NYC Y2K Community Conversation : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Next Wednesday, 9/8/99 at 6 p.m. at John Jay College. The Mayor will be there and Mr. K. Some hospital reps and someone from Con Ed. There is a lot of Y2K information on the NYC site, if you do a search.I went there because my friend told me she had seen a clip from the City Council meeting. Everyone was very happy there--except for two men who were quite dubious, she said.

-- Mara Wayne (, August 31, 1999



As a former resident of NYC, I find the implied statistics pretty interesting: here we have a city whose population is, what, 7+ million? And they'll probably hold the "conversation" in an auditorium in John Jay College that holds, what, 350 people? We had a community Y2K meeting in Taos a few months ago that attracted 350 people -- but the total population of the town is only 7 thousand, not 7 million.

I could probably write the script for the Con Ed folks, as could many of the "regulars" on this forum. As for the Mayor -- hey, is anyone really going to stand up and challenge Rudy?

Aside from whatever disruptions might or might not occur on New Year's Day, the critical thing to remember is that the overall economy is very dependent on the size of bonuses paid to all those Wall Street brokers and investment bankers. The average bonus paid to a Goldman Sachs partner in 1997-98 was approx $4 million -- which helps explain what NYC real estate prices are what they are. If the "liquidity" problems we've been hearing about in Japan and the UK begin to be evident on Wall Street, things are going to get VERY interesting

All kinds of asset reallocations, hedge-fund redemptions, and other such financial decisions have to be made by the end of September in order for rich individuals and financial institutions to have their money wherever they think it should be at the end of December. Thus, it will be interesting to watch what's going on in the big brokerage houses and investment banks during the last two weeks of September.


-- Ed Yourdon (, September 01, 1999.

From another board This is going to be long, as I tried to take as complete notes from the 8/26 Louisiana y2k Community Conversation meeting at the Catholic Life Center. There was a huge slate of public officials and utility spokespersons there, along with Clinton's y2k czar, John Koskinen. I'll put an asterick by things to make it easier for you to skim over and be able to read the items you're interested in. I think someone taped the show for me when it was aired on the government channel. My comments are in {{{{'s. Peace to all of you, Angie

*Koskinen's bio: graduate of Duke University & Yale Law. Spent years at the Office of Management & Budget, and before that he worked in Crisis Management. In 1998, he was appointed as the U.S. y2k czar. His opening thoughts: *We should all get information from our local service providers. *"They" are worried about both ends of the spectrum of public reaction- - Complacency on one end, and over-reaction on the other. {This is new to me. I thought we were supposed to not care, and that there was absolutely nothing to worry about.} *The nation's power grid will hold. Transportation system is fine, air traffic is compliant. Banking (from what he's been told) is done or close to being done with remediation. *There are still risks at the local level. "It is a real and important problem (y2k). "No matter how good testing and remediation is, no one can make a guarantee of the outcome." "We are not running a national p.r. campaign, but spending millions on remediation. People want information." {paraphrased} "It is important for people to be prepared for glitches." "We are telling the public and private sectors, as well as business, that they still need to be prepared." *95% of federal government's Mission Critical Systems (MSC) are ready. This will be announced next week. *"We still need to be prepared/preparing." {He repeated this 3 times.} *"Be informed consumers."

M/C George Ryan, News Anchor WBRZ TV: *A recent A/P poll done in June showed that 2/3 of the 1008 adults in the survey expect minor y2k problems. 11% predict major problems. *An April study (Worthland Report) said y2k will be a "people problem." *60% feel they need to worry about some type of y2k scam.

M/C: Asked about the Navy report and the "probable" and "likely failure" mentioned about some major cities' utilities. Baton Rouge was listed as "probable failure" with water/sewer. JK (Koskinen): Each base commander assessed their own base area. They also assessed infrastructure of the area they are based in. "Worse case scenario" was put down by default where no data was available yet. This is what I refer to as the "Y2K Pentagon Paper". This incident of the Navy Report as a "secret" document is a good example of what we need to be careful of. Beware of rumors and exaggeration. The report is not being kept from the public. Anyone can have access to the data. In August, 60 cities were still missing data. Now only 20 fall into that category. The information on the website has since been changed as better data came in. All are confident. There is no evidence of showing wide spread failure. This is good news nationally, but we need to provide information locally so that people don't expect the worst.

Audience Question (AQ) - - {This was me! } If the Navy report was nothing to worry about, why was it yanked off of the Department of Defense's website? And if there was negative data from that report, why wasn't it shared with the local utilities of the area that received negative reports? JK: The data in that report was very confusing and hard to read. I even had trouble reading it. We asked the D.O.D. to take it down because the public couldn't understand it. Now it's back up on the website with background information. Communities were not told of the negative information because they didn't want them to make faulty judgments about their public services. It was not meant to be a public document. It's an ongoing process; a working document. They are still gathering information.

AQ: Ok, that's what the Navy had to say. Now, what does the local water company have to say? B.R. Water Co.: We are ready! No need to worry. Been preparing since '94. If we drop off of the grid, the well will come up and can back it up. We will continue to provide water. Have generators on 50% of our wells. We have a secondary system we can use with control analogue.

M/C: Will "911" work? EBRP Communication Systems: We are compliant. Tested as of Tuesday for Leap Year compliance and year 2000. All ok. South Central Bell is compliant and so are our Motorola hand systems for both of those dates. Bell South's testing has shown 100% success rate so far. "Don't call 911 at midnight on 12/31 to see if it works, because it won't work if it's overloaded." {Duh}

M/C: Are you actually going to be in the air, Mr. Koskinen, on New Years Eve?" JK: Yes, at 7:00 on NYE, I'll be going from Washington to New York and back. I am confident of the FAA and Airlines in this country and they ought to be safe. {Wonder if he's flying on Air Force One, etc., or regular flight?} B.R. Airport Official (Marino): The Baton Rouge Airport will be 100% compliant on October 10. We have 2 back up systems that can be activated if there are problems. The second takes 5 days to activate...

AQ: Can you explain what a Mission Critical System is, and what percentage of other systems will be ready? A: Louisiana defines MCS as systems that impact revenue collection [SURPRISE!} and those that affect citizens. Non MCS have been left up to individual departments.

M/C: The Federal Reserve is printing up $50 Million extra. What should people do financially to prepare? Fed. Reserve Banking Spokesman: On June 30 10,000 banks were examined twice and all were compliant (99%). The $50 million was printed for contingency purposes only, because we can't control human behavior, and to stem panic and quash rumors that banks are out of money, or the ATM's don't work and then we'd have a run on banks. The extra money will only be issued if needed. We would have printed that amount within 2 to 3 years anyway.

M/C: What are prudent steps to take, financially? Bank One: We're 98% ready. We're putting out information like statement stuffers saying "Be confident!" {Feel better now!} All MCS are ok. Still testing. Seeing if our vendors are compliant, and are checking with mortgage and credit card companies to see if they are compliant.{Notice how neither person actually answered the question.}

Dept. of Labor: Unemployment benefits are 100% ready. We got the highest rating available in our system. We have a contingency plan to go to p.c. system if the mainframe fails. Then we can go manual after that if need be.

Have a y2k ready website and sending notices.

AQ: What about power utility, parish water, Demco, etc? Demco (Larry Jenkins): We're not some big national grid. We have surveyed equipment, all substation operations and they're fine. Demco gets power locally in New Roads. {This is Big Cajun which has been bankrupt for years, and was just bought out by other utility companies.} We have a 90 day supply of coal on hand if train transportation gets into trouble. Everything can be operated manually (metering chips). Extra people will be on duty and patrolling the substations by local authorities because there are some people out there who don't want us to be successful. We're on "hurricane storm prep."

M/C: Medicare and Medicaid? Health & Hospitals: We've complied with Governor Foster's executive order to be done by June 30th. We've met the requirements. We're still testing. Medicaid is doing independent validation testing to provide 100% assureance we'll be ready. Louisiana State government hs 556 MCS, and 89% are completed. All must have contingency plans. Non MCS are left up to individual government departments to be remediated. 85% ready on July date.

Dept. of Social Services: We have been certified compliant. Can go to manual check writing if need to. Getting a backup generator for mainframe. Will back up the end of year records early in December. In 72 hours, we can issue checks by hand. Post Office: No mail interruptions. We will be ready.

AQ: We're tired of all of the "happy news". Our neighboring state of Mississippi's governor recently announced that 29% of their state agencies are prepared for y2k. We will all feel better if people don't keep saying "everything is light and roses". We'd like to hear, "We may have some problems along the way". These may be the hardest problems to deal with. Won't someone tell the real deal? {audience applause} What are Mission Critical Systems, and what about the non-MCS work? JK: *******IMPORTANT***** We're trying to determine which agencies' Mission Critical Systems would affect economy or people. That's why they cities' numbers have kept changing. The GAO said there was no problem with how systems were defined. We still have 5% of 6,000 MCS (federal systems) that are not ready and are still being worked on. There are 9000 critical systems in the U.S. Government. 3000 systems were redefined and dropped from the list. In August, General Accounting Office reported to the Senate that 1/2 of the U.S. cities were not y2k compliant and won't be by the end of the year. We're continuing the dialogue in these Community Conversations. the GAO and Inspector General reports are ongoing. Things may not work perfectly on January 1. Everyone ought to have a contingency plan. Entergy Rep (McInerny): Our priorities are the publics' health, safety, and keeping the lights on. At end of June, NERC compliance deadlines had been completed with River Bend Nuclear Plant. NERC announced that Entergy had completed its MCS remediation by deadline. 3,000 systems were looked over, 13 million lines of code. Single individuals were made responsible for every single item we tested with Entergy. We are working on contingency plans; extra coal, extra oil in the oil tanks. We can control the national grid and our system, but not people and the public and a negative perception. This is critical. We all need to work on hurricane preparedness. We've put in lots of time and resources and practicing running on manual.

AQ: Did the 103 nuclear plants in the U.S. meet the July y2k complaince tests? Entergy: 5 units of Entergy are signed off compliant, y2k ready. Met NERC's requirements and NEI's requirements.

AQ {me again}: I have a question for McInerny. I know for a fact that one of the main turbines crashed 2 weeks ago because the "backup/contingency" generator malfunctioned and caused the unit to burn up. Why doesn't the public ever hear about this or given this kind of information? McInerny: We are doing these community conferences, speaking at Rotary Clubs and the like, keeping the flow of information going. We have a webpage, and NERC page link. Entergy speakers are available. We co-op advertising so we can provide public with answers. {gave his phone number or web address in case people want to contact him about getting an Entergy speaker}. {Now, did that answer my question at all about the crashed unit and it being part of their contingency plan? Note: my husband was glad I didn't give his name as the source of my info. since he's the one responsible for fixing the crashed unit!}

AQ: Will the National Guard be on hand? Office of Emerg. Prep.: We will be operational. MCS have been tested and are ready. Office will be open. We're coordinating with state and local agencies.

AQ: How is media going to handle rumors on 12/31? JK: At 7:00 a.m. on Friday (New years eve) as New Zealand and Australia goes into the new year first, CNN will be there and around the world for all eyes to see. It will be a problem to divide what's a real y2k problem and what's not. It'll be hard to determine isues initially. Are these issues around the world even relevant to the U.S.? We've set up a Coordination System at the White House to collect data from state and local governments and 175 other countries to share info. and info. interpretations. This data will be summarized and given out to the public. Our goal is to gather all information to help people respond appropriately. We will need to know if it's an isolated happening in Cleveland or what.

M/C: Are foreign governments ready? JK: The bulk of our trade and travel is with developed countries, thank goodness. Developing countries have challenges, not enough time and resources, etc. 3/4 of the world was doing nothing (about y2k) in 1998. We're monitoring them. We think there will besome companies that will have problems if they deal with/trade these. (Like Miami dealing with S. America). In Mid-September, we will have an updated report from these 175 countries and will release travel advisories if necessary. We're looking at all countries with U.S. interests especially. Travel advisories for 2 - 4 countries before end of year (but unlikely). Post Office Rep.: We are advocating more info. to the public. There's an abundance of information out there and people need to get it all so they have a better view and not an extreme one. I'll be preparing and cautiously looking and being ready.

AQ: Chemical safety issues locally? La. Chemical Assn.: Our concerns are the Mission Critical issues: health, public safety and environment. We're partnered with Emerg. Preparedness. Business interruptions are secondary to our concerns, a far second. 7 plant managers at a meeting today and all are confident their plant will go through Dec. 31 in excellent shape. With others (vendors), they'll have 12 hours to fix any problems that creep up on the other side of the globe in plants first. {Huh???? What could you fix with 12 hours notice????} Information about worse case scenario was shared in several community meetings. Negative readings were not put on website because the Justice System, D.O.D., and F.B.I. did not want foreign terrorists to have all of this data off of the internet. (There are still holes in plans, but no one was coached to give you the sugar-coated version of the "real y2k story".) No one wants Kadafi and his friends to get this data. {Uh, if the Navy report was on the DOD site for months, the terrorists didn't have a chance to get it then????} We have to beware of the two extremes in the spectrum in the public. "If the people who believe they will be 'raptured' come the end of the year would give all of their worldly possessions to the 'Y2K hoarders', then they'd all be happy!!! hahaha." {huh?} Local US Coast Guard: Spill Response contingency plans have been in place for years according to EPA rules. On September 2, we will be simulating crisis situations and doing "spill drills" just like it is 1/1/2000. At three places along the Mississippi River (Donaldsonville, Plaquemine, and N.O.)we'll be testing the Coast Guard's response using only satelite communications during the simulated disaster. We'll be working with the 3 cities' chemical companies. We'll use generators only to supply power. We've already passed the GPS rollover date on 8/21 and there were only a few minor problems. Maritime navigation went on with only a few glitches. We are preparing for the worst case and will be ready.

AQ: What about what we've heard about main frames and all the lines of code? Embedded chips in the plants? Remediation? Dow Chemical (Kathy Holmes): Multimillion dollar program for remediation has been put in place. The control systems and all instruments were checked in all Dow plants for data functionality. All systems that didn't pass were put through rigorous remediation. Chemical processing plants mostly don't use date dependant/functionality chips. We assessed all of the controls any way. Every instrument in every plant was screened.

M/C: When will we be able to breath a sigh of relief? JK: Nobody can tell you for sure. No magic date. Already have passed several key dates with no problems. Will keep monitoring all the way through Feb. 29 and on until the first payroll/fiscal systems prove to hold up. We'll monitor the month end statements and billing cycles. By the end of the first week to 10 das, we'll have uncovered any major isues and have good inventory. Mid-January, the year 2000 will be part of history.

AQ: What about food stockpiling? Associated Grocers: We've been working a long time on y2k and attending meetings throughout the industry. Most of the job has been done. Must all be prudent and be prepared. There are 3 storms out there right now and people won't prepare for the hurricanes until it's already way up in the Gulf. On the wholesale level, we have on hand 20 - 30 day supply (not refrigerated items). We've identified 65 key items in demand in the event that the public panics. We are ready and being truthful in the grocery industry.

AQ: How is government dispersing information? JK: Because of the publics' voracious appetite for information, we have been working with major entities to raise the level of awareness. Many industries will assess themselves and privide information to the Department of Energy who gives it to the Federal Reserves and then to the public. {I'm not sure I got that correctly. He was talking fast.} National information centers for these different industries are available so they can share data and problem solving, etc. La. Y2K: State departments will have a unified headquarters all coordinating information with the office of Emergency Preparedness. That's who the State will becommunicating through.

JK: On railroads: There are 50 million lines of code in each railroad. It's massive data. Not much of it is date sensitive. Haven't found significant problems. No date functions in the switching units. Can go manual if need be. Federal Railroad Administration has reported on a few problems that have come up lately with merging railroad systems. There are embedded chips but not many are date function driven.

AQ: What about our natural gas? JK: 25 major associations for entire industry have a Sept. 30th deadline because their issues are more complicated. Data is 93% y2k compliant, or will be by Sept. 30. Late compliancy data is worrysome. Embedded chips have had many problems.

Local Government (Don Njoka/Mayor's Office): We are prepared and ready, but there'll probably be glitches. We are ready to handle them. Channel 21, the local city government channel, will be on. We still have a few things to do, but the Mayor's #1 priority is safety.

AQ: What should we do with personal preparedness? We've heard nothing about what we should be doing. Red Cross: Local Red Cross covers 10 parishes including EBRP. Take steps to be prepared like any other disaster. Use common sense. {this was said 3 times with emphasis.} Have emergency supplies, first aid, medications, radio, flashlights, batteries, canned food and a manual can opener, extra clothing, etc. We will open shelters if needed and if asked by authorities to do so. Be prepared to relocate to a shelter. {Not me!} Red Cross is prepared to do mass feedings as always. JK: Your personal computer, unless it is new in the last 2 years, check with the manufacturer to get a fix or patch if needed in hard and software.

AQ: What about power? Are all of the plants responsible for themselves? Entergy: There is a 3 piece grid. We are on the Eastern grid. It's a very large operation. NERC is overseeing all y2k remediation/work. Very, very few date dependant chips are used. There are lots of chips, but not date dep. ones. Control room systems were upgraded and tested. Entergy is connected with Emergency Preparedness and will be using that forum to get out info. to the public if need be.

AQ: What about satellites? JK: Satellites are like floating antennaes and won't have y2k problems. Cellular is many industries' back-up. Solar flares in the Northern Hemisphere will be working overtime in January and February. This will be the most activity since about 11 years ago.

AQ: Shouldn't we have continency plans for our own families? What should we do? and what about hospitals' readiness? La. Hospitals: Hospitals have been tested and switches in the communication systems have been replaced. Have identified and replaced most of the problem machines. All suppliers are compliant. Contingency plans are in place. Emerg. Preparedness: We want to help you prepare a disaster kit like for any other disaster. Phone #389-3035. Law Enforcement: State Police has gone through code line by line and replaced and updated it. Automated systems are ok. Contingency plans have been made assuming services would be out for a long time, to see what was needed. Woman's Hospital: We've taken 2 years to put together a task force. We are 100% compliant in our MCS.

NOTE: This is my disclaimer. Notes taken are paraphrased or recorded to the best of my ability, but quote me at your own risk. WBRZ television station may have transcripts available. The meeting was about 2 1/2 hours long. >>

-- DuffyO (, September 01, 1999.

Mara Wayne Wrote:

"Next Wednesday, 9/8/99 at 6 p.m. at John Jay College. The Mayor will be there and Mr. K. Some hospital reps and someone from Con Ed. There is a lot of Y2K information on the NYC site, if you do a search.I went there because my friend told me she had seen a clip from the City Council meeting. Everyone was very happy there--except for two men who were quite dubious, she said.

I participated in one of those Community Conversations at Trinity College in Hartford, CT in June 1999. I had the pleasure of sitting next to the two dubious men. They were FEMA representatives. Why are these men so dubious (and stoic)? IMHO, the FEMA guys do not like the spin of Kosky and will be the ones who eventually have to assist and plan for what Kosky insists is a "three day storm event". I would be dubious too if I were a FEMA guy.

-- Steve King (, September 01, 1999.

I'll look forward to the notes of the NYC "conversation". GREAT notes on the Louisana one. Thanks. What a heap of "don't-worry-be-happy" all in one place! [wear your wading boots]

About the Navy report I loved this line: "Communities were not told of the negative information because they didn't want them to make faulty judgments about their public services." Consider that and reread the part about 12/31 news:

JK: At 7:00 a.m. on Friday (New years eve) as New Zealand and Australia goes into the new year first, CNN will be there and around the world for all eyes to see. It will be a problem to divide what's a real y2k problem and what's not. It'll be hard to determine isues initially. Are these issues around the world even relevant to the U.S.? We've set up a Coordination System at the White House to collect data from state and local governments and 175 other countries to share info. and info. interpretations. This data will be summarized and given out to the public. [does anyone doubt that means *sanitized*] Our goal is to gather all information to help people respond appropriately. We will need to know if it's an isolated happening in Cleveland or what."

And about personal preparedness? "Be prepared to relocate to a shelter. {Not me!} Red Cross is prepared to do mass feedings as always." In the NYC "conversation" it would be interesting to ask if shelters are being prepared for 7 million people (and where are they?). And if the Red Cross is "prepared to do mass feedings as always" it would be interesting to ask how many people they are prepared to feed for how long.

-- Linda (, September 01, 1999.

Next Tuesday at 6pm at John Jay, huh? I guess I should be there! Anybody care to speculate on whether of not if I say I'm the editor of Sanger's Review, if that will mean anything to Koskinen? How about suggestions for that one magic question, should I get the opportunity? I'll take a tape recorder...

-- pshannon (, September 01, 1999.

Interesting coverage, kids. I think alot of the antagonism we feel for Mr. Koskinen and his approach results from something simple. He recieves and reads self-reported readiness reports and believes them. We don't.

Steve King- I hadn't heard that about FEMA folks at Hartford. Interesting. I bet you're right about their attitude toward a spun prep message. And the bulky fellow in black with glasses hovering on the periphery of our chat with JK I'm 90% sure was John rendon hisself.

Patrick/Mara- don't forget the NYC audit from last winter:

Detailed follow-up on sanitation, corrections etc. would be interesting. But be very aware that if you get vague answers to some questions, NYC is considered a highly probable terrorism target and I'd expect them to be cagey about some details.

The timing is interesting. Hmmm. Have to chew on that for a bit...

I wonder if Mrs. Clinton will attend. (Hey, stop snickering out there!)

-- Lewis (, September 01, 1999.

Patrick.. I think it would be a nice "visual" if you go in hip waders or (even more photogenic) full bright yellow rain gear. When asked, say you heard from previous "conversations" that the that there would be a whole lotta P.R. ... er.. uh.. STUFF.. flying, and you didn't want your suit to get dirty.

-- Linda (, September 01, 1999.

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