Saturday, February 10, 2007
And then the RIFS will start in earnest
I doubt that Mike will bring up the topic of John Mitchell on Monday, not that I don't think the incident did not happen. I think Mitchell actually did get caught with a classified laptop in his home, all the indicators point to it. However, I believe that Mike won't talk about it for one or more of the following reasons:
- The incident is still under investigation by the FBI.
- LANS has decided to bury the incident for as long as possible. Sound corrupt? It is, but remember back to 2004 and how UC kept Nanos' huge mistake regarding the non-missing DX division disks covered up for six months.
- All parties involved have decided that it is in the "nation's best interests" of keep the incident from the public eye. Yes this would really be corrupt, but I actually think this option is more likely than LANS 'fessing up.
I expect no major announcements on Monday. Instead, I predict that Mike will give LANL staff another stern talking-to. Another security lecture. Another safety lecture. A "hard times are ahead" lecture.
And then the RIFS will start in earnest.
[Defeatist comments here indicate a victim mentality at Los Alamos that isn't entirely justified. Senator Bingaman has made it abundantly clear that he does not think that plutonium pit manufacturing belongs at Los Alamos at all. Do you residents of Los Alamos County REALLY want a Pu facility in your back yard? Gird your loins! Buck up your courage! Push back!
--Pat, the Dog with hackles raised!]
Just one of those weird coincidences, I guess.
The latter option is the more likely, in my opinion. Congress doesn't have to act, but they get to act tough. Mike doesn't have to acknowledge Mitchell's screw up tomorrow, he just has to give us a stern talking-to. Congress will recommend that the FBI keep the Mitchell findings classified, and the system proceeds as usual.
No wonder LANL got itself into this state.
There should be a campaign of letters to our Congressional Delegation requesting a hearing with them. I have sent mine but everyone has to do their part. Quit hidding behind your mama's skirt!
The loss of WFO at LANL doesn't bother Congress, not even our own Congressmen seem to care that former LANL customers have taken their business elsewhere. Pit production is the future for LANL. Congress is happy with that mission, LANS is happy with that mission, DOE & NNSA are happy.
Why change contractors now? Everybody's happy. Except for LANL staff, and they don't count, because many of them won't be around much longer.
The short answer leaps to mind: because we are LANL staff members. The LANL staff members made famous by our multiple demonstrations of cowardice in the face of the rantings of our previous director, Nanos.
Many people are holding on, hoping that their TCP1 retirement and benefits will be there to help them in the future. Don't count on it. Realize that TCP1 has received no real funds from UC as of this late date. What it eventually receives may be much less than anticipated by either LANS or NNSA. The actual benefits that TCP1 can pay out will be based on the actual incoming funds from UC. Until those funds are placed into TCP1, you have no accrued TCP1 benefits. This is the reason LANS top-guns set up their special pension "Golden Welcomes". They will never lose out if/when the LANS pension collapses from lack of adequate funding. They obviously know very well just how insecure the TCP1 pension really is. Do you?
As for retirement medical benefits, they are not guaranteed and are paid out of the LANL operating budget. The LANL budget can't afford it anymore, and LANS will begin to phase it out with NNSA's blessing. Look for this to happen in the next 2 to 3 years.
Sorry, people, but it's all down hill from here. The science, the benefits, the pay raises, the job security -- all diminished. Unless you're at the top of the LANS food chain, you'll be better served by spending your remaining hours at LANL polishing up your resume and looking for job contacts to better and saner places to work. LANL (aka LANS) and Congress could probably care less about you being here, so why stay around any longer? There are better places to do your scientific research.
you all keep confusing me. What is it that is so vital or important about standing up in the meeting and talking? Do you really think it makes any difference?
Can someone explain this weird idea that you're going to get up in a meeting, rip somebody a new hole, and then fix all that ails us? Have you ever once seen any good effect? I have tried this, in another life, to the point of nearly leaving blood on the walls, and it's never done any good that I can see.
"the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable."
Do you want to have an impact? Make the union strong. But oh, right, you're all too good and smart to join a union.
But just standing up and bitching in a meeting? That's going to do no good whatsoever. You all are deluding yourselves. Nobody gives a damn about LANL. There's a war on, you may have noticed. There are 1000 other things more important to people in this country than LANL. You are important in your own minds, perhaps, but not in anyone else's. Mostly, people want you to shut up and stop losing secrets (no, I KNOW that's not the issue; it's just the issue as people see it. See the Monitor's editorial page today. Et tu, Brute?)
--Pat, the Dog who doesn't roll over
Extra points for perspective. I'll even go you one further: there is nothing that LANL staff can do from this point on to improve their condition. The die is cast. The cost of cowardice and inaction is being paid even as we pontificate here.
Enjoy your new careers, those of you who will remain, as plutonium production specialist support staff.
Pat, The Dog With Perspective
Pat, calm down. There are a lot of things LANL employees can do.
Effective things. Join the union and turn it from its current ineffective state into a force to be reckoned with. A union will give you a legal status and can make you a player at the table -- unions can make campaign contributions, don't you know. Don't like UPTE? Pick a better one. But the rule here is simple: "Join, or die". LANL staff need to first stop attacking each other before they can start to win this game. Creating a powerful union at LANL would be a good first step.
Get in touch with your legislators. I am sending emails all the time to pelosi, bingaman, etc. (Bingaman staff have returned my emails).
And, use your knowledge. Got some dirt? Don't blow all your hard-earned knowledge on the press. It's a waste of time. It will make a page-three story and be forgotten. If you have knowledge, drop a hint or two, and let the right people figure out that if they push LANL people too hard, they'll lose. That knowledge, once released, loses its power. Release some, and let NNSA figure out there is more; I think they'll get the message.
Figure out where your interests lie. Not, who you like, but who can help you. There is no "like" in the game you're playing. If Mike can help you, form an alliance of convenience for just as long as he can help you, and let him know that your support is conditioned on his help. The reward is your help. The penalty should be one he can figure out.
Visit your legislators. Get to know the staffers.
But, standing up in the meeting and spouting? That's not courage, that's stupidity, not the least because it will have no effect whatsoever. You need to become a lot smarter about playing this game, or you're going to continue to lose.
Every single group in this game -- DOE, NNSA, LANS, the legislators -- is getting their message out at our expense. You ought to think about why.
"Mike, do you really think morale is improving at LANL? How in hell can you say this with a straight face?"
Mike thinks morale is improving at LANL. He said so at the Congressional hearings. If nothing else, Mike needs to be set straight on this critical issue in no uncertain terms.
Morale at LANL is not improving. It is hitting new lows and many in the workforce are stressed to the breaking point. Mike needs to stop lying to those above, or if he is truly clueless about his staff's emotional state, he needs to be given information about just how bad the morale has become.
I know, it won't change anything, but at least he won't be able to keep going around saying "morale is improving" after he gets a constant barrage of tough questions on this issue and it is all captured on videotape. If he does, he'll be proven to be a bona-fide liar.
So you think Bingaman is our friend? Where was he during the shutdown of 2004? What was he doing while most of LANL's WFO customers pulled their funding back? Where was he during the bid process? How has he stood up to our defense regarding Bodman's claim that "arrogant scientists" are the cause of LANL's problems?
Answer: Bingaman has been mostly a sidelines observer. LANL got itself into this problem, LANL will sink or swim under its own power. That means we sink, because it has been clearly demonstrated that the leadership to turn LANL around has not been provided by LANS.