Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Stay The Course with LANS
post have concluded, there is little hope that Congress will terminate LANS's contract for cause. Mike danced around the issue of whether or not Mitchell had been fired for security reasons when a distinguished looking gentleman from the audience gently asked him about it. This should tell us that Congress has 'factored in' the Mitchell event, and still found it desirable to let LANS run LANL.
Nor will Congress shut the place down. I believe this quote from DOE's Clay Sell explains why:
LANS is perfectly willing to help DOE accomplish DOE's desired pit production mission, and Congress is perfectly happy to let them do it. According to Mike, LANS is hoping for attrition at LANL, and I am certain they will get it.
Long-time contributors to his blog, and to the previous LANL, The Real Story blog have been predicting exactly this outcome from the LANL corporatization process. It is sad to see it happening, but it is no surprise.
-Pat, The Dog
Whichever works for you, it doesn't really matter. LANL is well on course to becoming the nation's next plutonium pit fabrication facility. Those who remain after all the "managed attrition" is over will work at a pit production plant run by a for-profit corporation. Deal with it.
And there you have it. I don't think it could be summed up much better than this. When all is said and done it's just as one of my co-workers verbally reminds me of daily.--"It is, What it is"
I've got to hold on for four more years, as I'm too old to find another job and too young to retire. Keep smiling - and don't get in trouble with "the man."
I sat through the entire meeting, and I did not hear a single person ask a question about Mitchell; someone asked a general question about whether anyone had been fired, but the question was phrased such that it could have been interpreted to be about (and in fact was answered as if it were about) the Jessica Quintana fiasco.
There was no question asked about John Mitchell.
I know that we on this blog sometimes engage in "spin", or even exaggeration, but claiming someone asked about Mitchell is a bit too much of a stretch.
Oh, wait. There are blogs like --LANL the "real" story-- and this one, which are broadcast to the world, where most of the commentary comes from arrogant folks who proclaim that 1) all management is corrupt and incompetent, 2) they themselves are the source of all insight and truth, and 3) rules are dumb.
So maybe it is youse guys that are smearing the good name of LANL and putting all of us hardworking, compliant, responsible folks in the congressional sights.
Well you are hurting a bunch of really good people and damaging a critical national resource.
I doubt that you can see yourself in this, so I am wasting my time, but if you have a glimmer of self awareness or humility, please stop what you are doing.
The original blog was started after an arrogant Naval Officer prick shut the entire laboratory down over a false perception: that two classified disks had gone missing. Turns out, the disks never even existed, but Admiral Butthead shut the place down anyhow, doing immeasurable damage to LANL.
That blog helped bring the issue to light, and, by the way, helped run off Admiral Butthead.
The current blog, likewise, is doing a pretty decent job of cutting through the official LANS management bullshit, a service which most of us greatly appreciate.
Youse, I suspect, are not my colleague, nor do you speak for the majority of LANL staff. Youse, on the other hand, are most likely one of the new management crop who is quickly destroying what little is left of LANL.
I don't mind doing a bit of obvious clarification. Here's my aging memory's reconstruction of the question to Mike (in the past, people have accused me of being too subtle, or even obscure, but I don't believe I was at all in this case, at least if you listened carefully to my question):
"First of all, I would like to make it clear that "pride" in the institution of this Laboratory is NOT AT ALL to be confused with "arrogance." (I repeated myself, since Mike had not caught the distinction.) "And I hope that you had the opportunity to make that clear to the Congressmen behind closed doors, both last month and anytime in the future.
"You [Mike] said that you wished you could have had the opportunity to fire the young woman contractor [Jessica Quintana] yourself. Have you had the opportunity to fire any manager for violations of security procedures?"
I didn't want to pose this question to the Director in a confrontational way, but rather in a way that let him do the talking, and he did. Eventually, after dismissing the Quintana case from consideration (no managers were fired over that), he got around to saying that he had had the opportunity during his 7-month tenure to fire 9 people, some of whom, he said, were fired for security violations.
When asking a question of the Director, I never feel as though I should put myself into the role of a bulldog reporter in a one-on-one interview, Blitzer vs. Cheney, for example. It's up to the Director to take the opportunity to make a clear and forthright answer to a polite question, if that's what he wants to do.
P.S. Please remove any mention of my name on the banner of this new blog. Even though I believe it serves the true interests of the workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and I laud your commentary most of the time, it has confused a lot of people to see my name at the top (and Doug's, too, I suppose, but you can talk to him directly). I will confess that when this blog was set up by you, using Doug's server as a home base, you asked Doug for a picture of an appropriate dog being "patted," since you couldn't find a good one on Google images. So I sent Doug a picture of my dog, Nellie (whose nickname is "Li'l Nell," coincidentally the nickname of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). Please feel free to continue to use Nellie's picture; she's really a nice little dog, who fetches our SF New Mexican every morning. But take my name off the banner, please. Thanks.
1) The perception of a lax security environment at LANL exists.
2) Some, including Secretary Bodman, believe that security at LANL is less than adequate owing to the "arrogant culture" of LANL scientists.
3) John Mitchell, a long-term Bechtel employee, isn't a product of the LANL culture.
4) LANS, including Bechtel, was brought in to improve the security culture at LANL.
5) If John Mitchell carelessly put classified information onto his unclassified laptop, he either didn't understand the most basic security requirements or he elected to ignore requirements. In either case, this speaks poorly of Bechtel's security culture.
6) The truth will eventually be revealed. If Director Anastasio has been part of a cover-up to protect John Mitchell and hence protect the reputation of LANS, Director Anastasio will be revealed to be unfit to lead LANL to an improved security environment. Any further delays will require Director Anastasio's resignation. If both the Director and Deputy Director resign, LANS cannot continue.
It is therefore of the utmost importance for Director Anastasio to immediately address this issue.
Yet we keep getting talked at as if each and every one of us is to blame for something. Stuff happens. People make mistakes. Some people are are just plain stupid. Stuff happens at Livermore and Sandia. Stuff happens at FBI, DOE, NNSA, etc.
Yet we coontinue to be singled out. Isn't the political hatchet job done yet?
Anastasio mentioned the HPI program, highly touted at LANL. One of the key elements of HPI is that we should NOT create a "blame culture." If something happens, FIX IT, LEARN FROM IT, and MOVE ON. Yet management sputters and spits and points fingers at others.
And the thousands of workers who do nothing wrong DAY IN AND DAY OUT have to listen to this demoralizing crap from LANS management that has done NOTHING to improve ANYTHING at LANL.
LANS is already a failure. Whatever Mitchell's story is, we'll never know because LANS failed to deal with it. LANS can't even get org charts posted on the LANL home page after 9 months because it still doesn't know what it's doing.
All the LANS managers can do is point their fingers and yap away while their cover their own fat asses. LANS is not LANL, nor is it an advocate for LANL. LANS managers are here to collect their pay checks.
Laboratory proposal potentially deadly
Comment on this story
Last Updated: February 14, 2007, 05:00:33 AM PST
The controversy over a "level four lab" to be built on a section of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory needs to be fully researched before a decision is made. The University of California at Berkeley, which operates the lab, is using our agriculture as one of its priority themes, claiming the lab as a "protective measure" concerning farming areas in the surrounding communities.
What isn't being fully acknowledged is how level four labs contain the most deadly viruses, such as Ebola, that can spread within 24 hours and kill thousands of people. I recommend that those living in Tracy and other nearby communities read "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston about level four labs in United States and abroad. It explains the threats they pose to communities. Preston's book is absolutely frightening; reading it will educate all people involved with Lawrence Livermore and UC's proposal.
Bottom line - Occam's razor seems to lead me to a less spectacular, but more plausible situation -- the man may have had an exceptional life event occur, leading to justification to both leave the lab, AND not explain his personal life to the whole of the lab.
Sure - maybe you all are right about what happened, but come on. How can the lynch-mob mentality that periodically surfaces here give any real credence to the content of this blog? This blog is here to push back against the senseless and baseless abuses of the lab staff by managers. How does rumor mongering and smearing of people with no basis in fact make us any better than "them"? I was hoping this would become a clearinghouse for information we wouldn't find elsewhere.
On the topic of frustrations, where are those press releases we were promised that were going to help erase the stain on our TSM names? I keep coming back here looking for something that moves in a positive direction, and leave disappointed. (yes, I know -- "go away traitor. don't read the blog if you don't like it.")
"Don't read the blog if you don't like it"?
Good heavens, even I, Pat the Dog, don't like it sometimes! All views, intelligently presented, are welcome. Sometimes even the not-so-intelligent ones are aired, just so we can see how wide the spectrum is.
Most of the "workers" are proud to be LANL employees, and they see the Bechtal carpetbaggers and deadwood (LANS) as interlopers and the root cause of our financial difficulties and layoffs.
We are quickly degenerating into the same hostile and disfunctional employee-management relationship that ocurred at Rocky Flats. It's bad for security, it's bad for safety, and it's terrible for morale.
Nanos lied regarding his justification for shutting LANL down in 2004. UC lied when they helped cover up Nanos' lie.
UC is in integral part of LANS. I don't believe a single thing LANS tells me, and I particularly do not believe their bullshit explanation as to why that abrasive, arrogant son of a bitch Mitchell suddenly left LANL.
You, of course, are welcome to believe whatever you want.
Why hasn't he? Either he doesn't want to set the precedent of having to respond to anonymous allegations, or John Mitchell IS being investigated.
Most meetings I attend now start out with "rumor management" and I have mentioned that in the void of information from LANL management, rumors will rush in. It's common sense and especially true at LANL since the Nanos Standdown.
A simple statement dispells the Mitchell ruumor without giving away investigation details or invading privacy issues.
But I stand by by earlier statement about the LANS employees vs. the LANL employees.
And how come all those managers came in from outside without there EVER having been job ads posted? We are NOT one big family, happy or otherwise.
"All those managers" did not "come in" without job ads. All the policies that required job ads "went out" when UC was replaced. Get used to the fact that UC does not run this Lab and UC policies are by and large null and void as of 6/1/2006. You are now a corporate employee. No "academic freedoms" apply. Amazing how many still don't get it.