Yo Quiero
This message in my inbox I had to share:
Thanks to Jacoby Ellsbury's stolen base in the 2007 World Series, America is being gifted with a free taco. Go to any participating Taco Bell this afternoon between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time to pick up your Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco.
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The party is over. The best part of the evening actually came around three in the morning, when W@rren Hood and the boys from The Bellev!lle Outfit (formerly The Deschamps Band) came over after their show at The Parish. We showed each other our favorite YouTube videos until about 4:30.

Stiles and I showed off Grape Lady, of course. The boys had about six or seven favorites (which we all watched), but my favorite of their favorites was "MISHEARD LYRICS: Yellow Ledbetter" (which is my favorite Pearl Jam song of all time, even though for the life of me I have no idea what Eddie is singing.)

In honor of all the YouTube fun, we've posted a moment from MUCH earlier in the evening -- the toast to our departing friend Jason, who is moving to Washington DC.

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Not a Great Week
Okay so, first, the surprise party I was planning for a friend's goodbye (because I was so inspired by the hostess-with-the-mostess skills of my friend Myra in SC) took a turn for the worst when out of the 102 reporters invited to the fiesta, one of the non-reporters actually spilled the surprise. Twice.

Then, my man's employer announced something called a Position Elimination Program, aka PEP. Yay! "You may soon be part of the PEP, and your winnings will include not-having-to-work-here! Congratulations!"
I wonder if the Bob's are going to show up and start interviewing people about their productivity. "So what would you say... ya do here?"

Throw in some uncomfortable encounters with some humorless people in my work-world and it's enough to make a girl want to pull a Van Gogh.
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The Men... of the Week
The boys of The Belleville Outfit (who entertained us at historic Gruene Hall)
Dan the Man, closely watching the only state house race coming up next month
Rudy Giuliani, endorsed by The Guvnah

The Snippet
"I wonder why China Hill (restaurant) has its windows all blacked out. It's probably a "massage parlor" or something..."
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Whoa. Experiencing some serious deja vu, as a friend is on vacation and I'm filling in as a NIGHTSIDE GA reporter tonight. I have not worked nightside, or general assignments, in a long, long time. It's pretty much just like the ol' days back in S-C, only, my office isn't about to cave in at any second.

- Slacked off all morning, despite creating a list yesterday of "things I could do to be productive in the morning"
- Strange feeling in stomach after downing half the 99 cent value meal menu at Wendy's in about four minutes
- Spending my evening hours in a satellite truck
- Reporting outside a jail, awaiting the release of a chick who helped Colton Pitonyak dismember a college girl in a bathtub (This doesn't happen on the political beat. Well, it could, but no one would find out.)

On the up side, I did catch some of Grey's Anatomy while hanging out in the truck.
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The Purge Makes the Carnival

Earlier this week I began a reporting journey called The Purge, which aims to take a closer look at email retention in state government as it pertains to open records laws.

Turns out The Purge made The Carnival of Open Records, a "blog-centered project to build and promote awareness about open records issues and concerns". I bring this up for those defenders of the First Amendment* out there, who want to keep up-to-date on the goings-on in the world of open records.

*Personally, my favorite is the Third Amendment, cause I don't want to be quartering no British soldiers.
RELATED STORY: Third Amendment Rights Group Celebrates Another Successful Year (The Onion)

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The Darkness and The Light
My boy J-Graham pointed us out to a St. Louis Post Dispatch piece last month about how Governor Matt Blunt and AG Jay Nixon were engaged in a dueling press conference smackdown over whether Blunt's office should be routinely deleting its emails. Since, you know, he's a PUBLIC official and it's a PUBLIC office, one would think communication there is for the PUBLIC record.

Too bad I never check my gmail account, because I just saw the piece last night. I was actually surprised this created some outrage in Missouri, because in Texas the Gov's office deletes like, every week, and no one seems to push back against it.

Now I'm asking some questions, and hopefully, we'll get somewhere.
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The Purge: Part 1

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end. -Ursala K. LeGuin

I'd like to take you on a reporting journey that I'm beginning today, called "The Purge". With some reader interaction, perhaps this can become like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure novels (remember those?*).

Here we go.

There's an interesting showdown going on Missouri between Republican Governor Matt Blunt (US House Minority Whip Roy Blunt's son) and Attorney General Jay Nixon. Blunt is defending his office's routine deletion of office emails, even though he acknowledged "emails often are a public record," in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Missouri AG said that the policy violates not only the state's record-preservation law but also their Sunshine Law, which provides public access to government records. More from the Post-Dispatch:

Nixon asserted that actions of the governor’s staff appeared to be “an anathema to openness in government. This is public business, these are public records, this is what we do,” declared Nixon, a Democrat who is challenging Blunt for governor in 2008.

Blunt, in explaining his staff's intentions, said with a chuckle, "I think people are trying to have a clear and manageable in-box. That's what they're trying to do."

Overall, Blunt offered conflicting views of how e-mails should be treated under the state's Sunshine Law. He said the law is directed more at agencies and institutions, than at individuals.

In the case of e-mails, he said, "Once requested (under the Sunshine Law), and if they exist, they're definitely a public record."

It seems like he suggests here that emails don't need to be retained unless they are requested BEFORE the routine deletion.

That brings us back home to Texas. The routine email purging happens in the Texas governor's office, too.

"Our emails get automatically deleted every 7 days," said Governor Perry's spokesman Robert Black. "We kept the same policy and schedule as Governor Bush."

This isn't illegal. I've learned from conversations with various attorneys that Texas doesn't have a records preservation law that speaks to this specifically -- and the TPIA doesn't forbid the purging of emails. Emails are considered a public record; but only if requested before they're deleted into the cyber-abyss.

So this opens up questions about whether emails ought to be kept -- not just for the sunshine reason, but for historical purposes. (I mean, those LBJ phone calls are interesting!) Is it good policy to routinely delete official communication in public offices, when email is the way most of us communicate?

I put the question to State Senator Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, this afternoon. He's the Chairman of the Senate Jurisprudence committee, which oversees public information legislation.

"This is case of first impression with me, but it sounds like something that we oughta have hearings about, what the practice is government-wide... Arguments for keeping the emails for a certain period of time and arguments against it, for whatever reason," Wentworth said.

That's where the story ends, for now. I've requested copies of the email retention schedule and policy from various offices of state officeholders, including the Governor. I'm also looking into what major cities are doing with their official emails... just to see what the practice is, like Senator Wentworth was asking.

Originally, I wanted to wait on all of the information to come in and put it all together for one mega-post. But it seems the information will be trickling in, so we'll report it one thing at a time, and if you have questions or angles you think we should take this, please weigh-in.

*One time, in fifth grade, I actually wrote my own Choose Your Own Adventure tale. The waste of wide-ruled looseleaf was tremendous.

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Oh 67 Degrees, How I've Neglected You So...
W-T-F. I've been so tied up trying to get the work blog off the ground that I haven't had enough time to keep you updated over here. Nothing too huge this week, except Monday night's Cowboys game, about which I'm still utterly stunned.

My house is now a petting zoo, after my roommate J-Rod and his doggie moved in. We now have two hound dogs and two cats, but everyone seems to get along. I love my furry homies.

J-Rod is a photog at my station AND a personal trainer, which makes living with him kind of interesting. He came home Monday as I was finishing my Burger King meal.

"E. Burger King? Didn't you just have pizza for dinner last night?"

Then there was the day I wanted to go get a drink at Starbucks, which is a mile away.

Him: I would rather you ran to Starbucks.
Me: Fine, but will you come pick me up?
Him: I would rather you ran back.
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The last minute of the Cowboys game? Best. Last. Minute. Ever.
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The Harbor v The Creek
Okay, something's wrong with me. I don't even watch MTV's Newport Harbor with any regularity. But it's on right now and Chrissy is about to leave for college. Which got me wondering, where is Chrissy going to college? So here I am googling "Newport Harbor" and "Chrissy" and "College" when I find this:
Surprisingly they haven't pulled the plug on Newport Harbor...er...I'm sorry I meant "Douche-Bag Creek".
HAHA! LOL LOL. Someone bring back the real Creek, a la Joey before she became a Scientologist, married Tom Cruise and birthed his offspring.
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Free at Last! Free at Last!
Am I dreaming? I think I just successfully canceled my cell phone account with evil, Satan money-stealing, baby-killing Sprint. (Okay, I added that last one, but it's plausible.)

After being on hold for twenty minutes...
Me: I need to cancel my account because I don't have service at my house.
Them: Oh, no. I'm sorry to hear that. Are you aware of the $50 discount on your next bill for staying with us?
Me: I cannot make or receive calls from the place where I live. I do not want my account anymore.
Them: I'm really sorry to hear that, you've been such a good customer since 1999. Your contract isn't up until January so there's an early termination fee.
Me: What? It's not even my choice to cancel! I do NOT have service at my HOUSE! What if I had an emergency at my house and needed to call 9-1-1? I wouldn't be able to, because you don't provide service at my house.
Them: Again, I'm really sorry to hear that, ma'am.

Eventually they let me cancel without the fee. I can't really believe this happened! They've had me over a barrel for so many years that I don't know how I'll adjust to my new, Sprint-free life.
Posted by E
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