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Friday, July 24, 2015

MISS FORTUNE ON THE AIR: "Follow The Bouncing Checks"

Tomorrow, July 25th, will mark four years since my cage-rattling exposé about a contract snafu at Bay City's Dow Bay Area Family Y aired on Delta College's public radio station, Q90.1FM (the “Q” stands for quality).

Miss Fortune revealed details about the burqa-like cover-up of a puzzling construction conflict of interest by the Y's former Director, a man who abruptly resigned less than four months before the building was set to open.

The Y's Director pushed through a masonry contract in excess of $1,200,000, (nearly $250,000 lower than the next lowest bidder--always a red flag), for Macomb County-based JC Brick, Inc. 

The contract was awarded by the Dow Bay Area Family Y directly to JC Brick, and not through the project's general contractor, Saginaw-based Pumford Construction — a highly unusual arrangement.

Hijinks ensued after Joseph Cusmano, owner of JC Brick, Inc., reportedly fled the scene on Washington Avenue in Bay City back in 2011 with a six-figure going away present.

Cusmano asked for, and received, a scheduled contract "draw" payment weeks in advance of its contractually agreed due date.

Banking the cash, reputed to be in excess of $200,000, Cusmano beat feet, hauled his equipment out of the Y site on a weekend in early July (when no one was looking) and quit the job.

(On June 3, 2011, an official police report I dug up revealed Joseph Cusmano was caught red-handed with two undocumented workers in tow at an Ohio school construction site. The workers were being paid under fictitious names given to them by Cusmano. Their paychecks were cashed on site and the workers were charged a fee for the check cashing services.)  

After the story aired, Dow Chemical (which paid over $4.0 million dollars for the naming rights of the structure) and its partner, Midland's Chemical Bank, came down with both feet on Delta College's President — demanding to know 'who is Anita Senkowski and how does she know more than we do'?

If you thought you could never be fired from a volunteer job (I was a Community News Producer for the station), think again! After a six-month suspension, I went back to the station but was limited to feature (and not investigative) reporting.

Listen to the story as I “follow the bouncing checks.”




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