Today the California Attorney General announced he will seek indictments for former HP chairman Patricia Dunn, and HP's ethics attorney Kevin Hunsaker, based on their conduct in the hoax to quell leaks from the HP board.
This is the first time an HP board member — well, resigned board member — has faced indictment, let alone a chairman. Dunn wanted to keep her seat on this board before all allegations surfaced. Now at least HP is spared the embarrassment of having someone active in its executive level under indictment.
But the general news media are reporting headlines in shorthand. "HP executives face indictment," said NPR this afternoon, overlooking the fact that neither Hunsaker or Dunn are associated with HP anymore. That's a level of distinction some customers are applying to the whole pretexting scam out of the boardroom. That's the other HP, some say, not the one associated with the HP 3000. Other customers make no distinction, according to comments offered in our spot poll.
To be clear, the five indictments expected today are aimed at people not linked to HP anymore. But the three investigators and HP's folks each had a recent hand in the company's conduct. The New York Times reported that "The five will be indicted on four felony charges: using false or fraudulent pretenses to obtain confidential information from a public utility; unauthorized access to computer data; identity theft; and conspiracy to commit each of those crimes."
HP 3000 community members are of several minds. One OpenMPE board member said today that the indictments were "the other shoe dropping" in the scandal. A reseller and supplier of 3000 services, John Lee, said HP's conduct is
Just another example of the end justifying the means. It has become OK to cheat in America if you get rich by doing so. "Sometimes it's easier to apologize than to ask permission" My question to you and the rest of the business community is this... where did these corporate employees learn to cheat? Do they teach this in business school? Most of them (I'm guessing) have advanced degrees from American universities. Is this how they teach their students to get ahead?
Some are less incensed. Tracy Pierce replied to our use of the word hoax by commenting
"Hoax? are you suggesting this is just a publicity stunt to get HP onto the front page for free? You must be right about there being two HPs though: the folks at 633-3600
always want to know if the toner's fresh in my HP 9000."
The notion of two HPs was addressed most eloquently by Alfredo Rego, CEO of database experts Adager. Rego doesn't confuse the misguided ethics of HP board members and executives which have resulted in indictments with the dedication of the 3000-related staff at the company:
HP’s privacy blunder does not affect my relationship with Hewlett-Packard (please notice that I explicitly use “Hewlett-Packard” and not “HP”).
Through the decades, I have gotten used to the sad fact that HP’s “upper” level managers (please notice that I don’t use “leaders”) seem to exhibit a consistent lack of understanding regarding the technical treasures that Hewlett-Packard has developed. Fortunately, I have always elected to associate myself with the technical “worker bees” at Hewlett-Packard.
HP’s “upper” level blunders do not affect my friendships with the many wonderful engineers with whom I have always enjoyed discussing the deep bits and bytes of MPE’s file system and TurboIMAGE databases.
In the early 1970s, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in the assembly line for the HP 2100 computer in Cupertino (yes, there was an assembly line on Wolfe Road). We talked about Dave’s trips to Guatemala. Later on, I skied with Bill in Alta (Utah) and in Sun Valley, where he had a home for many decades. In 1990, during HP’s attempt to unbundle TurboIMAGE, I corresponded extensively with both Bill and Dave. They understood, intimately, the significance of the HP 3000 computer, of Hewlett-Packard’s MPE operating system, and of Hewlett-Packard’s TurboIMAGE DBMS. It’s unfortunate that they had already started to step out of their leadership roles just at the time when MPE and TurboIMAGE needed the most help from their corporate parents. And who would step in as a step-father? The rest is academic.
By the time HP’s current “upper” level blunder came along, I have had too many of these sad HP experiences to even care any more. My affection and loyalty towards Hewlett-Packard’s HP 3000 customers, and towards Hewlett-Packard’s hard-working engineers, become stronger and stronger with each new faux pas perpetrated by HP’s “upper” level managers.
Please spare a thought for Bill and Dave.
F. Alfredo Rego
President and Chairman of the Board
Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S.A.