Sep 8, 2007

Community leaders react

CAROL A. CLARK Monitor County Editor

Various segments of the community expressed their thoughts on Thursday following Director Michael Anastasio's talk to employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory regarding budget uncertainties and future workforce planning needs.

Anastasio said he had hoped LANL's budget uncertainties would have been resolved by now, adding that despite efforts by DOE, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and New Mexico's congressional delegation, the budget will likely be subject to a continuing resolution for several months.

"There doesn't seem to be any new news," said Executive Director Kevin Holsapple of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation. "I think it was a wise decision by the lab directorate to formalize this situation. It makes total sense given the uncertainties we've all known about for a couple of months. It's really saying we've got to be prepared for the worst cases up to the better cases."

Holsapple addressed the impact Anastasio's talk may have on local business.

"It's absolutely a concern that this will cause people to be worried," he said. "It is worrisome to business people and others if residents don't live normal lives. I hope people can do their best in working toward a positive future instead of obsessing about what may or may not happen."

Rep. Jeannette Wallace, R-Los Alamos, said she thought the subject needed to be addressed. "I think they (LANL) had no choice but to come forward and were forced to come forward and discuss a worst-case scenario," Wallace said. "I don't think that will happen but they need to be prepared."

Long-time business leader Dave Fox of CB Fox in downtown Los Alamos said the timing of the talk, given the restart of Congress following the recent recess, made it pretty clear.

"My understanding is that NNSA required the laboratory to make a statement regarding their workforce," he said. "We don't see anything but a bright yellow caution flag - it's got us alert but not alarmed."

Ron Selvage owns a hotel and restaurant in Los Alamos and a restaurant in White Rock. He expressed concern that what was said in Thursday's all-hands meeting will impact area business. "I think it will have an impact," Selvage said. "People get very worried about jobs and they worry about spending and cut out things like eating out."

Selvage said he understands why Anastasio addressed the budget uncertainties.

"I don't blame Director Anastasio," he said. "I really don't think it will be that bad but it will impact area businesses. It's going to be lean times for a while and we just have to buckle down and get though this period."

Program Director Cheryl Pongratz of The Los Alamos Family Council spoke about her concerns from a mental health perspective during an interview on Friday. "I think there was a lot of stress and anxiety before yesterday's announcement and it's going to be worse," she said. "What worries me is that I think people aren't comfortable seeking help for their anxieties and I worry about an increase in suicide or serious depression or domestic violence."

Pongratz said that people can't help but be concerned, especially those with children and homes to sell when there are already "hundreds on the market."

"We've seen a decrease in people seeking help because they think it might make them get picked to go in a job reduction situation," Pongratz said. "I'm concerned. I'm on the Community Health Council. We just met at the Betty Ehart Senior Center and we're all very concerned."

Anastasio told employees Thursday that he found it personally difficult to tell them about the FY08 uncertainties. He said he understands that these decisions affect individuals, families, and entire communities. With the anxiety the uncertainties will surely create, Anastasio said that now more than ever, it is critical that employees look out for one another's safety and security, and take time to think before they act.

LANL will continue to make limited strategic hires during this period, Anastasio said, adding that they will give employee raises this year - paying special attention to ensure that the best people are paid the appropriate salaries.


Anonymous said...

Rep. Jeannette Wallace, R-Los Alamos, said "Regardless of the outcome, you can count on me to continue to wipe my wittle boy's tushie. I am so proud of Terry."

Pinky and The Brain said...

I didn't see that quote. This is the one that has me worried:

"people can't help but be concerned, especially those with children and homes to sell"

Anonymous said...

Ouch. Especially 'when there are already "hundreds on the market."'

Brings new meaning to the post from the summer about being a whore and Anastasio being the pimp.

Anonymous said...

"Regardless of the outcome, you can count on me to continue to wipe my wittle boy's tushie. I am so proud of Terry."

Yep - he is still your baby. I plan to donate my 5 hotdogs from the company picnic to Ter. He is so hungry these days.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Jennette, don't forget the kids. Like you or your son cares!?!

Anonymous said...

Pongratz said that people can't help but be concerned, especially those with children and homes to sell when there are already "hundreds on the market." (LA Monitor)

Yes, we are at all time historical highs for homes and condos on the market (over 300), while the number of buyers is at historical lows. The market went completely kaput with Mike's Thursday announcement. Anyone laid off this next year who has a mortgage on a home in Los Alamos is going to be in a very dangerous financial position. Some homes are apparently already in foreclosure in the County, which is extremely unusual for this area.

"We've seen a decrease in people seeking help because they think it might make them get picked to go in a job reduction situation," Pongratz said. "I'm concerned. I'm on the Community Health Council. We just met at the Betty Ehart Senior Center and we're all very concerned." (LA Monitor)

Anxiety levels just keep going higher and higher. Constant stress eventually creates depression. Like Morrie, I'm very concerned about what this constant ramp up of stress is doing to the local community. However, I see no way around it at the moment. Perhaps after the RIF is done and over, LANL workers can get back to some level of "normal". I would prefer LANS go ahead and right-size the lab this year so we don't have to go through yearly back-to-back RIFs. The community can't handle that type of stress. We need to fix the staffing size of LANL and then begin to move forward.

The recent Monitor articles shows the local businessmen to be in complete denial about what is happening this next year. They need to be prepared for a very bad year. Perhaps by next year, things will finally start to improve once the RIF is done and over. But for this year, it's time to cover up the windows and doors and hunker down for the Perfect Storm which is definitely headed our way.

Anonymous said...

and all because the Bush administration decided to hand some of the pie to Bechtel (I won't use the euphemism LANS) .... You can bet Bechtel will not lose or give up a dollar of its "management fee" to save any jobs. That's part of the corporate MO: slash jobs and not give a thought to the local economy.

Anonymous said...

"people can't help but be concerned, especially those with children and homes to sell"

Selling children? What kind of place is this?

Anonymous said...

It's time for the community to tell the spend-happy County Council that those big bucks they are counting on ARE NOT coming. The council needs to put all its expensive wishes on the back burner, including its big development plans.

Money needs to be banked for the lean times because there's going to be a number of years of lean times. Everyone hopes this is just a glitch, but until management takes a big hit with positions and salaries being cut drastically, tough times at LANL will be the norm.

Udall's vote was totally out of line. Instead of just voting no, he should have had alternative funding for some of his pet projects lined up. But the money is not there because DOE has already allocated it to other labs. He does not have the guts to admit that so he's going to hide out and do nothing.

The community leaders all have their heads in the sand on this issue. If the council is not stopped, our taxes could quadruple to pay for planned projects. Attend the council meeting on 9/11 at 7pm in the Community Building and encourage the councilors to stop gold plating their projects.

Darko said...

Fink-Knottle & the Brain -

It looks like the Good Doctor is back in full form.

You've gotta link to his hilarious Santa Clause spoof of Anastasio... it is too much!

- Darko Clause

Anonymous said...

it's an easy scenario to predict: the few manangers and TSMs to get the axe will leave the area since there is no other place to works; the SSMs will try to stay but will end up with crappy low-paying jobs in Santa Fe (or Albuquerque) because the areas don't pay anything (even a mid-level SSM makes close to 70K); eventually SSMs will leave also (that 30K job in Santa Fe doesn't provide a living wage or benefits) as local businesses, the housing market, and schools take the hit from the depressed economy.

Anonymous said...

"Attend the council meeting on 9/11 at 7pm in the Community Building and encourage the councilors to stop gold plating their projects." - 9/9/07 9:53 AM

Rickman's "The Bomb Town News Observer" blog has a lot more info about the County's plans to bankrupt the citizenry with new gold-platted construction plans.

You can read all about it here:

The Bomb Town News Observer

If these plans proceed, you'll not only have to worry about home foreclosures. You'll have to worry about property taxes that will be going up by huge margins during a time of declining business. The whole county seems to be getting set up for financial destruction.

Anonymous said...

The Bay Area can absorb the displaced workers from LLNL.... Santa Fe can't... the exodus will begin even for those who can't sell their houses in Los Alamos or Santa Fe... and of course there will be no buyers or even renters for those homes

Anonymous said...

And of course there was Jeannette Wallace's editorial in the Vomiter suggesting that the elected County officals know what they are doing so we should just sit back and let them take care of us. And St. Pete has said the same thing - that Los Alamos needs bigger spending and bigger taxes while LANL is driven into the ground. I guess that's the Republican mantra now that comes from the supply siders and the neo cons.

Anonymous said...

and don't forget the huge Bechtel profits for "managing"

Anonymous said...

Every worker at LANL probably supports about 1 or 2 jobs outside of the lab by the goods and services they purchase. When the RIF hits, I guarantee you that all of Northern New Mexico will quickly feel the financial pain. Santa Fe will not be immune from the outcome. Those who hate the lab and have jobs in the communities around it are about to get a brutal lesson in economics.

Anonymous said...

Jeannette Wallace? Where have I seen that last name before? Oh, I know. She's Terry's mom! Terry will see to it that everything comes out all right. We are in good hands. Jeannette know this, which is why she can be so calm about our current situation.

Los Alamos Vomiter is right. I think I'm going to puke after reading it this Sunday.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't just make me want to puke; it makes me angry. Only Cheryl Pongratz gave any thought to the people who will lose their livelihoods. The rest of our so-called leaders were too busy rubbing their hands with glee at the extra tax money they would get when the lab was privatized. They should have yelled and screamed at Dirty Old St. Pete for that atrocity but they were bribed into going along--the Republican way. RIFs were a guaranteed result of the huge Rectal fee and extra taxes on LANL. Now there is going to be a lot of pain and we have to suffer further by being told that it is "right-sizing," and "look at the fancy new buildings the county has built," and "why didn't you all start to work on energy projects." There is an egregious war going on and there isn't any money for new projects. The working people at LANL (not LANS) are trying hard to find better energy sources and protect the country but they can't do it without support from Washington and decent leaders. We have neither and the Rectal people bear much of the blame but even there we have to put up with platitudes from the worthless likes of Jeanette Wallace and her useless son. Lets bet--not one worthless LANS hack in our grossly top-heavy Rectal management will get the ax and our political "leaders" will all want to get re-elected. Since there are so many newly rich Rectal managers here and elsewhere to give lots of new money to the politicos, some of them might even get re-elected. Remember them and their greed and lack of compassion when you vote and try to make them suffer at least a little, too.

Anonymous said...

1:29 that's exactly what I have been saying.... all the local anti-labbers will eventually get hit as well as northern NM goes into a economic depression because of the Bush corporatization of the lab. Bechtel will get some nice profits but NM will take a kick in the ass. The corporate powers don't give a shit because they have nothing invested locally.... just a fat "management fee" for doing nothing.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, guys. Losing 2,500 pieces of deadwood from LANL will not cause a depression in Northern New Mexico. What do you think we're running here, anyhow -- a welfare program? I'm afraid most of the "brutal lessons in economics" are going to be learned by folks with skill sets of questionable marketability.

Anonymous said...

5:26 is an asshole... I hope you are personally and badly impacted by the RIF... even if you are the blogster.

2,500 people losing their jobs and moving out is not funny nor is it good for the local economy.

You're a moron

Pinky and The Brain said...

5:26 isn't me. I can think of a few people who need to be fired for cause, not 2,500 though.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

Me neither.

My opinions on the on the relative state of bloat and inefficiency of the lab, however, are probably similar to 5:26's -- it could only benefit the lab to clean out the copious numbers of "deadwood".

Starting with management.

Unfortunately, because of this very same management we can virtually be assured that the wrong people will be let go, and my sympathies will go out to them when it happens.


Anonymous said...

"Sorry, guys. Losing 2,500 pieces of deadwood from LANL will not cause a depression in Northern New Mexico. What do you think we're running here, anyhow -- a welfare program?"

Well, it would be a good thing if we could lose the 2,500 pieces of deadwood - such as the people who hinder the ability to get anything done anymore. The problem is that the LANS senior management are so worried about a lawsuit. They are "working" with Legal and Diversity to help with the pickins. You tell me who is going to get the axe ... not the deadwood, that is for sure.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who has worked at LANL for any length of time knows how badly the working environment has been allowed to deteriorate by LANL management. The most solid measure of this is our FTE rates, $450K/year, which are so far out of line with industry as to be laughable.

Any company that has rates that high has serious problems, and deserves to go out of business. If a RIF can get rid of deadwood and improve productivity by getting rid of the non performers, then so be it.

I, however, have absolutely no faith in LANS' ability to conduct a RIF properly. They have demonstrated to my total satisfaction that they are completely incompetent at running the lab.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that staff are screwed. LANL is in its present state due to years of management ineptitude -- DOE, NNSA, UC, and now LANS. The current business model is unsustainable, because free money is being cut back, and now for the first time ever LANL is going to have to compete for outside dollars.

But because the infrastructure at LANL is now grid-locked by a greedy corporate management team that is primarily interested in protecting their annual award fee, there is no hope of making any substantive changes that will improve LANL's chances of surviving at its current staffing levels.

Less money is coming to LANL and no new work prospects exist outside of possible pit production operations, should Congress be convinced that they shoul dfund pit production at LANL.

Staff are screwed. Whether or not 2,500 of them are deadwood that the lab would be better of without almost doesn't matter, because you can be assured that LANS will not implement a rational RIF program. And, even if they did, DOE, NNSA, and LANS would still be in control of LANL's fate.

Anonymous said...

and just because you hate the lab and its programs, don't think that firing 2,500 PEOPLE will change the lab PROGRAMS any. The programs will be the same. But when the 2,500 innocent workers take the axe and move away.... enjoy the local economy

Anonymous said...

Well, that's part of the problem, isn't it 7:49? The lab's portfolio mix should have changed years ago. SNL has a portfolio that is 50% WFO, and they look to be hit about half as hard as us during this reduction. For that we have the previous and still present crack team of UC managers to thank, now enhanced by the Bechtel and BWXT contingent who are salivating at the prospect of gearing up for large-scale pit production.

The lack of foresight of LANL management would be laughable, were the consequences of it not so tragic for those who are about to pay for it with their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Congress is very eager to fund some things. They made big increases to non-poliferation funding in the latest House budget for NNSA. It's time to re-tool LANL for what Congress is willing to buy. Shuck 20% of the Weapons Program and start growing the non-poliferation side like crazy. At least that would help stop LANL from heading down its current path to complete obsolescence.

If your customer doesn't want to buy your product, then change your product to what they will buy. Congress is definitely willing to buy non-poliferation, but the entrenched dinosaurs at the lab don't want to let go of making beautiful 21st century "buggie whips". These new "buggie whips" may be well made and nice to look at but no one is willing to buy them any longer. Not the Democrats, not most of the Republicans, not the media, and not the US taxpayers. It's long past time to begin re-tooling LANL to a new product line that involves national security research. We are a natural choice for suppying the US with non-poliferation work. We could also become the "Go To" place for lots of work for various 3-letter agencies if we got sufficient top management support to help boost this effort in Washington DC. Has Mikey ever considered making trips to these places to help "sell" what the lab has to offer in terms of advanced technology?

New LANL motto... "LANL, World's Best Science at saving the fat ass of Congressmen from terrorist nuclear annilation, one fat ass at a time!". Well, maybe not exactly that motto, but you get the idea.

Anonymous said...

like the kids in Iraq..... we all pay for the "mistakes" of "managers" one way or another.... funny how they are never accountable... but SO glad Bush had a terrific vacation full of laughs and good times while the rest of the country goes down the shitter... the LANL managers won't bat an eyelash as they RIF people... oh WAIT... they've been getting rid of contractors and students and limited termers since June 2006... this is just business as usual.

Anonymous said...

Face the music, people. LANL is going to be a lot smaller in the very near future. There is not a whole lot that can be done about it.

Anonymous said...

We can complain to our Congressional reps that LANS is a disaster and costing people their jobs. We can't do it directly since anyone who wants to knows perfectly well that they would suddenly be on the RIF list but we can do it here. Thank you Pinky and Gussie!

Anonymous said...

Now the parade of meetings to "DEAL" with the RIF start. Doris Heim starts her 3 meetings this week for ADBS directorate. And she has what to say just days after the RIF bomb? I bet we also have division and group meetings and then some more meetings... and of course NO ONE has anything to say, no answers, no solutions.

Maybe Doris will announce the new LANL essay contest, "Why I Shouldn't Be RIFFED." Tell us in 500 words or less why you shouldn't be a goner. Anastasio and his lawyer can be the contest judges.

Anonymous said...

LANS is probably going to want hard numbers on possible staff cuts for each Directorate and Division. These numbers will then be scaled according to how bad the budget becomes next year. Better hope that you're not under those organizations that are destined for the chopping block. As you might expect, those working under the Weapons Program are most at risk. Perhaps LANS will clue us all in on these specific Directorate and Divisions numbers, but don't count on it. Mike's "2500+" figure may be all that the general staff gets to hear about until the RIF is actually rolled out.

Anonymous said...

So what are you saying 6:36PM? By definition minorities and women are "deaswood?"

Anonymous said...

12:27PM needs to know that Santa Fe will be there for you. The city's lodging and restaurant association will absorb as many of the displaced technical staff as possible. As for support staff, you're not trainable, so you'll just have to cope. The "best and brightest" however, will not be forgotten. We're here for you.

--SF L&R Association

Anonymous said...


You are stupid.

Anonymous said...

2:14PM - yes, you ARE stupid. I did not read anything about women or minorities in the 6:36 posting, just about deadwood that hinders the ability to get anything done at LANL anymore. I think there are quite a few white guys in that bunch.

Anonymous said...

9:xx PM posters: No, no, no. You misunderstood. The 2:14pm poster referred to "deaswood", not "deadwood". Obviously you are unfamiliar with this terminology. "Deadwood" still applies to white guys with PhDs who have a horrible aptitude in science, but an unmatched skill at self preservation and toadieing that has allowed them to maintain entire careers based on doing virtually nothing. "Deaswood" is simply the people who are mistakenly fired instead of the deadwood due to the clever cunning of these squirrely white guys who continuously escape the axe, or simply their unfortunate lexicographic similarity, especially in the presence of QWERTY keyboards.

Anonymous said...

1:49PM is brilliant...really!

Anonymous said...

Oh really 9:56PM? That clueless are you? Ok, this is the part that suggests women and minorities are the deadwood:

"They are "working" with Legal and Diversity to help with the pickins."

Get it now? Of course not. The best and brightest rarely do.

Anonymous said...

Oh good grief, 7:57 AM, you are a paranoid one. I am a minority and a woman and I did not read ANYTHING into the 6:36 post like you did. But then again, maybe you just don't do your job and so you are worried about losing it. You work for one of the FODs don't you?

Anonymous said...

deadwood = aqua regia tsm