Finally, A politician actually concerned about his people, South Dakota's Governor Issues Y2K Alarm : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

South Dakota's Governor Issues Y2K Alarm


In his State of the State address (Jan. 13), Governor William Janklow laid it on the line. I wish other leading elected officials were equally forthright. This is not what governors say in pubic:

"I can tell you today that if year 2000 hit today, the electric grid that serves South Dakota would go down. It would not stay up, and don't believe anybody that tells you it would. Now, by the year 2000, it might, but today it will go down. Year 2000 doesn't come in the middle of June when the temperature is decent. It's coming on December 31 in the middle of winter."

* * * * * * * * * * *

. . . But I am going to appoint a task force to really deal with this question. The unknown can be as dangerous as what we know. I've deliberately bit my lip for the last two years on this subject matter, and now we are down to 12 months. We face an absolute catastrophe in the world because of this problem. On the other hand, it may not be much of anything. The biggest problem is, we don't know. But don't take anybody lightly that tells you that the roof could come falling in. I can tell you today that if year 2000 hit today, the electric grid that serves South Dakota would go down. It would not stay up, and don't believe anybody that tells you it would. Now, by the year 2000, it might, but today it will go down. Year 2000 doesn't come in the middle of June when the temperature is decent. It's coming on December 31 in the middle of winter.

We can't take the risk that our telephone and telecommunications companies won't operate. We can't take that risk. They have to function. We must have hospitals where they've got electricity and gas. It has to work. There's no program Bill Janklow or you folks together could implement on December 31 to take care of telephones, medical, law enforcement, and the utilities. They must work. We must let the public know, every step during the course of this year, what is Y2K compliant, and what isn't. We must let the public know that. I can tell you that I'm absolutely, positively, unequivocally assured by our folks in state government, we will be ready. Our percentages now are in the 15-30 range. But we are going through over 100 million lines of code with our programmers. And as we approach certain thresholds, all of a sudden we'll start taking quantum leaps. When I say we're ready-unlike most other states, where you hear a neighboring state is 80 percent ready, they're only dealing with critical systems-we're dealing with all our systems! Not critical, they're all critical. We're dealing with 100 percent of ours. And we don't count ours ready until we have taken it to the mountain in Colorado where our backup center is, put it on their computers and run the whole thing on their computers without any tape from ours. And it works. And if it doesn't work, we don't count it as ready. But I'm assured we will be ready by July 1 of this year, and we spent a few million bucks doing it. Then from that point on, we will be testing and retesting until the end of the year.

But our citizens have to know where are the telephone and telecommunications companies. We have 60-some phone companies in South Dakota. They all have to be ready. Every hospital has to be ready at least with respect to feeding and caring for the people that are there. Their equipment has to work, or the public should know that. We can't make them make it work-anybody. But the public has to know who's going to function, and who isn't.

The law enforcement and the fire departments, their equipment has to function-911-I can tell you that the task force that this Legislature mandated be put together in legislation last year that's completing its work got a report last Thursday. I believe that says the top eighteen 911s in South Dakota are not Y2K compliant. As a matter of fact, one of the major vendors that provides equipment says, If you bought it from us before, get this, 1997 we're not going to make it compliant. If you bought it afterwards, we will. So they are faced with the prospect of buying new equipment that may have been purchased in 1996. But right now the top 18 are not compliant, but they are working on it.

We've got to make sure that we have municipal water and rural water. Have to have it. No other choice. We've got to make sure that sewer systems-municipal water is meaningless if you can't flush it or let it go down the kitchen sink or the bath drain. The sewer systems have to work. We have to make sure that those places that live on natural gas, the natural gas has to work. And the electrical generation-our power companies, our various investor-owned utilities, our public power systems-those that generate, those that distribute, those that do both, they have to function, because one of them going down can suck the whole system down on the grid. So we are going to put together a group of people, and they will be making reports with regularity to the public with respect to these specific areas-state government, for those local governments that choose to be involved, fine. I'll not attempt to force them to do anything. But all the rest of them I'm going to use the gubernatorial powers that I have that deal with emergencies and crises to get the information and make it available to the public. I do know the Public Utilities Commission has met with respect to-electrical utilities had a meeting and I believe telephone utilities, so far. So they're also working on this endeavor. But, folks, this is terribly critical, and so, rather then being an alarmist, I'm just going to tell you that we will try and get the information to the public as fast as we can intelligently and effectively assemble it. And we will be prepared, at least to deal with, hopefully, those limited emergency situations that we have to deal with December 31. There could be some disruptions in April, and there could be some disruptions on September 9. This is obviously out of my bailiwick, but they tell me that programmers used to end their programs with 9999, four nines. Well, that happens to be also 9-9 of 99, and the computer doesn't know the difference. So, for some, it may trigger when it gets to that. When it sees that date it may trigger and say that's the end of the program, shut it off, and shut it down. For some it may erase it. The problem is nobody knows where all those 9999s are. That's the problem. If they knew where they were, because they were long ago put in place by people who've long since passed away, moved away, gone into other occupations, or won't tell you, whatever the case is. . . .

-- Matt (, January 18, 1999


The URL won't work for me. Please check it.

-- Puddintame (, January 18, 1999.

He bit his lip for two years on this matter? If that means he knew about it two years ago and said or did nothing, he's not much better than the other pollyannaticians. Snd now he's going to appoint a task force? See ya, South Dakota.

-- Vic (, January 18, 1999.

Are South Dakotans looting yet?

Kudos to the Guv. Note that he characterizes ALL of the state's systems as "mission-critical".

Will they make it? Let's hope so. I wish I shared his confidence.

-- Steve Hartsman (, January 18, 1999.

The governor's comments on Y2K is part #10 at this link: t.htm

-- Kevin (, January 18, 1999.

This URL worked for me:

I had to start with the URL originally furnished and keep backing up (triming off the right most part) till I got a good site and then poking aroung till I found the speach.

The quote came from the Govs State of the State for 1999. When you find that speech scroll *way* down near the bottom. Look for "Slide 10" (I think it was), anyway the quote is burried.

Well worth the time to verify it for yourself.

Personal comment: It really warms my heart (which has been pretty cold the last few months contemplating the future) to see a pol speaking hard words - meaning no soft, fuzzy, feel-good stuff. Good for you Gov keep it up! Maybe it will become contagious and most pols will start to tell the unvarnished truth.

Nah! never happen. (But it was nice to dream for a moment).


-- Greybear (, January 18, 1999.

Intuitively, one would think: At last! Wow!! This will get full attention of everyone, even the media!!!!

But, as we all know ... NOT.

(I can hear the pollyannas now: "He is just an alarmist." "He says right in there that nobody knows, so how does he know the power grid would go down if Jan 1 happened today?" "He probably has a scheme to make money off of it." "I'm glad I don't live in South Dakota, since I haven't heard otherwise, I'm sure that my state is ok." "Well ... maybe. Yeah, probably should think more about Y2K soon." "They will fix it in time." "yada-yada-yada")

-- Jack (, January 18, 1999.

the people better pull their heads out of their @SFGAET@#$%!!!! if not death will follow

-- dr death (, January 18, 1999.

This guy is a grandstanding politician.

Care for his people? Only to the extent of their votes in the next election.

Where in hell has lhe been for the last two years? Biting his lip?

-- dave (, January 18, 1999.

I applaud the Governor's honesty and alarm.Our Sunday paper quoted our wonderful electric company as being 6% compliant.What enraged me was the blase way they are dealing with potentail disaster.There were no promises of extra effort or any sense of care for the customers.They cooly covered themselves by indicating they cannot guarantee full power in 2000.There comes a time for alarm and I wish Connectiv Power shared the passion of the good Governor.

-- Dennis Chornomaz (, January 18, 1999.

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