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Gifted Millions: Bpl Bypassed Process To Dish Out Contracts - And Guess Who Got Them

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

A FORENSIC investigation into Bahamas Power and Light Company unearthed glaring infractions of the tender process, revealing a company owned by the family of Jerome Fitzgerald was awarded a contract for brokerage work despite no participation in the tender process and a recommendation that another entity should be given the approval.

According to an Ernst & Young audit into BPL, in one “egregious” instance, Mr Fitzgerald’s family business, Bahamas Courier & Logistics (BCL), was awarded a contract over Pinder’s Customs Brokerage, a company with the best bid. Mr Fitzgerald was minister of education in the last Christie administration.

The electricity provider spent $2,626,001 with BCL since 2012.

The audit further found in two separate instances, J S Johnson was the winning contractor in the bidding process for insurance coverage, but both contracts totaling $14,183,159 were ultimately issued to Sunshine Insurance, the company of Franklyn Wilson, a Progressive Liberal Party supporter and financier.

BPL also spent $4,592,041 with Penta Industrial Services, the company of PLP Chairman Emeritus Errington “Minky” Isaacs. There was no indication a competitive process of obtaining alternative quotes or competing bids took place.

Other contracts approved for entities owned by former Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) board members were also awarded.

Works Minister Desmond Bannister made the revelations yesterday in one of five separate communications in Parliament.

The audit, he said, identified numerous irregularities in the manner in which the contracts were awarded since 2012, when the PLP took office. The document is dated August 15, 2017.

Fraud

This report was commissioned as a result of concerns raised relating to fraudulent cheques paid to fictitious vendors before the general election in May.

It identified 41 fraudulent cheques to 13 fake vendors totaling $1,886,525 and three fraudulent cheques to legitimate vendors in the amount of $126,779, Mr Bannister said.

However, as the police are still reviewing the report, the minister said he was not at liberty to table it in the House of Assembly.

For this reason, he zeroed in on issues with the awarding of contracts.

“First the report identified numerous instances where the tender process was not followed,” the Carmichael MP told parliamentarians. “Many contracts were awarded in excess of $100,000 for which no formal tender had been performed. In other instances, there was no evidence of any procurement analysis or of other quotations being obtained.

“There were also instances where contracts were awarded to vendors who had not been selected in the tendering process, thereby rejecting the companies that had actually submitted better bids and in one egregious case, a company that did not even bid was awarded a contract over the company that had followed the process and to whom the tenders committee had approved the award of a contract.”

He also said: “The government of the Bahamas is deeply concerned about these irregularities. We are committed to stamping out fraud at BPL. To this end, Ernst and Young has been instructed to pursue further investigations.”

Other irregularities in the report included the awarding of a contract to Sure Tech CCTV & Surveillance for $157,750 when the contract was never put out to tender.

Mr Bannister said legal action had to eventually be taken against the company when it failed to complete the contracted work.

Atcun Security was another company awarded work in the absence of tendering. This company was awarded a contract for $870,684 and since 2012, $3,685,257 was spent with the entity.

“As a result of the contractual relationship with this company, the monthly cost for security services jumped from $72,280 to $94,419 an increase of more than $22,000 per month,” the minister said.

Rowcreek Company Limited was also awarded a contract for $114,036 to provide furniture, but there is no evidence of any procurement analysis being completed or any other quotations obtained.

The audit also found other concerning matters where BPL violated business norms.

Among these are a lack of vendor due diligence; the chairman of the corporation being involved in operational procurement activity; no clarity as to who had authority to create vendor profiles and in various cases there was no supporting documentation for payments along with missing cheques and invoices.

In April, The Tribune reported that from as early as 2013, Mr Fitzgerald, then the Marathon MP, sought to secure for his family’s business millions of dollars in brokerage, trucking, and limousine contracts at Baha Mar while he sat in Cabinet.

Comments

watcher 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The time for revelations is drawing to a close. I think I speak for the vast majority of people when I say that NOW is the time for the law to decide that the punishments fit the crimes. We struggle every day to pay our bills (on time) whilst the "privileged elite" treated our national coffers as if they were their personal piggy bank. Enough talk - action now !!!

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ohdrap4 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Yesterday, the tribune's fronT page headline was 'THE PRIVILEGED'.

But it should have read 'THE FREELOADERS'

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Naughtydread 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Lock up all these bastards and throw away the key. This would be the only way to show the public that our country no longer stands for this corruption.

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DDK 3 weeks, 4 days ago

BRAZEN, CURRUPT, INCOMPETENT, NATIONAL DISGRACE!

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Comrades! This all sounds all headlines sexy political but....... Didn't Papa Hubert's red regime not perform the very same movements of pretense at transparency thing when he came to power? I've seen no evidence any of this will not continue under the regime of PM Minnis? Wish the works minister had shown the same passion when Papa Hubert 'under-sold' the value of BTC...... and then promised to use the $210 million BTC sale price money, towards building a new General Hospital? Can the minister tell the PEOPLE where the new General Hospital was built. or where the $210 million got spent?

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banker 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Instead of being profusely sorry for being an apologist of the sub-human scum PLP, you try to paint the other party with the same brush. Was there corruption in the FNM? Yes. Was it the soul-destroying, complete, kleptocratic, criminal operation like the PLP ran? No. Tal -- until you can look in the mirror and be remorseful for the damage that you and your party have done to this country, you do not even deserve citizenship. I sincerely hope (even though I know better) that there is a hell, because of hypocrisy, and lying alone, you would be consigned to burn there forever. I am totally convinced that you pathologically lack the graces of altruism and truthfulness.

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Comrade Banker, Did the PM outright tell a lie?
PM Minnis was resolute over enforcing that MP's and Senators, had until the deadline set by him of June 30,2017, to file their past due Financial Disclosures..... So, tis the PM, who is the one who started the red shirts' paint over' party - before I joined-in.

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ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I don't know what to think. I just heard news today of irregular contract awards post May 10. I mean really irregular. They are standing up in parliament, defenders of the public purse, but the exact same things are going on. And the people they appointed are just the "right" people to see it through.

There was a time when I saw another person arrested for marijuana possession that I wonder didn't they see all those other arrests? Then I realized, every criminal believe they smarter than the last guy

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realfreethinker 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Thisisours Stop the bullshit about news you heard. If that is true please take the information to the relevant authority and have it investigated. You are starring to sound like a plp who just throw shit up against the wall and hoe it sticks.

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ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Sorry I dont throw it against walls, if you are upset that your party still doesn't have a plan, is appointing questionable people to critical positions, still has a privileged persons list operating six months AFTER they took office, that is on you. So far all I see is more of the same, I guess we'll wait fir the IMF to point out the necessity of appointing qualified people and eliminating corruption, which still exists, in bidding processes. Because it does not appear that we can see through red or yellow

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Greentea 3 weeks, 4 days ago

We have a right to question the practices and possibility of corruption under EVERY administration. In my experience in the pubic service, it exists under both parties - though the last admin took it to new heights. It needs to be recognized and rooted out completely.

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TheQuant_In_Hiding 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Good. This is the discovery phase.

Now, let's transition into the phase where we draft legislation and policies that would prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.

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proudloudandfnm 3 weeks, 4 days ago

This is the PLP. Always has been. The PLP don't give a damn about our country. Never have. All they've ever cared about is straling our money. They are too stupid and too lazy to earn it....

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screwedbahamian 3 weeks, 4 days ago

MINISTER HALKITIS, THIS WHERE THE VAT MONEY GONE !!!!!!

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Alex_Charles 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Honestly I don't care about these revelations anymore. Either Jail these cock suckers or STFU about it. Introduce legislation to stop this from happening again.

Tired of the same old "Look at what they did" shit. Confiscate assets, prosecute, give them the death penalty... do SOMETHING for God's sake.

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licks2 3 weeks, 4 days ago

You do think that they are that stupid that they will leave themselves "hanging on the line" for us to just "pick them in"? Thier crimes against the people is so deep we may never be able to get all of the crooks in one swoop. . .can't get them in jail. . .so the next best thing is to destroy the tiefing tails for ever politically. . .expose them to "this" new people's public. . .this will ensure that the criminal organization known as the PLP will never get back in power ever again. . .not with this new mind-set currently in the nation. . .then bring in legislation to prevent anybody. . .tiefing FNM or DNA from doing the same thing. . .and jail all those who can be proven and send them to jail!! If this government let these tiefers them go. . .like our former "complicit" papa did and still wanted us to do. . .THE PEOPLE WILL RISE UP AND TAKE LAW INTO OUR OWN HANDS. . .OR THE BRITISH MUST COME BACK AND RESCUE US FROM OUR OWN HOME GROWN ENEMY. . .OUR POLITICIANS!

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Gotoutintime 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The British wouldn't touch this pile of crap!

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Craig 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Its looks like if you are a total failure in business as one of the genetlemen in the article was, the next step it seems is to enter politics to make your fortune!

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happyfly 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The American forefathers assumed that mere mortals would be running the country so they included many checks and balances within the constitution that they drew up. Unfortunately in the Bahamas, the mere mortals got to make their own rules up and turn them in to the constitution.

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BahamaPundit 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I disagree. Revelations such as this are very, very important. They make a permanent historical record of PLP corruption when in office. This historical record is invaluable, because it can be used as a future reference point when elections roll around again to ensure the PLP never, ever, ever take office again. Information is power!!!! Under the PLP we were told to shut up and sit small. Now is our time!!! Everything must be brought to light!!!

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banker 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Co-sign. We need to re-write the 20th century history of the Bahamas to show that the PLP is nothing but a criminal racket who gained power, ran drugs and stole the patrimony of the Bahamian people.

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OldFort2012 3 weeks, 3 days ago

But...but...but....but, surely they are the ones who delivered us from slavery and ...apartheid...and all the evil whites. Did you not watch Roots on ZNS 100 times?? They are the Heroes of the Bahamas. Blah...blah...blah...

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banker 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Yes they are the Herpes of the Bahamas.

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Tarzan 3 weeks, 4 days ago

All this must be revealed and there must be retribution. That means recovery of the stolen monies and jail time. This country will have no hope for ever turning the corner until and unless the man in the street sees that even the big fish do not prosper from their thieving corruption. How can you tell the little guy his demand for a $50, $100 or even $500 bribe is evil, if Sir Franklyn et al, walk off with untold millions?

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Reality_Check 3 weeks, 4 days ago

When it comes to who has done the most tiefin' from the Bahamian people, Sir Snake and his wife are probably at the very top of the list.

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Craig 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Agreed. Those petty bribes,while is wrong and must be addressed, only represent the tip of the corruption iceberg. The real corruption happens with the top government officials and political appointees who seemingly is given the power to spend the peoples money as they please. Exposure of these problems is very important even if its just for historical purposes. Even the great USA had similar problems back in the mid to late 19th century, but they found a way to reform the system and it started with uncovering the corruption no matter where it was.

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John 3 weeks, 4 days ago

These people have no conscience. Doing this to BEC when it was financially challenged, ok bankrupt, and had the entire country suffering was like raping an old woman who was mentally challenged and physically handicapped, while you forced her family and siblings to watch...These people are scum. PLP should never see office again in 20 generations!

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Reality_Check 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Tip of the iceberg. Just think of the magnitude of Sir Snake's fraudulent business dealing with BPL/BEC as a fuel supplier/distributor! We're talking about mega millions of dollars. Illegal payments of $14 million to his insurance company are a mere pittance compared to all of the other frauds this loud mouthed boisterous idiot has committed.....literally robbing the Bahamian people of mega millions of dollars over many years!

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Honestman 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Disgusting parasites, all of them!

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Socrates 3 weeks, 4 days ago

'expulsis piratis, restituta commercia'.. need to revisit that.. i'm not so sure that is the case today...

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Comrades! Shouldn't this new set red shirts MP's practice some that much promised transparency by revealing what government and private board directorships etc they have been appointed to now only that they only got appointed because they are members of the governing red MPs House of Assembly's privileged club?
Comrades ,the greatest benefactors of political wealth comes not by corruption and tiefing.... but by receiving and the granting political patronage..... and it going bloom as usual - regardless of how you take PM's promises as the new Sheriff in town? The PM himself, continues on as a major landlord to his own red government..... so the question is...why shouldn't his cabinet colleagues do likewise in their dealings with the government?

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jackbnimble 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I think I missed my calling. I should have just been a rich person who funds or is really in with a political party. It's a guaranteed way to become richer. Far better than investing in the stock market and trying to win the lottery.

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birdiestrachan 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Remember when Small things gave himself a contract. Remember Fletcher God rest his soul remember Mal jack and the list goes on and so does the murder rate. The FNM government does not know what to do so they release these list as if they themselves are not guilty of doing the same things. and you folks jump up and down and take your minds off the things that matter most.

What about commissioner Greeslade is the FNM Government treating him with the respect that is due to him.??j

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Sickened 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Birdie how about you present your list of atrocities that the FNM are doing so that we can speak out about that as well. We are very capable of speaking out about 'wrong' in general and not 'yellow wrong' or 'red wrong'. You should try it sometime and, trust me, you will be very proud of yourself for entering adulthood.

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Comrades! Eventually, PM Minnis, KP and Bannister, have stop blaming the man's and woman's who came to governing power before they did..... cause it doesn’t work long for any new administration.... More so, one into their '4th' red shirts governing administration. Just do the job you said you were qualified to do..... cause the PLP's crooked ways were done well known to the voters before May 10, 2017...... that's the only reason why you were elected to run things.......You need understand what I'm saying, okay?

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birdiestrachan 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I was going to wright that Banker is not in charge of hell. But who knows he may be the Devil in person.

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Reality_Check 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Shut up! You're one of the effin thieves.

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Sickened 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Jesus Birdie, it's 'write' not 'wright'!

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Gotoutintime 3 weeks, 4 days ago

And people are surprised at this?? Please!

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Comrades! Curiosity begs the question.. Were the politicians freed on high bail amounts - ordered to wear Ankle Bracelets? Are their movements mointered?

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Give these named culprits bail and place ankle bracelets on them ............ you know what comes next

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Repost: The key players at BPL under the corrupt Christie-led PLP government at the time the Management Services Agreement with PowerSecure was negotiated and entered into were the following:

Directors:

o Nathaniel Beneby, Chairman of the Board

o Donna Smith, Deputy Chairperson

o Deepak Bhatnagar, Executive Director

o Daphne Simmons (likely related to then Financial Secretary Simmons)

o Patricia Hermanns

o Andrew Rogers

These directors appointed Jeff Wallace as the new CEO of BPL, effective immediately. Jeff Wallace had more than 35 years of utility experience and had spent the past 10 years as the Vice President of Fuel Procurement for Southern Company, where he had been responsible for managing $7 billion in fuel procurement, planning and delivery programs for 85 power plants.

Kevin Basden, previously General Manager of BEC, then assumed his new role as a Consultant/ Advisor to BPL's board of directors.

Deepak Bhatnagar, who has been leading the process of energy sector reform, served as Executive Director with responsibility for overseeing the activities of BPL to ensure that PowerSecure delivered in accordance with the business plan.

All of the individuals named above bear great responsibility for kowtowing to the political interference in BPL's business affairs by the corrupt Christie-led PLP government. Deepak Bhatnagar in particular was instrumental in doing Christie's bidding, no matter how harmful the consequences of doing so were to BPL. Unbelievably though, Minnis decided to re-appoint Deepak Bhatnagar to BPL's current board of directors!!! This decision by Minnis represents an astonishing error in judgement by our PM, one that must be corrected at the earliest possible time given all that transpired at BPL under the previous corrupt government. Deepak's relationship and involvement with Franklyn Wilson also warrants close scrutiny and, possibly, an outright full blown investigation. The same goes for Nathaniel Beneby's close relationship with Franklyn Wilson a/k/a Snake. As the most senior Bahamian banker at RBC Bahamas, Beneby had a special relationship with Snake as one of his biggest local banking clients.

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TheMadHatter 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I agree with WATCHER. More so, i think ALL further investigations on all fraud should now STOP until the bunch a dem we done find are prosecuted and dealt with.

Tired of hearing all kind of names but no prosecution.

Just let them go free and stop wasting newspaper ink.

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Island_King 3 weeks, 3 days ago

New comer here...ive been followin the commentary for quite a while & thought it necessary to create an account & chime in. Mr. Banker i fully endorses your sentiments about TalRussell. Think you are Spot-On!!! Instead of tryin to shift the blame, one should take a stance against corruption! This is the only way we can progress as a society.

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Baha10 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Full blown Commission of Enquiry required here, as not only should all of these Directors be fired by thier full time Employers, but if in England, they would also be disqualified from ever holding Directorships again, plus all this occurred under the "watchful" eye of KPMG, who were "supposed" to be the "independent" Advsior to the Governement operating according to international standards to protect the Bahamian People, which is actually good, as even after the internal firings of all those responsible within KPMG, they are nonetheless still on the hook to the Bahamian People ... so PM, please now go recover our money from KPMG, as Lord knows we need it, and we all know you stand little chance of recovery form those in the Mug Shots.

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jus2cents 3 weeks ago

KPMG and the like are just as guilty, these so called CONSULTANTS have a lot of explaining to do!

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banker 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Do you know what? This country is fooked. Totally. Unsaveable. Even though the FNM are a ray of hope, and are not the brazen, sub-human lowlife criminal scum that the PLP are, I fear that they don't have the cognitive tools, the worldview, the intelligence and the discernment to save the country.

My understanding is that goodhearted, intelligent people from all walks of life and all professions from the Bahamas and around the world have offered their services, ideas, human capital, intellectual property and viable concepts to quickly pull the Bahamas out of the downward spiral, the current government and indeed the current governance of Bahamian institutions are too thick, too uninformed and too Bahamian to act on them.

Bahamians in the government and indeed in most of the institutions are not culturally motivated to do daring, innovative things. They don't answer emails. They don't understand concepts without a crayon drawing. They don't acknowledge goodwill, ideas and offers of help. They are rude, inconsiderate and quite frankly too stupid to save the country.

They are like deer in the headlights, not knowing what to do, and not understanding the gravity of the situation. They do not have the political exposure to solve problems and they don't have the decency to admit it.

I haven't seen a plan by any minister to innovate and resolve issues that need action now. Minnis is now Mr. Photo-Op. Where is the plan? Where are the goals? If you don't have a map, you will never get to where you want. There is no plan, no map and no idea!

They are still stupid in thinking that more police will solve the crime problem. Everyone knows that there is an education problem and there has been zero action to improve the curriculum. There has been no effort to trim expenses. There has been no effort to introduce technology to gain the inefficiencies and cut the civil service. They know not what to do.

And consequently, start bending exercises, because one of these days, and it won't be long, you will have to kiss your azz goodbye.

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Sickened 3 weeks, 3 days ago

We are like Puerto Rico now but without a Category 4 hurricane to blame. Our successive governments are our Maria. The numbers criminals are the tornadoes that cause the most damage even during a Cat 4 hurricane. Our infrastructure is in shambles and we are bankrupt. Good job fellow Bahamians for we have historically voted for our own demise.

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Blame Hurricane Perry ....... BOL

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Sickened 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Boy, and that fella blew... in more ways than one I hear.

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baldbeardedbahamian 3 weeks ago

I fired a worker for stealing many years ago whose name is the same as one of the board members, I wonder if it is the same person? The parent of this person worked in the field of education.

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