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Tuesday, September 3, 2013
August was a busy month for reader feedback. A lot of that was driven by the Aug. 25column on Phillip Morgan, who conducts estate sales, and the court cases against him by people who claimed he owed them money.
Not everyone appreciated that column. Claire English of Roanoke, who lives in Morgan’s neighborhood and knows him through attending his sales, was one.
She called the day after the column ran and said it wasn’t up to standards she’s come to appreciate in The Roanoke Times. Among the terms English used were “sensationalist,” “puny” and “tabloid journalism.”
As she read the column, English felt like “there are so many big issues. It just seemed like focusing on one small business person when there are so many people being taken advantage of by big businesses,” she told me when we talked.
She asked herself, “What is the point? To drag someone through the mud?”
I also heard from Carol Glover, who has known Morgan four or five years and has used his services. She called about the “misrepresentation of Phillip.”
“I have had nothing but good results from Phillip, and I have recommended him to many people. And they have had good results with him,” Glover said in a voice mail. “I am absolutely appalled by the entire article.” I was unable to reach her Friday.
Glover’s name was on a list of people Morgan had supplied as references. Before the story ran, I called two of them but not her. One declined to talk to me for the column. The other didn’t return my call.
That wasn’t the only feedback I got regarding the Morgan column, however. People from four states — California, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia — called or emailed and related experiences with Morgan that left them feeling like victims.
One was Diana Kyle, a Roanoke native who now lives in Hollywood, Calif. She hired Morgan to sell items from her brother’s estate in 2008. She told me Morgan turned over around $10,000 in proceeds to her; but Kyle believes the sale brought in at least twice that. She said Morgan later signed a promissory note to pay her an additional $2,400. He hasn’t paid her a dime since.
“That was in 2009. It is now 2013,” she wrote. “Because there is no paperwork, except for the promissory note for $2,400.00, there is little I can do in the way of suing him. It would cost me that much to fly to Virginia and handle this.”
She asked, “How is he still in business?” At the end of her email, she wrote, “thanks for shining the light of day on this.”
That wasn’t the only column on readers’ minds, of course. Many were left chuckling by the Aug. 13 column about the “Slow Brigade,” the drivers on Roanoke surface streets who tool along happily at 5 to 10 miles per hour under the speed limit.
It also mentioned the “count to 10 after the light turns green” brigade and the “slam on the brakes in the merge lane” brigade. Apparently I overlooked a few other brigades.
Jim Slusher of Radford is peeved by left-lane drivers on Virginia interstates who won’t move over. On a recent drive from Texas to Radford he had no problem with this until he hit Virginia. That’s because the other states have “LEFT LANE PASSING ONLY” signs, he wrote.
“When I reached I-81 in Virginia, a totally different scene. Drivers were talking on cellphones, texting, having conversations with other passengers, doing everything but focusing on the road, all while moving five to 15 miles [per hour] below the speed limit with a parade of vehicles behind.
“Irritation, recklessness, and danger don’t begin to tell the story of Virginia interstates. Why do so many people believe that the passing lanes are for themselves and themselves only?”
My beloved former colleague Shanna Flowers also chimed in, to remind me she wrote a column some years ago about the “won’t move over to let merging traffic in” brigade.
“That drives me nuts. I’m referring to drivers for whom another car is not in sight and can move over but don’t!” Flowers wrote. She added: “The sisterhood will hate me but I tend to find most offenders are women.”
I also received at least 15 emails and more telephone calls than that about medevac helicopters and the $20,000 to $30,000 fees they charge, much of which is not covered by insurance. We’ll be revisiting that issue soon.
Thanks for all your emails, phone calls and blog comments, readers. Please keep them coming.
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