In a Valley News Live report about the controversy over NDSU President Dean Bresciani’s deleted emails, state Senator Tim Flakoll suggests that the real controversy is the fact that the North Dakota University System office was accessing those emails.
Bresciani states in the letter several times that a forensic study reveals his email has been compromised by a variety of computer accounts controlled by the North Dakota University System.
“The fact the university system was monitoring people is a chilling effect,” says State Senator Tim Flakoll.
Flakoll says that’s the story that needs to be looked into.
“It raises a red flag,” says Flakoll.
Flakoll has been quoted in multiple news stories now defending Bresciani, but there are holes in Flakoll’s argument and some questions about his objectivity in commenting on the matter.
First, it’s not a “red flag” for an employer to look at an employee’s emails. I know the university presidents see themselves as accountable to nobody, but they do in fact work for the university system. And there’s nothing wrong with the university system scrutinizing their emails (it happens in the private sector).
Second, Bresciani’s emails are public record. This is well-established under state law. He has zero expectation of privacy. Anyone can go on a fishing trip through those emails by making a simple request.
Third, nobody in the media mentions it, but Bresciani is actually Senator Flakoll’s boss. Not only that, but Senator Flakoll is allowed to double-dip on his NDSU salary while serving in the legislature. During the 2011 session, Flakoll (whose position at NDSU is officially a .5 FTE), Flakoll took 32 days of vacation during the legislative session. He took a whopping 42 days of vacation, about two months of work days, total in 2011.
Only in government does a half-time position allow you to take roughly two months of vacation.
So of course Senator Flakoll is going to go to bat for Bresciani in the media. He’s got a pretty sweet gig going at the university.