What am I Doing in North Dakota?

In the spring of 2007, I traveled to my home state of North Dakota to shoot a couple of key stories for the documentary film I was making, Broadcast Blues, one on the ammonia spill that traumatized Minot, the other to interview Ed Schultz, the leading progressive talk radio host in the country, who at that time broadcast out of Fargo.

I remember a lot of talk about indictments against the CEO of North Dakota's Workforce Safety and Insurance Agency (this state's equivalent of Workers' Compensation.) I didn't know much about it, other than Big Eddie was talking about it almost every day on his local radio program.

Last summer, I happened to meet Chad Nodland, who closely covered the case on his ND political blog, NorthDecoder.com. I learned the initial felony charges had been dropped, and staffers had been fired; then felony charges had been reinstated, and Chief Executive Charles (Sandy) Blunt was convicted of misusing state funds. Blunt appealed, charging the prosecutor withheld evidence, but his appeal was denied. (Blunt is now suing North Dakota in the US Supreme Court.)

Here's what got my attention: one of the staffers who was fired in the wake of this, Jim Long, has filed a whistleblower suit against WSI and the state of North Dakota.

It's not every day somebody blows a whistle on a state - just my kind of story. My work is about holding government accountable and working in the Public Interest.

I've covered trials in depth before, (I'll write a separate post on this,) and I realized just days ago that it was unlikely anyone would sit in the courtroom and provide play by play reporting on this trial to inform the people of North Dakota what is going on in their own state government.

So here I am, just bringing a little sunshine to ND!

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