The Wilson County Jail is on the high ground at the edge of downtown Lebanon, four blocks from the town square. It faces south, sandwiched on a 5.1-acre lot between Route 70 and a cluster of one-story brick houses, the kind with air-conditioning units hanging off the side and wash lines in the front yard.
The jail itself is part of a larger complex of connected buildings that include courtrooms, a county clerk office and the sheriff’s department headquarters. From the street, the series of brown and white, flat-roofed buildings could be mistaken for a middle school. But the razor wire on the back of the facility gives away the martial nature of the place, hinting at the business carried out within.
Exactly what that business is has been the subject of federal and state investigations, newspaper editorials and political arguments. About 8,000 prisoners go through the jail each year. Within those walls a man died at the hands of his jailers, a woman was beaten, and many have had their legal and human rights abrogated.
In 2004, a renovation project began to transform much of the prison, though it will leave a large chunk of the original, nearly two-decade-old facility in place. The man who presides over this place is Sheriff Terry Ashe, who has held the job since 1982 and has been in Wilson County law enforcement since 1974. His career straddles the old and the new in the sheriff’s office. What troubles some in Wilson County is that the problems the jail has faced in the past may also be carried into the future.
Ashe hasn’t lost an election in 25 years. On a recent morning, as he conducts a tour of his jail, the charm and intelligence that has endeared Ashe to a generation of Wilson County voters are on full display. The sheriff backslaps inmates and guards alike, calling them all by name.
His magnificent ability to pass the buck with a straight face also is evident. To hear Ashe tell it, his guards savagely beat inmates because of a county commission that under-funded his department. He didn’t learn of these beatings, he says, because those same guards falsified reports. Never mind that the whole thing went down a few hundred yards from his office.
Of course, false reports work both ways in Ashe’s world. Told of a young woman who accused jail officers of beating and macing her repeatedly, Ashe responds with disbelief, saying essentially that anyone can file a report for anything; it doesn’t mean it’s true. When an inmate died of a drug overdose while in the jail’s custody and in the presence of its nurse, Ashe chalked it up to the fact that no competent medical professional will work in a jail when they could get paid more to work in a hospital. And a mentally ill inmate who attempted to hang herself with her own underwear? That’s the fault of a society that expects jails to deal with its homeless problem.
Indeed, listening to Sheriff Terry Ashe, it seems as if all these things happened on somebody else’s watch. The deficiencies in his department are many and glaring, but in the end Ashe always seems to use his charisma, political acumen and power to rise above controversy unscathed.
Last August, many of these deficiencies came to light in the form of a Department of Justice investigation. The investigation was conducted in the summer of 2006, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law that allows the U.S. attorney general to investigate conditions at state or local prisons.
The report is a devastating indictment, describing the Wilson County Jail as a house of horrors where constitutional rights are routinely ignored and jail keepers use excessive force to keep prisoners in line. Inspectors found that the guards’ use of force went uninvestigated and that staff members determine disciplinary procedure as they go along. A diabetic inmate was put on “lockdown” for 72 hours for nothing more than “mouthing off” to an officer who refused to check her blood sugar levels, the report says.
Investigators also described the place as a disorganized mess, with cans of chemical spray, handcuffs and kitchen knives left unsecured, unguarded and within reach of prisoners.
The jail’s basic medical facilities were just as disorganized, according to the report. It describes how inmates with chronic, life-threatening illnesses such as HIV and diabetes go months without routine medical supervision. An outbreak of a contagious skin infection wasn’t properly isolated because of a complete lack of protocols to deal with such crises. Inmates weren’t being tested for communicable diseases like TB despite overcrowding that makes the jail a tinderbox for airborne respiratory ailments.
Compounding these problems is a medical staff that the Justice Department described as inadequately trained and in some cases unqualified.
The report outlined 29 measures that the county would have to take to bring the jail up to federal standards or face the possibility of a lawsuit from the attorney general. Ashe says the county responded to the investigation by meeting all 29 recommendations and that federal inspectors have not been back since.
But this investigation is not the first time that the jail and Ashe have come under scrutiny. Perhaps the darkest chapter in Tennessee correctional history was written at the Wilson County Jail. In 2003, Walter Kuntz died from a beating he received at the hands of Wilson County jailers. An investigation revealed that Patrick Marlowe, a young sergeant in charge of the jail’s night shift, along with eight other sheriff’s officers, routinely beat prisoners for sport. Marlowe would be sentenced to life in prison for his role in Kuntz’s murder, and eight of his cohorts would be indicted as well. Lawsuits filed by prisoners who had received broken bones and concussions in beatings by the night shift crew piled up. Robert Locke is the only one of the nine to beat the charge, and he is still employed by the sheriff’s office, though not at the jail.
While the Kuntz case and the other beatings perpetrated by the officers on that violent night shift crew stand as perhaps the most drastic illustration of the lawlessness within the jail’s walls, they are not the only such examples.
During this same period, another Wilson County jailer admitted to having sex with a female prisoner and rewarding her with special privileges while she was held at the jail. He pleaded guilty and received probation from Wilson County District Attorney Tommy Thompson, a good friend of the sheriff’s.
Since 2003, several former inmates have successfully sued, claiming they were victims of beatings or abuse by Wilson County jailers.
One of these is Stephanie C. Staley, who in August 2006 filed a lawsuit against the county and Ashe personally. She and her boyfriend were arrested together that summer and brought to the jail. Staley claims she saw sheriff’s officers push around her already injured boyfriend. When she spoke up about the rough treatment, guards assaulted her, sprayed her with Mace and repeatedly slammed her head into the jail’s concrete floor.
It seems that Ashe’s department also profits from its inmates. The jail’s commissary system—by which inmates purchase basic necessities like toothbrushes, underwear and soap—is a cash cow that netted more than $187,000 in profits for the jail between 2002 and 2006. For years the cash went straight into Ashe’s budget without going through the county finance process. State auditors have repeatedly found fault with this system, and a lawsuit accuses the jail of withholding “items of hygiene” to fatten its coffers.
Two sheriff’s employees scammed this unregulated arrangement of profit from prisoners in early 2004. They stole $29,000 in cash from the system and would later be indicted for theft by a grand jury.
Ashe has explanations for all this.
He blames the problems highlighted by the Justice Department and the death of Kuntz on problems caused by others. “No funding, no staffing, no space and violent criminals,” Ashe says about the position he was in at the time. He holds former county mayors and the county commission that funds his jail responsible for the repeated inmate abuse. “The county put this department in the middle of the perfect storm,” he says. “The truth of the matter is I had major opposition on the county commission, and some of it had to do with personality, some of it was professional and some of it was just pure ol’ politics.”
When the beatings came to light, he told the press there was no way he could have known about them because his subordinates were falsifying reports. And as for Patrick Marlowe, “There are six layers of supervision between me and where he was at. You work off the chain of command.”
Ashe says he welcomed Justice Department inspectors with open arms. “The first thing I said to them was, ‘What took you so long?’ ” He says he needed their critical report to finally get more funding from the county commission, which is interesting, given what the county’s top finance official has to say about the way Ashe’s department has been funded over the last several years.
In fact, according to Wilson County finance director Ron Gilbert, Ashe’s budgetary claims are sheer fiction. Gilbert says the sheriff’s department has gotten million-dollar increases—or more—each year since 2005. Since 2004, Ashe’s budget has doubled—from $7,419,476 then to $14,715,943 this year.
As for the jail commissary, whose products are provided by a company called Swanson, Ashe says it was the state’s idea to begin contracting with a private company. “For years we provided commissary services ourselves,” says Ashe. But then, “The state wanted sheriffs to go to more automated systems,” and recommended that he contract with Swanson. “That’s basically how we got into business with them.”
County Commissioner Jim Emberton says he doesn’t buy the sheriff’s excuses. “I like the fella,” says Emberton. “I think he’s a likable fella. But he’s always putting the blame on somebody else.”
Emberton says that given the amount of influence Ashe has in the county, his pleas of impotence before the county commission ring hollow.
“The sheriff’s been here for about 25 years,” he says. “Politically speaking, he’s grown to have a lot of power and a tremendous amount of influence.”
Emberton points to the 14 percent pay raise that the commission gave sheriff’s department deputies in January of this year. Now, according to the county finance department, two of Ashe’s top deputies are making as much as $82,060 and $91,615, respectively.
When compared to the salaries of most county workers, “That’s just a tremendous amount,” says Emberton. Those salaries “exceed some of our department heads.”
“We believe that there is a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force by Wilson correctional officers.” So begins a chapter of the Department of Justice’s report about the Wilson County Jail. It goes on to describe in the cold, detached tone of a coroner’s report the deadly events that transpired when Patrick Marlowe ran the night shift.
“In January 2003 officers at the jail fatally beat inmate Walter S. Kuntz. In addition to his fatal wounds, the officers caused severe head injuries and three broken ribs.”
Kuntz’s death pulled back the curtain on a county-sponsored horror show. For 18 months, Marlowe and his cohorts coerced inmates into fighting so that he could add them to his “knockout list,” a growing tally of inmates he’d beaten unconscious, the Justice Department found.
Former inmate Dexter Jones would later testify that his eyelids were so swollen after Marlowe beat him that he thought he’d gone blind. Inmate Sergio Martinez’s jaw was broken after a particularly savage beating and had to be wired shut. Between 2003 and 2006, eight guards employed at the Wilson County Jail were found guilty or struck plea agreements with prosecutors.
Ashe describes this period as one of the worst of his life. “I’ve been through the fire,” he says about it. He also is quick to lay the death of Kuntz at the feet of the county commission.
“They just let this old jail get to the point where I couldn’t operate it,” the sheriff says, failing to explain the connection between the facility and the behavior of his charges. “Shame on them. There’s a lot of blame to go around. I’ll take my load, but other people haven’t accepted responsibility for what their part is.”
County Mayor Robert Dedman says that the sheriff’s tale of woe is baffling, given consistent increases in Ashe’s budget over the last five years. “Last year he hired 44 employees,” Dedman says. “His budget went up $3.7 million…. The money’s been around. How it’s been divided, I don’t know.”
Whoever is ultimately responsible for what happened to Walter Kuntz, the Justice Department report indicates lax supervisory conditions that allowed Marlowe and his buddies to run roughshod over the constitution at the jail.
“Despite the successful criminal convictions of officers at the facility,” the report reads, “Wilson’s lack of system reform and oversight to prevent the re-occurrence of excessive force give us little confidence that inmates are presently safe from ongoing abuse by officers.”
The report goes on to say that “Wilson’s policies and practices have not been reformed,” citing an incident where a corrections officer shoved a prisoner in the throat, causing his “neck to pop and leaving him in extreme pain.”
The incident is notable, the Justice Department writes, because no incident reports ever were produced by the officers involved. According to the report, this lack of oversight is what allowed Marlowe and his fellow officers to get away with beating inmates for so long. “Inadequate management review and investigation of the use of force…contributed to the high number of excessive force incidents that occurred at Wilson between 2001 and 2003.”
Stephanie C. Staley was the unfortunate victim in one of these incidents.
In December 2003, Staley was a passenger in her boyfriend’s truck when he was pulled over and arrested for drunken driving. When Staley admitted to the arresting officer that she too had been drinking, she was arrested for public intoxication though no sobriety or Breathalyzer test was ever performed on her, according to a lawsuit that she filed.
Shortly after Staley was booked into the Wilson County Jail, her boyfriend—who, the lawsuit claims, had a broken back—was also booked. According to her lawsuit, Staley heard her boyfriend tell his captors about his back injury. Moments later, she says she saw one of them push him in the back. “Oh my God,” she cried out. “His back is really broken, don’t do that, you could paralyze him.” In response to her pleas, officer James Smith opened the cell door and “slapped Ms. Staley’s hands and closed the door without making any verbal response.”
When Staley began to “complain loudly about that treatment,” Smith returned to the cell and Maced the young woman, according to the lawsuit.
Indignant at the way she’d been treated, Staley began threatening to call a local television news station while her cellmate “advised her to calm down.” Staley says the beating started soon after.
“Officer Smith sprayed Mace at her a second time and then pounded her head against the concrete four or five times.” Smith then “stood up and kicked her while she lay on the floor and then sprayed Mace at her a third time with a long steady stream.” Meanwhile, the other jailers “watched these events and did not intervene.”
The lawsuit—filed in August 2006, around the same time as the Justice Department inspection—is a class-action filing that not only alleges Staley’s beating but also maintains that her bail was set arbitrarily high. The suit contends that bail in Wilson County is set at random by judicial commissioners who have no idea what they’re doing and are unaware of the basics of the bail-bond system.
Staley’s legal action was settled. She would receive $35,000 from the county for what happened at the jail and another $5,000 from the city of Mount Juliet for what a court deemed to be an unconstitutional traffic stop.
Asked about the case, Ashe claims not to remember it. He does say that 64 video surveillance cameras were installed during the jail’s renovation. Still, he says when told of Staley’s story, “It’s easy to make an accusation…and it’s easy to file a complaint, and it’s easy to put things in affidavits and it’s even easier to exaggerate those things.”
The county’s official response to the Justice Department report does not address the use-of-force issue directly. Instead it points to an increase in staffing and observes, “reports are required on all use of force incidents, and all officers involved are required to write reports.”
In January 2006, an inmate—identified in the federal report as S.R.—was brought to the jail after swallowing a large bag of cocaine. He began to have a seizure, and nurse Cathy Dillard was immediately summoned.
When she arrived on the scene, Dillard “made a medical assessment that his medical crises symptoms were feigned.” Turns out S.R. wasn’t faking it. He died shortly thereafter.
When the nurse related the story to Justice Department inspectors, she “unapologetically reported that she lacks knowledge of the symptoms of drug-induced distress because she doesn’t have any friends or family members with those types of problems.”
The report also says that while the jail has an automatic external defibrillator, “the nurse on duty during their inspection did not know how to use it.”
Ashe defends his nurse—who no longer works at the jail—saying her comments were “mostly taken out of context. Part of nursing training is what you have learned in your practical experiences,” Ashe says. “She didn’t have anybody in her family that does cocaine. You see what I’m saying? The symptoms different people were divulging were something she had never seen. She had never seen a cocaine overdose foaming at the mouth, but [inspectors] wrote it up.”
Ashe also blames the free market for his decision to hire a nurse who can’t use a defibrillator. “If you think that for the kind of money we pay, if you think it’s easy to find good medical staff that will work in a jail when they could go to a hospital and make good money…,” he says, shaking his head knowingly.
He says such calculations are also responsible for the poor medical care his jail provides.
One diabetic prisoner at the jail—identified in the Justice Department report only as F.L.—was given only two blood tests in the three years he’d been incarcerated. The report says such tests should be performed two to four times each year.
Prisoners with HIV often get the worst of it. One inmate with HIV told inspectors she “had to make repeated requests for a viral load check when she was admitted…and at the time of our tour, she was overdue for another assessment.”
TB screening is also crucial, and the Justice Department says inmates should be screened within 14 days of booking. Such screenings are standard operating procedure in Tennessee facilities. Jails in Davidson County, for instance, give all inmates TB tests upon intake unless they refuse to be tested, according to a spokesperson.
Wilson County is another matter. Inmates there aren’t tested at all, according to the Justice Department report. In fact, inspectors found seven inmates with incomplete health assessments. Three of these—one of whom is HIV positive—had received no assessment at all.
Part of the problem is inadequate personnel. There is a doctor who visits the jail, but only for two hours a week. The rest of the time a nurse is at the facility, but as S.R. learned, they can be less than helpful.
Ashe counters the medical findings of the federal report by saying the jail had a TB screening program at the time of the inspection but it just didn’t meet federal standards. Since then, the TB testing system has been upgraded and meets federal guidelines, he says. The county’s official response to the report echoes this, saying that every inmate is tested within 14 days of booking.
The jail tour eventually reaches a small room—perhaps 8 to 10 feet—off of one of the cellblocks. It’s full of medical equipment such as oxygen tanks and crutches. A metal cabinet on wheels sits on one side of the room. At first glance, it looks like the kind that an auto mechanic might use to store his tools, except this one has a heavy-duty lock on the front.
“This is important to me,” he says, popping one of the locks and opening a drawer. “These are medications. We were doing this long before anything else happened around here.” The drawer is indeed full of an assortment of drugs and medical paraphernalia ranging from inhalers full of allergy medicine to Luden’s cough drops.
“So many people here are on some really hard [drugs], and we have medical logs just like you would if you were at a hospital.”
He opens another drawer filled with dozens of files—patient medical information, says Ashe—neatly organized with prescription information and dose schedules.
It’s a far cry from what Justice Department inspectors saw on their tour. If the Keystone Kops were put in charge of distributing drugs at a jail, it might look like what the feds found:
“During our tour,” says the report, “a narcotic, Percocet, was missing from the medication cart. After several hours, and after our repeated inquiries emphasizing the seriousness of the missing narcotics, we were told by staff that the Percocet was given to an inmate who was prescribed the Percocet and had been recently released by the jail.” When inspectors asked for proof of this prescription, there wasn’t any to be found, and “staff readily admitted they couldn’t be certain this indeed occurred.”
Ashe blames wily inmates for this funny-if-it-weren’t-true lack of organization. “The odd thing about inmates,” he says, locking up the medical cart, “is they can even be a diabetic and refuse to take [medicine]. They want to have a medical experience and get out of here. This is an everyday thing.” Diabetic inmates, for instance, will “let their blood sugar get really high and refuse to take their insulin and get a trip to the hospital.”
In their report, inspectors describe an “actively psychotic” female inmate who attacked three other inmates, slamming the head of one of her victims into the cement floor repeatedly. Prison staff and inmates alike told the inspectors that the woman came unhinged after her demands for her prescribed medication went unheeded.
Another female inmate cited in the report was actually on suicide watch when she attempted to hang herself “with her undergarment.”
Incredibly, Ashe blames the mentally ill inmates themselves for the poor treatment they receive at the hands of his guards. Some inmates will try to “act nutty and get a trip down to mental health and get you some stuff and let somebody hide some cigarettes in the sink there for you because they know you’re coming because you got on the phone and planned this. Some of these medical experiences are planned,” the sheriff claims.
The county’s official response to the Justice Department report on this matter is that a new “sick call” system has been implemented so that patients who need medicine or a doctor’s attention can get it without having to become “actively psychotic.”
At one point during the tour, Ashe stands in one of the jail’s new, modern control rooms. Two thick-necked guards with buzz cuts stand before a control panel as sophisticated as any found on Music Row. Televisions hang from the ceiling, broadcasting images of different areas of the jail.
“Hold up,” says the sheriff, as a new image flickers onto one of the screens. “What’s wrong with him?”
The screen shows a man lying in a bed in a closed cell, blankets pulled up to his chest, a pillow beneath his head.
One of the guards squints and shakes his head. “He’s always…” his voice trails off, indicating that this prisoner is “always” not right.
Ashe shakes his head too, blaming the state of Tennessee and even the homeless for what goes down in his jail. “The state of Tennessee brags about how we’ve de-institutionalized these people, but you go talk to [Davidson County Sheriff] Daron [Hall] or any sheriff, and we got all these people that are in jail and they’re on psychosomatic [sic] medication…. There’s a real homeless issue in this country, and it’s affecting our jail population big-time.”
Swanson Services Corp. is one of the largest and oldest commissary companies in the nation. It does business with more than 110,000 inmates each week, providing them—through the jails in which they live—with everything from basic necessities like toothbrushes and dental floss to treats like MoonPies and pork rinds. The company also runs a banking system called Cobra. An inmate’s family deposits money into a Cobra account, and when the inmate makes a purchase, the company deducts from the account.
In 2006, an inmate who claimed that Wilson County was unfairly profiting from its prisoners sued Swanson. Jails in Sumner, Macon and Trousdale counties—which also contract with Swanson—are mentioned in the suit. The legal action was brought by Dexter Jones, a prisoner in the Wilson jail from 2000 to 2004, who says that he was ripped off by the jail’s practice of inflating prices—with Swanson’s acquiescence.
Swanson is the sole defendant in the suit, but Wilson County Jail’s commissary system is at the heart of the matter. According to the lawsuit, inmates give sheriff’s officers item request forms. Jailers send the requests to Swanson and pay for the goods with the inmate’s cash, all monitored by the Cobra system. The sweet part for the Wilson County Jail is that it’s selling those pork rinds and MoonPies to inmates at a higher price than it’s paying Swanson for them.
“The difference between the amount of the invoice received from Swanson and the amount deducted from the inmate’s trust account…is kept as a kickback” by the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, says the lawsuit. The suit further alleges that inmates are deprived of basics like panties and tampons, forcing them to buy them from Swanson at a profit for the jail.
Between 2002 and 2006, the department made more than $187,000 from this scheme, according to sheriff’s department records. During this period, these profits were kept in a separate bank account under Ashe’s control and not subject to oversight by the county finance department.
“He used these profits to create a private slush fund,” says Jerry Gonzalez, the attorney representing Jones. “These unsupervised funds could be spent at the sheriff’s sole discretion.”
According to a 2004 state comptroller’s audit of Wilson County government, the jail made $20,846 by selling stuff to prisoners. None of that money passed through the hands of county finance officials on its way to Ashe’s budget. Auditors frowned on the practice, saying that the money “should be remitted to the county on a monthly basis.” When the auditors came back in 2005, they found that nothing had changed except the profits. Those had more than doubled to $44,849, according to the 2005 audit.
Once again, the comptroller’s office scolded the department for withholding the money, but this time Ashe answered the charges. In the response section of the audit, Ashe, or someone on his behalf, says the profits were put to good use. “The profits earned from the jail commissary operations are used for medical bills, medicine, supplies, etc., for the Wilson County Jail and inmates,” the response says. The fact that profits generated from commissary purchases funded the grossly inadequate medical care they received is an irony probably lost on most of the jail’s residents.
Two sheriff’s department employees took advantage of the lack of oversight.
In 2004, Cecilia Horne and April Burns ripped off a combined $29,000 from the commissary fund. The pair were in charge of dealing with the Swanson invoices as they came in. The entire sum stolen—at least by Horne—was taken in cash, according to court records, making theft all the easier. When the pair were eventually caught, they were indicted by a grand jury and fired from their jobs. It is unclear what punishment Burns received, but Horne received a three-year suspended sentence and six years of probation.
In 2006, the jail finally fell in line and began remitting the profits from its commissary sales over to the county, says Ron Gilbert, director of finance there. Though the funds now have oversight, they still go back to the sheriff’s department and are still spent at Ashe’s discretion.
Attorney Gonzalez calls the scheme “extortion” carried out by Swanson with an assist from the jail. “By refusing to issue basic items of hygiene and health to inmates, the county jails induced the inmates to purchase them from the commissary, ensuring a profit,” Gonzalez says. “Turning over the profit to the finance department, as they should have done all along, does not change the nature of the extortion or the kickback.”
Ashe denies that prisoners are denied basic items of hygiene to fuel profits for his jail.
“Everybody that comes in here gets what they need,” he says. “Nobody goes without.”
The lawsuit is making its way through district court, bogged down by motions and protracted discovery requests.
The Wilson County Jail kitchen is part of the original facility. Big, old stoves line one wall like charred metal hulks, and pots and pans hang from the ceiling. The place is generally brown in hue and the air hangs thick, redolent of old fry oil. On a recent morning, inmates sit around the room joking and eating. One has just finished making a breakfast of what appears to be biscuits and gravy. As Ashe walks past him, the two men share a laugh. In the corner of the room, a door leading into a small office is propped open. There’s a sign on the door that reads: “This door may not be propped open at any time.” This is probably because on the other side of this open door is a desk with a block of large knives sitting on top of it.
Ashe walks past both the sign and the knives as he exits the kitchen, apparently oblivious to both. Justice Department inspectors were somewhat more observant.
“We observed an unsupervised inmate in the kitchen office where the kitchen knives are kept unlocked and un-inventoried on the top of the desk…. We were informed that the office is supposed to be off limits to inmates.”
No matter. In a moment Ashe is in another world entirely, walking down a long, blindingly clean and fluorescently lit hallway. It’s part of the jail’s new section. There’s a series of huge laundry machines and dryers at one end of the hallway and a state-of-the-art booking facility at the other. In between, through double sets of reinforced doors, are cellblocks and guard stations.
“Yup,” he says, making his way down the long, wide boulevard of linoleum, “It’s hard to argue with [the Justice Department], but I’ve gotta have funding,” Ashe says, again using the phony funding gambit. “I’ll tell you something, it’s kinda like the IRS. When they come to audit you they got to find stuff.”
Commissioner Emberton, who spent much of his life in the Navy, uses a nautical analogy to describe what he sees as Ashe’s culpability in the jail beatings, inadequate health care and other shortcomings at the jail. “The commanding officer left the ship and went home at night, but the commanding officer was still the commanding officer. It makes no difference what happened. He’s still responsible. I look at the sheriff the same way. There’s no excuse. You’re at the helm, so you can’t put the blame on somebody else.”
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