Quarterback controversy
Great article on Jason Garrett ["Passed up," October 30]! It's about time he got some recognition for all the outstanding work he does for this team!

I simply do not understand how such a successful franchise as the Dallas Cowboys can make the decisions it continues to make (e.g., Barry Switzer as head puppet, er, coach; Wade "the Spade" Wilson as second-string quarterback; the misuse of Herschel Walker).

I'm really enjoying the sports articles as a new addition to the Dallas Observer. Finally, someone putting in print what the fans in the Dallas area have been screaming about for a long time! And it is complete without the pompous grandstanding usually attributed to Galloway's or Hansen's commentary. Thanks again!

Via e-mail

No cover-up at TI
As a former TI employee, I read your October 16 feature article "Damage Control" with great interest. I seriously doubt that there is a corporate-mandated cover-up involved in the tragic incident that occurred in January 1997 at the argon gas pit at the North Central Expressway facility. I was a member of the safety staff for 21 years at that same facility. Never, I repeat never, was I asked to participate in or coerced into participating in any such illegal activity of that kind.

As is true in any organization involving thousands of people, mistakes are made. Sometimes, those mistakes can result in tragedies such as the argon pit incident. The aftermath of such tragedies usually involves litigation against the company.

In the current case mentioned in your article, the figure of $15 million is mentioned as the amount of damages the plaintiff's attorneys are seeking. Truly, that is a large amount of money to most people. But for a company with $12 billion in sales, it represents only a few hours of profit, as the plaintiff's attorneys are certain to point out for the jury.

It is inconceivable to think that TI corporate executives would focus on a single incident for damage control when they have about $5 billion worth of new chip fabrication facilities to get functioning profitably in a chaotic marketplace.

If there has been questionable activity as you allege, it most likely resulted from one or more individuals trying to conceal their own errors of omission (the old CYA syndrome). The work rules concerning entering a confined space are specific. They even can be resolved into a simple checklist. I always was told that TI would meet or exceed all occupational safety and health rules and regulations.

When TI began expanding into a global presence, the late Pat Haggerty established the ethical standard that TI would never be accused of exploiting workers in any area of operation. To my knowledge, Mr. Haggerty's standard still is in effect.

There was a time in the past when corporations, TI included, tried to suppress all unfavorable information from becoming known to the outside world. That time is long gone. It went out when radio scanners, cell phones, and other electronic wonders that TI helped develop became common tools of the investigative reporter's kit. Modern corporate management recognizes this and has developed procedures for releasing information, good or bad, in a timely fashion in adverse situations. Circling the wagons no longer works. A competent attorney using the legal discovery process can get around stonewalling very easily. Plaintiff's attorneys are very competent and very aggressive.

Within a week after the argon incident occurred, I was contacted by a plaintiff's attorney. By the end of the month, I was contacted by another plaintiff's attorney. A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a third set of plaintiff's attorneys. I declined to assist any of them. My refusal partly was due to loyalty to TI. Mainly, however, it was due to the fact that I have no direct knowledge of the argon gas pit operation. Also, I have been gone from TI for 12 years, and any information I have about the TI safety program would be out of date and not pertinent to the argon incident.

So, Ms. Editor, while you may be thinking of me as another TI corporate stooge, I assure you that is not true. When I left TI, I effectively cut the cord. I don't owe them a thing, nor do they owe me anything. Certainly, TI doesn't need me to defend them. As you pointed out, they have a very adequate legal staff to do that. I simply wanted to point out to you and your readers that there is another side to your article, and that things are not always what they seem. The argon incident was a dreadful tragedy that adversely affected many lives. It appears that mistakes were made. In such instances, there are legal remedies available, and apparently they are being applied.

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