Feds Step Up Y2K Outreach

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This article appeared on serveral news wires today. I wonder if this traveling road show will be near here soon. I have a few questions of my own.

Possibly the greatest Y2K danger still facing federal, state and local governments does not come from embedded chips and non- compliant systems, but rather from the potential panic that could accompany the date rollover. To prevent such an outcry from the public, state and federal Y2K authorities are kicking their community outreach activities into high gear.

One of the most visible manifestations of that push is the "Community Conversations" program, developed earlier this year by the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion. Council Chair John Koskinen has attended community conversations in six states so far and spoke today at a discussion in Memphis, Tenn.

Koskinen has offered to attend at least one community conversation in every state, and as of today has plans to visit more than 25 states before the end of summer.

The conversations are the council's best means to ameliorate pubic fears, according to Koskinen.

"You can't just tell people `well, you know, don't worry,' because then they'll think there is a reason to worry," Koskinen told Newsbytes last week. The answer to avoiding a public frenzy on or around Jan. 1, 2000, is to put as much hard information as possible into the hands of the citizenry, he also said.

The conversations typically bring together the "key service providers" in a given community, including the phone and power companies as well as local government representatives and concerned citizens.

The events have a very local focus and when Koskinen attends one of the discussions his "role largely is supportive," Council Spokesperson Jack Gribben told Newsbytes.

The conversations that have taken place thus far have been well- attended and drawn strong local media coverage.

In a separate Y2K development, the President's Council still has received no reports of glitches associated with fiscal 2000. July 1 marked the start of fiscal year 2000 for many states.

Further information about the community conversations can be found on the President's Council Website at http://www.y2k.gov/community .

-- y2k dave (xsdaa111@hotmail.com), July 07, 1999


Koskinem Carnival Schedule

OREGON Portland, July 15, Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians, Nolea Olsen, (503) 241-0070

heeheehehehehe, lookee like we have a chance to twirl our pitchfork at Koskinem's spin in person. We may be booked for next Thursday, but perchance we get the day off ... time to make the alien squirm in his own silky spun coocoocoon ;^) *rubbing hands with glee!* worm roast toast

xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), July 07, 1999.

A little background on the Community Conversations initiative:

http://4hlists.org/scripts/lyris.pl?visit=civicprep&id=898380 36

-- (payno@ttentiontothemanbehind.thecurtain), July 07, 1999.



-- (dangit@ll.htm), July 07, 1999.

RE: Damn... The Renton Group & Koskinen's CC's

Earlier on this board, I posted the observations of Bill Dunne and myself after attending the very first Community Conversation held on 6/7 at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. (See http://4hlists.org/scripts/lyris.pl?sub=5990&id=89247706 )

A few days ago, after reading Bayard Stockton's cogent account of his meeting with representatives of The Rendon Group, (the company hired by the President's Commission to organize and promote the Community Conversation series), I posted a link here to a discussion elsewhere concerning the background of TRG.

While I agree that the discussion thread I mentioned contained several spurious comments. I don't agree with the suggestion that the quotes from TRG's own web site were malicious or out of context.

(BTW, the board in question does have a fairly pessimistic concensus, but I find it a valuable place for info and frequently perspicacious comments. My own perspective is: I have no idea what will happen, but I work in IT. I have kids and good neighbours. Failure is not an option.)

A brief time sifting through the TRG website, or simple web search of references to The Rendon Group will show that their specialty is not simply Public Relations. It is Perception Management. Propaganda is the unfashionable term. They are in the business of shaping public opinion, then polling the public to prove a point. This is not evil, nor are they the only commercial practitioners. And their site does show projects where clearly the public good was served. It does not discuss that they were hired by the CIA to run a PsyOps/disinformation war against Iraq for several years. (http://archive.abcnews.go.com/sections/world/cia/rendon.html)

I mentioned TRG on this board to this group, because I felt it was important to consider that the original purpose of the Community Communication series may not the same as what many of us are trying to do for our communities.

If I may generalize a bit, the core message those of us here wish to convey to our neighbors is:

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

However from my experience and other's accounts of Community Conversations thus far, the message they intend to send seems to be:

Don't worry. Don't panic. Don't do anything.

These are not complimentary messages. I agree that panic is a significant threat, but why not try to prevent it by diminishing the citizen's sense of vulnerablity by helping them to prepare gradually now, not frantically later? I'm encouraged by reports that Mr. Koskinen & Co. are learning from each CC and fine-tuning it. I think.

If you want to bring about active, substantial preparations by the largest possible number of households, I'm with you. However I don't believe the progenitors of this series are being paid to promote that message. My gut tells me that the White House, (although not neccessarily JK), sees Y2K as, first and foremost a political issue; important mainly for it's effects in November 2000, not January 2000. But what does my gut know?


As I said in my initial post about TRG: http://4hlists.org/scripts/lyris.pl?sub=5990&id=89247706

"...I suggest that you use the series if you believe it helps your community, but be aware that you may be spun by some of the best spinners in the world...."

Use the snazzy posters, handbills and ephemera they offer for your own local community conversations. But don't be spun to support an unintended agenda. That, IMHO, is the great time waster to be avoided.

And now, it's Mea Culpa time:

In my original observation about the CC I attended, I made the following remark:

"...Mr. Koskinen gave a lengthy introduction which left me with a positive impression of him. He seems very calm but not over confident. IMO, I think we're lucky to have him in that job. Is he trying to manage the information flow? Of course he is. If that surprise or offends you, I suggest you offer to take over for him. Forget Koskinen. That job is to be a lightning rod and anyone in it will be damned whatever they do...."

My high opinion of Mr. Koskinen remains. He has an incredibly difficult task. But have I been spun? The truly frightening part is: I don't know.

Keep your high-beams on.

-- (forgetthelink@this.time), July 07, 1999.


-- Not (at@this.time), July 07, 1999.

I want the Tour T-Shirt. You know, with don't-worry-be-happy-twist-up- another-one on the front and the dates and cities of the gigs on the back.

Koskinen will be here (Austin) this Saturday.... any Central Texans know the venue and/or plan to go?

-- Lisa (lisa@work.now), July 07, 1999.

> there's been a lot of discussion posted lately about The Renton Group, some
> of it derogatory, and this includes excerpting statements made by John
> Renton and reprinting them out of context in a way which almost demonizes
> the group working with John Koskinen to schedule his Community Conversations
> around the country. that sort of energy is really counterproductive at this
> point in the Y2K endgame. we need to get behind whatever large or small
> efforts are being made regarding y2k from any source, and stop finding
> opportunities for cynicism and paranoia. it's too late to do anything but
> get ourselves ready, and we need to stick together in doing so.
> the founders of Nashville Prep 2000, Nell Levin and Dan Strymer, along with
> myself, met today with Brian Keane, an advance guard for the Renton Group,
> who's flying around the country to schedule Koskinen CC's where they would
> be most effective. contrary to much of what i've seen posted lately
> regarding TRG, Mr. Keane was very forthcoming about the seriousness of y2k,
> and made it clear John Koskinen's primary interest was not in reading from a
> lengthy pre-approved script, but in setting up a context primarily based
> upon open questioning. sure, he's probably ready for just about any
> question that can be thrown at him by now, but that misses the point, which
> is the sheer fact that he's taking y2k on a highly-visible nationwide
> campaign. such a campaign, by its very nature, draws attention to y2k as
> something that the average citizen should be more aware of.
> and yes, The Renton Group is a high-level international PR agency, with
> connections in big government and big business on a global level, yet
> certain general e-posts i've read cite that as evidence for some sort of
> conspiratorial spin-doctor relationship, but what kind of agency should we
> expect the White House to hire if Koskinen's mission with the Community
> Conversations tour is to raise awareness via Q&A sessions all across the
> country while being careful to be non-alarmist in impact? it is in fact a
> good development that John Koskinen has embarked upon a nationwide Y2K tour,
> and while each locality or y2k group is bound to find or even Create some
> sort of fault with Koskinen's effort and message, or with the group hired to
> schedule that tour, the fact is Koskinen is taking Y2K to the people, region
> by region.
> if you have the opportunity to set up a Koskinen CC in your locality, i can
> offer what we're planning here in Nashville as food for thought:
> at Nashville Prep 2000 we are of course aware of the fact that John Koskinen
> has his own requirements regarding whatever message he disseminates from the
> White House, but we've also had plans for some time to put on a large
> city-wide community meeting of our own, well before Mr Koskinen announced
> his CC tour. as such, we are now simply structuring Mr Koskinen's visit
> within our pre-planned activity, which will involve a day's worth of events
> that will disseminate basic y2k prep sheets that will be copyable and
> re-distributable by the civic leaders who will be attending the Koskinen CC.
> in other words, our locality, like any other around the world, is dispensing
> prep info suitable for our area, but we are taking advantage of Mr
> Koskinen's visit as a marketing mechanism to draw as many civic leaders as
> possible to the event to distribute y2k prep info back into their own
> constituencies, thereby nicely fulfilling both Mr Koskinen's national goals
> and our local goals at one time.
> in like manner, then, any locality around the country might have its own
> particular prep requirements, and each can take advantage of John Koskinen's
> visibility and profile to create awareness for an event that can broadly
> distribute prep info idiosyncratic to that locality. this would nicely
> achieve both John Koskinen's goal to simultaneously raise y2k awareness
> while keeping the public calm, along with a means for each locality to
> galvanize civic leaders around the dispensation of useful information for
> their area.
> this is a practical national-local symbiosis that we would encourage other
> y2k groups and localities to consider.
> thanks for listening,
> - andy vr
> ---

-- Not (at@this.time), July 07, 1999.

The only Conversation scheduled for California is in San Luis Obispo? Lovely area, and not too far from Vandenburg AFB, but that's the only Community they're currently planning to "converse" in?

California has an estimated population of over 32M, and contains 4 of the top 20 US cities in terms of population: LA, San Diego, San Jose, and SF. Tack on Orange County, which is almost one massive metroplex from just south of LA all the way down to San Onofre, and you've got a whole mess o' people to communicate with. One would think that they'd be planning to chat with a few more folks in the Golden State than just the ones living near Cal Poly SLO. Maybe they can't book any rooms, what with vacation season underway and all...

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), July 07, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ