Oregon Senator & Governor Hear Y2K Described As Opportunity Not A Threat

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Oregon Senator & Governor Hear Y2K Described As Opportunity Not A Threat

In the interests of balanced reporting ... -- Diane

Sen. Smith drops in to check on status of Oregon's Y2K readiness

The Republican, at the Capitol, hears witnesses describe the computer problem as an "opportunity"

Saturday February 20, 1999


By Steve Woodward of The Oregonian staff

SALEM -- U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith dropped by the state Capitol on Friday to see whether Oregon is ready for the year 2000 computer bug. What he heard was a parade of witnesses describing Y2K as an "opportunity."

An opportunity for Oregonians to care for their vulnerable neighbors.

An opportunity for the news media to be a help or a hindrance.

An opportunity to prepare for any kind of disaster, both technological and natural.

An opportunity to learn how interconnected the world is.

"I look at it as an opportunity, not a threat," said Gov. John Kitzhaber, the first of 13 witnesses who testified during Smith's latest field hearing on the year 2000 computer problem. Smith, a Republican, is a member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem.

"You can't solve your own problems without solving your neighbor's problems," Kitzhaber said, echoing the day's theme that computers and society are so intertwined that individuals and organizations can solve potential problems only through cooperation.

The hearing was the latest in a series prompted by the year 2000 problem. Many computers' programs will not be able to properly recognize the year 2000, which could cause worldwide computer failures and disruptions to basic services, both minor and major.

A recurrent concern was the Y2K readiness of the power companies. Joan H. Smith, a member of the Oregon Public Utility Commission, sought to reassure Smith that the commission expects all utilities to complete final testing of their repaired systems by March 1.

"If our utilities ignored the Y2K problem, we could have a crisis on our hands," said Smith, whom the senator described as "at ground zero in Y2K." "They haven't, and we won't," she declared.

Two key Y2K project managers, Don Mazziotti of the state and Richard Hofland of the city of Portland, told Sen. Smith that their jurisdictions should be Y2K-ready well before year-end. Mazziotti said the state continued to worry about the safety of the interfaces between its computer programs and those of cities, counties, businesses and the federal government.

Other speakers focused on community preparedness. Portland Mayor Vera Katz outlined a plan to distribute preparedness recommendations to every household in the city. She noted that a city auditor's survey showed more than half of all residents didn't know what to do in an emergency.

"The role of the largest city in the state is to err on the side of caution," she said.

Katz said the city plans a drill in April to test its systems, and that she plans to invite the news media to watch. "The media could either be a very important help or a problem," she said.

That kind of ready access to information is precisely what the news media need to report facts, not fears, said Roger Harris, controller for KOBI-TV in Medford.

Adella Martin, executive director of the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross, seconded Katz's thought about citizens' need for grass-roots information. "We get calls absolutely every day from people who have no idea what to do," Martin said.

Martin and other speakers pointed, in particular, to the most vulnerable populations, such as elderly and disabled residents of group homes, foster care and assisted-living facilities. The Rev. Carolyn R. Palmer said11,000 Oregonians received in-home care, and that she was "not confident" their families would provide for all of them in an emergency. Palmer, legislative director for Special Concerns Ministries in Portland, also said that patients who needed maintenance doses of life-sustaining medicines had problems getting extra medicine because of insurance company rules.

Another speaker, Sherry Patterson, who serves on a small Oregon water district board, said she was concerned about the low level of state oversight of small water districts. She asked Smith for help finding funds for preparedness.

Most water districts can continue drawing drinking water from reservoirs for a week during a power failure. After that, she said, emergency generators are necessary to pump water back into reservoirs or wells. And such generators can cost up to $18,000 each to set up.

See also thread ...

Check out what Portland is doing!


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), February 21, 1999


Opportunity??? Not a threat??? Oh, well, that makes me feel a lot better.

-- Sarcastic Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), February 22, 1999.

Once again, Diane, Thanks. Isn't it interesting how closely related the words "threat" and "opportunity" are?

-- cat (ccordes@scruznet.com), February 22, 1999.

Diane, remember Sherry Patterson, the lady with the perpetual video recorder running, the official "stab 'em in the a** and make 'em listen?" LOL! She's at it again! She's indefatigable. Toldja we gotta refrain from screaming and work with her. Ashton & I have a meeting Friday morning, Y2K committee w/ the Fire Marshall, and she'll be there :) After getting press print like this, can just imagine ;-D But hot diggity if everything she says ain't true! Makes me 'n Ashton look like the most conservative moderates, everyone comes over to us for relief ;^) BTW, Diane, we signed you up first for the FEMA training long ago.

Well now, folks, here's the good news for Oregon: The Gov is a Doc, emergency room experience, and a real woodsy practical guy, wears dem blue jeans 'n boots no matter what. The woods are teeming with survivalist folk anyway. Water oozing & rushing everywhere. Food grows easily. Mayor Katz, we know her; she stops on the street and talks to us about earthquakes; if a program makes sense she'll look at it. None of 'em is perfect, but they're pretty rooted to down-to-earth living. The plan to save Portland is adapted from what Michael Dowd is doing. He's the dude who posted on this Forum whose thread title was the first to kinda run thru the margin boundaries. So they've got a plan that has worked on a microscopic eco level. Portland has a chance to survive Y2K; we'll see if they can keep the momentum going. Sure is bringing interesting skilled folk out of the woodwork.

Home care's our bag and yep, there's lotsa facilities that'll be emptying if there's no hot water, etc. Large elderly population. The officials are actually seeing that some of these things are concerns. Gonna be interesting. More than half the ppl don't know what to do in an emergency? Heck, Portland has constant articles & training & TV segments devoted to emergency preparation! But ppl don't DO it, so when panic hits during an emergency they can't think straight. Gotta drill drill drill drill.

If there's a grass-roots heaven on earth, Portland is it, for a city. We'll be watching ...

Diane, got a moving van?

Ashton & Leska in Cascadia

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), February 22, 1999.

The Y2KNEWSWIRE.COM Daily Report
Daily Y2K news and analysis, free of charge.

2/22/1999 - Blockbuster report: cities telling citizens, 'You're on your own!'





The Washington Post published an eye-popping story on Friday that warns D.C. citizens may be in physical danger thanks to Y2K-induced failures in police departments and emergency services. The report says many city services may simply not work after 1/1/2000. The story leads off with, "District residents face a "significant risk" that the city's computer problems associated with the year 2000 will disrupt schools, the police department, the delivery of health care services and a range of other programs, according to a federal report slated for release today on Capitol Hill." The study was done by the General Accounting Office, and its conclusions send a strong, clear message: residents of Washington D.C. are potentially threatened by Y2K, and public safety can no longer be guaranteed, even by the most well-meaning police officers and city officials. It isn't the people's desire to protect the public that's lacking: it's the infrastructure!

(It also raises the all-important question: if the city that houses government fails, how will government get anything done?)

Rep. Thomas M. Davis, chairman of the House Government Oversight subcommittee on the District, says about D.C. "It is hard to find a city that is this far behind at this stage... stuff will be all screwed up."

The story also reports agreement on this assessment of D.C.'s Y2K status: "Mary Ellen Hanley, the District's Y2K program manager, said yesterday that the federal assessment of the city's potential computer problems is accurate. She said the city's primary emphasis is on developing plans to prevent a breakdown in the delivery of services to residents."

The report goes on to say, "The District may be unable to effectively ensure public safety, collect revenue, educate students and provide health care services..."

Link at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/daily/feb99/district021999. htm


Y2KNEWSWIRE.COM applauds the GAO officials, representatives, and D.C. officials who were willing to step forward and tell the truth on this issue.

Even though the situation is bad, the public is finally learning the truth thanks to some courageous individuals. This is a landmark Y2K event, and the people who have researched and acknowledged D.C.'s lack of Y2K-readiness deserve your thanks. These include: Mary Ellen Hanley, Rep. Thomas Davis, and all the people involved in the GAO report. It takes real courage to come out and admit the sad Y2K status of the District, but that's exactly what is required.

Rest assured, there are probably other cities in just as bad of shape that are not going public with it. At least here we are being informed.

With the truth out, however, it raises many areas of serious concern:


One statement from the report: "The District may be unable to effectively ensure public safety, collect revenue, educate students and provide health care services..."

This is the first time Y2KNEWSWIRE.COM editors have seen a city openly (although indirectly) admit that public safety is no longer guaranteed. The implied message is unmistakable: "You may be on your own!"

If public safety services do fail in D.C., the public may be at a much larger risk than residents of other cities simply because they are not allowed to defend themselves in D.C.. Handguns are illegal to own for most residents of the District, meaning that the people best equipped to provide for their own safety will be the criminals themselves. And those least-prepared will be those who chose to obey the gun laws. No matter how much the local law enforcement officers want to provide protection, they are likely to be spread very thin. One reasonable conclusion from reading the GAO report is that there exists a very large, very real chance that police will simply not be able to respond to calls for some critical period of time. It could be hours, days, or weeks, depending on the severity of the infrastructure failures.

But this isn't about guns; it's about public safety. If emergency services go down and police cannot respond, what reasonable course of action do D.C. residents have to provide for their own personal protection? Now that the GAO is publicly stating the District simply can't guarantee public safety, are city and federal officials prepared to legalize alternatives for law-abiding citizens with no criminal history?

For one person to stand by while another is in danger -- and do nothing -- is against the law in many states. These laws are called, "Good Samaritan Laws," and they require citizens to help protect their fellow citizens. At the very least, they require a call to 911. But now, with Y2K threatening the safety of private citizens, unless D.C. officials can either guarantee some reasonable level of public safety -- or allow citizens to defend themselves -- the District stands to be the all-time largest offender of Good Samaritan laws. Officials there have an obligation to protect the city's citizens.

The solution for some cities and states? Many areas are passing legislation making them immune to lawsuits resulting from Y2K. That means if you dial 911 and nobody shows up -- and you get robbed (or worse) -- the city (or state) disclaims all responsibility. With this immunity, not only is the city not responsible for providing protection, and not only are they not obligated to legalize a reasonable means for families to protect themselves... unbelievably, they are also not responsible for anything that happens to you as a result.

Any city or state that allows this situation to unfold is crossing a dangerous line by basically stating: we will tax you, but we won't protect you. It is one of the most basic covenants of a city or state: to provide for the common protection of its people. Should this covenant be broken, expect long-term social and political upheavals to result.

Washington D.C. is now the first city to indirectly declare it cannot necessarily provide for the safety of its citizens (even though it probably wants to). How many more such cities will appear? As always, there are some solutions for residents. If you think your local city or state is not likely to be able to provide for the safety of your family -- and if they outlaw your ability to protect yourself -- move somewhere safer. Relocate to an area with either a very low population or one that is dedicated to Y2K readiness and the public safety. There are many cities that are taking the problem seriously. Portland, Oregon, for one, (see article below), is encouraging household self-sufficiency! And in this regard, Portland is correct: do not count on your local government to protect you. Their emergency services may go down. Protect yourself. Work with your neighbors, your community, your family... get the city on board if you can, but don't expect them to be your backup plan.


As the Washington Post reports in the story mentioned above, "The city [Washington D.C.] will launch a campaign next month aimed at informing residents about ways to deal with potential difficulties..." D.C. isn't the only one warning citizens. All across America, expect to see more cities warning residents in the coming months. Likely public-information campaigns will encourage contingency planning and urge people to prepare by stockpiling food, water, medicine and at least some cash. The effect of these alerts? Y2K preparedness action will dramatically rise. Currently, awareness is high, but action is still uncommon. Few people are actively following the Red Cross advice to stockpile food, water, medicine, heating fuel and some cash. But when they hear the same advice from their cities and neighbors -- and they see people in their city starting to stock up -- they'll be motivated.

These events represent a major sign: it means cities are jumping on board the preparedness movement. In the history of Y2K, last Friday will be remembered as a major triggering event. It was a day that two major U.S. cities declared they would pursue campaigns to alert the public.

********************************************************************** **************


Also on Friday, the Portland, Oregon-based "Oregonian" unveiled a Y2K first: "City officials are drafting ambitious plans to organize Portland's 200,000 households into small, self-sufficient units, marshaled by potentially thousands of neighborhood leaders trained to head off problems resulting from the Year 2000 computer problem."


Portland Mayor Vera Katz, who also served as Mayor during the 1996 Oregon floods, is the first to come forward with this straightforward, common-sense explanation of preparedness: "[Y2K is] a wonderful opportunity for us to prepare citizens for any kind of natural disaster."

Exactly! Y2K gives this country an important reminder that things don't always go as planned. Preparing for one disaster has a beneficial spillover effect: it prepared you for most disasters, natural or otherwise. In fact, we predict that Y2K preparations will save lives for many years to come as various disasters strike: earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, and perhaps terrorism. In every case, there will be people whose lives were saved because they had food stockpiles left over from Y2K. That is, if they don't use them up during Y2K.

Story at:

But there's more to the Portland story...

Pinch yourself: the Mayor of a major U.S. city is drafting plans to create self-sufficient households, "...marshaled by potentially thousands of neighborhood leaders trained to head off problems..."

The meaning of that description can be interpreted in a variety of ways. It could mean a neighborhood, "meals on wheels" group that brings hot meals to those who refused to stock up and were left "caught with their pantry down" as one book author puts it. Or it could mean neighborhood defense groups walking the streets of their local communities, heading off looting or other crimes of opportunity.

Interestingly, Mayor Vera Katz of Portland seemingly does not believe the National Guard and (possibly) U.S. military will be able to provide the relief that may be necessary during Y2K. Otherwise, there would be no need to organize, "small, self-sufficient units." You only encourage people to get self-sufficient when you think they might possibly be cut off from outside resources. The use of the term, "self-sufficient" is key here. Self-sufficiency is exactly the goal that has been ridiculed for months by Y2K naysayers. Trying to be 100% independent? You're nuts!

As it turns out, the idea isn't nuts at all. In fact, it's wise. And if Portland Mayor Vera Katz has her way, Portland will host 200,000 self-sufficient households. Amazingly, she's been able to get this message across without causing undue alarm (so far). That's her goal, as she explains in the story: encourage it with calm.

Why does this work so well? Here's why:


This is the most important point of this report. Because Portland residents will be prepared, they will not panic. Mayor Katz has been brilliant on Y2K: urging calm, common-sense preparedness and self-sufficiency will prevent panic, prevent tragedy, and prevent widespread problems from appearing. The city will largely be physically immune from Y2K's worst effects. This stands in sharp contrast to the cities that primarily plan to be legally immune to Y2K lawsuits. In which city would you rather live? One that is physically prepared, or legally immune?

Imagine how much good could be done -- how much better off the entire country would be -- if our national leadership would make the same recommendation to the entire country. After the initial rush of purchasing, the entire country would be virtually immune to short-term physical Y2K effects, and panic would be avoided.

On the defense issue, the State of Oregon lets law-abiding citizens legally possess self-defense weapons after passing a safety class and a thorough criminal background check, complete with fingerprints. As a result, tens of thousands of law-abiding, upstanding Oregon citizens are going to be responsibly armed when Y2K hits. That makes it extremely difficult for looters and would-be gangs to get very far, because sooner or later they're going to run into somebody with a permit and a gun. And should 911 and police services fail in Portland for some reason, at least citizens have a contingency plan for protecting their families and communities.

As a side note, Missouri residents are about to vote on a "right to carry" law that would permit law-abiding citizens to legally own and carry registered firearms. It will be interesting to see whether Y2K safety enters into the debate. No issue brings public safety to the surface more than Y2K... especially with D.C. now saying it can't guarantee protection its citizens. Is Missouri prepared to guarantee 100% protection of its residents? And if it isn't, will it allow its citizens to protect themselves?

Bottom line with Y2K and cities: you're not really on your own. You probably have family, friends, neighborhoods, churches, and so on. Now is the time to get together with them, discuss this news about Washington D.C. and Portland, Oregon, and begin making plans for a common defense against potential Y2K troubles. Yes, it may be just a big waste of time. You may not need all the items you stockpile. You may come through Y2K completely unscathed.

But are you willing to bet your personal safety on it?

====================================================================== ==========================

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), February 22, 1999.


Dont ya just love it when life confirms ones thinking. Portland (and the Pacific Northwest) really can lead the way. But we knew that.

Will pack when the times right ... soon.

Gotta force myself offline to finish some thoughts for M.

Diane, West Coasty, post toasty

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), February 22, 1999.

I love the Northwest and Portland and am delighted they're on the move, but sometimes I feel like saying,

"Just fix the **!%$$#! code."

"And then test the **!%$$#! code."

Opportunity. Sheesh. (I know, I know .... and the more community, the better). Given the friendly competition between Spokane and Seattle on most things, it will be interesting to see who "wins" here. Both, I hope.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 22, 1999.

Time for a reality check. All the Newspeak in Orwell's world isn't going to make Y2K go away.

Y2K is and "OPPORTUNITY, not a THREAT".

Yeah right, Y2K doesn't "threaten people with death if it's a worse case scenario. If gives people the *opportunity* to experience death.

The last place I worked, the CEO's favorite quote was: "There are no PROBLEMS, only OPPORTUNITIES." Same BS line of thinking. Use a happy face word instead of a frowning face word and it's all better. And we can still lay off one third of the employees.


"Ahhhh.... Houston, Apollo 13. We have an *opportunity* here."

-- Wildweasel (vtmldm@epix.net), February 22, 1999.

This is the bit that concerns me the most:

"If public safety services do fail in D.C., the public may be at a much larger risk than residents of other cities simply because they are not allowed to defend themselves in D.C.. Handguns are illegal to own for most residents of the District, meaning that the people best equipped to provide for their own safety will be the criminals themselves. And those least-prepared will be those who chose to obey the gun laws. No matter how much the local law enforcement officers want to provide protection, they are likely to be spread very thin. One reasonable conclusion from reading the GAO report is that there exists a very large, very real chance that police will simply not be able to respond to calls for some critical period of time. It could be hours, days, or weeks, depending on the severity of the infrastructure failures."

This MUST be one of the reasons the troops are doing urban warfare training! Hours, days or WEEKS. . . . Agh! Appalling thought, simply appalling. I mean, I knew it but to see it in print. . . .

Thank goodness I'm a

-- Well-armed Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), February 22, 1999.

WW a reminder,

Attitude Is Everything.

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id= 000ESI

Not to downplay the potential international Y2K repercussions. But it does come down to how we handle it all.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), February 22, 1999.

Pointed out by pshannon ...

Portland plans to use neighborhood volunteers to fight Y2K paranoia

http:// flash.oregonlive.com/cgi-bin/or_nview.pl?/home1/wire/AP/Stream-Parsed/ OREGON_NEWS/o0309_PM_OR--PortlandY2K

The Associated Press
02/20/99 3:27 AM Eastern

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- In the City of Roses, paranoia over possible Y2K problems could have a potent new enemy -- the neighborhood volunteer.

City officials are drafting plans to organize Portland's 200,000 households into small, self-sufficient units led by neighborhood volunteers trained to inform people about the real risks of Year 2000 computer problems.

"We're taking this seriously," Mayor Vera Katz said. "The purpose is not to raise a tremendous amount of concern, but to be prepared for an emergency. It doesn't mean it's going to happen."

If approved and executed beginning this spring, the effort would be one of the nation's largest municipal Y2K preparedness plans. Other large U.S. municipalities lauded for their plans include San Diego; Montgomery County, Md.; and Boulder County, Colo.

Portland's Y2K plan calls for groups of roughly 150 households, or about 10 city blocks, each coordinated by a volunteer block leader.

Each group will receive a workbook and literature explaining the Year 2000 computer problem, potential consequences and appropriate ways to prepare for contingencies. Because nobody knows how long any Y2K- related disruptions may last, residents will be coached on how to prepare for failures of basic services that last for 72 hours, two weeks and two months.

In the coming weeks, the City Council will also be asked to approve as much as $150,000 to fund a full-time public information officer, a telephone-and-Internet referral network, a city Y2K Web site, outreach materials and assistance from the Global Action Plan for the Earth, an international environmental organization.

Richard Hofland, Portland's Y2K Czar, said the risk of lasting, Y2K- related infrastructure failures is small and it is important that people not overreact by hoarding food and gasoline.

According to the city's draft preparedness document, the risk of personal injury from burglary or fire is "probably significantly greater" than breakdowns of bank ATM machines or electrical failures.

"The first thing is to tell people everything we know," he said. "More information is where it's at."

Portlanders have been calling City Hall with fears about the local power supply, food and water availability, emergency services and other basic necessities.

Katz said she hears from residents who are unnerved by "rumors, misinformation and speculation," going so far as to believe that "significant social breakdown is a distinct possibility."

Hofland said it's important to turn citizens into Y2K experts.

For example, Hofland noted that water scarcity can never be a problem in Portland. "People not need worry about getting the water because it's all gravity fed," he said.

The city has always had a solid 72-hour emergency preparedness plan including volunteers, Hofland said, and Y2K outreach is only an extension of that.

"We're in the business of being prepared," he said. "We're going to play to our strengths."

)1999 Oregon Live LLC

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), February 23, 1999.

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