Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Scientist Fired in Missing Disks Case Is Dead

Albuquerque Journal North
Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Scientist Fired in Missing Disks Case Is Dead

By Allison Majure
For the Journal

Former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Todd Kauppila, 41, who
was fired last year in a security scandal that shut the lab down for several
weeks, died at Los Alamos Medical Center on Sunday.

Kauppila, formerly an experimentalist and team leader at the lab's DX
Division, was fired in September over the apparent loss of two classified
computer disks that were later found to have been nonexistent. An inventory
error eventually was blamed.

Kauppila died of "hemorrhagic pancreatitis," Scott Wilson, associate
director of the state Office of the Medical Investigator, said Tuesday.

On Friday, Kauppila had publicly rejoiced over the resignation of lab
director Pete Nanos, the man who fired him.

"Every table is packed and the beer is flowing," he told The Associated
Press as he celebrated with fellow scientists at a Los Alamos eatery.

Kauppila's wife, Sara, told neighbors that he stayed in bed Sunday,
feeling dehydrated. Sunday evening she discovered him unconscious.

Kauppila said he was fired last year because he didn't immediately
return from a family vacation during a lab investigation into the two
classified computer disks. Kauppila claimed he was made a scapegoat over the
disks.

In a March interview, Kauppila described frustration that the University
of California was dragging its feet in dealing with his contesting his
firing.

Kauppila was without life insurance following the firing. Although he
began contract work for Keystone International on Jan. 20, the contract
position did not carry benefits.

"We are all waiting to do what we can to help the children and Sara in
what ever way we can," said Judy McKenzie, a teacher at Barranca Mesa
elementary school, where the Kauppilas' daughter Tia attends classes. "The
students are wanting to help too and they want Tia to come back."

Neighbor and friend Jane Clements has coordinated local support for the
Kauppilas. Boy Scouts, the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and the Barranca Parent
Teacher organization will be providing meals.

"There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from many, many
people to provide meals, childcare and other support," Clements said.

LANL spokesman Jim Fallin said, "We want to offer our sincerest
condolences and sympathies to Todd's wife and children. During his tenure
Todd was a friend and colleague to many."

"Todd was an enigmatic guy and a brilliant scientist," said former LANL
co-worker Scott Watson.

University Professional and Technical Employees union steward Betty Ann
Gunther said, "I admired Todd deeply for his courage in such a difficult
position and for his ability to be good to people ... No one would have
suspected him of being, in any way, a poor performer. He was outstanding and
his friends will tell you that."

Contributions to the Kauppila family can be made payable to "Memorial
Fund for Todd Kauppila" Account 322687-20, Los Alamos National Bank, P.O.
Box 60, Los Alamos, N.M. 87544. For more information, contact Jane Clements,
661-6570.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Comments:
After all this political shit, all this incredible bullshit over the last year, this one story about this one brave man who I never even met has got to be the single saddest thing I have ever read in my entire life. I cannot imagine the anguish and anger he must have experienced. And no justice can EVER be done to make this right. I am devastated.
 
As an UPTE steward, I have handled many cases where employees are disciplined severely for no appropriate reason. Serious illness is very common among these people, and I have had more than one of the plaintiffs I represent have to be hospitized for stress related illness. Some have become so sick that they are unable to return to work.
Todd's case was similar but even more egregious than any of my cases. Let no one underestimate the number of people who have suffered serious physical illness caused by trying to fight back against LANL. Stress attacks whichever part of the body is the weakest.
I do not say this to dissuade people from fighting back. I say this to show LANL employees and other citizens that LANL is a festering sore of mismanagement, harassment, retaliation, and bullying and that it will only be stopped when employees together make an enormous stink about Todd's case and other similar cases.
In the end, we, the people, own LANL. We need to clean it up. This blog is a great tool for fighting back, but in itself, is not enough. It is good that Nanos is gone, but there are others like him who need to be hung out to dry as well. Nor am I convinced private industry would be any better.
And let's face it, this kind of treatment doesn't just happen at LANL. There is the woman at Livermore who was fired for making less than $10 worth of personal phone calls on LLNL's phone bill. She won, but Livermore continues to appeal her win.
And there is the case of John Bolton, current nominee for Ambassador to the United Nations who is known for mistreatment of intelligence analysts who worked for him. Yet, in spite of this behavior, he clearly rose to the highest ranks of the US government and may move higher.
There is such a thing as good management. We don't see much of it at LANL these days, but there was a time when it was better.
The best thing we can do at this point is to remember Todd and what he and John Horne have gone through and to be there for others going through similar situations. Call them and remind them of your friendship. Be willing to hear their side of the story. Offer to testify on their behalf in trials or arbitrations if you have something to offer. Tell the your truth, if you are called upon to do so. Socialize with them. Isolation is one of LANL's most potent tools against those it attacks.
There are many ways to fight back. It is important that, in memory of Todd, we do so.
Betty Ann Gunther
 
I am devastated to learn that Todd had no life insurance. I was hoping against hope that he had managed to obtain some in spite of losing his coverage from LANL. I assume he had COBRA health coverage to help with the hospital bills, but that may not be true, does anyone know?

This situation makes it very critical that everyone give as much as they can afford to help Sara and her children. Fortunately, she has a loving family and many friends. We must all come to her rescue in her time of need. Todd deserves nothing less!
 
Todd was a man who cared very deeply about his job and coworkers. He was also brilliant and a definate asset to LANL. It is such a tragedy that this was not recognized and appreciated and certainly those in charge of the actions that were taken to fire him should have deep regret over the consequences that have resulted. It is horrible to see the destruction that has occurred to a family over a mistake and due to egos involved. To his family please know that he touched many people and he is missed.
 
Todd was a man who cared very deeply about his job and coworkers. He was also brilliant and a definate asset to LANL. It is such a tragedy that this was not recognized and appreciated and certainly those in charge of the actions that were taken to fire him should have deep regret over the consequences that have resulted. It is horrible to see the destruction that has occurred to a family over a mistake and due to egos involved. To his family please know that he touched many people and he is missed.
 
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