Iowa: Cedar Rapids municipal efforts article : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The local papers have avoided Y2K like the plague (actually the smaller rural towns have been covering it MUCH better than Iowa's major newpapers).

The mayor of Cedar Rapids, IA, Lee Clancy, publishes something called the Cedar Current, a local affairs 'webzine'. It's existence is well guarded secret but in this month's edition (it's published every two months) there was finally an informative article written by Ole Munson, Cedar Rapids Finance Commisioner dealing with the city's Y2K efforts.

You tell me what you think of Cedar Rapids' Y2K efforts...

(source: October 1998 Cedar Current

Elected Perspectives...

Are We Y2K OK?

by Ole Munson, Commissioner of Accounts & Finance

Don't step on an elevator. Don't board an airplane. Can't start your car? No electricity, phone service or water? A global recession rivaling that experienced in the early 70's? These are just a few warnings you may have heard regarding microprocessor-based systems and the Year 2000. The problem occurs when systems using 2 digit date codes attempt to cross into the next century. When the year codes attempt to roll over from 99 to 00 some systems will experience problems. Will the system think it is the year 2000? Or the year 1900? Will the computer read your age as 34? (2000-1966 = 34), or will the computer think you are a negative 66 years old? (1900-1966 = -66).

The Year 2000 problem is also referred to as the 'millennium bug', or simply Y2K. System failures could have severe impacts on our ability to conduct business and provide critical services. Any system that contains electronic chips could be impacted. In an effort to update you and the public on the status of our Y2K compliance efforts I have prepared this status report.

The city of Cedar Rapids has established a Year 2000 (Y2K) Compliance Program. The purpose of the program is the successful functioning of microprocessor-based components in the City's infrastructure and support systems in the year 2000 and beyond. The City has assembled a Y2K taskforce to address issues related to potential system failures.

The primary emphasis on system compliance to date has focused on the major Management Information Systems (MIS) and Information Technology (IT) systems:

Major MIS and IT systems have either successfully completed compliance testing, or are expected to pass such testing in the near future.

Inventory of other microprocessor-based systems and components will be undertaken soon to determine further verification of needs and updates. Compliance efforts at the current time are focused in three areas:

  1. Embedded systems: Process control systems at water and wastewater plants, traffic signals, dam gate operating controls, elevator systems, heating and cooling controls are examples of embedded system technologies that may be affected by the Y2K problem. The City is currently in the process of identifying and inventorying systems that contain microprocessors and testing them for compliance.

  2. Contingency Planning: Contingency plans will be developed to address potential system failures, whether related to Y2K or other reasons. Contingency planning efforts will focus on staffing levels, emergency power provisions, on-site observation of critical systems, stock levels of critical supplies at year end, and emergency response alternatives.

  3. Monitoring compliance efforts of critical service providers to Cedar Rapids residents: In addition to the compliance efforts internally, City staff are contacting providers of critical services to the citizens of our community including major utilities, health care providers, communications companies, and other government agencies.

If you have any further questions regarding the compliance efforts and plan, please contact:

Ole Munson, Commissioner of Accounts and Finance
50 2nd Avenue Bridge, 3rd Floor City Hall Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401 Phone: 319-398-5002 Fax: 319-398-0415 Email:
(end of quoted article)

-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 26, 1998


Sound's like someone took a careful look at what they had and made a lot of new purchases ... fast. What about those counties that are just starting to look now?


-- Diane J. Squire (, October 26, 1998.

Arnie, that's probably the best local program I've seen. While it raises questions (and what report doesn't), I'm encouraged by the fact that they are taking contingency planning very seriously, including inventories going into Y2K and alternatives.

While the report isn't overly optimistic......they're in the process of identifying and inventorying embedded systems in "water and wastewater plants, traffic signals, dam gate operating controls, elevator systems, heating and cooling controls...... they seem to have nailed to scope of the problem down.

I've downloaded a copy to give to my local government as more of an indication that they might conceivably have a problem (who? us???) and where they should be looking.

Thanks for posting this.


-- rocky (, October 26, 1998.

Good message, good progress report. Two cities (Marietta, GA and Cedar Rapids, IA) are obviously preparing, and can report substantial progress.

Why am I concerned that both are relatively small, and are also not home to vast masses of people at the high "urban" density level?

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (, October 26, 1998.

Yeah........contrast theit progress with the reports that have been coming out about the state of Washington DC's progress and it's an easy choice where I'd prefer to be!

-- Craig (, October 26, 1998.

OK, after thinking this over for most of today, here's what I like about what I've read: Mr. Munson is aware of the problem. Some software has been identified and corrected. At least some contingency plans are being made. The article did not claim either 'there is no problem' or 'there will be no problems'. Outside services and organizations are being contacted

What I didn't like: The city obviously started late. Embedded systems are just now getting to the inventory stage. It appears that at least some vendor's statements are being at face value. This information was not published in one of our major newspapers.

Obviously, it's hard to conclude too much from this one article but on the other hand, this is far better than a blank "what's a Y2K?" stare. All in all, I'd put it the 'cautiously good news' column.

We'll have to see where this goes...


-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 27, 1998.

I am impressed that Cedar Rapids has taken steps, any steps. We have heard nothing about the Y2K problem from any of the" powers that be" in Des Moines. My family is located in a rural area a scant few miles from the capital city and are concerned about what may happen there. Any news about Des Moines' preparations (or lack thereof) out there?

-- Mona Jones (, October 27, 1998.

Something a didn't mention earlier about Ole Munson was that he was recently acquitted on gun and drug charges related to family dispute. I didn't mention it because (1) he was found not guilty and (2) the charges were overblown and (3) it didn't related to Y2K and (4) his staff seemed very happy to have him back.

Unfortunately, his troubles don't seem over quite yet. This morning, the Cedar Rapids Gazette (which has totally ignored Y2K) ran as it's front page story the shocking scandal that Ole has made several phone calls (125 in 2 months, many incomplete) to another female employee of a different department using a city cell phone and/or a city charge card. They've even published the phone call records. Sheesh. Anyway, you can read the gory details at:

The phone records were part of the investigation of the original charges. If you are interested in the stories the Gazette ran on that, see:

IMHO, The Cedar Rapids Gazette and its sister TV station KCRG do not serve well the needs of this community. They have become experts at carefully imbedding advertisements in the news and by doing so, have lost the credibility they once had. They have certainly dropped the ball on Y2K and when and if they do ever get around to covering it, it will be as part of yet another sales campaign whose only goal is to bring them advertising revenue ("The Gazette and KCRG, in cooperation with XYZ company are delighted to announce Y2K Sell-O-RAMA...RAMA...rama. Coming this SUNDAY...Sunday...sunday")

If you're looking for scandal, they've got it. If you're looking for real news, keep looking.

Depressed, -Arnie

-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 28, 1998.

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