Now, the internets is a free place so if Peter wants to respond, he's more than welcome to. In fact, welcome aboard, Peter-- we're actually a little flattered that he's joining our little SFist community and a little excited too

But there's a little bit more to the story. In checking the authenticity of Peter Ragone's comments, we did a search on the IP address from which his comments originated (and yes, readers, we do get your IP addresses when you comment). And guess what we found out? Someone with the exact same IP address as Peter's, a "John Nelson," has been leaving comments on SFist, too. Mr. Nelson's comments have a similar style and tone to Peter's: mainly that Gavin Newsom is great and SFist Rita is really biased (oh, and one about how ABC 7's Dan Noyes is biased against the mayor, and one about the T-Third). Nelson's posts started up in earnest right around the election, but his first post was back in May 2006. We've included a screen shot of our search results after the jump. (Here are links to Peter's comments from that same IP address for comparison.)

Now, this IP address thing isn't a completely exact science. Maybe Peter has a roommate named "John Nelson"? Maybe Peter's DSL provider assigned two unconnected people the exact same IP address and it's just an amazing coincedence that they have similar views and writing styles? Maybe Peter's slacker neighbor is piggybacking on Peter's connection? We just don’t know for sure.

Over the past week, we've emailed Peter several times to check on this, emailed the various gmail and yahoo addresses left by "John Nelson" in the comment registration box to follow up, and left several voice mail messages too. We even checked in with another contact we have in the Mayor's administration, and asked him to pass along our need for confirmation to Peter Ragone. While we know that these messages have reached him, SFist has not received any response from Peter.

What's this all mean? Well, based on all this, we think it’s entirely possible that Peter has created a sock puppet. In other words, he's pretending to be somebody he's not, to defend Gavin. Which isn't illegal or against any sort of campaign rules or anything. It's just a bit, well -- cheesy. However, it's certainly ethically questionable, and most PR people know better than to pull anything like that. Not to mention a little sad that Team Gavin is so desperate to find somebody who can say nice things about him that they’ve had to make up people.

Of course, the possibility that Peter is sock puppeting raises all sorts of interesting questions, mainly, "why?" Is Peter just bored and sneaking peeks at ye ole 'Fist when he’s bored like the rest of you? Maybe it's some sort of political strategy to clumsily reach out to those crazy blogging kids? Or maybe he’s just as obsessed with Gavin's ties as we are? We're all just speculating here, because the only way Peter Ragone seems to be willing to speak with us in in our comments section. In fact, according to Dan Noyes over at ABC 7, it’s sounding like he’s a little less than willing to speak to pretty much anyone.

So take all of this with a grain of salt. But we're just saying we think Peter's trying to pull one over on us. And you too.