Last week, I revisited my past by exploring my encounter with a former employer, Mykalai Kontilai, after an article ran in Current.org about his purchase of Nightly Business Report. I detailed everything that happened between us five years ago, including two harassing phone calls he made to me after my wrongful termination.
Today, the follow up article on Mykalai was published (please take a moment to read that now before continuing). A little over halfway down, you will notice the story about my conference call with WSEC in Illinois, where he pretended to be a different person.
I would like to take a brief moment to respond to Mykalai’s comments toward me in the article. The first:
Kontilai sent Current a statement saying that he had no recollection of presenting himself as Hoffman “in any phone conversation with WSEC or anyone else.” He added: “Mr. Kaiser in my opinion is simply a disgruntled former employee.”
Let’s unpack this statement. Aside from Mykalai’s non-use of grammar (he forgot to place commas around “in my opinion”… yes, I’m being a grammar Nazi today), we need to assess the heart of his comment.
Am I a disgruntled former employee? Well… yes and no. Read on.
Former employee? We’ve already established that fact. It’s a no-brainer.
Disgruntled? I was five years ago, but time has healed that wound. That’s why I wrote my last post, to prove that I had calmed down and was no longer “out to get him.” Not that I was proactively doing anything to begin with, mostly just posting in my blog that few people previously read, but this is still important to note.
Dictionary.com defines “disgruntled” as an adjective that means: “displeased and discontented; sulky; peevish”
Am I displeased by my experience? Yes. That’s why I share it, so others do not have to suffer my fate moving forward. One can be displeased without being malicious about it.
Am I discontented? No. As I said, I’ve moved on. I am happy with where my life has led and this experience has become merely a footnote. My initial reaction was to not help the reporter, as to avoid additional confrontations, but the public good outweighed that decision and I decided to speak up. I think it’s in my blood. (Note: I am referring to the fact that one of my ancestors was Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. I’ll have to write sometime about how alike he and I are.)
Am I sulky or peevish? Again, no. I cite the same reasons as above.
Regarding Mykalai’s lack of “recollection of presenting himself as Hoffman,” I’d be happy to show him the trip report and email records, all dated during my employment with him. They are archived on a DVD with timestamps. These documents, my original blogs, my recent blog, and my spoken testimony all say the same thing. It has never changed. This is important.
Let’s look at Mykalai’s next statement, regarding my termination itself:
Kontilai said in a statement to Current: “Mr. Hoffman, as sole owner of Teacher’s Choice, made the decision to terminate him. Since Mr. Hoffman was ill and out of the office, he called me and asked me to inform Mr. Kaiser of Mr. Hoffman’s decision. Mr. Kaiser has since that time made unsubstantiated and false assertions about me, even though I was merely a messenger delivering Mr. Hoffman’s decision to him.”
When I went in for an interview, I met with Susan Botella and then Mykalai.
When Susan called to offer me the job, she said that Mykalai was impressed with me.
In the office, there was only one executive’s office and that belonged to Mykalai.
The only executive that I ever met was Mykalai.
The only executive that signed my paychecks, arranged my travel, drove me to the airport, held office meetings, or told me what to do was Mykalai.
When the employees were taken out to dinner (I distinctly remember all of us going to Red Lobster), it was by Mykalai.
The person who called me in Illinois to tell me that Sam had been promoted after two weeks, and I was to now report to him, was Mykalai.
The phone call after I was wrongfully terminated, as with the fraudulently-inferred “smoking gun” email, came from Mykalai.
The harassing phone call about me contacting WEIU after my termination came from Mykalai.
Mykalai, Mykalai, Mykalai. Never did I meet Robert Hoffman. Never did I speak with Robert Hoffman. Never did I hear, “Let me consult with Robert Hoffman.” There were no phone calls, no appearances, no letters, no signatures on any documents. If he really was ill, it was for the entire duration of my employment. For all intent and purposes, this appeared to me as Mykalai’s company and me his employee.
The only times that Robert Hoffman’s name came up were associated with the deceitful conference call during my meeting with WSEC. Period.
And this, my friends, is what really is called a smoking gun. When you’d told so many lies that you can’t keep them straight and you’ve finally been rooted out. That’s why I’ve done my damned hardest to always be honest with everyone and not keep anything secret. In doing so, everyone knows the value of my word. That’s also why I’ve used this blog over the years to share my failures and secrets, in addition to my successes. Even if not a single person reads my blog, I know it’s out there. And because my life is in the light, I can’t hide. Nor do I try.
So, everything is now out—and not just on my blog! A national publication has just quoted my experiences with my former employer and his character isn’t pretty. Various station general managers have given my story credence as they recounted their problems with the company as well. Even Scholastic itself seems to have disowned Mykalai.
In the past, Mykalai has promised legal action, but never followed through with his empty threats. Now, his hands may be tied as any attack on me will be met with public scrutiny. I’ve checked my site analytics and I see visits from educational networks across the country. Perhaps additional media outlets will not be far behind.
People are watching, but anything could still happen. Let the fallout begin.