Monday, February 05, 2018

February 5, 1992: 26 years ago today in The New York Times

It was 26 years ago this morning that I woke up in Washington, D.C. and read The New York Times article by Matt Wald about my client, C.D. "Bud" Varnadore, who filed the first-ever environmental whistleblower case against Oak Ridge, Tennessee nuclear weapons plant operators.
(New York Times photo)

Oak Ridge Natonal Laboratory and the Department of Energy operations in Oak Ridge, Tennessee would never be the same again.  Workers learned about their rights.

Mr. Varnadore's protected activity, and that of other ethical employees, helped make conditions more humane.

As The New York Times obituary pointed out (August 5, 2013), Mr. Varnadore's courage helped transform the culture of those "dark satanic mills," nuclear weapons plants.

Pollution and bullying of ethical "whistleblower" employees was rampant.

Environmental concern were treated disdainfully by a culture of corruption fostered by the Department of Energy and rapacious government contractors like Lockheed Martin, Martin Marietta and Union Carbide.

Bullies hide behind the skirts of tepid local newspapers in places like Oak Ridge, Tennessee, knowing that they cower to power and lack resources and skills for investigative reporting. They often hire newspaper reporters as PR misters.  Sometimes bullies threaten bribe or blackmail reporters and editors.

Thankfully, The New York Times' hundreds of courageous reporters are sill on the job, as demonstrated by its reporting on President DONALD JOHN TRUMP, still "afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted."

That's what unaccountable St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR learned when he read The New York Times on November 24, 2013 ("Two k Gunshots on a Summer Night," by Walt Bogdanich and Glenn Silber, also a PBS Frontline program, "A Death in St. Augustine, November 26, 2013) and again on June 17, 2017 in Walt Bogdanich's Times article, "A Mother’s Death, a Botched Inquiry and a Sheriff at War -- The sheriff called it a suicide. When a state investigator raised questions, he became the investigated."

Just as the nuclear weapons complex was transformed, so too are we transforming St. Augustine and St. Johns County today.

Justice for Michelle O'Connell.

Never give up!

Yes we can!

My courageous client, Charles D. "Bud Varnadore), right with his beloved, brave wife Fran, and to far left, me (Ed Slavin), my co-counsel David A. Stuart and Jacqueline O. Kittrell, with our mass of documents and a U-Haul hand truck we used to tote our exhibits  to court (sure beats a wheelbarrow, which one of my law professors once used).  
The time and the place: 
Old Tennessee Supreme Court Chamber in the 
Old Knox County Courthouse,
July 1992 
(Knoxville News-Sentinel photographer Jack Kirkland).

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