Dec 16, 2007

Comment of the Week, Sunday Morning Edition, Number 2

From the same Comment of the Week, Saturday Edition post. I've wondered who else was beginning to feel this way.



Only those who have been asleep for the past few years wouldn't know about all the corruption problems at the Lab. Repeated articles in the media have revealed the Lab's penchant for denial and cover-up over the years, but of course some now want a list of specifics. What a crock! The best thing for the American taxpayer would be to purge staffing at Los Alamos and start over. There are just too many entrenched interests and denial among existing staff to change in any significant way. Rich Marquez, Terry Wallace, Nick Salazar, Janette Wallace, Ben Lujan and all their family and friends working at the Lab should be gotten rid off and then maybe, just maybe we'd have a chance once again as an institution. But no, let's keep blaming people like Walp, Doran and others who have tried to fix problems at the Lab. It's easier perhaps to do that, but also shows why we're a lost cause anymore as an institution. We can't learn from our mistakes if we can't admit them, and we will never admit them even as the ship sinks, we won't admit them. Just shut the place down, already!


Anonymous said...

Lets face it. The lab has succumbed to the plague that has infested all government agencies. The writer states LANL should purge all the staff and start over. Its not going to happen. Has never happened at ANY government agency.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Nanos and his give me ten workers and I'll rebuild the place from scratch speech.

Anonymous said...

He made sense up untill Walp and Doran. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

I retired from LANL a few years ago, however I was working there during the Walp and Doran business, but I must not have been paying much attention. Can someone please explain what those two did that seems to have discredited them in the eyes of so many?

I've basically heard two versions of the Walp and Doran story:

1) They found corruption and theft at LANL, reported it, and were fired as a result.

2) They didn't find coruption and theft at LANL, but reported it anyhow, and were fired as a result.

Also, weren't they both awarded a rather large cash settlement for wrongful firing from LANL?

Anonymous said...

I believe that the answer on Walp and Doran is #2.

UC too often chooses to pay off people rather than fight lawsuits. I believe that to be a mistake as it gives people the strong impression that you are guilty and it encourages more lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

UC chose to fight Sarah Kauppila's lawsuit. I'm not sure I agree with your claim that UC is unwilling to engage those who file suit against them, 12:50pm.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 1:34 PM. UC (and now LANS) seem to have a special joy in their hearts for attacking poor widows.

What happened to Todd back in '04 was a great injustice. They destroyed a man's reputation and then his very life. Then, Bob Foley, as head of UC lab management, visits LANL to show his support for his bully, Pete Nanos, and the six month shutdown. Bob Foley is heard to utter "Todd, who?" when asked a question about this critical incident during the All-Hands meeting. Unbelievable!

Subsequent stories about UCOP corruption (i.e., the Dynes pay scandal, et al) have shown us that: (1) UC appears to have no shame, and (2) UC treats it's loyal friends at the top very well.

Anonymous said...

Yes, UC's decision to fight the Sarah Kauppila lawsuit is at odds with past behavior.

Anonymous said...

Back when the Walp and Doran story first broke, the two of them made an appearance on Fox News, interviewed by Bill O'Reilly.

When asked to give an example of the corruption they'd uncovered, they cited "retired" property numbers in the property accounting system. Their statement went something this:

"It looks to us that, whenever something is stolen up there, the property number is simply 'retired' and it's taken off the books. Unbelievable! We looked over LANL's equipment inventory, and there's hundreds, thousands, of instances of these 'retired' property numbers!"

O'Reilley: "So, what's your conclusion from all this?"

Walp/Doran: "Our conclusion is that UC is absolutely incapable of managing LANL. We've never seen a more corrupt operation in our lives."

Now, anybody who does experimental work at LANL will know that there are many reasons for retiring a property number that have nothing to do with corruption.

For instance, If a piece of equipment fails under warranty, and the manufacturer chooses to replace rather than repair it, the bar code number on the failed item is retired, and the replacement gets a new number. (I've got a couple of examples of this on my own property list. Does this make me a criminal?) Anytime a piece of equipment is permanently transfered to another institution, its property number is retired. When something becomes obsolete and is sent to salvage, its number is retired.

Walp and Doran were either incapable of understanding this simple fact, or chose not to, and instead used this standard accounting practice as supposed evidence of outrageous corruption and widespread theft, trumpeting their ridiculous lie on national TV. They lost all credibility with me the instant I saw that interview. It was clear those guys had an agenda, namely to end UC's management of LANL and open the way for privatization, and no lie or half-truth was beneath them in their pursuit of that agenda.

Anonymous said...

"It was clear those guys had an agenda, namely to end UC's management of LANL and open the way for privatization..."

Wow. Just wow. You are paranoid.

Anonymous said...

The "retired property number" is an age-old gambit for theft of government property. BUT, clearly the existence of a lot of retired property numbers in a place that has hundreds of thousands of items of property is not prima facie evidence that the place is a "den of theives."

We retired many MANY ~1975 model Hewlett Packard and Texas Instrument calculators when they failed or the annual cost of batteries exceeded the cost of a new item. To retire a property number, you have a piece of paper to fill out and the reason for retirement of the number must be documented.

I do know that these cops' agenda was the privatize the management of LANL, but they were clearly not very honest. No doubt collaborators of Tommy Hook, Chuck Montano, and Chris Mechels.

Anonymous said...

12/16/07 3:41 PM: "Wow. Just wow. You are paranoid."

You had to have seen that interview. They said it about ten times, "Well the only conclusion we can make is UC has to go!" "The only way to fix the problem is to get rid of UC!" "UC is corrupt! We need to get someone else in there to manage that lab!"

It left very little to the imagination.

Agendas aside, their misconceptions about what is implied by retiring a property number, and their decision to go to the press with that particular load of BS, would have been grounds enough for their dismissal, in my view.

Anonymous said...

UC has to go is not equal to privatize. What about other nonprofits or universities.

And what do Hook, Montano, and Mechels have to do with privatization?

You are just mad that they dared to criticize your institution.

Anonymous said...

No, the property problem was simply an inefficient, naive, overly-trusting system.

Years ago, when I needed to salvage a computer system, the property admin would say, "just leave it in the hallway outside my office with a note on it." Now, that's pretty trusting, but then again we were behind the fence so it made a sort of sense. Everybody with access to that hallway had a Q clearance, which was assumed to mean something. Of course, sometimes the property admin wouldn't enter the salvaged computer correctly and it would still show up on my property list for a few months, until I complained. But the problem was poor record keeping and an over-burdened property admin, not criminal activity.

It was a poor system, in that it depended on trust and trust-worthiness. Well, that says a lot. But it worked 99.9% of the time.

Eventually, of course, we needed sophisticated locks on our computer rooms, because they were located outside the fence and too many visitors were cavalierly given the combination to the computer room. In that case, the corruption wasn't within the lab but on the part of visitors who had nothing invested in the system and took advantage of the situation.

Altogether a sad commentary on people's ethics... both with and without Q clearances. Apparently, people can only be trusted as far as it agrees with their self-interest. And too many people now-a-days seem to think that ethics are for suckers.