Mainers get chance to air Y2K concerns : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Mainers get chance to air Y2K concerns By ERIC BLOM, Staff Writer ) Copyright 1999 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc. Anyone who wishes they could ask the power company, hospital, bank or other key institution what to expect from the Year 2000 computer problem will get their chance this month. The Governor's Year 2000 Readiness Task Force will host a series of public forums, beginning tonight in Presque Isle, so the public can hear directly what Maine's vital businesses, institutions and agencies have been doing to prepare for Y2K. The southern Maine meeting will be held on Sept. 16, from 7-9 p.m., at Portland High School. "It's very, very short on the formal presentation," said Robert Mayer, who co-chairs the task force and works as Maine's chief information officer. "It's going to be heavy on Q and A." The Year 2000 problem relates to the possibility that some computers or computerized devices will fail or malfunction on New Year's Day, when they misinterpret the two-digit date "00" as 1900 rather than 2000. Opinions vary widely about what will actually happen, with some people predicting widespread disorder and others saying that it will be a non-event. The task force has concluded that Maine is unlikely to confront major problems, but that people should take reasonable pre- cautions just in case there are disruptions. The four so-called community conversations being organized by the task force are designed to let concerned residents ask key Maine officials what they think will occur and whether they've addressed all the potential problem areas. The Portland forum is expected to include officials from Bell Atlantic, Central Maine Power, local emergency management and police agencies, financial institutions, supermarket chains, hospitals, water companies, major employers, small businesses and other important groups. "We're assembling to help citizens understand what they should be doing for their contingency planning," said Steve Brown, a task force member who is coordinating the forums. "If there are people out there highly fearful, I'm hoping they'll come. I'm hoping they will hear about the contingency plans being made by many organizations," Brown said. "The other goal is to bring some awareness that this is a serious issue. I hope people understand that a degree of preparation is appropriate." The conversations were suggested nationally by the President's Council on Year 2000 Readiness. Grass-roots organizations also are being asked to sponsor even smaller forums, at the town and neighborhood level, to address local concerns. Linda Monica, a Portland lawyer who specializes in Year 2000 issues, will moderate the southern Maine forum. The three other forums will be held as follows: Presque Isle, today, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Presque Isle High School. Moderator: Sue Bernard, WAGM-TV news anchor. Lewiston, Sept. 13, 7-9 p.m., at The Public Theater. Moderator: Chip Morrison, president, Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce. Bangor, Sept. 21, 7-9 p.m., at the Civic Center. Moderator: Kathryn Hunt of the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy, University of Maine. She is the editor of Maine Policy Review and a frequent facilitator of public policy forums throughout the state. LINK:

-- Diane (, September 08, 1999

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