Saturday, May 14, 2005

Reopen the Todd Kauppila case

From Anonymous:

I attended Todd's Memorial Service and when the colors were presented, we put our hands over our hearts and pledged our allegiance. When we got to the end and said “and justice for all,” for the first time those words felt hollow to me. Todd, like many other scientists and engineers here, had dedicated his life's work to support this Laboratory’s national security mission for this nation. His judge, jury, and executioner was someone who had backed himself and this Laboratory into a corner and needed a Christian to feed to the lions to satisfy the NNSA Area Office and Washington DC spectators' thirst for blood.

May 16th the Lab has an opportunity to restore the senior management credibility by reopening the Kauppila case and taking an objective look at Todd’s service to the nation and (even posthumously) righting a wrong. Todd, his family, and the very institution we have been so proud of deserve no less. Only then can the healing begin!

Your help is solicited to ask the new Director at Monday's All Hands Meeting to reopen the Todd Kauppila case.

I would be happy to sign, with my real John Hancock, a petition to reopen the investigation, but I'll bet that nothing will be done simply because if it were reopened and the findings supported Todd, UC, LANL, DOE(?) might all be liable for tremendous damages. There are probably all kinds of personnel rules that would keep UC and/or LANL from making an out-of-court settlement too. It looks to me like in every situation, the employee is guilty until proven innocent.

Will this change with a new contractor? I don't think so because it's not to the contractor's advantage to allow employees to have due process.
First, due process is not a benefit granted or allowed by a contractor but an absolute perogrative granted by the Constitution.

Second, regardless of the congratulatory nature of statements made by UC on the occasion of Nanos departure that were crafted to ameliorate UC's legal exposure, the fact that is obvious to any fair and impartial observer is that he was fired for cause. One of the primary causes was his constant mistreatment and abuse of employees that included denial of due process. Given that reality or even that appearance, as a minimum there should be a prompt review of all his personnel actions particularly those that involved terminations, removal from positions of leadership, salary reductions, reprimands, leaves of absence without pay, and similar punishments. Without this review, the UC having now removed Nanos for cause will be compounding the wrongs that certainly resulted in his departure after only two years of service in that capacity at a crucial time in the contract competition.

Third, the fact that individuals at UCOP may have been complicit in such decisions might have been explained by the fact that their involvement was based on limited or erroneous information provided to them by Director Nanos and/or his staff. However, even given that assumption, the ipso facto removal of Nanos for cause would negate that defense were the aforementioned reviews not accomplished to mitigate and remedy damages.

Finally, such reviews are necessary if the UC wishes to reestablish trust between itself and the employees at Los Alamos. Maintaining the status quo after May 15, 2005, is maintaining the abuses for which Nanos was terminated. There is no other conclusion possible.
BTW, I should have added that the Todd Kauppila case should be the first case to be reviewed.
The more I learn, I would like to see some credible answers. I wonder to what extent non-LANL labs have exploited this situation to distract attention from their own issues, or give DoE HQ an excuse not to focus on their own in house problems.
Todd was entitled to due process and I hope that his family will be able to sue LANL for the benefits he would have had, if he had not been wrongfully fired.
But make no mistake, LANL will not acknowledge this mistake. It will have to be sued and will probably fight hard.
Only one thing might help the Kauppila family in this case -- if UC loses the contract, it will have to pay for all court losses out of its own pocket. DOE will no longer pay its legal bills. UC would have to pay them itself. That might inject a little sanity into LANL's refusal ever to settle.
But, I wouldn't hold my breath, waiting for LANL -- or any large organization -- to do the right thing. That just isn't how corporations work.
Not all employees are entitled to due process with respect to work. For instance, contractors to LANL are "at will" employees and have no rights whatsoever where their jobs are concerned.
UC employees, do however, but they are not always so easy to assert.
Dear Anonymous,

Who indeed will put the bell around the cat's neck? We must remember that we are lower than the mice in the children's story, being afraid of even naming ourselves. Truly we must organize but, somehow, we find a union to be despicable.
Yes, how will we (self?) organize? This blog has provided the beginning of that. I am sorry that UPTE's effectiveness and reputation has been low.

Despite any specific problems UPTE or any Union has, we are beyond cats when it comes to herding. Rightly or wrongly, many of us percieve joining or being represented by a Union being tantamount to admitting that we are replaceable parts, commodities, and of course many of us spent our educational and work careers trying to become unique resources, experts in our field, leaders.

There has to be a way to think about our plight, our circumstance which allows for this feature, and allows us to still seek a single, consonant voice. We are intelligent, determined and not without resources. How is it we can get as railroaded as we seem to be?

How many voices raised in chorus would it take to make DOE realize they need us and they need us relatively happy to fulfill their mission? How many voices, speaking the same words in the same tone would it take for UC or a new contractor to realize that it *is* in their best interest to consider our interests?
To be honest, this is a political nightmare that anyone at LANL will have to realize could be them one day. A congressional investigator on Friday put it in these terms: "I feel for the family because its ugly, but this just looks like the Lab personell still don't get it."

The Lab currently is an easy target for Democrats and Republicans to get points from their constituencies:

Democrats get it from the anti-nuke crowd. Republicans get it from the conservative church crowd where 'scientist' can quickly labeled as a Darwinist. It doesnt matter that the lab has large percentages of people who fall into being 'born-again' or 'anti-nuke'. A politician is looking to be re-elected and broad brush strokes about people in someone else's district always work great.

So to be honest, if LANL did reopen the investigation.. it would become so politically mired down that no-one would ever believe its conclusions (either Todd's innocense or guilt). If people want to get it really investigated then they will have to get some outside organization that Americans with political votes would believe.. I am guessing Fox News.
Yes Fox news is about the only entity doing any investigative reporting today. Look at the stories about Los Alamos from all over the country. They are all either direct copies of the shallow, insipid AP story or a slight rewording of it. I wrote to Fox, some of you should as well. You may not like Fox news, but they do sometimes send someone out to find out some facts!
To 5/16/2005 06:59:49 AM poster, Maybe Geraldo Rivera he could look for our hidden teasure in one of our vaults.
Ms Kauppila recently submitted a "repost" of a letter her deceased husband had posted prior to his untimely demise. Some of that letter is hear-say to me. The portion of the letter he had submitted describing "pistol pete" showing up with a black cowboy hat and declaring he had got the sons of bitches that caused all the problems. I still, STILL, find that such an incredible idiotic statement. He shot himself in the foot? However, I do believe it is possible. Nanos was about that smart.

And some of the letter Ms Kauppila resubmitted I know to be as true. As luck would have it, Mr Kauppila and I share a lot of similarities (none of which are all that desirable). Shortly after her husbands death I sent her a personal letter. It described how her husbands death might have saved my life. I was also labeled a cowboy - for standing up to DOE, not LANL. My new group leader who had just acquired power under pistol pete decided I was to be gone. And that worked out for him. I decided that Doug Roberts had a better idea - leave with your insanity intact. But after 20+ years of service, LANL decided to contest my 6 months of unemployment to survive. They denied any knowledge of my DIRECT statement to them that I was in SEVERE need of immediate medical treatment, even though they had redacted their phone records of this conversation in their submital contesting my unemployment. Direct violation of FMLA. But those rules only apply when it suites the lab. This is consistent with the last posting I have ever seen from Todd Kauppila. They Lie, lie, lie. It was very funny to listen to a current CCS group leader try to play Sargent Shultz - "I Know Nothing!" even though the judge had his phone records in front of her. He looked like an absolute idiot. And he had the full support of lab legal and staff relations egging him on. I will happily post the tapes given some tech support. He will go far at LANL. Just following orders, Sir.

I do not belive in unions. Never have, never will. I do not like large legal settlements. I still believe that LANL can, MAYBE,
contribute to national security. But not now. Not as is. You have to get rid of self proclaimed sherrifs on their own personal missions with HR-SR and lab legal in tow. New contractor - get real. Nothing will change with UC/DQ (Dairy Queen). So I will submit the TAPES, of group leaders perjurying themselves with full lab knowledge to the union of choice. Of course if any has the balls to stand up for Mr Kauppila - it's yours. I don't support unions- but you individuals are next. Some moron with a cowboy hat promotes a few young turks, you are a target of choice. It might be better to leave and call Moscow and inform them they they won after all. I lost. But you want records, tapes, and files on LANL being corrupt? Just ask! You got em. I have left the green mile.
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