Jim Long Takes the Stand, Part Seven

November 2, 2010

Tuntland asked who at WSI had the power to suspend him.  Long replied that Sandy Blunt was his only boss. 

Long said his personnel file had no derogatory information.  He had had three performance appraisals.  The first in January of 2006.  He did really good.  The second in April of 2007.  Again, he said he did really good.  This was just a few days before Blunt was charged.  Tuntland asked whether until the time Blunt had been charged was there anything to indicate that he was doing badly.  "To the contrary,"  Long said "I was doing very well."  In June of 2007, Halvorson gave Long a mid term review.  This was after Long had his discussion with Halvorson regarding his relationship with Peltz.  There was no mention of he and Peltz in the report and there were no negative comments in the report.  He said Halvorson did a decent job on his review, gave him things to work on, and also talked about goals and strengths. 

Tuntland asked whether Long could think of anything other than his request for whistleblower protection that led to his suspension on November 15, 2007.  "No, that was the only thing." 

There were several conditions of the suspension, including he was relieved of his office duties, could have no contact with vendors or employees, and had limited access to his computer and to the grounds.  The suspension letter stated that WSI will have a plan to reintegrate you back into the organization.  He turned in his keys and laptop and phone and said nobody ever called him and there never was a plan for reintegration. 

Long testified he asked for reinstatement on numerous occasions.  He asked why he had been suspended and never got an answer.  Tuntland established there were a series of disqualifications and assignments of people to investigate Long's complaint of whistleblower retaliation and established there was much publicity surrounding the event. 

Tuntland established that Long eventually got a letter from Halvorson outlining the allegations against him.  This occurred 75 days after his suspension.  The allegations included engaging in wrongdoing and disclosure of privileged and confidential information.  The letter asked him to explain how it is as a current employee of WSI that this information was allowed to be publicly released.  Tuntland asked was information puclicly released prior to his suspension.  Long didn't think so, but said there was information he had supplied to the state's attorney after his suspension.  Tuntland established there was a 30 page report of allegations that Long wrote that became known as the manifesto. 

The state's attorney excused itself from investigating.  The attorney general's office disqualified itself.  In fact, Tuntland established that there was no one in law enforcement that was not disqualified from investigating Long's allegations, as Bureau of Criminal Investigation reported to the AG's office.  Long said the manifesto was made public because his attorney Tuntland made it public.  Tuntland asked whether Long had refused to provide the manifesto to WSI.  He said he did refuse but told them to get it from state's attorney Cynthia Feland, who had a copy. 

One specific account was of a former board member; Long said he thought there was criminal activity involved.  Tuntland asked, if you thought criminal activity was involved, who would you call.  Long said, law enforcement.  I did give it to law enforcement.  Cynthia Feland. 

On or about February 3, 2008, Long said he answered Halvorson's allegations in a letter which Halvorson called defiant.  Long said he sent that letter not only to Halvorson, but numerous state officials because he was backed against the wall.  "We needed sunshine.  It was a cry for help."  He also said, since Halvorson had sent the allegations against him to the press, he sent his rebuttal to the press as well. 

At some point, Long said he received another letter from Halvorson asking a set of questions.  He responded to Bjornson as he'd received an email from Wahlin that that was his new contact.  Halvorson's response on March 12, 2008 stated that Long was fired.  Tuntland asked whether anyone else who had sought whistleblower protection had been fired.  Long responded that Billie Peltz and Kay Grinsteinner were fired the same day he was. 

Tuntland established that under WSI procedures there was an appeal process to go to the executive performance committee, but no such committee was in existence at the time of his firing so there was no formal group for him to go to.  So Long said he submitted a packet of information regarding his termination to the board of directors.  The appeal package was visible in the courtroom and was approximately 2 1/2 inches thick. 

Long's request for reinstatement was brought to the board of directors.  He was present at that meeting, but not allowed to speak.  Members at the meeting complained they had not had sufficient time to review his appeal packet.  Many had not received it until that very morning. 

Tuntland established that Long provided information to investigator Quinn, at his request, and that he was later asked to testify at the Blunt trial after which Blunt was convicted of a felony.    Long went on to describe his search for new employment, how he was eventually hired for a job at Cross Country Courier at a much lower salary.  He said he today teaches at the University of Mary, at Grand Canyon-Phoenix, and Rasmussen College.  The rest of testimony had to do with specific details about his income. 

No comments: