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Is the Mac'sSmoke Shop Ad on this site legal and ethical ?

Original post made by julie, Midtown, on Jun 19, 2008

This story contains 51 words.

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Comments (45)

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Posted by Jimmy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2008 at 7:10 pm

I see one of the videos on paloaltoonline is for Palo Alto Bicycles and promotes bicycle use which is the number one cause of injury accidents in the USA every year

What on earth is this ad doing in a family online paper?

Will someone explain why it is here and when it will be taken OFF

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Posted by Dave
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 19, 2008 at 9:11 pm

High fives, Jimmy. Cigars are legal. I enjoy one occasionally myself and liked the Mac's ad. No to a nanny state.

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Posted by Keri
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 19, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Have there been any studies to compare rates of death, comparing tobacco use versus neurosis use? Julie seems to be convinced of the former, but ignorant of her own perpetuation of the latter.

Mac's Smoke Shop had been around for many decades. I don't smoke or dip or look at porn. However, I LOVE to buy my paper in that shop, and I LOVE the smell of tobacco, and I LOVE to watch, as a woman, the good old boys doing what they do! Mac's is one of the few spots of non-PC freedom left in Palo Alto.

Leave it alone!

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Posted by econ 101
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2008 at 10:29 am

As an economist i have no problem with people smoking

they pay extra taxes on the product and die fast before they can claim their full SS benefits, as the diseases they die of our quickly fatal they rack up relatively small health costs at the end of live

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 20, 2008 at 11:25 am

This is what's called a human interest story. They are a staple of lightweight journalism. The point is merely that Mac's is a revered local purveyor of sickness and death.

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Posted by PAMD
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 20, 2008 at 12:14 pm

The people who have a problem with the 400,000 death per year in the USA every year are the tobacco companies.

They loose 400,000 customers each year and have to recruit new ones,

they aim at teenagers.

If some one does not smoke before 22yrs of age they will never get addicted.

If they start in the teenage years they will permanently change their brain chemistry and metabolism of nicotine, they will likely become life long smokers.
The tobacco companies know this so that is where they spend their marketing dollars.

The paloaltoolonine ad furthers this strategy by allowing such ads on a family newspaper site.

That is what I object to.

I too would like to know how this took place and when it will be REMOVED

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Posted by rn
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 20, 2008 at 2:09 pm

I have seen many people die horrible and painful deaths from tobacco related diseases,
Heart Disease
As well as people struggling with miserable chronic health problems
Macular Degeneration
Circularly Diseases that require amputation
They were all addicted and most continued smoking despite the diagnoses.

I think it is irresponsible of the Palo Alto Weekly to promote smoking

by allowing ads for tobacconists,I also see the ad promotes things you would only see in a head shop.

TAKE THE AD DOWN, it has no place in a family/community newsweekly

Like this comment
Posted by julie
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Adverts for tobacco are fine in adult magazines NOT on TV Bill Boards ETC.

Who made the decision to allow this advert?

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2008 at 4:17 pm

I think Mac's should change its name. It sells many other things and is actually quite a handy store.

I have only been in there once when I was looking for a hard to find magazine and lo and behold someone told me to try there and I found it. I was surprised because to me it was a newsagents that sold some tobacco products along with the expected newspapers, magazines, candy, ice cream, postcards, etc. I would use it again if the need arose.

I agree that tobacco advertising would be wrong here, but I am not so sure if the advertising you are upset about is actually advertising the product rather than the store. The store should change its name and then it wouldn't cause offence by advertising itself.

How about "Mac's hard to find newspapers, magazine and candy store."

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 20, 2008 at 8:19 pm

I love Mac's, don't smoke, but go there for the magazines. I haven't noticed that they're recruiting underage smokers, so give 'em a break.

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Posted by Thor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2008 at 8:24 pm

I get my cigars there, by god. For 40 years. BACK OFF!

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Posted by Dave
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 20, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Let’s spear one shibboleth: accepting advertising is not promotion. It’s providing a means for merchants selling legal products to reach consumers who want to buy them, and is one of the defining characteristics of a free society. You don’t like tobacco – don’t buy it. You don’t like tobacco ads – ignore them. You want to child-proof your house – fine. You want to child-proof the world – it doesn’t belong to you.
And it’s impossible anyway. You’ll prepare your children for life better by teaching them how to make good decisions than by trying to control what they see and don’t see. Despite your best efforts, they’re going to be exposed to far worse decisions than whether to smoke, and you won’t be there to stop them. The best thing you can do is give them good tools and realize that ultimately, it’s their life, not yours. If despite your best efforts to persuade them to live tobacco-free lives, they grow up to enjoy a cigar every now & then, as I do, and that bothers you enough, cut them out of your will. But understand that there are limits to how far you can go to control their – and others’ – behavior in a free society.
Unless, of course, you don’t believe in free societies.

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Posted by Dave
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 20, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Fellow readers, look closely at the posts by julie, PAMD and rn and you’ll notice they share some unusual traits:
--Each sentence on a separate line
--Individual words capitalized in the last line
--Periods missing from the ends of many sentences, and the first word of some sentences not capitalized
Tsk, tsk -- busted! Folks, this is the human equivalent of an animal puffing itself up to look bigger than it is. There aren’t 3 people here objecting to the Mac’s ad, but one posing as three. So much for the groundswell of public indignation.

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Posted by Jimmy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2008 at 10:08 pm


Thanks for the astute observation. It may well be true or it may signify a common dementia of those afflicted with a compulsion to control the actions of others.

Either way, 3 isn't any groundswell and at least on this one Palo Alto isn't rallying to the PC perspective.

Like this comment
Posted by sam
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2008 at 1:02 pm

There is a strong move in Hollywood to ban smoking in pg 13 movies, I support that as do most parents.

There is a disturbing article in todays WSJ about the increase in cigar smoking by pre teens and teens. When hooked at such an early age they will probably ultimately died of smoking related diseases.

Many people are under the delusion that cigar smoking is a safer alternative, with the exception of oral cancer, not a pretty sight.

A majority of cigar smokers these days are ex cig smokers and they inhale. Inhaling cigar smoke is in fact even more poisonous than cigs.

There are many risk free sources of nicotine for addicts, gum patch etc. There is no excuse for adverts for tobacco in a family newspaper, in fact this may expose the agent to litigation in addition to negative PR.
Research shows many of those who continue to smoke in places like Palo Alto, where they are pariahs, in fact suffer from psychiatric problem, depression, schizophrenia and alcoholism.

Tobacco sellers are merchants of death, and they know it. They should not be supported by the Palo Alto Weekly.
30yrs ago DWI was no big deal and people had 3 martini lunches.Times change people learn the tragedy of bad habits.We have know for 60yrs or more the dangers of smoking.
Many people would like to see Palo Alto as a smoke free zone like Stanford Campus. It is just a matter of time. The sooner the better!

Like this comment
Posted by Mac Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2008 at 1:50 pm

The dominant health issue in Palo Alto is obesity, not tobacco.

Therefore, I think we should make Palo Alto a fat-free zone. No more fat people! Ban them! Just get them outta here! Also ban any adverts for food. Do not allow restaurants to seve calories to anyone who does not meet BMI standards. Sue the food industry for providing calories. Imagine how healthy we could be!

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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 21, 2008 at 8:01 pm

I like Mac's; it's a great place to buy a newspaper, pick up a local ad rag, get a quick cup of joe, browse a magazine, etc.

the only thing that bothers me about the place is that Mac's is grandfathered to permit smoking by employees. Lately, at least two employees are puffing away like chimneys, which keeps me away. How on earth smoking gets grandfathered into any facility nowadays, is beyond me.

btw, Macs was sold a few years ago; the owners are new to this territory. I liked the old Macs better, and there wasn't any smoking on site.

Like this comment
Posted by paul h
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Macs has changed a lot since it changed hands. It used to be a funky 50s style news agent.Now it mainly pushes tobacco, porn and what appears to be cannabis pipes.
I am surprised by the amount of denial on this post about the health consequences of smoking,I suppose that goes with addiction as they say.
The smoking rate in California is around 20% and is much lower in Palo Alto, I would guess around 5 to 7% but a disturbing number of teens here smoke.
There is very little problem with obesity in Palo Alto, unlike the rest of the state and nation, but in an increasing number of communities trans fats are now banned in restaurants.
In similar fashion we should ban the sale and public smoking of tobacco in Palo Alto, as they do @ Stanford
Macs will have to change, and that is about time if they allow their employees to smoke in the store.
The Palo Alto Weekly should not enable this deadly habit by allowing tobacconist advertisements.

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Posted by COPD
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 22, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I just watched the video ad, it is very disappointing as it promotes cheap candy flavored cigars, just what gets kids hooked.

Diseases linked to smoking tobacco include:

* Many forms of cancer, particularly lung cancer, cancer of the kidney, cancer of the larynx and head and neck, breast cancer , bladder, esophagus, pancreas, and stomach. There is some evidence suggesting an increased risk of myeloid leukemia, squamous cell sinonasal cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer after an extended latency, childhood cancers and cancers of the gall bladder, adrenal gland and small intestine.
* Cardiovascular disease
o stroke
o peripheral vascular disease
* Respiratory ailments
o common cold and bronchitis
o Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis in particular
* Birth defects of pregnant smokers' offspring
* Buerger's disease (thromboangiitis obliterans)
* Cataracts that may cause blindness
* Cognitive dysfunction
o Increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and decline in cognitive abilities
o Reduced memory and cognitive abilities in adolescent smokers
o Brain shrinkage (cerebral atrophy)
* Impotence

Like this comment
Posted by please nanny right
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2008 at 8:29 pm

I would prefer if the move in Hollywood would be to go back to keeping the words sh*&, bit&^, whor*,out of PG13 movies..oh, and how about keeping homosexual sexual allusions out, as well as spattering blood from gun shots?

Just saw Get Smart..why ruin what could be a fun family movie with such trash?

I would rather my teen see smokers than that trash. At least smoking is something we can teach the bad effects of and bust 'em doin'. It doesn't pollute their thinking about other human beings.

Get your priorities straight...if you MUST nanny, at least nanny right.

Like this comment
Posted by Jon
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 23, 2008 at 1:38 am

Oh noes! I saw Mac's Smoke Shop's ad! And since I am above 18, I guess the ad convinced me to go light up and get myself killed. Yes PA Weekly, shame on you for trying to get *gasp* ad revenue and you must listen to these pious mothers and nannies. <sarcasm/>

Good grief is this the best we can come up with? After reading this post perhaps I shall go light one out of spite. Thanks Julie.

A line from The Simpsons (remember to raise your hands and stare up with the "why God why" look on your face):
"Think about the children!"

Like this comment
Posted by joel
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 23, 2008 at 11:51 am

In Palo Alto smokers are pariahs and Macs seems to attract quite a few street people and beggars, if they allow smoking in the store then access must be restricted to those 18yrs and older with appropriate health warnings.Macs is not a revered store, it is under new ownership and management and is very different from the old store.
A lot of things have changed in Palo Alto over the years, at one time there was a porno movie theatre on University Ave where there is now a Sushi bar.
It is time for Macs to leave town also.

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Posted by COPD
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

"The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are more pervasive than we previously thought," Carmona said. "The scientific evidence is now indisputable: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults."

Web Link

According to the report, the government's most detailed statement ever on secondhand smoke, exposure to smoke at home or work increases the nonsmokers' risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.
It is especially dangerous for children living with smokers and is known to cause sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma attacks in infants and children.

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:50 pm


If only 5 to 7 percent of Palo Altans smoke compared to 20 percent statewide then that would indicate that Mac's is not the insidious evil influence that is being claimed here.

I haven't noticed a particular beggar's issue with Mac's--other than it being near Lytton Plaza.

Man, all this outrage over Palo Alto's itty-bitty pocket of sin.

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Posted by julie
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2008 at 5:24 pm

By the end of the year macs will be gone from Palo Alto, there are plenty of places to get news papers and magazine but these days most people read them on line for free.

I am actually glad that macs paid for an add, up until then it had been under the RADAR, now it is not and people see the owners as merchants of death, much more lethal than driving while holding a cell phone, we have an activist senator in town, here is his next project-- closing macs smokeshop

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:07 pm


Mac's is an independent, local business. I try to support local businesses over chains, such as Border's.

I don't have to hang around smokers, but those damn drivers on cell phones are a daily hazard.

Thousands are dying in Iraq; gas is aiming toward $5 a gallon; the economy's floundering; the Arctic's heating up and we don't have an alternative to petroleum--but driving a small historic business that's been in town way longer than you have is your big cause?

Here's a clue--if people don't want Mac's in business, they'll stop going there. People keep it in business--ergo, plenty of us want it there.

Your spelling and grammar seem to be falling apart--I think you need to calm down.

Like this comment
Posted by TIm
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 24, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Don't smoke, but love to go to Mac's. Remember when Bob owned it. The BMW residents crying again. You know- the $itch, Moan and Whine club.

Like this comment
Posted by geez
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 6:57 am

Sigh, here we go with the "economy is falling apart" rhetoric. Still don't understand how it was GREAT in everybody's minds in the 6 months leading up to the 2000 election, when we were in an ACTUAL AND REAL economic contraction, not an still continuing economic expansion.

Yesterday, on the back page of course, of the Merc were two articles. One on how Housing permits are way up, and another on how Tech jobs are back to pre-bubble bursting level.

Huh? In a "bad economy"?

Also, the "thousands dying in Iraq" part...have you missed that fewer die now than since the start of the war? And, oh, by the way, fewer have died, even at the peak, since the start of the war than were dying in "peaceful" Iraq by Saddam? C'mon.

And, have you missed that there are more polar bears in the north arctic now than there have been since we started counting? And that Antartic has more ice now than ever? That Mars' ice is melting? Perhaps it has nothing to do with us and what we do, and everything to do with our Tilt and the Sun?

Stop with the gloom and doom. It doesn't help your point at all, just makes you look like a propogandized robot. I am like Jon, all this hand wringing makes me want to go out and buy from Macs. Think I will today. Look for me.

THINK PEOPLE! Don't be brainwashed.

Like this comment
Posted by fred
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:16 am

Can someone tell me how to find the ad, or post a link to it? I want to see what all the fuss is about.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2008 at 10:50 am

Stores like Macs are being threatened due to the Internet's profound impact on new models of information distribution.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by COPD
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 25, 2008 at 10:55 am

regarding"Thousands are dying in Iraq;"

During the period of the Iraq war to date 2.5 MILLION Americans have died of smoking related diseases.

OP should get her priorities straight, and use logic.

The fact is that Mac's in under new ownership, it sells products that in their normal use cause death and disease.

The only thing historic about the store is the sign, we could keep that without the tobacco, like the Pete Wickets beer sign on the next block.

Smoking no only kills the smoker but also those exposed to second hand smoke, it is a dangerous pollutant. Even Al Gore, who's family made their fortune from tobacco and who supported tobacco farmers for years, has seen the light.

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2008 at 11:47 am


Mac's is hardly at fault for those 2.5 million deaths related to smoking. Smoking is a choice before it's an addiction.

Since we have a lower, rather than higher, rate of smokers in Palo Alto, there's no indication that Mac's causes people to smoke--that it's an insidious influence in that way.

Don't like it, don't go there. Don't support it.


That was a case of selective parsing if I've ever seen one. Gee, we're not peaking in deaths in Iraq right now--when we've been there how many years now? With no end in sight?

Housing permits up, while ignoring 20 percent drops in housing prices?


Like this comment
Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 26, 2008 at 2:52 pm

"Gee, we're not peaking in deaths in Iraq right now--when we've been there how many years now? With no end in sight?"


What, exactly, is the meaning of that statement? The liberation of Iraq, to include a stake through the heart of al qaeda, with a relatively low cost war...what does this success have to do with Mac's Smoke Shop?

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2008 at 4:23 pm


I was pointing out the extremity of Julie's reaction to the existence of Mac's Smoke Shop. On the scale of things, it's just not a big issue.

Geez had some sort of knee-jerk reaction and actually misunderstood the point I was making.

Like this comment
Posted by COPD
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 26, 2008 at 4:30 pm


your odd priorities are your own choice, just like your smoking

But there is no logic in your claim that Mac's commercial on this site which promotes smoking is not designed to encourage people to smoke.

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Posted by knee jerk
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 5:03 pm

OP, it isn't "knee jerk" to point out the lack of factual support for a knee-jerk statement. I refuted your knee-jerk statement of "thousands dying in Iraq" as if people just started dying from violence when we went in, with the following factual statement "fewer have died, even at the peak, since the start of the war than were dying in "peaceful" Iraq by Saddam". In other words, using Iraq to show "higher priority bad news" is an inacurrate point to make. Iraq is GOOD news to anyone who has paid attention to history for the last 30 years.

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Posted by knee jerk
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 5:06 pm

back to Mac's.

If we are going to be bummed about Mac's, then we should be bummed about liquor stores, alcohol killing millions also...and food stores, since obesity kills...and cars, since over 50,000 per year die in them every year, ...

I sincerely doubt anyone who DOESN'T smoke is going to see a Mac ad on this site and think "geez, I think I need a smoke!".

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Posted by COPD
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 26, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Cars, drugs, alcohol combined kill a tiny fraction of those killed by smoking.

The issue with smoking is that using the product AS INTENDED is lethal,

you have to massively abuse food to died from obesity related illness,
If you do not eat you die
Moderate alcohol use extends your life.

Some countries, eg China are perfectly happy that people smoke, they get the tax and the smokers die before they can claim social security of retirement benefits.
The diseases you get from smoking kill you quickly so the end of life health cost are less.

The Mac's ad specifically promotes cheap candy flavored cigars which the tobacco companies designed to hook women and kids.

Smoking is even more damaging to womens health, yet the ad has a woman smoking a cigar.

These are merchants of death and disease

Like this comment
Posted by Tim
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Just went by Mac's for a cycling mag. The clerk said that business is better than ever!
Maybe I'll buy a cigar and smoke it while walking the University.

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2008 at 6:35 pm


I don't smoke. Never have, never will. I mentioned that earlier. I made a choice not to smoke. Quite simple, really. I buy magazine's at Mac's--they've got a great selection and it's a lot easier to get in and out of than Border's.

And no matter how many times I've been to Mac's, I've never felt like smoking. Nor has anyone ever offered me a cigarette or even a wad of chewing tobacco.

Knee-jerk--thousands have died in Iraq during an absurdly long war. Period.

Like this comment
Posted by sam
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Ads for tobacco have no place in a family/community newspaper.

Who approved the Macs Smoke Shop ad, it is completely in appropriate.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 30, 2008 at 1:06 pm


I think you and some of the others are confusing print guidelines with broadcast guidelines. This isn't television where such ads are, indeed, banned.

One of the unpleasant realities of publishing is that tobacco advertisers are big advertisers. Since we're living in a time in which newspapers and other traditional print media are losing massive dollars to Google and the Internet, a lot of publications can't, in fact, afford to be choosy about their advertisers to that extent.

Personally, I doubt that paloaltoonline has a huge younger audience.

Like this comment
Posted by sam
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 1, 2008 at 4:01 pm

The fact is that the ad is a VIDEO promoting smoking, with a woman smoking.
Merchants of death and disease have no place advertising in a family/ community newspaper.
Even obama no longer smokes in public

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 1, 2008 at 6:07 pm


It doesn't matter if it's a video. The rules pertain to *broadcasting*.

I mean, we're really talking about a kind of de facto censorship here.

But, really, it's simple, you want Mac's not to advertise here, quit reading the Forum. No readership, no ads.

I'd be more inclined to think you had a point if this site were geared toward kids or teen-agers, but it's not. The vast majority of people who post here seem to be middle-aged and elderly adults. We get a smattering of sincere teens when stuff about the high schools comes up.

But if you think complaining about the city manager is a hot topic among our youth, you're older than I think.

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Posted by sam
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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