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June 19, 2006 - 8:25 PM - Editorial by Dawn Nettles - The story of Mark Bradshaw is one that I've wanted to tell you for a long time but didn't due to the sensitivity of it.
As you've surmised, Mark is no longer among the living - he's moved on to a much better place. He died of cancer at the young age of 42 on July 20, 2005 - almost one year ago. He left behind a wife, Tina, and 4 children - Blake - 13 yrs, Bethany - 10 yrs, Bryton - 6 yrs and Bevin - 5 yrs of age. Plus he left behind a host of friends - many of whom still work at the Texas Lottery and maybe I should also say, friends who "use" to work at the Texas Lottery.
Mark was only one of quite a few TLC employees who was fired "at will" ... but ... his firing was THE cruelest firing of all. Not only was it cruel but it was heartless, senseless & cold in my opinion. It was the firing of Mark Bradshaw that alerted me as to what the true character really was of those "new folks" in executive management. Particularly Mike Fernandez and Gary Grief.
Let's start with what records reveal ... the written, documented words ...
About Mark Bradshaw ...
The praise Mark received from Mr. Toussaint in this 2 page evaluation was quite impressive. He spoke of Mark's working nights to "assure user availability during regular office hours." He said that Mark required little supervision, was reliable, dedicated, and would take on new responsibilities and be accountable for them. Mr. Toussaint concluded his report by saying, "I feel that he has more than met these high expectations by exceeding them in every facet of his job." The report was signed by the Division Director, Robert Bell.
In Mark's second Evaluation, dated June 30, 1999 & completed by Mr. Bill Hensler, Mark EXCEEDED 8 areas and "met all" in one area. Again, the praise was overwhelming in all areas of this 9 page Evaluation. Mr. Hensler concluded his report by saying, "Mark has a rare quality of being both highly technically qualified as well as having the ability to relate complicated network issues in simple language. He is truly an outstanding employee. He is self motivated, ambitious and efficient with each and every task he is assigned." The Division Director, Robert Bell, signed off on it too.
In Mark's third evaluation, dated, June 1, 2000, he EXCEEDED in 11 areas and "met all" in 2 areas. One more time, this 9 page report - full of praise - is quite a read. In part, Mr. Hensler wrote, "The quality of work that Mark produces continuously exceeds all acceptable standards. Mark is most effective at setting and meeting goals for himself and for the agency. He does an outstanding job of prioritizing his work, conveying the completeness of his assignments, and documenting the work for future reference." Mr. Hensler concluded the evaluation by saying, "I recommend that Mark be promoted to a Network Specialist IV position as soon as possible." Mr. Bell, the Division Director, signed off as well.
Mark did receive the promotion.
In Mark's fourth Evaluation dated Aug 31, 2001, he EXCEEDED in 4 areas and "met all" in 3 areas. In this 7 page evaluation, Mr. Hensler wrote in part, "Mark constantly raises the bar of excellence. In a recent security audit conducted by Price Waterhouse/Cooper, our network was rated as one of the most secure they have ever examined. Our network was the very first one that their auditors were not able to "hack" into. Agency network reliability exceeds 99%." Additionally, Mr. Hensler wrote that Mark regularly volunteers to take on new tasks, duties and responsibilities in order to improve the working condition of the Network Services Section as well as the agency as a whole and the agency counts on Marks knowledge and experience with all LAN/WAN related issues. The praise goes on and on. This time the report was signed by Mr. Hensler and Keith Elliott, titled - Next Level Management.
In Mark's fifth and last evaluation dated August 31, 2002, he EXCEEDED in 3 areas and "met all" in four areas. Again, the 6 page evaluation is ALL praises. In part, Mr. Hensler wrote, "Mark is a highly respected employee at the Texas Lottery. He has demonstrated the ability to learn new systems quickly, and has a willingness to cross train and assist his co-workers. The agency counts on Mark's knowledge and experience with all LAN/WAN related issues. Mark is a highly qualified and a technically superior employee." This report was signed by Mr. Hensler and MIKE FERNANDEZ on Sept 30, 2002.
Important for you to know at this point - Mr. Fernandez was hired by Linda Cloud in May 2002 as Director of IT. While Chuck Wilson had applied for this position, Ms. Cloud did not give Mr. Wilson the job because she felt that she couldn't afford to lose him in the position he held - Exceptions Testing. (This is the story that I covered in Part 3) However, Mr. Wilson quit his job about 3 months after Mr. Fernandez was hired. Then Linda Cloud was forced to resign - Sept 26, 2002 - and Gary Grief became Acting Director. It was only after Linda's departure that all the firings began. Mr. Fernandez never replaced Mr. Wilson.
Now let's move on ... 8 short months after Fernandez signed Mark's 2002 Employee Evaluation, on May 19, 2003, Fernandez fired Mark claiming that Mark did not perform his duties to the highest standards, did not have adequate job knowledge and accused him of "misconduct."
Now do understand, all employee evaluations clearly stated that Mark had EXCEEDED in all of the areas he had just been fired for, but suddenly, Mr. Fernandez states that Mark no longer possesses these qualities?
The excuse Mr. Fernandez used to fire Mark Bradshaw was NOT unique nor was it true - Fernandez basically said the same thing about all the other people he's fired "at will" too. Now comes the worst part - as if this isn't already bad enough.
After firing a cancer stricken, loyal, lottery employee, Mr. Fernandez is quoted as having said to other employees, "Proudest day is when I fire people, including Mark Bradshaw" The employees who heard Mr. Fernandez make that statement will never forget that day.
(Want to know more about Mr. Fernandez? Then read my Nov 7, 2005 posting by clicking here.)
What did Mark "really" do to get fired?
Mr. Fernandez fired Mark's supervisor, Bill Hensler, in Jan 2003. Mr. Hensler had been with the lottery since start up - in fact - he was on the Advisory Board to create the lottery.
Documents show that Mr. Hensler immediately filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The TWC ruled - 3 times - that Mr. Hensler's firing was NOT justified and ordered the TLC to pay the unemployment.
The TLC kept appealing the TWC's ruling - stating they had new evidence but LOST all appeals. Diane Morris was the TLC's attorney (she resigned in May 2006). Mike Fernandez, IT Director, and Jim Richardson, HR Director, testified for the TLC against Mr. Hensler. (By the way, Mr. Fernandez came from TWC - interesting - huh?)
Anyway, on Mr. Hensler's side, we have Mark Bradshaw and Jason Sawyer who testified for him in the Appeal Tribunal hearing in April 2003. Obviously, TWC believed Hensler, Bradshaw and Sawyer - not Fernandez, Morris and Richardson. (BTW - Jim Richardson is no longer with the TLC.)
Shortly after losing all appeals on the Hensler case, both Mark Bradshaw and Jason Sawyer were fired with management "claiming" they were not competent to do their jobs. Sawyer was a contractor but he was fired BEFORE his contract expired.
Fernandez, with Gary Grief's permission, FIRED a loyal lottery employee who had just been diagnosed with tongue cancer two months earlier and who was currently undergoing intensive radiation treatments.
Mark was sick as a dog at that time but still worked much of the time - In fact, when he was fired, he had two sick days remaining and co-workers were already preparing to give up their vacations and sick time so Mark could continue being paid by the state. (FMLA) Mark had 4 young children and needed a paycheck.
The bottom line is that Mr. Fernandez was so consumed with revenge and hatred over one lousy unemployment claim, that he lost all sight of reason, compassion, professionalism and has proven to me that he has NO management skills what so ever. I say this because good management always considers all consequences in decision making but this management failed miserably in that area.
The damages done by this one firing has caused many scandals to surface, employee morale has completely diminished, and today IT employees say that the TLC network is a "hackers paradise."
Even the "public" SAO Report dated May 2006 says "Lottery computer, data communications, database, and systems security should be improved" and it includes a few details of the flaws.
Quite a change from a few short years ago when Price Waterhouse/Coopers declared the TLC network a system that even they couldn't "hack."
(Posted in part two of this series was a recent survey (a draft report) taken in late April or early May 2006 that clearly shows how unhappy employees STILL are and how they really feel about Fernandez and a few others. If you haven't already read it, you should.)
Two men are directly responsible for all this and they are Mike Fernandez and Gary Grief - both of whom are still in high ranking positions.
Why did it take them a month to fire Mark?
Then one day, a staff member asked Mark to delete a file. So Mark did. Then management reprimanded him and told him to recover the deleted file and that he had done wrong - on purpose.
Well, Mark recovered that file and as sick as he was from the radiation treatments, they still fired him and used the deleted file incident for an excuse.
When Mark met with HR to go through the motions of being fired, they "advised" him to "resign." They told him that he could keep his benefits IF he resigned rather than showing him as having been terminated. An out and out lie.
After Linda Cloud left and Mr. Grief took control of the TLC, the TLC has "successfully fired" many employees but convinced them to "resign" after having been fired - Why? Because the TLC did not want their record to reflect so many "at will" terminations. This is costly for the state and runs up red flags where management is concerned - something they certainly didn't want.
When I heard about allowing "fired" employees to "resign" after the fact is when I originally posted "Message to all TLC employees" This action is as dishonest as it comes. Yet these are the very folks that are currently running a $3 BILLION business for the state.
Anyway, because Mark so desperately needed his insurance and was a trusting soul, Mark wrote a resignation note based on what he was told by HR. Mr. Hensler, on the other hand, REFUSED to write a resignation letter.
Mark filed for unemployment in June 2003 but TWC refused his claim. He had after all, resigned. He ultimately lost his insurance and the hardships this created for his wife and 4 kids was as inhumane, cold hearted, savage, unfeeling and evil as it gets.
Rather than fighting TWC and the TLC - Mark just moved on for a short while. He started his own franchise, "Computer Trouble Shooters" in July 2003 but by November 2003, he was forced to quit work due to his cancer. He took on a partner to keep the business going and it still exists today.
Marks wife Tina said that what hurt Mark the most was being called incompetent by "bean counters." He told her that when Mike Fernandez took over it didn't take employees long to realize that the TLC had, what they termed, "non-qualified management." Tina said that he felt "bean counters" had defamed his character when they claimed that he had intentionally and maliciously done wrong.
I won't post everything I've really heard about Mr. Fernandez because there are innocent victims that could be hurt if I did - but I will share the comments I received after I said that I was going to share Marks story with you. Here's what Mark's co-workers wrote about the entire situation.
In summary, I would like to close by saying that I hope Mark can rest in peace now. The world has been told the truth about his firing and NO ONE - (except 4 people - Morris, Richardson, Fernandez & Grief) - believes that there was anything wrong with his job performance, no one believes that he had inadequate job knowledge, and no one believes that he was guilty of any misconduct.
Quite the contrary, we admired him even more for standing up for what he believed was an injustice bestowed upon his supervisor, Mr. Bill Hensler. Mark was a true "team player."
Mr. Fernandez may have succeeded in getting his "revenge" but he has to live with it and someday he'll have to answer for it. For others who were deeply hurt by this incident, keep in mind that time heals all wounds and God has a reason for everything he does or allows to happen. Keep your Faith - that's what is most important here. Remember, every dog has his day.
Continued....click here to read Part 3
A Special Message To All
TLC Employees - Past & Present
- Don't Be Misled - A Legend Has NOT Returned -
Read all about the new Lotto Texas game that we will be playing
effective 4/23/06. Lower prizes, less money in the prize pool and
there's no guarantee that we'll receive our share of sales. Click here.
Whistleblower Lawsuit Filed by
Former TLC Employee - Shelton Charles
Feb 2, 2006 - Press Release - This is the 2nd lawsuit filed!
Feb 3, 2006 - Added Houston Chronicle Story
Revised: Feb 8, 2006 - Added Austin American Statesman Story
Read Newspaper Stories, Click here
Read The Petition That Was Filed With the Court, Click here (pdf)
Ex-Employee Sues TLC - Jan 31, 2006
They are calling for trial by jury ... this will be interesting.
One has to wonder, are more lawsuits in the works? Click here.
Told Ya So
About me, Judicial Watch & the cheated winners
Dallas Observer, posted 8/11/05 - Click here
A Dallas Observer Feature Story
My hats off to the Dallas Observer and reporter, Rick Kennedy,
for a fantastic feature story about my life since I decided to keep an eye
on the Texas Lottery. I finally posted his story, added links and comments.
Click here to read. (June 11, 2005)
Texas Lottery Denies Cheating Lotto Texas Winners
But excerpts from Commission Meetings refutes the TLC claims
of innocence. The complete story including a winners complaint letter
to the DA, excerpts and a spreadsheet showing the wins. Click here.
The Lotto Report
P. O. Box 495033
Garland, Texas 75049-5033
(972) 681-1048 Fax