Jim Long Takes the Stand, Part Two


November 2, 2010

Tuntland established that email was the main form of communication at WSI, and that permission was needed from Mark Armstrong to send email to all employees.

Long testified that he initially agreed with Blunt regarding the 4% pay increase, as they both thought WSI was exempt.  It turned out WSI had to specifically be exempted, but for some reason was not on that issue.

There was the issue of an ongoing state audit.  Long said Halvorson and Blunt immediately opposed the state audit because of the scope: it looked at morale and job satisfaction.  That created animosity between WSI and the State auditor.  Long's was concerned as he felt you don't make enemies at the auditor's office.   

Long testified that Blunt ordered him to stonewall the audit.  "If they want 2 pages, you give them 20; if they want 100 pages give them 1000.  Bury them in information."  Long says he told Blunt that would be seen as obstruction.  At that point Blunt became volatile.  Long said he did follow Blunt's instructions, saying that using Marine terminology, "It wasn't worth dying over."

He said that he was always candid and honest with the auditors, but that he used his chain of command: he would report first to Blunt or Bjornson.

Moving on to the topic of Dave Spencer:  Spencer was a friend of Blunt's that Blunt had recruited from Ohio.  But Dave exhibited a lot of anger at WSI, and Blunt revealed to Long that he'd had to put Spencer on an anger management program when in Ohio.  Long said Blunt was committed to Spencer, as he was to all his execs, and assigned an executive personal coach to work out the issues with Spencer.  But eventually, it was clear that Spencer had to be let go. 

Long said that Blunt was concerned about his friend's finances, as he had a mortgage in Ohio as well as North Dakota.  Long testified that Spencer had received relocation expenses to move to N.D.  But he said Blunt tried to solve his friend's dilemma by telling him to call in sick day after day to gain sick pay;  he had a month of sick pay, and in Long's view it was like severance pay.    Long says he told the Director of HR Billie Peltz (whom he supervised) they couldn't do that, they would be stepping on the Family Medical Leave Act, and besides, "It was a lie, he  wasn't sick."  He said he and Billie both told Blunt the agency was in an audit, they couldn't do that, and that Bille made notes about it,  but Blunt allowed Spencer to not report to work and collect sick pay.  Long said he kept nagging Blunt to do the right thing and fire Spencer.

He said the State Auditor called a group into the room and asked the whereabouts of Spencer.  No one knew what to say.  He said he didn;t feel obligated to tell the auditor's office about Spencer.

Spencer eventually resigned and started a private business writing grants for WSI funding.  He said WSI has a bucket of money for grants for various business needs, and Spencer had formerly been in the department which approved the grants, so it "was a natural in."

He said Halvorson took over Spencer's job in the interim, and that Blunt told Halvorson to give WSI information from Spencer's computer to Spencer.  The information included contact list, voice mails, and emails. 

Long thought it seemed unethical given the large sums of money involved.  Long discussed the impropriety with Blunt, saying it was policy not to release private information like social security numbers, etc., but he siad Blunt told him he owed Spencer a debt of gratitude and wanted to see him get on his feet.  Long said he discussed the issue with Bjornson as well, that he always discussed matters with Bjornson.

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