Monday, March 07, 2005

The Time for Balance on These Issues Was Long past Due

Referring to the ta-15-crem-incident-and-aftermath post:

In the interest of accuracy I would like to address a few of the recent comments that have been made. I am the coauthor of the CREM article, and I stand by every word of it. We were very careful to make certain that the article submitted was scrupulously accurate and could be verified. There is not a single statement in this piece that cannot be corroborated by witnesses or backed up by supporting documentation. The individual who posted his comments at 7:44 said the “account is extremely biased, self-serving, and emotional.” I would submit to you that the months of erroneous information fed to the world by the Director was biased, self-serving, and indeed emotional. Above all it was untrue.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to remain completely dispassionate when writing about an issue that one is so deeply involved in. Considering the devastating consequences of the Director’s actions and strident claims, I believe our words were reasoned and appropriate. While some might feel our account is self-serving, our right to defend ourselves with facts is completely justified. Who in his right mind would silently tolerate the indignity and injustice of a false accusation followed by outrageous punishment? In our opinion, the time for balance on these issues was long past due. Recall as well the Director’s remark that a few innocent people might be casualties before the Lab was able to resume operations.

While there was a direct case made to fire two employees involved in the barcode incident and responsible for the inventory error, Todd and I were not among them. Contrary to the assertion of the post, I am still a Lab employee. Moreover, the federal authorities found that Todd and I were “completely nonculpable,” which is a very important point. The federal investigation found that we were both blameless in the events that transpired, yet Todd was fired and I was suspended for ten days. These actions were political in nature and designed to lend credence to the shutdown and the Director’s claims that maverick employees were the cause of his CREM problems. That is why we are fighting the sanctions taken against us. Neither Todd nor I were signatories on any of the documents in question, so indeed no mention is made of that in our statement.

The 9:25 post says that we avoid inconvenient aspects of what happened based on his assertion that if someone at DX had been more careful this blog would not exist. The posted statement is a nonsequitur. We address the fact that the inventory was inaccurate, which was the root cause of the CREM debacle, and a problem, I might add, that we uncovered and reported to the SIT through our OCSR. The Director knew about the hypothesis on July 17, as did NNSA.

Lastly, I would like to address the 10:48 post. The footnote is not misleading. The Director did call me a fool. If you were actually in the room that day then you know that Nanos had lost his temper long before I told him that “his black cowboy hat was a slap in the face to everyone in the group.” Your post is misleading because you fail to provide the context for your statement. Additionally, to claim that I am asinine for pointing this out is more misleading. I have personally briefed the director numerous times. I have close friends and family that work at TA-3. All of them agree that the hat that Nanos habitually wore before the barcode incident was a leather “Indiana Jones” style hat that I have seen many times. The black cowboy hat is a new addition to his wardrobe and designed to send a statement. I stand by my comment. I believe I know who you are. You certainly know who I am. The fact that you did not have the common courtesy to say this to me personally or to post your name is telling.

I cannot relay to you exactly how stressful the last nine months have been for us. Both Todd and I have been slandered, maligned, and defamed. Our life savings have been depleted and our careers destroyed. We have had to sell personal property and go into debt to pay attorneys’ fees. Neither of us is the type of person to shirk our responsibilities. Had we deserved any of the charges made against us or the punishments exacted, then we would have quietly accepted it and moved on. However, we are also not shrinking violets that will allow unethical people to abuse us and our families. When we believe we are right we will fight for vindication.

We both realize that we are not the only ones who have been abused in this situation. The actions of the Director, UC, DOE, and the NNSA are reprehensible. All of you have been unreasonably attacked. Even those who do not work at the Laboratory have been deeply affected. Due to the uncertainty at the LANL property values have plummeted, businesses have failed and everyone here has been placed under completely avoidable stress. As lifetime members of this community we are deeply distressed and dismayed at what has occurred. We hope that you understand our defensive motivation in fighting the actions taken against us.

The information that we presented was an accurate description of the CREM incident. We tried to give as much detail as possible for the venue in which it was submitted. However, it is unreasonable to think that we could cover every nuance and anticipate every question in such a brief account. The proper place and time to delve deeply into the details should be in a House or Senate subcommittee hearing that we expect to happen later this year. We anticipate our testimony becoming a part of that record so that Todd and I can clear our names in an official capacity.

John N. Horne

Comments:
Don't let a few truly stupid people get you down, John. Overwhelmingly, the majority of us believe you, because we know the director. Believe me, you will be vindicated and still here long after he is gone.
 
The account by Todd and John raises an issue that all of us should at least consider. I believe its important to keep in mind the distinct possibility that the current Lab management uses character assassination as a strategy to discredit those it does not like. I have heard negative rumors about virtually everyone who gets in their way. I’ve begun to realize that my opinions are being shaped not by fact, but by innuendo. I believe that this is yet another reflection of the sort of “culture” that Nanos is trying to instill in place of tradition.
 
Well written. I don't imagine that someone was questioning the facts that were presented in the original post as much as they were questioning WHICH facts were presented and which were not.
 
The TA-15 Crem incident should be included in a course on managerial ethics as an example of how a manager's bad decisions and know-it-all attitude can ruin reputations and careers overnight. And if a Congressional hearing does happen later this year, it will only restore John's and Todd's reputations if it's covered in the press as well as the original incident was covered.

After reading the FBI report as well as the blog posts, I have no doubts that the entire episode was grossly exaggerated simply as a way to boost Nanos' belief that LANL needed a "tough" manager.

There are many middle-level LANL managers who are being groomed to have the same attitude and who are following LANL managerial guidelines today. I see that in my own division in the division office. Hopefully a new director will see that he/she can't manage effectively with those middle-level managers and will really clean house.
 
John,

Thank you for the clear explanations. It is enlightening to see reasoned accounts.

There is a circulating rumor that there were two Case Review Boards one after the other, perhaps with different recomendations.

Can you set straight the record on the BLOG with: 1) Were there two Case Review Boards in your case?; 2) If there were two, Which Case Review Board findings did you obtain under the Freedom of Information Act?; and 3) If there were two, Which Case Review Board findings were used in your termination?
 
For clarity, I would like to know what the ACTUAL charges against Todd and John were/are. I cannot believe they were given time off and fired just for taking the wrong training. Can you please post the actual case review?
 
Atta boy, John. We will add your name to the legion of excellence right alongside Montano, Hook and Mechels.
 
In response to the post at 9:10: We also recently heard of a second case review board. We tried, both personally and through our attorneys, to obtain copies of those reviews. To date our attempts have been unsuccessful. HR claims that they do not exist but the acting DX-Division Leader stated that they do. Another individual claimed that the second review board was a verbal meeting and hence was undocumented. So, in response to your questions, we don’t know if a second case review actually exists. The case review board documentation, that we obtained through the FOIA, was done by HR Staff Relations. The information that we have does not support either Todd’s termination or my suspension. If anyone has specific information that could help us solve this particular mystery we would value your assistance.

John N. Horne
 
The call for nominations for laboratory distinguished performance awards are now open. Those of us who know Todd and John know they deserved this nomination prior to this incident but now more then ever we feel it fitting that they receive this award. I will place there name's in nomination. I hope that all who have witnessed their couragous effort to correct this injustice perpetuated upon all laboratory employees will also place their name's in nomination. Todd is no longer a laboratory employee but his service to the laboratory prior to his unjust termination should be recognized as well as John's.
 
Are you all morons here? It was not just the CREM incident. That was just the final straw that broke the camel's back. It was preceded by numerous, serious safety and security violations. Some were near death experiences like putting cranes into powerlines and violating LO/TO procedures.

No other business or operation could survive such gross stupidity. If there was any formality or discipline at LANL these problems would no longer be here.
 
No, we are not a bunch of morons, thank you. Are you a manager?
 
"Are you all morons here?" ... "No other business or operation could survive such gross stupidity."

I'm just astonished at the tight connection between safety advocacy and personal disrespect at the Lab. How did something as important as safety become a conduit for the expression of rage?
 
Why rage?

Did you ever see the movie the "Sand Pebbles", with Steve McQueen? I believe it has something to do with breaking rice bowls. If Nanos is removed, then the huge paper-mill process-heavy system that he constructed will dissipate, along with the jobs that were to have been hung upon it.

In other words, there will be a large number of LANL staff who had been counting on being paid out of overhead funds to implement to the letter the byzantine regulation swamp that Nanos caused to be created.

These people are pissed that they might no longer have a nice secure niche in the LANL bureaucracy.
 
Actually it was another business, namely KSL, that put the crane into power lines. It was KSL drivers, KSL operators, and KSL riggers. LANL personnel were not involved.
 
The Lock Out/Tag Out incident (LO/TO)referred to by poster 6:22 also did not involve UC Laboratory people.
 
However, the LO/TO incident affected a sole-source small-business protected by LANL's federal procurement requirements, such that because of the incident no further construction work committed to this minority business is allowed to commence. There is apparently no other approved (favored) alternative construction contractor thus inducing more delays into already late projects...eh, SUP and PM?!
 
Who rolled a large crane onto its side while avoiding joggers on an outback road?
 
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