Last week I wrote about the North Dakota University System pushing to fire two of their top accountability officers. Chief Auditor Tim Carlson and Chief Compliance Officer Kirsten Franzen have both put on leave pending termination with university system officials claiming that Carlson’s resume contained inaccuracies while Franzen wasn’t doing her job.
Today I obtained a copy of Franzen’s response to NDUS Chief of Staff Murray Sagsveen memo setting out the case for her dismissal. It’s an interesting read (see below), and if you suppose that Franzen is credible (I think she is) it’s a damning one for Sagsveen and Chancellor Larry Skogen.
One part of Franzen’s reply that jumped out at me, for obvious reasons, was her response to Sagsveen’s claim that neither he nor Skogen trust her. “The Chancellor has advised he does not trust you,” Sagsveen wrote. “I do not trust you.”
According to Franzen, that loss of trust has to do with her allegedly tipping me off that that “open” meeting last year where the State Board of Higher Education sent the audience out of the room so they could talk with a consultant. That meeting ended up being a real headache for the university system. I filed an open meetings complaint with the Attorney General’s office about that meeting which is still pending, and the audio from the meeting revealed board members making some unflattering remarks about at least one university president.
After I made the audio public, university system officials tried to play it down. “This is not a secret tape of a secret meeting,” Skogen told Grand Forks Herald reporter Brandi Jewett. “This is public tape of a public meeting.”
“If we wanted to hide that, why were we running a tape recorder? … We knew this was coming out, but we needed to have this discussion,” Diederich told Fargo Forum reporter Mike Nowtazki.
But that doesn’t square with Franzen’s account wherein here alleged status as my source for the story about the meeting and the audio tape lost her the trust of Skogen and Sagsveen:
If Diederich and Skogen and the rest of the university system were just find with the audio of that closed “open” meeting getting out, then why was Franzen targeted for supposedly leaking it?
By the way, I should point out that Franzen wasn’t who tipped me off about the meeting, but even if she was…so what? It was an open meeting. A public record. It wasn’t like anyone was leaking me confidential information. The university system, rather stupidly I think, decided they could pressure the public out of the room to have a conversation and someone in attendance (I won’t say who) objected.
I filed the complaint, and we’ll see what the AG has to say.
But the idea that a part of the case for firing Franzen is her alleged communication with me, which Skogen and Sagsveen have no evidence of, is ridiculous. And hypocritical given public declarations from Skogen and Diederich about how the meeting was no big deal.
If it was no big deal, why are they accusing Franzen of supposedly leaking it to me?
Here is Franzen’s full reply.