OKC Act II: the public information office

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Yesterday I spoke with Karen Farney, department chief of Oklahoma City's public information office. They produced the "CityNews" insert with the "don't prepare" advice that I have written about previously here.

1. She said the city had electrical generators for its water system, but not for the lift stations in the waste water system. This is the opposite of what the acting director of the water department, Brett Weingart, had said. He told me that they had diesel pumps for the water and generators for each lift station. I told her this, and she felt that he was probably mistaken.

2. There is nobody with overall responsibility for coordinating responses among metro OKC area governments to y2k disruptions.

3. The City has not finished compiling its contingency plans. "This is happening this week, right away," she said. She gave me the name of the assistant city manager, Jim Thompson, who is responsible for collecting the contingency plans from the various departments and assembling them into a coherent document which they will post on their website. I encouraged her to accelerate this and publish as soon as possible. Quoted some of the Naval War College scenario study at her (the parts about the importance of transparency and how this event would show who was competent and who wasn't).

4. Note the implicit information that nobody has a full view as to how OKC would respond, although she did say that they were considering worst case scenarios, such as a nation-wide blackout, in which case their contingency plan was to distribute bottled water. I asked her, "Where will you get the bottled water," and so help me God she segued onto something else so fast that I didn't notice she wasn't answering the question. She told me that ACOG (associated local governments) was having a press conference on Monday at 11 AM about y2k issues, and so I am going to attend wearing my Oklahoma Catholic Worker newspaper hat, and also tell them I'll be reporting to several internet email lists.

5. She said a lot of city employees would be working that night, including her.

6. She encouraged me to call her boss, mentioned above, the assistant city manager, so that's the next rung on this Jacob's Ladder.

7. She said she had been tracking y2k questions to the City Action Center and that I was the first person to do this kind of questioning. The first person, she said. I told her I hoped the City was OK, because if it wasn't, and Y2k turns out badly, then that would cause a crisis of confidence in the leadership of OKC, and she agreed this would be so.

8. She also tried a segue into the "people panicking" routine, but I'm getting where I have very little patience with this and I quickly interjected that if corporations were competent they would properly allocate their production and distribution resources, and if they weren't competent, then other structures would emerge to satisfy human needs. She didn't quite know what to say to that, and neither has anybody else that I have said it to. "Other structures?" Hmmm, what could this be? I'm thinking Wisdom, Beauty, Justice, and Love would be a good start, and since we are all hoping and working for a series of miracles, might as well shoot for the top.

9. Firemen are supposed to bring sleeping bags to work over the "century date change."

So it goes, 66 days and counting to the Jubilee Holy Year 2000.

Got printable flyers for distribution during y2k disruptions?

Robert Waldrop ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Archbishop Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, Oklahoma City Daily justice and peace meditations into the Jubilee Holy Year 2000

-- robert waldrop (rmwj@soonernet.com), October 27, 1999


I was born and and raised in OKC (lived close to the intersection of Hefner Road and N May Ave). Attended Sunset elementary school. Spent many wonderful hours as a kid at Wedgewood and Springlake amusement parks as well as Frontier City. Learned to ride a two-wheel bicycle for the first time at the intersection of Major Ave and Hefner Road. Caught snakes and played in the creeks. Went fishing for the first time with my parents on Lake Hefner. Got my very first job there sacking groceries at an IGA supermarket. At the time, this area was the edge of town.

Lots of fond memories of OKC. Good luck and take care.

-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), October 27, 1999.

Robert and Arnie,

I too lived in OKC for 15 years. Moved there when I was 13. Went to McGuinness and OCU. Also have many fond memories and still call it home. Bought my first house on NW 30th just east of Penn. Small world!

-- lparks (lparks@eurekanet.com), October 27, 1999.

Small world and getting smaller all the time. I'm an OCU alum and live a couple of blocks from the school, south of NW 23rd. OCU is in the process of expanding east to Classen, and has purchased a lot of property east of Blackwelder and torn down the homes. They are now pleasant, empty grass lots with a few trees. If things go badly next year, I expect they will be planted to crops.

-- robert waldrop (rmwj@soonernet.com), October 28, 1999.

i liked in OKC until l962- went to Calvin Coolidge Elementary -- wen to Mayridge Baptist Church......i remember wonderful times as a child there...now live in california....liked reading the emails about your years in okc...brought back smiles....

-- sarita schwedes (avmomm53@yahoo.com), August 28, 2004.

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