Kappelman is Kaput

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Software Expert Gets High-Tech Heave-Ho, from The Washington Post.

After software expert Leon A. Kappelman faulted legislation designed to limit Y2K litigation during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, an influential high-tech lobbying group bumped him off its Y2K task forces.

Kappelman, a professor at the University of North Texas, contends that many industries are subjected to "lemon laws" when they sell defective products and that software manufacturers should not be given special treatment because of Year 2000 computer problems. Last month, he criticized a House bill designed to limit penalties for businesses in the event of computer breakdowns starting Jan. 1.

But the criticism rubbed the Information Technology Association of America, which represents 11,000 technology companies, the wrong way. Kappelman was asked to leave its Year 2000 task force and the ITAA Y2K legal advisory group.

"It wasn't entirely unexpected that they went and did this," Kappelman said. "I had discussed this with them before, and some of my views supported them and others did not, but obviously when I testified, I stepped over the line."

Then, with a chuckle, Kappelman added, "You know, I've been thrown out of better places."

In an interview, Kappelman argued that the House bill, with its caps on punitive damages and liability shields for corporate boards, would likely backfire and serve as an incentive not to fix Y2K problems. "I don't think you should take the pressure off companies to do Y2K work," he said. "If you do the crime, you ought to do the time."

ITAA spokesman Bob Cohen said Kappelman belonged to the association's Y2K groups "on a courtesy basis. . . . He came to be in strong opposition of officially adopted positions of the association, so we felt it was no longer appropriate for him to participate in sessions where legislative strategy might be developed."

Despite the falling out, ITAA President Harris Miller said the North Texas professor could rejoin ITAA Y2K task forces when the congressional fight over the liability legislation ends, Cohen reported.

Kappelman, though, expressed doubts yesterday about rejoining ITAA. "I think what they are doing is bad for the high-tech industry," he said...


Poor Leon. He has my sympathy. ~[8^}--->

-- regular (zzz@z.z), May 18, 1999


I felt it a real pity when I learned of this a while back. I'd always enjoyed Leon. I remember being fired from a volunteer job once. They told me that I no longer had the time to "perform" since I'd taken a full-time job. I had a few things to finish up on that job, however, and after they saw the results they called to "rehire" me. I was civil in my decline of that offer, but you can imagine what was going through my mind. I'm sure Leon has those same thoughts.


-- Anita Spooner (spoonera@msn.com), May 18, 1999.

I attended a Y2K conference 2 years ago at which Leon Kappelman and Harris Miller both spoke. Although I found Harris's presentation to be very professional, Leon showed real passion. He was very concerned about a possible nuclear reactor meltdown due to Y2K. It is unfortunate that the powers-that-be would rather cover up and buy some politians to protect their behinds than concentrate all their efforts on fixing problems, preparation, and shutting down dangerous facilities.

The Turks have a saying that a person who tells the truth will be driven out of 10 villages.

-- Mr. Adequate (mr@adequate.com), May 18, 1999.

The story is eloquently retold in H. G. Wells' novellette, In The Country Of The Blind.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), May 19, 1999.

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