Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The retirement floodgates opened precisely *because* of Bob Dynes' presentation

Comment from the


Actually, 7:58, the retirement floodgates opened precisely *because* of Bob Dynes' presentation. The majority of the audience saw through his transparent insincerity, and 100% of the audience saw Foley for what he is; a dyspeptic, crude, ill-tempered tyrant. Does that sound familiar?

There was a lanl-all memo yesterday from HR notifying us of one-one retirement presentations. They are even bringing in retirement specialists from all the other campuses. Needless to say, I have one of the first appointments. No one really gives a crap if the place empties out.
Oh, my! I disagree -- the retirement flood gates opened precisely because Nanos postured the Laboratory for the final blows that will ensure UC will not be able to get the bid. I would have preferred to stay with UC after more than 30 years' dedicated service to them because it would be in my best interests to do so. Now, however, although I am glad to hear UC may very well bid if the right things are in the RFP, I have a hunch Nanos "capped" it.
I disagree with 8:30
"No one really gives a crap if the place empties out."

I *give a crap*.

I'm sorry that so many people will be leaving and I sympathise with them... in fact wish I had their (your?) options. I have my own options, but I continue to try to find a way to stay and make sense, make a future for myself and those around me.

For those who are "leaving in droves", please have a little consideration for those who are not leaving. Many of us understand and appreciate (and are envious) of your option, please be a little empathetic with our lack of options, or our choices.
To the post at 9:01PM, Don't know how old you are but if you are young I would bail and try and make a future somewhere else. I am 54 and taking a big hit by leaving early. I will need to go out and find another job after here but with my retirement I can afford to take one that pays less. May be time to go get a job at Starbucks as a barista although all the people working there seem way younger than 54.
To 5/18/2005 09:01:55 PM: Believe me, we who are leaving truly empathize with those remaining employees whose options are limited. Almost all of us want to stay and work but can not risk decades of service to empty promises from DOE/NNSA of contract extensions and "substantially equivalent" benefits. You are our LANL brothers and sisters and we wish you the very best future possible. We have shared some of the best times of our once-great institution and, more recently, the worst times. LANL can be great again with some dramatic changes from Washington but it is not likely.
I doubt that Dynes has a thing to say about what happens at LANL, though, by law he should. The people who can make the decision sit on the Board of Regents, at DOE, but primarily at the White House. Even Dominici is caught in between, though I believe he has been disloyal to LANL's traditional purpose and to the people of New Mexico in his conversion to "tough love" for LANL. It is clear he no longer has much clout with the White House.
Actually, science is scary to the current White House and certainly not worth going to bat for. The current inhabitants of the White House owe big time to their contributors. A 2 billion per year contract is a big deal to the corporations who contributed to Bush's reelection. And privatization is a major goal of the current administration.
Since corporations are not good at research and since they are better at manufacturing, LANL will be turned into a manufacturing plant. Whatever research is done will become the property of the company in charge, not a non-profit institution.
Think of it, whoever takes over LANL gets a bunch of really talented researchers, whose intellectual property they get a partial right to, and they get paid a big fee to take over this gold mine. Such a deal!
So, LANL is no longer exempt from what has been happening to the rest of the country. Yes, it is painful, but it is interesting that Los Alamos always votes Republican, and privatization is the goal of the Republican party. Is this what Los Alamos Republicans anticipated? I doubt it.
I have always wondered what the citizens of Los Alamos were thinking about politically. Hopefully, they will enjoy being a part of a pit production facility.
Many of the researchers here have no interest in pit production and will leave.
9:16 -

I am 48... I have 25 years of service... I have considered quitting before the new contractor takes over on principle and out of practicality.

I own a house too near to Los Alamos to not be severely effected by what is going on.

If I were 50 or 54 I might take retirement as you are choosing to.

On the other hand, I'm not ready to call LANL a dead horse. It may be lame and may be under the weather for the moment, but it isn't dead. I'd prefer to think of LANL as the famous comeback horse "sea biscuit". I'm willing to try to do this and hope there are enough others willing to as well.

My task was with rhetoric which ignores the fact that despite a mass exodus there will be people who choose to stay for many reasons and pretending that "leaving" is the only option and that there will be no life after contract changeover is disrespectful to them.

For those who can and will retire, I say "more power to you", and can I help you make that easier in some way? If you are my neighbor, how can I help you? If you are a coworker, how can I help you?

As a likely person to "stay on", I will lobby for retirees to be allowed to return to work with us. I hope that those of you who are exercising your option to leave will help those of us who are not make sense out of what is left and what is possible.

Please do not take a "scorched earth" policy in regard to the territory you are retreating from. We are your friends and neighbors who have to live here and make the best of what is left.
10:26 -

I do not agree with all your implications about the current administration or the source of our ills but I do agree with you that we are reaping some of the product of our own sewing.

Not only has our "politcally conservative" nature possibly backfired on us, our willingness to support "Pork-barrel Pete" (domenici) as long as it was *our* pork barrel has backfired. His success at getting us money has hurt and offended other pork-eaters in Congress and some of them are out to get him by getting us.

And despite our current pain, many of us are still better off than our peers out in the big world. We have enjoyed a modicum of security and ease in our isolation and elite situation... I am sorry it is past as well.

I'm taking the current situation as a call to humility, to realize that we are suffering exactly as others have (and continue to).

I don't like the way things are coming down at all, but I think there are still shreds for me to hang onto. Things worth doing.

I might get hungry but I won't starve, and that is more than most of the world can say today.
I have already retired, but believe
that the Laboratory is critical
to the nation. I will not be leaving town, but doing what I can to ensure the security of our nation. Many times over the decades Washington has not taken a long range vision but the Lab has, and this is somewhat independent of being UC (although it has helped). I'm available to help make the Lab what it should be (and has been in the past). I hope others feel the same independent of the Lab director and management issue. I'm especially anxious to help the younger folks see the importance of the Lab and try to make it a better place for them.
What a bunch of self-pitying crap. If you are really so miserable because of Foley or Dynes, who are far away, then by all means leave. This will allow the rest of us more positive people to shape the Lab to what it should and can be!

Very little self-pity involved. What you are seeing is the process called "voting with your feet" being exercised.
6:53 Right On!!!
Where do I sign up to help hold the gates open!!!
I have to agree with 6:53. The level of self-pity currently heard from
some of the staff is way too high. I wish we could turn the clock back
to the 60's and run this place as LASL. We can't. Big changes are in
the offing. If you can't handle it, then please stop complaining and
just leave now. Life is too short to be spent constantly carping about
how you've been wronged by those around you.
I believe that some of the airing of concerns seen here as well as discussions in a number of other venues are a real attempt to seek solutions for an organization that has been and could or should be great.

In the absence of a concerted effort to improve things that really matter, people will continue to 'think out loud' and dabble with possible solutions to perceived problem areas.

The things that really matter, from the trench-view, are things that consistently pose problems in getting work done in a reasonable time, at a reasonable cost, and with a reasonable amount of safety and security and are reasonably close to the desired outcome. Hopefully, there is also reasonable recognition to balance out the reasonable effort expended.

I've intentionally overused the word "reasonable" because it alludes to common sense (uncommon as it may be recently) and because in the legal system we use the 'reasonable man' test as a benchmark and it is commonly accepted as a valid descriptor of the average person.

So, why is this improvement, positive change and common sense so elusive? Aren't there smart people engaged in all or most levels of the Lab?

One suggestion which continually appears and then fades away is to use this blog (or other communication venue) to have positive and productive discussions about problems and possible solutions. It is difficult to do so in a public forum without risking the potential for violating policy. It's more difficult to have people volunteer to share information within the broken system when they fear retribution or retaliation. Real or perceived, the impasse is monumental for many and the frustration mounts.

Somee problems don't seem to be just Nanos' era but much earlier. The departures of each 'bad manager' or deviants like those who criminally shamed LANL (Alexander & Bussolini) are certainly steps toward recovery.

The retirement of many people who feel they can't risk losing what they've been told would be their security beyond their work-years is a sad compromise for some of the intellectual strength we have hoped to draw upon, however they can't be blamed for taking a necessary step toward their own and their family's stability.

Those who will leave because they can no longer tolerate the circumstances should be wished farewell, literally that they fare well in their next endeavor, rather than lambasted for making a choice they need to make to deal with the situation.

Those who will stay and those who will come on board will need to roll up their sleeves and look around for what can be fixed, what can be replaced with something that works, what can be jettisoned and what can be left as is.

My hope is that what can be simplified will be simplified rather than complicated. Also that what can be salvaged in terms of meaningful work, future achievements and people's well-being, will also be salvaged.

And finally, I hope that the struggle and the follow-up with hard work, integrity-based effort, will allow the people's trust (Congress, the public, et al) to be restored and prove that we're not just a bunch of lazy, clever (at avoiding work, hiding problems, creating messes, or taking cavalier risks with their money, environment & etc) whiners.

I don't mean to downplay the situation that people who live and work in the area endure, but it is evident that there is much more to be gained by putting one foot in front of the other toward recovery rather than trying to continue to explain the current conditions and continually justify the response.
Kuckuck, Dynes, Foley, Nanos...these ARE the best and brightest, i.e. the world-class talent UC is famous for assigning to “manage” its interests. Until just recently the nation simply accepted, without question, the myth regarding UC's infallibility, and thuse the infallibility of those it anointed to run its colonial outpost in New Mexico, AKA the Los Alamos National Laboratory. As to the question of why UC doesn't just admit it made a mistake placing Nanos or Foley at the helm...since when does UC ever admit mistakes? Indeed, why should UC ever have to admit ANY lapse in judgment, since they hold the keys to the U.S. Treasury and can finance litigation and public relation campaigns without concern as to the cost or benefit to the taxpayer? Would Lockheed do any better than UC? Not likely…but when all the dusts settled, and if UC is no longer holding the reigns at LANL, perhaps we should collectively place the blame where it belongs--on UC's shoulders…for UC never really giving a damn about its employees residing outside of California's borders, for treating New Mexico and its residents as a colony, and for never once admitting a mistake. Had a fraction of the money UC has wasted denying problems been spent, instead, fixing them, the contract for the management oversight of LANL would have never been put up for bid. This may be hard to accept, but it’s the harsh reality we must face. Otherwise we’re simply no better than those who led us to the abyss we now face.
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