January 17th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

Port Authority to cruise ship captain: 'Get on board, damn it'

Recordings between the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship and the Livorno Port Authority, which is part of the Coastal Guards, have given new insight into what happened on the ship when it hit rocks Friday night just off Italy's western coast.

A total of 23 people remain missing following the wreck, which led to 11 deaths, Italian officials said Tuesday. Capt. Francesco Schettino is under arrest and may face charges that include manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning a ship when passengers were still on board, according to an Italian prosecutor.

Questions abound for captain of doomed cruise ship

Below are several transcripts of recordings between authorities and the captain published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and translated by CNN's Hada Messia. The first calls came in right after midnight.

Livorno Port Authorities: "Concordia, we ask you if all is OK there."

Concordia: "All is well."

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Port authority: "Concordia, We ask you if all is well there."

Concordia: "All is well. It is only a technical failure."

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Port authority: "How many people are on board?"

Schettino: "Two-three hundred"

Port authority: "How come so few people? Are you on board?’

Schettino: "No, I’m not on board because the ship is keeling. We’ve abandoned it."

Port authority: "What? You’ve abandoned the ship?"

Schettino: "No. What abandon? I’m here."

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Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco: "Captain. This is De Falco from Livorno."

Schettino: "Commandant, I’ve also alerted the company… I’m being told that there are still passengers on board, apparently they are about one hundred… but I repeat…"

De Falco: "Captain. You are not able to tell me an exact figure? About a hundred people, it seems?

Schettino: "Commandant, I am not able to give you an exact figure because let me explain... while we were evacuating the last passengers… now we are all here with all the officers…"

De Falco: "Where are you? On the lifeboats? All the officers?"

Schettino: "Yes, we are with the second commander…"

De Falco: "Forgive me, but before you were only with a sailor. If the officers managed to get down, it means that they could still move."

Schettino: "Yes...in fact...

De Falco: "Then why don’t they get back on board? To monitor the operation and then they can tell us. Thank you."

Schettino: "No it is not possible…"

De Falco: "Send them on board. Send one person on board to coordinate..."

Schettino: "But I am doing the coordination."

De Falco: "I’m giving you an order captain. You need to send someone on board."

Schettino: "We are going on board to coordinate."

De Falco: "Exactly. You need to get on board to coordinate the evacuation. Is that clear?!"

Schettino:  "But we can’t get on board now…the ship is now…(hard to understand)..."

De Falco: "Why did you tell them to get down?"

Schettino: "What do you mean get down? We abandoned the ship…the ship turned ..."

De Falco: "...and with one hundred people on board you abandon the ship? (expletive)"

Schettino: "I did not abandon any ship with 100 people…the ship (hard to understand)...we were catapulted into the water..."

De Falco: We’ll see later what happened. OK? Now tell me everything that takes place. Everything. Get under with the lifeboat (not very clear at this point). Don’t move. Clear?"

Schettino: "Commandant..we are here…we are here..."

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Port authority: "You must return on board. Climb the ladder (rope ladder), return to the fore (stem) and coordinate the work."

Schettino does not reply

Port authority: "You must tell us how many people are on board, how many women, how many children. You have to coordinate the rescue operation. Commander, this is an order. Now I’m in charge, you have abandoned ship and now you are going to go to the stem and coordinate the work. There are already dead bodies."

Schettino: "How many?"

Port authority: "You should be the one telling me this…What do you want to do? Do you want to go home?...Now go back on the stem and tell me what to do.."

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Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco: "Listen, this is De Falco from Livorno. Am I speaking with the captain?"

Schettino: "Yes."

Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco: "Tell me your name."

Schettino: "This is Captain Schettino, commandant."

De Falco: "Listen Schettino, there are people trapped on board. Now, you have to go with your lifeboat and go under the boat stem on the straight side, there is a ladder there."

De Falco: "Get on board on the ship and tell me, you tell me how many people there are."

De Falco: "Clear? I’m recording this conversation, Captain Schettino."

Schettino: "Well then commandant, I need to tell you something."

De Falco: "Speak loudly."

Schettino: "The ship now…I’m here in front of it..."

De Falco: "Captain, speak loudly."

Schettino: "Commandant, at this moment the ship is tilted."

De Falco: "I understand. Listen. There are people who are coming down the stem ladder. You must take that ladder in the opposite direction. Get on board the ship and you tell me how many people are on board, and what do they have. Clear? You tell me if there are children, women, people with special needs. And you tell me how many there are of each category..."

De Falco: "Is that clear?"

De Falco: "Look Schettino, you might have been saved from the sea, but I will make sure you go through a very rough time…I will make sure you go through a lot of trouble. Get on board, damn it."

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Schettino: "Commandant, please…"

Port authority: "No...please. No, you get on board. Assure me that you are getting on board."

Schettino: (Hard to understand) "I’m here with the rescuers. I’m here. I’ve not gone anywhere. I’m here."

Port authority: "What are you doing captain?"

Schettino: "I’m here coordinating the rescue."

Port authority: (Speaks over captain): "What are you coordinating there? Go on board and coordinate from there the rescue operation. Are you refusing?"

Schettino: "No, no, I’m not refusing."

Port authority: "You are refusing to go on board? And why are you not going on board?"

Schettino: "I am going because now there is the other motorboat (Lancia) that has stopped now."

Port authority: "You go on board. It is an order. You cannot make any other evaluations. You have declared abandoning ship. Now I’m in charge. You get on board. Is it clear?"

Schettino:  "Commandant..."

Port authority over captain: "Are you not listening to me.."

Schettino speaks over Port authority: "I’m going..."

Schettino: "Call me immediately when you get on board. Our rescue officer is there."

Schettino:  "Where is your rescue officer?"

Port authority: "My rescue officer is at the stem…Go …(can hear captain saying OK)…There are already bodies, Schettino."

Schettino: "How many dead bodies are there?"

Port authority: "I don’t know. I know of one. I’ve heard of one. You are the one to tell me how many there are. Christ!"

Schettino:  "Are you aware that it is dark here and we cannot see anything?"

Port authority: "So? Do you want to go home Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Climb the ladder and get on the stem."

Port authority: "...and tell me what can be done, how many people are there, what do they need. Now."

Schettino: "Commandant, we are with the second in command…"

Port authority: "Then both of you climb up. What is his name?"

Schettino: "Dimitris Christidis."

Port authority: "You are your guard. Go on board, now!"

Schettino: "Commandant… I want to go on board, it is just that the other lifeboat here…there are other rescue operators... it has stopped and it is stuck there... now I’ve called other rescue operators..."

Port authority: "It is one hour that you are telling me this. You go on board. On b.o.a.r.d (says the word slowly almost spelling it out). And you immediately tell me how many people there are"

Schettino:  "OK."

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Filed under: Italy • Travel
soundoff (612 Responses)
  1. amadeo122

    Bush Senior: George come out from underneath the desk!
    George Bush: No daddy! I wanna stay here with my friend Cheney

    Bush senior: George com out now! you won't have to go to Vietnam! I arranged everything!
    George Bush: No daddy! you are lying! you are going to send me there and over there it's too hard for me!
    Cheney: you tell him George! we are not coming out! we can get hurt over there! and we have deferments!

    Bush senior: come out now both of you! or I'll make you both President and Vice president as punishment.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Bob

      I don't see any comparison – except, of course, for blindly sending others into harm's way, lying about it before and after, taking absolutely no responsibility, watching out for yourself when you're supposed to put others first, (Oh. Wait. I'm beginning to see a comparison now...)

      January 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      What the heck are you babbling about?

      January 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • joystick

      I want my 30 secs back, after reading your cr*p...

      January 17, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Antje

    Few seem to notice that the captain saved the day for hundreds (if not thousands) as he managed to u-turn the ship and land it it near shore of the island. Had this not be done things would have been far worse. It was only badluck which made it topple.
    All comments are easy pen-pusher remarks of people who hardly can drive car and certainly cannot steer a 300 meter ship. That the captain did other things not so well should not dimish this achievement. Furthermore one should also keep in mind that these sail-by are common and happen every day. Stupid but common. So in court this cannot possibly be held against him.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Let me guess- you work for Costa?

      January 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay

      remember, had he followed protocol and not manuevered the ship at all (literally stopped the ship directly after the hitting the large rocks) rather than gone rogue and manuevered towards shore where he then ran aground on a sand bar. It was the sand bar that tilted the ship so badly, if the ship hadnt been moved after the initial grounding, it would not have tilted and everyone could have been safely taken off board from all of the life boats. it was due to the tilting that people couldnt get ot the outer decks to be rescued and due to the tilting that over half of the life boats couldnt be let down. Had he followed protocol it is likely no one would have died. It was becuase he decided to go closer to shore that the ship tilted and thats why people died.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • DZA

      You're joking, right? The idiot turned the boat which caused it to list. It's like turning a car – all the momentum pushes you to one side...well, this is what happened. The guy just did not know what he was doing. He's gonna fry.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously

      WHAT?!? HE was the one that took the ship off course, and there is no evidence of a mechanical failure (and the captain has not even tried to say there was). He didn't save lives – he cost lives by taking that ship where it WAS NOT supposed to go so he could honk his horn. His stupidity is the only reason the ship sunk. No going close to shore, no sinking. Nothing heroic about anything this fool has done.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Bob

      WHAT?!? This coward abandons ship, where there are a hundred people left, maybe more? Are you serious?!?

      January 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christopher

      Antje...let me see if I'm understand this correctly.

      You want us to PRAISE the man who caused the disaster (it's not an accident), because he then saved people from the disaster he caused before abandoning his ship with hundreds of passengers still on board?

      Congratulations. I can now die saying I met the stupidest person on the face of the planet.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max from Italy

      News about the alleged crew mutiny say that he actually didn't even save the ship because the engine room had been flooded and therefore the ship was left without propulsion and steering, with only the energy for the emergency lights from a small power generator: it seems that the Concordia went near shore pushed by the waves.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. threehour cruise

    I heard earlier that keelhauling was never banned under maritime law(the dutch navy being the only seafaring org to bann it.) A "expert" said that, at the extreme" technically the captain could be keelhauled, for abandoning ship, and passengers.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SherwoodOR

    Mr. Guy is entirely correct when he says, "if you dont have all the facts, please refrain from making outlandish comments...."

    Taken by itself, this transcript does not look good for the captain. But we should refrain from judgement until all facts are known. There will be plenty of time to criticize later.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AntiPsychos

    Thank you, all you Nancy Grace fans who rush to accuse before you know all (any?) of the facts. In the next few days or weeks the baloney will be cut through and a very different view of the situation may emerge.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Bob

      Come on. This guy abandoned ship waaaay before he should have. I never listen to Nancy Grace. But, consider this:
      1. They never should have been that close to the island
      2. Their maps clearly laid out #1.
      3. They have underwater radar. THAT would have shown everything.
      4. The Captain, and all of his officers, get on boats, and there is ANY possible excuse?
      These people were not paying attention, and as a result, people died. Yes, we don't know all of the facts yet. I suspect when we do, it will look even worse.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ItalianExpat

    This headline is inaccurate. The Italian expletive used was actually much stronger than 'damn it.' A better translation would be 'Get Back on Board, a***hole.' I'd encourage everyone to listen to the actual recording - even if you don't understand Italian, you get a real sense for the cowardice and whiny excuses of the captain and other officers that evacuated before the passengers. Da Falco (of the Italian Port Authority) comes across as a real professional. His leadership may have saved lives.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • rocsif

      The most accurate translation is ' Get Back on Board, F@@k', yes,much much stronger then 'dannazione' (I'm italian...)

      January 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Bob

      And for this, all he can get is 13 years?!? Give him 13 years for each life lost. That should about cover it. This coward makes my blood boil.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KYMT

    The really scary thing is that he first joined Costa as a safety officer in 2004. Yes, a SAFETY OFFICER. All the more reason he should be raked over the coals.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DNH

    i heard that they rescued a couple that was on their honeymoon a day after the disaster. i'm told that they didn't know that the boat was tipped – ahahahahaahahahahahahahh.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. T.rex

    i wonder if the parts where the conversation was intelligible, Shettino was mimicking the static sound with his voice. DeFalco: "Get on board!". Shettino: "KSSSKSK, i can't..KSSKKSS.. hear you...KSKSKS".

    January 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Paik

    Sono rattriatato e disgustato dall evento.
    Sono daccordo con chi dice che non si debba generalizzare, é pur vero
    Che in Italia non esiste la meritocrazia e la responsabilitá di chi ha messo
    Questo soggetto al comando di questo mostro marino merita piú disgrazie
    Che lui stesso.
    L incompetenza del capitano ė palese non solo nell abbandono della nave
    Prima dell evacuazione totale, ma, e ancor peggio nel non aver capito per
    Tempo la gravitá della situazione.
    L impatto ė datato ore 22.30 a poche miglia dal porto del giglio,
    La conversazione ė delle 01.43 sono passate 3 ore..... Incredibile negare il
    Problema fino alla fine. Questo ė omicidio preterintenzionale, poteva arrivare in porto e
    Salvare passeggeri e nave....
    Vergogna vergogna. Questa tragedia ci faccia riflettere....
    Soz x italian language but to difficoult to manage in english!

    January 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ted Ryder

    I don't know all the details of this but I can tell you from the transcripts, all men are aware they are being recorded and are trying to point fingers at one another and ensure the blame does not fall on them.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Frank

    unfortunately, tragically comic

    Coastguard: "Get on board! Damn it!"
    Captain Schettino: " ... it is dark"
    Coastguard: "So? Do you want to go home Schettino?"

    January 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. H. B.

    While this transcript does seem to very clearly show the captain was strongly resisting the idea of re-boarding the ship, it is also clear that he was trying to say something, but didn't get to finish it.

    It strikes me that CNN is over-sensationalizing, as is their wont of late. Give the readers what they drool for, and skroo objectivity.

    @elizabeth said Carnival Lines should have made it their business to know if he'd turn coward. Just HOW does one test for such a thing? Please note how EASY it is for some people to decide what others should do, without even thinking of HOW they might be done.

    I don't blame the company for this accident. But from a photo of the same ship before the accident, it struck me rather forcibly that the ship was extremely "top-heavy." My feeling was instinctive, rather than empirical, so I'd want to know what engineers think, on that score, since many other cruise ships are built similarly – to accommodate a maximum of passengers, with a hull that is as small (and therefore as swift) as possible. Could be they've taken it too far. If so, this could happen again to others. I'd call that important. A top-heavy ship is an accident waiting to happen.

    It seems he was trying to say that he couldn't reboard the ship, and that he'd been thrown from it, or something similar. It's flimsy, of course, but before clamping down with a firm opinion, I'd like to know what he'd been trying to say. It was dark, he couldn't see much, and it may have been hard or next to impossible to get back on board a ship that is lying on its side. There is no question that there was total chaos going on. Going UP the ladder might also have delayed some passengers from leaving, and added to the chaos. But once the ship had listed, and settled in place, there was no danger of it sinking. People still standing on the ship may have been standing on walls rather than floors, and were certainly very confused and frightened, but the part under their feet was still likely to stay that way, and they could wait there for rescue. I know they weren't thinking clearly, of course – who could? By the time the ship had settled, the only dead were already dead, trapped inside the ship, either crushed or drowned. Someone in the crew should have been there to calm them with that knowledge. It didn't even require the captain to tell them. So it seems the crew members had some share of culpability here. We need to learn more.

    I'd like to be really CLEAR on how he, and some crew members, came to be in a lifeboat before the passengers were off. It may have been cowardice, or he may not have had any choice about it for some reason. Too soon to tell.

    These ARE just speculations, and in the overall, it doesn't look very good for the captain at ALL.

    I lean heavily toward thinking he was a coward, but there are still some unanswered questions and doubts, however flimsy, and I'd rather wait until there is more knowledge available. He was in a lifeboat, though, and it is known that many people were DESPERATE to get on one. By time-honored seafaring standards, the captain should have put passengers on his lifeboat, not himself and his crew.

    Still, that time-honored standard also requires a captain to "go down with his ship," which I think is just a bit too much to expect, and always has been. Beyond all doubt, though, a captain's order of duty is first, the passengers, then crew, then himself. Still, this dude certainly doesn't seem to have been thinking of tradition or even rules. He seemed to think he could "coordinate" the evacuation from the safety of a lifeboat, while there was mayhem still going on onboard, several stories above his head, and there seems to have been no danger at ALL of the whole ship sinking below the water. I don't see how he could talk his way out of that one. But he should at least have a full opportunity to do so, before we pass any judgment on him.

    Most people are far too quick to judge. (Or should I say "eager"?) Lots of THAT going on here. Even when things look very bad indeed, judgment should still wait till all the facts are IN. I'd hate to have to be tried with a jury, considering what Americans are like these days. By OUR OWN time-honored standards, staying judgment is required of us until all the evidence is before us. Our PATRIOTISM demands this of us all.

    Bleating about our patriotism isn't – quite – the same thing as living up to it, is it? Waving flags and wearing three-cornered hats is proof of – nothing at all. Patriotism isn't a gift – it comes with civic responsibilities, like not judging till proven guilty. All that boring stuff that most people don't want to be bothered with any more.

    We still lack all the facts on how the accident happened in the first place. All we have are a few disjointed pieces of information, which may or may not prove valid. It's FAR too soon to be sure how it all happened. The fact that it "doesn't look good for the captain" doesn't mean we know for sure it WAS his fault. There is surely a lot of information that has yet to come to the surface. These things take TIME. Look at how long it takes to determine what caused an airplane crash.

    So I think there are still aspects of this story that we still need to know. It isn't time, yet, for firm opinions. I think it IS safe to say that, at best, the man exercised some pretty putrid judgment. We're supposed to STILL adhere to an "innocent until PROVEN guilty" standard, as one of our HIGHEST values. Where did we hide that one? I see little of it here.

    I suspect many people don't know the meaning of "prejudice" is "to pre-judge." Nor do they care. Prejudice is, after all, really COOL these days. But they might care a bit more if their comments end up putting their feet in their mouths. Prejudice has a way of doing that. Take note of the loudmouths for future reference on other issues. Sound like a good idea?

    Let's wait and see. Or is that too much to ask of ourselves these days? US? Be patient? How dare you! Pretty sad.

    Give the dude a fair chance. If it was YOU, you'd demand it, wouldn't you? But it's HIM, so it's okay to be snarky and bigoted. I'm glad to see at least a FEW people here who know how to think. There may yet be hope for the human brain, but I won't hold my breath. The capacity for fair play and compassion seems to have been rubbed off of most of us.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Hahaha....sensationalizing by releasing an actual conversation transcript....now that has to take the cake!

      January 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • JokeJustice

      Oh Jeff Jeff Jeffrey, it's not sensationalizing–it's getting the facts out there. Stuff that we should know as part of the story. How it actually went down–not some glossed-over PC nonsense.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • H. B.

      To @Jeff – It wasn't the publishing of the transcript to which I was commenting. It was the way CNN characterized it in the headline. If you can't glean that this could be sensationalizing, you aren't all that bright.

      The transcript, in fact, was helpful, because it helped me gain some facts, but also helped formulate questions to which I would want answers, and in their absence, I would not form an opinion yet. Is that too hard to grasp? I haven't the smallest objection to the publishing of the transcript. You missed my point – deliberately, I think.

      CNN's headline was given to make people think the transcript was the be-all, end-all, and that firm opinions could be formed from it. Which most people do, because they prefer easy solutions and opinions. CNN pandered to such people (like you) to gain readers, i.e., more sponsors.

      There's no need, in objective journalism, to characterize an article before letting the readers form their own opinions of it, first. In yellow journalism, it is the characterizations of articles that are most important to the publishers. And lots of readers (like you) love it that way. Saves them from having to analyze or think.

      The mere existence of a swear word in any headline is sure to gain people's interest. From what Italians have said online, the word "dammit" wasn't the one used. Some say it was a worse word, though. Not every media source pandered to the easily-prejudiced, though. Such pandering is called "yellow journalism," and it has leached through to our major media because people love it, and sponsors pay for the higher number of readers. Yellow journalism, it seems, is winning. But it does NOT help us, as a people, to develop any capacity to be objective or analytical, since it caters to our worst attributes rather than our finer ones. People dislike having to invoke their better attributes, or have you failed to notice that?

      The man definitely needs to be tried. But he has a right to be judged, objectively, and based ONLY on the facts of the matter. If he's convicted, with those rules in force, he deserves it. But not yet, while so many of the facts are as yet unknown.

      A rational person can understand and appreciate that; the rest of the population thinks of it as only an imposition of a very inconvenient thing, which interferes with our great wish to be judgmental. Which is an attribute which, together with others of our most unlovely attributes, will destroy democracy – and it won't take much longer, either.

      Was the transcript ALL of what needs to be known about this disaster? If not, you have no point.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MP

    My question, should we punish the captain, the company, or both???
    The captain for dereliction of duty?
    The company for lacks standards?
    Any thoughts for preventing this in the future, standards and object lessons to the future??

    January 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • H. B.

      Those are good questions, but what makes you think we should have the answers to them right now? Isn't finding those answers what trials and investigations are FOR?

      If you must have your answers and solutions right now, you are asking to be told that the whole thing was about sparrow milk and rabbit feathers. As long as it satisfies your demand to know – RIGHT NOW – what those answers are, most people will accept the sparrow milk and rabbit feathers.

      There are some people left, though, who WON'T. Yeah, I know, they can REALLY be a nuisance, can't they? Some people still remain among us who know what FACTS and EVIDENCE are, and realize they take time to unearth and put together before conclusions – of any kind – can be reached.

      January 19, 2012 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Salvo

    hi, first i'm sorry for my english, it's no perfect.
    Here, in Italy, we 're considering Scattino like the worst person. We are baffled for domiciliary arrests.
    but We are proud.
    Proud than Cpt De Falco is rapresenting Italy. First for Italian.
    I will say thank to anyone is praying for victims.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • MP

      Your English, not so bad. We have our own geniuses in AIG, BAC Haliburton, and running the BP oil rigs. When ethics and morality trumps political and economic expediency and a sense of community prevails we will be better off. My apologies for the wise crack about "dropped once never fired" even if inspired by Scattino. Good to see someone like DeFalco doing their best in a professional manner.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
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