To The Oak Ridger:
Recently S. Kaplan (OR letters 6/25/01) has raised the issue of trust and ascribed it to two causes: 1) students taught to "leave their ethics and morals at the door when they come to work" and 2) "the acceptability of lying in business." Were it only that simple.
First, I cannot recall being taught that it is correct or permissible to lie (under any circumstances) or that my ethics and morals should be left at any door.
Quite the contrary, I was instructed that objectivity, ethics and morality were at the heart of a society. Nor did any training I received as an employee in any way seek to compromise my ethical beliefs.
This is not to say that honest differences of opinion could not exist among individuals. Nor does it say that all entrepreneurs have been ethical but I see no evidence of any systematic effort to negate fundamental ethical principles during my professional career.
Second, Kaplan's explanation seems to apply to the marketplace but the Oak Ridge trust problems lie in the area of government and appear to extend into several other sectors that do not derive from normal commercial origins.
These include the prime contractors, even those that operated on an essentially non-profit basis; the medical establishment, including all doctors; the newspaper, as well as broad classes of individuals such as "scientists" and "managers."
What has troubled me the most about the Oak Ridge trust problem is that individuals are branded as untrustworthy not based upon what they say or do but upon their membership in a class such as scientist or doctor or manager..
This form of distrust (more accurately termed, bigotry) is the most insidious form since the individual can do almost nothing to remove the onus of his class membership nor does there seem to be any motivation to try to do so.
As one attempts to understand the social dynamics of the Oak Ridge region, one is struck by a common denominator of the distrust: Disagreement.
If one does not agree with ALL the claims of a group, then one is not to be trusted. It all too often becomes stridently personal and defamatory.
This leaves little room for compromise or for the formation of constructive coalitions in the solution of problems. Unfortunately, it also inhibits wide support for just causes.
Regrettably, this distrust has deprived the ORR Health Effects Committee of the benefits of DOE as a liaison member and the participation of one of the community's most dedicated and compassionate members.
It was a high price to pay for any marginal gain.
In spite of the suggestions of deficiencies in one's character or even in the face of the not infrequent invective, there is really only one choice: To continue to support one's detractors where their claims are just and to oppose the claims one perceives as ungrounded. It is sad that it can't be a pleasant process.
No, the distrust process which Ms. Kaplan attributes to such simple causes is not simple nor does the above do it full justice.
Al Brooks is one example of a person that fits this problem. Brooks is one of the original K-25 scientist types, who worked in K-25 flow research in the early days and later moved to X-10.
Brooks likes to dominate meetings in Oak Ridge and delay progress and exposing real problems and uses what many term as shout down tactics in public meetings. In the End-Use meeting he employed shout down tactics to make claims that the K-25 gas diffusion plant was sealed and never leaked any toxic materials. Yet, asking any manager or process workers would have told that the plant did omit a lot of poison gases. Today, one can read that K-25 routinely lost 100,000 pounds of fluorides a year. K-25 had a huge release of HF in around 1972 when the entire purge cascade building blew up and dumped a foot of U O2 F2 onto the floors and tons of HF out the building.
Brooks actions over the years speak to the fact that he helps the ORO managers hide the huge toxic problems rather than help to expose them and the huge liabilities. ORO managers are who these liabilities and mistakes will be applied to.
Many times, they don't officially lie---but they do mislead and delay and employ the tactics of deceit and treachery.