then the previous year, which wasn’t very effective.

Two years agao, the ultimate blow came when their roof started leaking, and the roofing company said the installation of the solar system voided their 20 year warranty. The roofing company had warned the home owners, verbally and in writing, that their warranty would be null and void with installation of the massive solar system.

We have the same roofers, and they backed up their 20 year warranty with no /’s. Then after their warranty expired, they have fixed 3 problems at zero cost, where I felt their original roofing had installed some errors. The roofers are good people to deal with unless you do something like install a solar system on one of their roofs.

Last year, the neighbors had their worthless solar system torn down and removed, and a very expensive new roof was installed by an different roofer. The new roofing company had the neighbors sign a waiver if they decided to install another worthless solar system on their roof, their roofing warranty was null and void.


72 posted on 05/20/2012 8:35:37 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS DESTROYING AMERICA-LOOK AT WHAT IT DID TO THE WHITE HOUSE!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
By the time the Cypress trees are high enough to affect the dudes solar input, we will have advanced technology to the point where it wont matter.

In 30 years, the guy could be dead, or living on the moon.

73 posted on 05/20/2012 8:37:40 AM PDT by Theoria (Rush Limbaugh: Ron Paul sounds like an Islamic terrorist)
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To: bill1952

$65k seems like a lot of money, but I guess he needs a lot of capacity. He would be better off to not go solar and hope his neighbors trees grew tall enough to provide some shade.


74 posted on 05/20/2012 8:39:27 AM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: cripplecreek
I ended up with one in my bed with me.

Yeah, I've had close calls however in the long run they are worth it for they are GREAT shade tree's.

75 posted on 05/20/2012 8:44:23 AM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

1) He should have probably invested in insulation or something. It’s ridiculous to be paying $300 to $400 per month for electricity... I’ve yet to pay even close to that in Maryland, and it gets a heck of a lot colder in the winter.

2) Trees provide shade. Shade helps to keep the house from getting as hot in the summer. A house that doesn’t get as hot doesn’t require as much cooling.

3) Ditto to what others said on the price tag. It doesn’t sound like he’s saving money at all.


76 posted on 05/20/2012 8:47:58 AM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

The glare off Mr. Sun’s roof must be blinding. Nice of him to paint it white while the rest of the neighborhood has conforming roof styles. I’d plant a row of 50 ft. trees between my house and his.


77 posted on 05/20/2012 8:49:23 AM PDT by RGSpincich
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To: mountn man

We can’t forget that solar panels aren’t guaranteed for life. Most manufacturers say 20 years. Since most are made in China, I would doubt they get 20 years out of them. In other words, this DB will save nothing. His neighbor probably planted the trees to hide the ugly solar panel roof.


78 posted on 05/20/2012 8:52:07 AM PDT by No Socialist
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To: RGSpincich
Here is a Google Maps view of the house, as I judge it. Of course, pre solar panels. Note waterway in back, and chimney, as well as the shape of the roof along the front, where Zwalley is standing in the photo. I think the "big oak tree" is on the eastern corner of the house. If you go into Street View you can see the two mailboxes on the same post, and the completed house of the neighbor. Any shade from that vicinity would be from the morning sun.
79 posted on 05/20/2012 8:57:55 AM PDT by dr_lew
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Berkeley, CA has an ordinance that allows a homeowner to cut his neighbor’s tres if they have grown to a height that they block his view of the Bay.

Not saying I agree, or disagree, just saying that’s how it is (and glad that I don’t live there any more.)


80 posted on 05/20/2012 9:01:54 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: TheZMan
How the hell does a 58 year old CAR SALESMAN afford a $300 to $400 electric bill, not to mention a $65,000 solar system.
I've rented condos in Indian Rocks Beach, a few blocks from where this guy lives.
The first question I thought of was how does a car salesman afford to live there AND a $65K solar system?
81 posted on 05/20/2012 9:02:49 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Calvin Locke

Salt the ground. Done.


82 posted on 05/20/2012 9:02:53 AM PDT by pingman (Durn tootin'; I like Glock shootin'!)
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To: unixfox

Or people who move close to a gun range, and then complain. Or people who move into a neighborhood with NO covenants, and start complaining about the color of your house, or cars parked in the driveway and not in the garage....and on and on and on....


83 posted on 05/20/2012 9:09:37 AM PDT by Mama Shawna
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To: Grampa Dave

I am on the verge of having some of my second growth Redwood trees topped as they are now blocking the morning sunlight to my garden. I call the trees agressive weeds as they re-sprout from the logged stumps by the dozens..


84 posted on 05/20/2012 9:10:48 AM PDT by tubebender
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Take a look at the direction of his shadow on the roof.
An overreaction appears too have taken place.
85 posted on 05/20/2012 9:13:15 AM PDT by moose07 (The truth will out, one day.)
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To: EGPWS
You don't like your neighbor planting tree's on his property? Simple solution..... MOVE!

Anyone buying his house is not going to value that solar system an extra $65,000. If he wants to move sometime in the next 15 years he will take a bath.

It's hard to predict the future. Justifying the cost of putting in a heat pump has the same problem. A home buyer won't value it enough to make it worth it.

86 posted on 05/20/2012 9:18:13 AM PDT by Reeses
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To: Gaffer; SunTzuWu

You don’t think a car salesman paid $65K for those panels, do you? Guaranteed he got money from the govt. to help pay for them.


87 posted on 05/20/2012 9:23:19 AM PDT by raybbr (People who still support Obama are either a Marxist or a moron.)
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To: exDemMom
"It’s ridiculous to be paying $300 to $400 per month for electricity... "

Welcome to the real world of living in the South. In Houston I've been paying over $300/mo. for a couple of decades during the summer months--which run from mid-April-October.
88 posted on 05/20/2012 9:24:06 AM PDT by Sudetenland (Anybody but Obama!!!!)
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To: raybbr

You’re probably right. Let’s hope all this attention makes its way to an IRS scoundrel who got screwed by a car salesman and decides to check into this dweeb’s ‘efficient energy credits’ on his last income return.


89 posted on 05/20/2012 9:28:15 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
From down in the article . . .

"Florida courts have been reluctant to rule against property owners exercising legal rights on their property, according to Stetson law professor Paul Boudreaux."

!!! REALLY? I'm shocked! What a novel concept, doing something legal on your own property . . . my, my.

LOL!!!
90 posted on 05/20/2012 9:28:35 AM PDT by Sudetenland (Anybody but Obama!!!!)
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To: EEGator

The typical pv solar panel has a life of 20-25 years I believe. A few short years after he breaks even he’ll have to start doing some replacing.


91 posted on 05/20/2012 9:29:57 AM PDT by NewHampshireDuo
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To: NewHampshireDuo

He bought them from Solyndra ..


92 posted on 05/20/2012 9:35:37 AM PDT by Col Frank Slade
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Some properties have codicils which supposedly stop neighbors from having things placed on their property that other home owners think are ugly.

Some of the things they do not allow are flag poles flying American flags.

When I think a Homeowners association would allow this ugly crap on someones roof and not let them fly a flag I get pissed.


93 posted on 05/20/2012 9:36:14 AM PDT by Venturer
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To: BookaT

Most “grid tie” PV systems do not have anyway to store energy when the power goes off. Meaning no batteries. The grid and the inverter are synchronised to each other. If the grid goes out, most of these folks who use smart meters are dead in the water also. The utilities don’t want you to export power to their dead power lines.
I know there are many that have batteries as back up for such events, but they are not usually hooked into the grid tie.
If I were to add batteries to my grid tie PV system, I would be forced to disconnect my system.


94 posted on 05/20/2012 9:42:57 AM PDT by BigpapaBo (If it don't kill you it'll make you _________!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Wow! The things you can learn on the Internet. Like the numerous types-species of "Cypress Trees" there are.

Basically, Solar Panel Guy, Mike Zwalley, is shooting his wad a bit too soon. He should have first nicely asked his SHADE LOVING neighbor, Wade Gibson, what species he planted before flying off with; "I WANT A LAW DAMMIT, OR ELSE!" To wit: his Shade Loving neighbor, Wade Gibson, is likely telling the truth and the trees won't grow to any problematic height. Although ... one species can grow to be 220 ft tall (LOL), now that'd be a problem. (snicker)

But 'series', since Mr Gibson is an Architectural Project Manger and deals with TREES and LOCATIONS (aka: Architectural Landscaping) on every project he's involved with I think he knows what he's doing and saying. He also knows the Building Codes and any Laws-regulations pertaining to Architecture and Landscaping in his area of FL -- and he knows them by heart.

Especially considering Mr Gibson's age, professional experience. and that he ain't a smart-a$$, wet-nosed kid with a shiny new Project Management Degree trying to 'make his bones' by being a pr*ck (I detest those little brats (1)).

So Mr Zwalley should chill out, sit back, and enjoy his $20 electric bill and stop being a jackass. Though being a USED CAR SALESMAN that may be a little tough. /s

(1) I've been in Commercial Construction for 42+ years now (dam I'm gettin old).

95 posted on 05/20/2012 9:44:08 AM PDT by Condor51 (Yo Hoffa, so you want to 'take out conservatives'. Well okay Jr - I'm your Huckleberry)
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To: mountn man
Nah... I bet with Federal and FL tax credits, and power company rebates, he got back way over 50% by the time his next tax forms were filled out...:^)

Old data, but shows what was around for FL -

http://solarpowerrocks.com/florida/

96 posted on 05/20/2012 9:44:40 AM PDT by az_gila
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To: MtBaldy
small claims court

Depending on the number, age, nature, etc., of the trees, I seriously doubt small claims court would be the venue.

However, I'm sure the guilty HO's property insurance won't be too happy.

Besides, if the abutting neighbor lies about an unmarked (save for the trees) property line, who's to say before the damage has been done?

While I generally wouldn't "damage" others property, I'd get a cash only, illegal alien gypsy service to do the work.

I once had a fight with the town over "their" tree rubbing against my house. I had to trim the offending branch myself. Morons.

Even the power company fought with them. They ended up "splinting" the sections of power lines that were subject to rubbing against the trees.

97 posted on 05/20/2012 9:45:37 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: pingman; MtBaldy; mountn man
Here's a link to a story, and even mentions solar power as another battleground.

http://www.marinmagazine.com/Marin-Magazine/February-2009/Tree-Wars/

I think the one I remembered was in the WSJ 20 years earlier.

98 posted on 05/20/2012 9:53:27 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Gay car salesman should move to Oregon.


99 posted on 05/20/2012 10:04:26 AM PDT by steve8714 (Who didn't already know Obama was our first gay President?)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Maybe if the car salesman had more shade trees he wouldn’t need all that electricity to run his air conditioner.


100 posted on 05/20/2012 10:25:06 AM PDT by layman (Card Carrying Infidel)
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