Bakke Cross Examines Long Part 6

November 5, 2010

Bakke asked Long questions about Sandy Blunt's criminal charges. 

Bakke:  Were the criminal charges related to promotional items provided to WSI staff?
Long:  I don't have full knowledge.
Bakke:  He was never accused of stealing?
Long:  I don't know that.
Bakke:  Just promotional items?
Long:  That's my understanding, yeah.

Bakke asked several questions about Long's human resources experience.  Long said he'd worked at Midwest Business Systems and Contract America.  Bakke noted that Long's employment application at WSI did not mention human resources.  Long replied that he had overseen human resources at his other positions. 

Bakke said Long had been terminated from his job at Cross Country.  Long said he was laid off because of a reduction in the work force. 

Bakke:  They didn't tell you they thought you were not qualified to be the human resources manager and that you could transfer into a lower position?
Long:  No.  That's not accurate.
Bakke:  In fact, they replaced you with someone else.
Long:  No.  They flattened the organization and moved someone else in.

Bakke then handed Long the Cross County employment termination notification.  Under the item, is this person eligible for re-hire it was written no, possibly in a different role with less accountability.  It said the main reason for leaving was that there was a more qualified employee that shifted into that position as HR manager. 

Bakke then moved onto the issue of Dave Spencer having received confidential employer listing documents.

Bakke:  You testified you believed inappropriate documents were provided to Spencer when he on sick leave.  You do not know what data was given to him, do you?
Long:  No, I do not know.

Tom Tuntland then began his redirect of Long. 

Tuntland:  Let's pick up at Dave Spencer.  What did Blunt tell you regarding getting that data?
Long:  He told me Dave wanted to start a company writing grants and that he needed contact information including voicemail and computer data.

Tuntland then moved onto the topic of the ITTP project. 

Tuntland:  Did you have anything against Doug Hintz?
Long:  He's a nice guy.  No.  I was concerned about the project.

Tuntland then introduced emails that showed Long had brought his concern to the board.  Board member Mandigo sent Long an email on October 3, 2007, "as to staffing of the team involved in ITTP, that is not a board concern.  Successful delivery of bringing the project in in 2009 is."

Tuntland:  Did Hintz get the position he wanted?
Long:  Yes.

Tuntland moved the questioning into Billie Peltz. 

Tuntland:  Did you and Peltz have business meetings over lunch?
Long:  Lots of people did.
Tuntland:  You don't need a meeting to tell someone they're doing wonderfully.  Is there anything romantic about that?
Long:  No. 

Tuntland then moved onto the topic of the Cross County termination memo.

Tuntland:  It doesn't have your signature?
Long:  No.
Tuntland:  I noticed the box, "reduction of work force" was checked and crossed out.  Were you told a more qualified employee was shifted to your position?
Long:  No.
Tuntland:  Were you told you could be hired in a lower position?
Long:  No.
Tuntland:  Were others laid off at the same time?
Long:  Yes.  They were terrible times.

Tuntland then moved to the WSI employee handbook and asked whether Long was familiar with the fraternization policy.

Tuntland:  Anything in that fraternization policy that prohibits friendships?
Long:  No.
Tuntland:  It prohibits intimidate, romantic, or dating relationships between a supervisor and a subordinate.  Were you intimate?
Long:  No.
Tuntland:  Romantic?
Long:  No.
Tuntland:  Dating?
Long:  No.
Tuntland:  Were you married?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Was Billie married?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  The second part deals with what is to be done if a romantic relationship develops.  The persons reported could be reassigned.
Long:  Correct.
Tuntland:  Were you both asked if it was romantic?
Long:  Yes. 
Tuntland:  Did you both deny that?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Anything in your personnel record about this?
Long:  No.

Tuntland then moved to the complaint filed with Risk Management.

Tuntland:  You didn't sign this?
Long:  No.
Tuntland:  Did you go to Risk Management?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Why did you go to Risk Management?
Long:  The state auditor said if there were any problems on this issue, we were required to let Risk Management know.

Tuntland then asked questions about any complaints of Long's management style.

Tuntland:  Cindy Ternes expressed dissatisfaction with you as her supervisor.
Long:  Correct.
Tuntland:  Are you aware Cindy had expressed dissatisfaction with others as her supervisor?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  What kind of person is Cindy?
Long:  Smart.  High maintenance.  She requires constant attention.

Tuntland then asked whether Long had applied for the University system's Chancellor position.  Long said he had.  Tuntland then brought out the copy of Jim's list which noted Chancellor position, did I have a future?  He asked whether this reference was to the Chancellor position.  Long couldn't say.  Tuntland asked whether he remembered making that document.  Long did not recall, nor did he remember leaving a notebook in his desk. 

Tuntland:  You did not provide this document to Mr. Bakke?
Long:  No. 
Tuntland:  As a state employee, did you think you had the right to privacy in your desk?
Long:  Of course not.  It's public property. 

Tuntland then turned to Chad Nodland. 

Tuntland:  Did you know Chad before the bruhaha with Sandy?
Long:  No.
Tuntland:  How were you introduced to Chad?
Long:  John Halvorson said they had been roommates in college, but I don't really recall how I met him.
Tuntland:  Do you remember if Halvorson introduced you?
Long:  No.  Just that Halvorson said he was a good guy.

On next to the topic of nepotism. 

Tuntland:  Were you concerned about nepotism?
Long:  Yes.  It's against the law.
Tuntland:  Isn't there an exception when there's an urgent situation?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  How long would an urgent situation last?
Long:  A couple of weeks, maybe a couple of days.
Tuntland:  Months?
Long:  No.

Next onto the tape recording between Long and Peltz.

Tuntland:  You don't know if that was an accidental recording?
Long:  No.  It's digital.  It's like a cell phone.  It's easy to just turn on.
Tuntland:  How long will this digital tape record?
Long:  96 hours or until the battery dies.
Tuntland:  Did you play that recording to Halvorson before you were suspended?
Long:  No. 
Tuntland:  Did Halvorson discuss that conversation before you were suspended?
Long:  No. 
Tuntland:  Do you recall if you talked with Risk Management before or after that conversation with Billie?
Long:  I believe after.

Tuntland then asked about the dummy email account Long had set up in the name of Brad Freeze. 

Tuntland:  Did you set up the account or did your wife?
Long:  I don't recall.
Tuntland:  You didn't want your name associated with what's being sent to the press?
Long:  No.  I was scared to death.
Tuntland:  During discovery, Mr. Bakke asked you for that data. 
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Are the Brad Freeze emails not saved on your computer?
Long:  No.  It's gmail.  It's saved elsewhere.
Tuntland:  Did you forget your password?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did you let Mr. Bakke know you would sign releases to allow gmail to give him those emails?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did you offer to cooperate?
Long:  Yes.

Tuntland:  As a state employee, you do not have the expectation of privacy?
Long:  Yes.  One of the first things you are told is state equipment is state property including everything you write down.
Tuntland:  Emails?
Long:  Same thing.  State property.

Tuntland:  You were asked about open records.  Mr. Armstrong told you what it would cost to get the records?
Long:  It was hundreds of dollars.  I couldn't afford health care so I couldn't afford that.

Tuntland:  Did you become aware the state auditor was asking questions about Dave Spencer's sick leave?
Long:  I became aware the state auditor was asking questions about where Dave Spencer was at.
Tuntland:  You told Blunt that?
Long:  I told him that they were asking questions.

Tuntland then showed a memo from Billie Peltz to Camie O'Connor.  O'Connor had worked in the finance department and cut checks.  Long said she'd had concerns because her name was associated with certain checks. 

Tuntland:  It says, "Jodi and I (Peltz) reviewed the relocation policy and determined Spencer would not have to reimburse WSI for moving expenses."
Long:  That's what it says.
Tuntland:  Wasn't Spencer's payment part of the basis for Blunt's conviction?
Long:  My understanding, yes.
Tuntland:  Who did Jodi report to?
Long:  Sandy Blunt.

Tuntland then turned to questions about the Armstrong journal. 

Tuntland:  You were asked about your concerns that he was planning to use his position to derail the prosecution?
Long:  Yes.

Tuntland then read from the journal, "In my role as Burleigh County Commissioner, need to determine what appropriate action I can take without jeopardizing my family and position."

Tuntland:  Armstrong, he was communications executive at WSI and a Burleigh County Commissioner?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  The Burleigh County Commission fixes salaries?
Long:  Yes.

Tuntland then turned to questions about what's become known as Long's manifesto.  He established Long had made some small changes to the document after giving it to Assistant States Attorney Cynthia Feland and that Tuntland had submitted the document to the States Attorney, not Long.  He established the document had been provided to Mike Quinn at BCI also and that it had information that led to the conviction of Sandy Blunt.

There next was a discussion of FLSA exemptions which had to do with exempt workers filling out timesheets.  Long was concerned that that would prove an employee was non-exempt which meant an organization would then have to pay overtime, fines and penalties.  It could be criminal and could cause huge problems for an organization.  Long had argued against exempt employees submitting timesheets and that was part of what was submitted to States Attorney and BCI. 

Tuntland next asked about violations of the Veteran's Preference Law and established that Long thought Blunt's hiring of Hutchings and Nallie, who were friends of Blunt's, and who were making $150,000 per year, was a violation of the law, because veterans were not allowed to apply for those positions.

Tuntland then moved to Angela Scherbenske.  Long said she had to leave because of ethical reasons, that she had been working in finance and felt she had been coerced into signing vouchers that she did not want to sign.  Tuntland then produced an email from Blunt on the topic.  Long said that Blunt thought it important to put it in black and white, that there were no problems with procurement.  He said he had learned of these ethical problems not through Angela, but through her boss, Dave Sandy. 

Tuntland:  Did you know if the payment of promotional items was legal or illegal?
Long:  I didn't know for sure.  It seemed if there was a line, we should stay to the left.

Tuntland referred to emails which had been sent to legislators from Long.  Long said that Blunt had a hand in every memo that went to the legislature, that Blunt would often write those memos himself. 

Tuntland:  You were asked to talk to Mike Quinn regarding the Blunt prosecution?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did you think Blunt was coming back to WSI?
Long:  Could be.
Tuntland:  Was there an advantage to you in talking to Quinn?
Long:  No, I didn't want to, but it was the right thing to do.
Tuntland:  Were you trying to cover yourself so you would not get fired?
Long:  That's ridiculous.  All I had to do was play ball and I would be the golden child.

Tuntland:  Wahlin and Forward, who were they reporting to? 
Long:  Jodi Bjornson.
Tuntland:  Who assigned Wahlin and Forward to the investigation?
Long:  John Halvorson.
Tuntland:  Halvorson was one of the suspects?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  And their report was addressed to Halvorson?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did you think it was wrong to let the suspects know what evidence you had?
Long:  Yes.
Tuntland:  But you had to give this information to Halvorson or you'd be fired?
Long:  Correct.

Tuntland then established that Long had been certified as a professional in human resources before he started at WSI. 

Next topic, the radio interview that Long had done with Joel Heitkamp. 

Tuntland:     Were you working at your office at WSI when you talked with Joel?
Long:  No. 
Tuntland:  Were you suspended?
Long:   He referred to my not working and getting paid. 
Tuntland:  You talked about being denied your performance evaluation.  When would that have been?
Long:  I was supposed to have been evaluated and receive a pay increase in December, but didn't receive either.

Tuntland:  Regarding your termination at Cross Country, how much notice did you get?
Long:  None, it was immediate.
Tuntland:  Were you surprised?
Long:  No.  We had many meetings about the hard times and how there would be lay offs.

Bakke again resumed his cross examination.  He returned to the issued of the Risk Management complaint. Long said that that report was not signed by him. 

Bakke:  The fact is, it was electronically filed, isn't that right?
Long:  I don't recall.
Bakke:  The reason it's not signed, if you file it electronically, you don't sign it?
Long:  No, I'd sign it.

Bakke:  Do you continue to tape record today?
Long:  No. 
Bakke:  Did you turn over your tape recording of Peltz?
Long:  No.
Bakke:  The reason was, if you turned it over to Halvorson, you'd be fired immediately?
Long:  I don't know.

Bakke:  About the gmail sent to northdecoder, are you aware we did try to get these records?
Long:  I think so.
Bakke:  That gmail sent legal objections, remember?
Long:  I remember talking to them.
Bakke:  We went to Nodland referencing those emails.
Long:  I didn't know that.
Bakke:  And he asserted legal objections, did you know that?
Long:  No.
Bakke:  We did try.  Did you know that?
Long:  I didn't know.

Bakke then asked questions about open records and established that Long had requested significant amounts of open records including records of card access when people would come in and out of the building, records of the current board, former board, executive staff, Tim Wahlin, Rob Forward.  Bakke asked if Long understood that would require significant amounts of time.  Long said, no, it would take five minutes on the computer.  Bakke noted Long had requested all emails of executive staff and WSI attorneys, folders, subarchives, sent and deleted files.

Bakke:  This could be thousands of documents, true?
Long:  Kind of like you have with me.
Bakke:  We have yours for one person, this is many.
Long:  True.
Bakke:  Emails from the office of the Attorney General, Office of OMB, there's 50 employees there, you cite no names, this is thousands of documents.
Long:  It's easy to query this.
Bakke:  Wouldn't you have to get names?
Long:  No. 
Bakke:  There'd have to be redactions.
Long:  You did it for Sandy Blunt.
Bakke:  You're talking about many man hours, thousands of documents, no time limit, true?
Long:  Yes.

Bakke turned to the Peltz memo regarding Spencer not being required to reimburse WSI for moving expenses.  Long said he understood from Jodi Bjornson she felt pressured to write that memo. 

Bakke:  Isn't it good enough that an attorney put this in writing?
Long:  Fair, but I did have alternative information from the attorney who wrote it.

Bakke:  Regarding Cindy Ternes, you said she complained about all of her supervisors?
Long:  She had problems with others.
Bakke:  The only supervisor she had at WSI was you.
Long:  Yes.

Bakke turned to the information given to Dave Spencer. 

Bakke:  Did you download 11 to 12 names of personal contacts from his computer?
Long:  I don't recall.
Bakke:  You don't deny it?
Long:  I don't recall.  I have a different context. 
Bakke:  If you have a different context, how can you not remember?  Do you remember printing out that list and handing it to Halvorson?
Long:  I don't recall that.

Bakke turned to the issue of Long's claim that Veteran's Preferences were not followed in connection with the hiring of Hutchings and Nallie. 

Bakke:  Were you at WSI before Nallie was hired?
Long:  No.
Bakke:  Hutchings?
Long:  Yes.
Bakke:  These were appointments.  Is there anything wrong with that?
Long:  Yes.  Tag Anderson told me that it was improper.

Bakke then turned back to the issue of Angela Scherbenske and the email from Blunt asking whether Angela had alerted Long to any unethical procurement activities.  He then showed Long's reply which said Long was never alerted to any unethical procurement activities.

Bakke:  Did you ever investigate it?
Long:  No, other people did.
Bakke:  You never talked to Angela?
Long:  Angela would have used her chain of command which was Dave Sandy.  She would not have come to me.

Bakke then produced an email from Long to Scherbenske.  In that email he tells her directly, "I need to know about anything unethical occurring at WSI.  So I am issuing an order that you notify me of problems."

Long:  I talked with her and told her she should go to Risk Management.  She told me she was not comfortable with that.
Bakke:  But there were people who advised Blunt about Scherbenske.
Long:  She reported to Dave Sandy.  Dave Sandy was in the same boat as everybody else, he was afraid.
Bakke:  Why did you write to Scherbenske saying you gave her a direct order?
Long:  Blunt told me to. 

Bakke:  Did anyone at WSI tell you you were terminated for making a whistelblower complaint?
Long:  They wouldn't do that.

Tuntland concluded his direct examination.

Tuntland:  Scherbenske would voice her concerns to Dave Sandy?
Long:  Dave responded to Blunt with a very long email.  He said there was no intentional violation of procurement rules.
Tuntland:  Did Dave express to you that he was afraid of Blunt?
Long:  Yes, that's why he left the organization.  So did Tammy Dolan.
Tuntland:  Were you afraid of Blunt because of his power?
Long:  Yes.

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