By Jennifer Johnson, Published August 22 2013
TRANSCRIPT: Tense exchange followed by cursing
Fargo television host Chris Berg described the interview Wednesday with Grand Forks Superintendent Larry Nybladh as “tough and respectful” until after the broadcast, when he claimed Nybladh used a curse word to describe him.
Berg quizzed Nybladh on the district’s deficit for about 10 minutes, claiming a few times the superintendent didn’t answer any of his questions.
One of the more tense moments during the interview arrived when Berg challenged Nybladh on $4.3 million in new costs because of 14 new staffers, saying he “got those numbers right out of the Grand Forks Herald.”
Here’s a transcript:
Berg: “You mentioned last year enrollment growth was roughly 230 or so students and included 14 new full-time staffers and increased salary costs, which resulted in $4.3 million in new costs. For 14 staffers? Help me understand.”
Nybladh: “Well, I don’t know where you got those numbers. ...”
Berg: “Right out of the Grand Forks Herald.”
Nybladh begins to say something, Berg interrupts.
Berg: “Excuse me, sir, I got those numbers right out of the Grand Forks Herald.”
Nybladh: “Well, I didn’t say they were mine, then, did I? I said the increased costs related to, the additional staff needed to accommodate that new enrollment growth and other compensation related to that. It’s not all directly related to the growth, but a large part of it is. And like I’ve said, without additional state aid to support those costs, the district ended up deficit spending for that reason.”
Berg: “So are you saying the Grand Forks Herald is lying?”
Nybladh: “I didn’t say that.”
Berg: “You said they weren’t your numbers, so are they just making them up?”
Nybladh: “I don’t know what... Four million doesn’t sound like a number that we’ve been discussing, so I don’t know what context you’re using that number in.”
Berg: “The number I have says from last year’s budget to this year’s, you’ve increased the budget by $8 million. Again, let’s say 232 students last year and 250 students this year, $8 million. That equates to $32,000 per student.”
Nybladh: “I think those numbers are not the way we’re analyzing them. We’re looking at a 3 percent increase in budget, and teachers are looking at a 2.65 percent increase in salaries. I don’t think that’s exorbitant either.”
After the interview, Berg informed Nybladh that they were going to broadcast the clip when he called Berg a curse word and wanted a response.
Nybladh: “Well, I guess I don’t have anything to say about it.”
Berg: “So, you’re OK with the fact that....”
Nybladh: “I would appreciate it if you didn’t play that. I thought I came on in good faith and tried to help you with your story. I guess I would hope that you would honor that. That would be my take on it.”
Berg: “My job is to ask you the tough questions. And it’s your job to obviously answer those. You’re asking me to honor that from the standpoint that you called me an _______?” (Berg uses an abbreviated form of the curse word while on the air.)
Nybladh: “I don’t know what you have on tape, I don’t know what your reception is.”
Berg: “Do you admit that you called me an _______?”
Nybladh: “I did not call you anything during the interview, sir, thank you.”
Berg: “So, once the interview was over, did you call me an _______.”
Nybladh: “After the interview was over, that’s my time, not yours. You use the interview and I’d appreciate that, Chris.”
Berg: “Right. I’m just asking you to confirm or deny. It’s on tape, you can obviously deny it. But we’ve got it. I was....”
Nybladh (interrupts): “In good faith I did the interview, I’d suggest you use that.” (Hangs up.)