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Workforce Safety board begins search for new CEO

BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance board has formed a committee to look for a new chief executive officer, but has not set a deadline for hiring one.

BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance board has formed a committee to look for a new chief executive officer, but has not set a deadline for hiring one.

At a special meeting Wednesday, the board also appointed an internal committee at the agency that will manage its business until an interim or permanent CEO is hired.

WSI is the state workers' insurance agency, formerly known as the Workers' Compensation Bureau. The board fired its executive director and CEO, Brent Edison, Friday, giving no reason.

The search committee is Cal Kolling of Dickinson; Sindy Keller and Dave Ystebo, of Fargo; Robert Indvik of Bottineau and Mark Gjovig of Williston. Ystebo is chairman of the board of directors and Indvik is vice chairman.

The five also have been serving as the board's executive performance committee.

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The committee will be expanded later to include at least two people from the WSI staff and some legislators.

The agency's vice presidents were named to the transitional management team: Vice President of Finance Tammy Dolan; Vice President of Legal Jodi Bjornson; Vice President of Claims Mick Jolliffe, and Vice President of Strategic Operations John Halvorson.

Also Wednesday, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the board did not violate open meeting laws when it met on short notice Oct. 8.

The Forum made a complaint to Stenehjem on Friday, asking if the board had violated the law.

Stenehjem determined that a few hours before the emergency meeting was held Ystebo told the WSI office staff to notify board members, the secretary of state, the governor and the Facility Management Division of the Office of Management and Budget. That was legally sufficient to constitute proper notice of the meeting, he said. The WSI office also notified the Bismarck Tribune by fax, as it traditionally does with all meetings, Stenehjem said. No other news media were notified, nor was the board required to, Stenehjem said.

The Forum did not know at the time of its complaint that anyone but the board had been notified, nor that the Bismarck Tribune was the agency's single default news medium contact in such cases. No reporters from the Tribune or any other news media were at the Oct. 8 meeting. At that meeting, the board decided to seek an opinion from Stenehjem on whether it needed a supermajority vote to fire its CEO and engaged in some discussion about employee complaints about Edison's management of the agency.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830

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