The Putnam Pit
Letters to the editor

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Herald-Citizen take note:
We publish opinions that opposes ours, and that oppose us. Why don't you try it?

Mother says real estate firm overestimated a lot size
but refused to repay earnest money when confronted.


Double standard?

Gibson charged Looper, but Rippetoe did the same thing

        Wed, 22 Jul 1998 08:00:58 -0500
        "Todd Ratermann" <>

First off I would like to say thank you for your tough "NO BULL" approach
to news.
One thing I have been wondering about is Byron Looper being charged with
using "county" funds to finance his advertisement of himself. Gibson say's
he is using county employee's for personel bennefit. Bill Ripetoe sold realestate out of that
office for years even using the property assers telephone # in advertisements and for sale signs property for sale. Why is he not charged for the same thing? County employees answered the phones and Bill
Personally proffited from this. How can wee find out how many pieces of
property he sold while in office? Don't get me wrong I'm no Looper Fan
but I'm glad to see someone in there that is not in the "good ol' boy"
Todd Ratermann

Letter from someone using someone else's name
Why does a Beverly Hills resident give a crap about Cookeville anyway?
[Response in Bold]
> Date: Wed, 01 July 1998 21:12:34
> From:
> To:
> Hmmmmmmmm.

Nice use of the 'm' key.

>Why does a Beverly Hills resident give a crap about
> Cookeville anyway?

Because the city violates the civil rights of people, and newspapers and
even leaflets, as the Hair-oiled Citroen refers to The Pit, report on
that. Perhaps you, who have stolen my name and use it in a stupid way to
perpetuate something you do not have the courage to put your own name
on, are content to life under a sleazy, good ol' boy, government. I am

You wrote:
>The way I figure it, someone, who perhaps lost a loved one, is paying you to create this, uuugggggggh, publication.

You are absolutely wrong.

You wrote:

>Please reply, you witty devil.

This is my reply.

We act like trouble-makers

Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 07:39:50 -0500  
   From:  ray <>  

Why can't you just enjoy the country? If you can't do anything but act like trouble-making assholes, then take your crusty asses back home.  


Why can't officials stop stealing? Why can't the municipal judge stop shaking down defendants? Why can't residents understand that justice is more important than the image of the town? Why can't you see that the service we provide is at great expense and has as its only goal the establishment of an atmosphere in which the residents are not victimized by corrupt government?

Why do officials squander tens of thousands of dollars withholding public records when they could just make them available and save the money? Because they are not accountable. Fools support them and oppose critics who report the truth but who are from other geographic areas. This is not what most people would consider 'enlightened.'

You were free to write your letter expressing your opinion. I didn't try to stop you from writing it or from distributing it. Perhaps if I did you would just enjoy the country instead of standing up for your rights like a responsible citizen. Perhaps you would not act like trouble-making assholes but take your crusty asses back home like an ignorant coward afraid to stand up to criminal activity. Maybe you want to perpetuate the myth that Cookeville government is legitimate.

I do not respect your opinion; it is naive and full of profanity. Perhaps it is people like you who are responsible for the corruption that exists because you do not see that character in the face of overwhelming opposition is a virtue.

You need only stop reading our articles.

But if a band of good ol' boys violate my civil rights, I will not go away. I will point it out and fight it. Perhaps this  is a new concept to you
You may choose to turn your head from the FACT that this is the case. But how I respond to the violation of MY rights is MY business, and if you don't want ME to point out the criminal activities of which I am a target, vote for different people who will not do it any more.

Geoff Davidian, editor
The Putnam Pit

Bona fide son of Dixie applauds our work in The Putnam Pit.

   Subject: Tami 
   Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 15:38:07 -0500 
   From:  David Gatchell <> 

Dear Mr. Davidian, 

I write in response to the letter from Tami. What a clever shortening of the name Tammy. I guess it's easier to monogram the dog collar that way. I have to wonder what Putnam County or Cookeville governmental outfit Tami, or a relative, works for. 

Tami thinks you're an "asshole" and lack the standing to expose and criticize criminal activity of local public officials because you're an "outsider" and don't enjoy living in the country. If it's 'Southern credentials' she's looking for - I've got 'em in spades.  I grew up and have lived in the south all my life.  I'm a goober and a grit. I'm a cracker and a tarheel. I'm a redneck, white trash good ol' boy who values my dog, my truck and my girl friend - in that order. And I've been called an asshole a number of times - often by non-kin. These are my good points. 

I, as a bona fide son of Dixie, welcome you Mr. Davidian. And I heartily applaud your work in The Putnam Pit. 

If Tami thinks that looking the other way from corruption and sleaze, and having a sold out, boot licking cringing lap dog like The Herald Citizen for a local newspaper, is the way to maintain her liberty - she's mistaken. We fought a revolution to free ourselves from governmental theft and abuse. We've shed a lot of blood in wars since then to keep it that way. And if we ever give up the fight - however frustrating it might be - we will quickly slide into the quality of life enjoyed by countries like Guatemala, 
Indonesia and Iraq. 

It's people just like you who keep enough pressure on scoundrels like Byron Looper, Lewis Coomer, Bill Gibson, etc. to keep them from leaping off the edge into some homegrown Hooterville dictatorship. 

Tami should thank her luck star that you are involved in the politics of Putnam County. Rather than calling you very unladylike names, she should iron up one of her prettiest dresses, do her hair up real nice, fix a green bean casserole to bring you along with a sack of tomatoes - and tell you how glad she is to have you there. 

David Gatchell

Louisiana reader hopes The Pit starts a trend
Subject: Great Site! 
Date: Mon., 29 Jun 1998 08:15:54 -0500 
From: lawrence <> 
Hello Putnam Pit - I really like your site and hope you are starting a trend to clean up government at all levels. Keep on keep'in on! 

On another subject, what are land prices like in your area? We are looking for about 40 acres of rough land to live on and raise goats on. We would like a spring, woods, a garden spot, and a house site. We would prefer to buy directly from an owner. Could you point us in the right direction? 

My wife is an Occupational Therapist and would need to be within driving distance of a hospital. I am Jack of All Trades and Master of Many. 

Thanks In Advance, 

Lawrence Hyland

Former communications student dislikes cookie case ramifications
Subject: Bold statement from an academic
Date:  Thu, 18 Dec 1997 10:46:56 -0500
From: "Jodi Lasky" <>
 To: <>
[Subject: Re: Bold statement from an academic
 Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 07:51:51 -0800
 From: Geoffrey Davidian <>
 Organization: The Putnam Pit

Australian wonders about land fraud in Tennessee

Dumpster-diving reader finds rubbish in O'Mara's cookie position
Subject: Cookie lawsuit
Date: Tue., 16 Dec 1997 21:46:39 -0800
From: "Michael Cary" <>
Dear Mr. Davidian,

I usually only read the Herald-Citizen about 2 or 3 times a week.  If I'm lucky I might find a copy every day while I'm 'dumpster diving' for tin cans and other recyclables.  But, when I came across a copy of the H-C dated 11-16-97, I was surprised to find an article about the 'Cookie' lawsuit filed by yourself and the Putnam Pit. Needless to say, I was shocked that the H-C would report on such a controversial issue.

While Mike O'Mara says, in this article, that cookie files are 'dumped' at the end of each day, I would have to question this practice. Most users don't even know what a cookie file is and in most cases would never even have to deal with a cookie file unless Internet use is extraordinarily excessive.  He also states that "We don't believe they are public records because they are not anything made in the official course of business".  So when are they made, if not in the official course of business?  Cookie files are so small that they probably
would never have to be 'dumped' to make room for other files anyway.

Whatever the outcome of this lawsuit is, I feel that you have already been successful in that you have brought this issue to light.  Mr. O'Mara's statements have made him look like a computer non genius.

Michael Cary

[Editor's note: Mr. Cary: You don't understand. Mr. O'Mara makes $125 an hour coming up with brilliant positions he can later charge the city to defend. This is about sucking tax money as fast as possible, not cookies. Clearly, if the city doesn't even have cookies, why are they spending thousands of dollars to argue that they shouldn't have to make them public? This is just like the way the city moved the case from Cookeville to federal court in Nashville, so O'Mara could drive all the way there -- at $125 an hour -- to ask that it be sent back to Cookeville. Why won't O'Mara make public proof that the costs he bills the city for are legitimate? Because he doesn't care what anyone thinks so long as he keeps sucking the money out of the treasury. Remember, he made more than $10,000 prosecuting a single speeding ticket. Feel the wind up your leg? That's O'Mara sucking the change out of your pocket. Hold City Manager Jim Shipley and the city council responsible, if this offends you.]

Government computers should be programmed to not delete browser and Internet files

Subject: Cookie files
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 23:00:40 EST
From: LowellS460 <>
Organization: AOL (



Subject:          Great Site
    Date:          Sun, 30 Nov 1997 15:19:21 -0500
   From:          "Billy Wright" <>
     To:          <>



Subject: Whatta site!
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 06:48:22 -0600
From: PAT McJURY <>
 Organization:  THE OFFICE CO.


Subject: Web Site Etc.
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 14:33:24 -0800
From: "Bruce Boyers" <>
To: <>

Dear Putnam Pit,

Like many others, I heard about you through the CNET report, and then paid
a lengthy visit to your Web site.

It takes guts to do what you folks are doing!

I have an odd similarity to Mr. Norman, which I will briefly go over.

I grew up in Southern California, mostly in Los Angeles.  When I was 17, my
mother decided I was incorrigable (truth: I was) and sent me to live with my
Dad in Goldsboro, North Carolina.  I had never lived outside California,
and moving to this steamy southern tobacco-farming community was much like
moving to a different planet.

This was in 1973.  The schools had only been desegrigated for a year, and
times were bad.  Tensions were high.  The racial dividing line was still very clear.

I ended up living in Goldsboro for 3 years before I managed to work my way
back to Los Angeles.  Lots happened, enough that I've started my own novel on that period of time, much like Mr. Norman.  I work on this novel periodically (I have another that's currently being shopped to publishers that has nothing to do with any of this).

Having seen this Web site, I sort of wish I'd had the presence of mind to
do something similar to The Putnam Pit when I lived in Goldsboro.  I certainly
saw enough.  But then again, I was barely 20 when I left and seriously
going against the grain in that place could get you killed.

So, I'm glad somebody's doing it somewhere in the South, at least!  The
mentality down there can be so unbelievably thick that I never thought such
an undertaking would be worthwhile.  But it appears you're garnering support for your efforts, and that's grand!

Regarding your Cookie efforts, I think the law would have to fall on your
side.  While I've seen some letters to you citing "privacy" issues, these
computers are public property and paid for by taxpayers.  It's not the same
as requesting the same records out of somebody's home - we're talking about
government employees on the clock and what they're doing while they're
there.  It's the same as requesting other public records, on-computer or
off.  I doubt, however, you'll get much out of this - as others have
pointed out, Cookies are very easy to delete.

Of course, you could hire a skilled hacker who could break in via network when nobody's looking, and perchance swipe these records before anyone can delete them.  But then you wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on, I don't guess.

Anyhow, good job!  I'll be regularly visiting your site to keep up with the


Bruce Boyers
Los Angeles, California

      Re: Tennessee cookie suit
           Wed, 5 Nov 1997 14:11:42 -0500
           John Kelly <jkelly@SHELBYNEWS.COM>

[see cookie suit]

This is a great idea. I think it's fabulous you're going after this. I for one am watching to see what happens here because of the implications. I am skeptical that you will find anything simply because of the ease of deleting such files. I agree, there is
little we can do about that. But certainly an empty history folder, cookie folder, internet cache folder, etc. would obviously indicate something was amiss and might be worth reporting. I do agree with you that these are NO DOUBT public records.
It it is important that we have the ability to track what employees are doing with their time on our (the citizens, residents, taxpayers, et al) dime. What if a government worker, or mayor, or governor, or other public official is surfing porn sites? Is it not a public issue if we paid for the computers, the Internet account, the official's salary, and
on and on and on? It is.

I agree that going overboard and conducting witch hunts is not fair, nor feasible. It's not a good use of our time as journalists. But that Mr. Davidian is taking the lead to go after this type of information is positive and praise-worthy. We can make minimizing comments that make his request sound silly now. But what happens when something contained in those files is a key to a major story that serves the public interest. An example escapes me now, but I guarantee that when it happens, we'll be glad to know that someone has set a precedent for us on this.

When in doubt - ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS - err on the side that something is
a public record. Surrender nothing on this issue. The burden is on public officials to prove that anything done on public time, with public equipment, with public money and while representing the public OUGHT TO BE PUBLIC.

Sometimes I wonder if some of us aren't our own worst enemies on public
records issues.

John Kelly
The Shelbyville News

         Sat, 01 Nov 1997 14:17:14 -0500
         Sean McCune <>

I recently learned of your paper and web-site (which I just visited)
from a web article
(,4,15871,00.html?dtn.head) about your
attempt to obtain the cookie files from your local government's PCs
under the auspices of the state's open records law.  After reading your
online articles, and some of your editorials, all I can say
is...bravo...and attaboy!  People should not be obstructed from finding
out what they're government is doing.  Nor should they be wary of
speaking their mind ("In the end your silence will not help you.") for
fear of what their government might do in retaliation.  People should
*not* fear their government, but rather, to the contrary, government
should fear the people.  Government officials and workers are supposed
to be our servants, answerable to us.  Government and the people have a
contract that stipulates that government must operate within the limits
defined by the constitution  and other laws, and in return the public
will respect that government as lawful, and respect and obey its laws.
But if they step outside their lawful, constitutionally defined bounds,
then they have broken the contract, and the public then has the right,
and duty, to ignore that illegal government, form a new one, and
overthrow the old one, if necessary.  Those are strong, extreme words,
but the contract we live by, outlined in the Constitution of the United
States, and the Declaration of Independence, is meant to cover all
situations, from the vaguely annoying ones like refusing to turn over
cookie files, to the most extreme ones requiring a complete change of
government (note that it does not say a change in the form of
government).  The contract recognizes that power corrupts, and a
government has power that will quickly corrupt it from the degree of
being vaguely annoying to the degree requiring its removal.  Its
unfortunate, but government, be it federal, state, or local, in many
places across this country today has become nothing but organized crime
with a flag on the wall, and answerable to no one but itself.

In response to some critics of you and your paper that have said that
you don't share "Confederate values", I say the following :  States do
have rights that limit the power of the federal government, and those
rights must be safeguarded and the power of the federal government must
be limited.  But the people have the ultimate rights that limit the
power of both federal and state and local governments.  Those are the
rights that must ultimately be defended, and the power of all levels of
government limited to ensure continued liberty and freedom.  If the
rights of the people are ignored and infringed upon by government, then
there is no help or hope for the rights of states.

Finally, I am from Pittsburgh, so I am a "northerner".  However, I have
traveled extensively in the south and love it and have always been made
welcome, especially in Tennessee.  Likewise, I have been host to and/or
worked with many from the south, and have done my best to make them
welcome, and show them a great time here in western Pennsylvania.
Patriots come from everywhere.  I just hope they keep coming.

P.S.  Pittsburgh has a radio version of your paper that is broadcast
over the internet as well.  You (and your net readers) might want to
take a look at the web site of Jim Quinn's morning show at    Each day's show is archived so you can listen
to it at any time, and on weekdays from 6 AM - 10 AM, Pittsburgh time,
you can listen to his show live.  The show always starts off with 2
minutes of news and sports (at the top of every hour), so you have to
wait a couple of minutes to get to the good stuff.  Quinn has had
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Pittsburgh several times over the past two
years to give talks.  I mention this because I noticed you have
Ambrose's "warning to Americans" letter on your web site.  Keep up the
good fight.  And remember, patriots come from everywhere, including
England.  Just hope they keep coming.

Sean McCune

         TO THE EDITOR
         Fri, 31 Oct 97 15:06:08 EST
   From: (Drawdy, John W.)
     To:, "Wes Drawdy" <>

Visited your site (newspaper) today after seeing the story on CNET.  I was
amused to see you placing the 14th ammendment alongside the first 10 (Bill
of Rights).  In the South, where people could read, the 14th ammendment was
enacted at gunpoint after the South lost the Second War for American
Independence.  (In the GREAT LIE of American History it has been made out
to be a slavery thing you know.)

Well, we lost that war the first time but I would offer that if we can
educate young AGGRESSIVE skulls like yours maybe we will not lose the next
time and Americans can once more address their problems (many of which you
enumerate in your last link: A Warning....) with a truly representative
government.  (One that is local and accountable)

Anyway, since you are in the South now and seem to want to do good why
don't you start by getting your history straight, analyzing the meaning of
the first three sentences of that greatest of documents  - The Declaration
of Independence - and then educate the masses.  If you would like, let me
know and I will send you a small educational packet of materials.  Whatever
you do, don't place those immortal ten alongside the one that enslaved us

If you deign to lead, you must know.  To paraphrase Hendrix are you
experienced?  Give it some thought O Enlightened One.

--Wes Drawdy, South Carolinian

         About cookies
         Thu, 30 Oct 1997 19:32:05 -0500
         Pat Gunn <>

Hello. This message is regarding your recent intentions to
request the cookies file from government employees' computers.
According to's article about your demand, your
intention is to use the cookies file as a way to ensure that
government workers are not visiting non work-related sites. This
blind trust in the cookies file is probably not wise -- the
cookies can:
1) Easily be altered by the users after they visit any
        questionable sites, by opening up the
        cookiefile(s) with a text editor
2) Be blocked with an intelligent web proxy, such as Internet
        Junkbuster (available at
3) Be disabled on most recent versions of Netscape

I think that now that your request is known, any evidence that
you might be looking for is likely to be deleted by their network
administrator, and their network administrator is likely to advise
the workers to disable cookies and/or is setting up an intelligent
web proxy (perhaps even a transparent one) that will block all or
some cookies.

                        Just thought you might want to know.

         Sun, 28 Sep 1997 22:53:16 -0500
         Redbird <Redbird@BLomand.Net>

Sept. 28,1997

Dear Editors:

As a Journalism student at TTU, let me say "You guys RULE!"

I've just been turned on to your August issue that is available at the Tech
library and have just visited your website for the first time.  Why haven't
I heard of this great paper before??  It should be in news stands along
with the Tennessean, Nashville Banner and Herald-Citizen.

I wish you continued success in your efforts to reveal the truth to the


Kevin Brown
TTU Student

From - Wed Nov 05 01:01:45 1997 Return-Path: Received: from ([]) by (Netscape Mail Server v2.0) with ESMTP id AAA14705 for ; Fri, 31 Oct 1997 11:25:26 -0700 Received: from ([]) by (8.8.3/8.8.3) with SMTP id LAA22384 for ; Fri, 31 Oct 1997 11:25:06 -0800 (PST) Message-ID: <> Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 11:25:03 -0800 From: Chris Smith X-Mailer: Mozilla 3.0 (Macintosh; I; PPC) MIME-Version: 1.0 To: Subject: Do you have any idea what you're doing? Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Mozilla-Status: 8003 By subpoenaing the cookie files of government officially, yes, you are examining "the actions of public employees." Good for you. You are also attempting to establish a dangerous judicial precedent, one that would allow cookie files to be used as legal evidence and introduced into courtrooms. This is the functional equivalents of allowing people to be judged or tried on the basis of every book or magazine they ever read, or every movie they ever saw. You have exposed the dark implications of Internet technlogy, the ability to track internet users online behavior, and introduced it as evidence. The only positive thing that might come out of this nusiance lawsuit is that this legal action might force the government and the industry to examine the cookie issue and make a far-reaching decision to protect internet users from any technology that keeps track of their online behavior. Oh, and you might find out that the city manager of a Tennesse town was looking at pornos during work hours - great victory for democracy and the freedom of the press there, you should be proud of yourselves.

         Great Idea
         Wed, 29 Oct 1997 20:28:48 -0800 (PST)
         Dave Wickham <>

Suing for access to cookie files as public documents is great.  Why not
include browser history and cache files?
I have been working on controlling internet use at the state level and
be very interested in hearing how you do with this suit.
If possible please keep me up to date.


State employee's internet abuse page

Dave Wickham
Cle Elum Wa

         Saw article about you on CNet
         Thu, 30 Oct 1997 23:55:01 -0600
         Jack Fields <>

I was looking over your site after seeing an article about you on CNet.
Your 8/9/97 article didn't contain a lot of details but left me
wondering exactly what happened.  The 4th amendment says, "The right of
the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."
the question is visiting a web site an unreasonable search?  If the
intent of a web site is to attract visitors, where is an expectation of
privacy?  Was the URL with the warning the 1st part of your site visited
and did they go past it?

              Keep up the good work!!
              Mon, 03 Nov 1997 16:16:46 +0000
              John Havard <>

Got your page from a link on newshub about the lawsuit on "cookies".
Please keep in mind that these "magic cookies" can be deleted very
easily - they reside in the cache folder inside the preferences folder
on a Mac and can be deleted by dragging to Trash. I assume a Windows
machine handles them in a similar manner so don't be surprised if there
are no files there when they make the computers available.

I wish we had a watchdog paper like yours here in Mobile.

John Havard

              Re: [Fwd: webpage]
              Thu, 23 Oct 1997 21:17:35 +1000
              Timothy &Sandy McDow <>
              SHADOWMASTER CORP.
              Geoffrey Davidian <>

I was selecting newspapers to bookmark on my
web provider.  I am a international distribution analyst speciallizing
in intrenational maritime trade.  As a fellow "Volunteer", I was looking
for papers from Tennesse as a home reference (a look at "No where
America") to contrast with the bussel of everyday chaos.

One article captured my attention and aroused my political prowness.
The Guerrilla Law column is really a look at America "gone astray".  Be
forewarned that Law has inflicted upon the citizens a brotherhood of
power mogerals who are cruel and deviously self-serving.  Many countries
in the world have taken the very essence of what the U.S. has stood for
the past 200 years and restricted any deviations from those principles.
Australia is now considered to be a better place to live compared to the
U.S.  How did this happen?  Just look at our justice system and our
legislature; Who controls and administers these powers of government?
Police? Lawyers? Politicians? or lobbyists?

This is due to "Professionalism" in the public service community and not
mere professional service to the community.  Who said that a Judge must
be a Lawyer???  It is time we consider the direction we are headed and
look for more simplistic paths.  The control of government no longer
resides in the hands of the people.

U.S. Territory Guam

              Re: Subscription
              Mon, 29 Sep 1997 15:53:34 -0700
              Geoffrey Davidian <>
              The Putnam Pit
              Jerry Samon <>

Jerry Samon wrote:
> Hello,
> I have been reading your publication, and I find it very interesting.
> I
> was wondering if you have a subscription policy.  If so, how do I
> subscribe
> and how much?  Thank you
> Cindy

Thanks for you interest.
We are having a rough time because the city is making it hard to get
public records and we don't know how many more issues there will be. We
try to be monthly.
A subscription is $30 for 12 issues.

send $30 to
The Putnam Pit
c/o Chris Grant
4101 N. Prospect
Milwaukee, WI 53211

geoff davidian

              Re: Your paper
              Thu, 31 Jul 1997 08:37:04 -0700
              Geoffrey Davidian <>
              The Putnam Pit
              Jeanne Schmitzer <>

Jeanne Schmitzer wrote:
> Do you print a paper version of your paper, or is it only available via
> the web? If you print paper versions, where can they be obtained?
> Thank you
> Jeanne Schmitzer

Yes, we print a paper version. You can find a copy of every past Pit at
the Cookeville Public Library. I think they keep two copies of each in
the collections office.

We put them in the post office every so often, but people were stealing
them and tossing them in the trash.

If you check the web site from time to time, I post where they are
available when I publish. I'm working on the July issue now, and I guess
I'll have to change it to the August issue because I can't keep up with
all the scandals.

Geoff Davidian
Send letters to:
The Putnam Pit
P.O Box 1483
Cookeville, Tennessee 38503
or email at

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