Denver officials: "We want to dispel any hysteria the movie might create." : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

'Y2K Movie Raises Concerns City public officials will preview film By Joanne Ostrow The Denver Post November 16, 1999, Page 3B

There's nothing special about NBC's Sunday night thriller: another suspenseful two hours of cataclysmic disaster featuring a good-looking protagonist's desperate bid to save the world.

However, Denver officials are taking this latest fiction seriously.

Several public officials are scheduled to attend a preview screening of the network movie "Y2K" at KUSA-Channel 9 on Wednesday. According to KUSA, representatives of Denver's police, fire, water, public-service and other agencies have agreed to attend a preview luncheon and may participate in a call-in panel from 5-11 p.m. to answer viewers' questions before, during and after the move on Sunday night.

"We want to dispel any hysteria the movie might create," said Denver Manager of Public Safety Butch Montoya.

Among those due to attend: Montoya; Pat Wegner, who handles Y2K scams for the Denver district attorney's office and other members of the DA's office; Dave Bufalo, Y2K specialist for the city; representatives of the governor's Y2K task force; Public Service Co.; the Red Cross; US West; and the state banking commission.

"We thought we'd give them a heads-up before it airs," said KUSA News Director Patti Dennis.

The movie, airing Sunday at 8 on Channel 9, the last weekend of the competitive ratings sweeps, stars Ken Olin as a complex systems-failure analyst working on Y2K compliance when everything - including a nuclear power plant - goes haywire. Naturally he must use old-fashioned ingenuity to avert disaster as the clock is about to strike midnight on January 1, 2000. In the meantime, as midnight approaches, the Eastern Seaboard suffers a massive power outage, cars won't start, medical emergency equipment is kaput, a nuclear power plant outside Seattle is about to melt down, and so on.

"There has been a little bit of concern by city officials," Dennis said. Because the script is "entertainment-based, facts are stretched and people are concerned the movie might raise more questions than it answers."

Whether the "little bit of concern by city officials" is part of the NBC promotional effort remains a question. Dennis said "If we wanted to promote the movie we'd do a story Thursday at 10," when the station has the biggest audience of the week following NBC's "ER."

Montoya, a one-time Channel 9 news director, said, "I don't want to be party to promoting a film. We just want to use it as an opportunity to get the facts out."

-- kalani & katiuska (, November 16, 1999


Did the City of New York pull this type of fit for CBS's showing of the Earthquake movie? Part II of that on tonight.

Smells real rotten

-- official hysteria (, November 16, 1999.

I think every Denver resident should call them and have a tape recorder ready. Do alert them the call is being taped. Then ask them a few detailed questions. Hang on to that tape. If what the individual said does not match the facts as those facts occur sue that individuals personal worth for endangering ones life.

Sue these public homo sapiens caught with their pants down. Build the cases while one can.

-- Paula (, November 16, 1999.

Poor old 'fix-on-failure' Denver. I don't know how they ever survived The Towering Inferno, Alien, Deep Impact, or The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

When was the last time a fictional production brought people to panic? Hmmm. Let's see. That would probably be October 30, 1938. CBS Mercury Theater. Orson Well's War Of The Worlds radio broadcast.

I can't think of a more recent example.

Most people believe that Y2K is a fictional problem. The movie will only reinforce that belief. What I'm going to find interesting is list of companies that have actually purchased air time during the show to advertise their products.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, November 16, 1999.

Interesting to see how frantic the spin is getting. The almost hysterical reaction and adamant denials by the various public and private officials over Shop 'n Save's y2k stock-up promotion mirrors the spin that Y2K Movie is receiving in the newspapers I read. Several have carried a "commentary" by Finn Bullers and David Hayes written for the Kansas City Star that simply roasts the movie and its premises and warns that it will spread panic in the streets if people take it seriously. Then there's the growing effort to brand any y2k problems as "cyberterrorism" rather than CDC problems. (Parts of this post also appeared on the shop n save thread.) It's getting weird out there.

-- Cash (, November 16, 1999.

--the entire municipal gov of denver can stick their collective IQ's a "mile high" where the sun don't shine. denver is a socialist dictatorship. all their decisions reflect this. it's just more of the same.

got tar and feathers? zog

-- zog (, November 16, 1999.

I personally moved away from Denver, Colorado about 7 months ago, now live in Northern B.C. Canada. (Brrrrrr!) Just a-waiting out the "storm". Can anyone tell me the date and time this movie is supposed to air? Name ?, Channel? Thanks for any info.

-- Silver Star (, November 16, 1999.

Am I the only one that thinks the plot / storyline for this sounds downright silly? One man tracing across the country fixing things?

So who is the real life Ken Olin?

Kosky helping save the land? Peter DeJager? Ed Yourdon?

Who is our real life Ken Olin? Who will save humanity?????

I'm sooo glad hollywood feels the problem is easy enough to solve, that one person can avert true TEOTWAWKI!!!!!!

-- Duke 1983 (, November 16, 1999.

Here's what Denver was saying eleven months ago:

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

City to tackle Y2K when time comes

By Susan Greene

Denver Post Staff Writer

Dec. 13 - Let it break, then fix it.

That's part of Denver's strategy as the city prepares itself over the coming year for the so-called "Y2K'' computer problem.

Officials say there's no way Denver can reprogram every computer chip in every piece of city equipment before midnight on Dec. 31, 1999. So they're concentrating on repairing things deemed critical to public safety - and rolling the dice on the rest.

Items expected to be inoculated against problems arising come the year 2000, or Y2K, are traffic lights, police cars and security systems at Denver jails.

Those that could be left alone include sprinklers, air conditioners and elevators in city buildings, intercoms and hot water systems, modems, fax machines, copiers and maybe even phones. It's possible, city officials say, that lighting in parks could be crippled. Sewer lines may go unmonitored. Recycling trucks and street sweepers may not be able to make their neighborhood rounds.

"We'll oftentimes just wait until the clock rolls over to see if things work or don't work,'' said Dave Bufalo, Denver's Y2K director. "I don't think the world's going to come to an end. But I can't say exactly what will happen, either.''


Crews and consultants began working on software for the city's 6,000 computers in 1996. In February, they shifted much of their focus to "embedded chips'' - tiny devices that regulate the functions of the product they're in, making sure that cellular phones ring and elevators stop running if they're due for repair.

Locating and either repairing or replacing all embedded chips in all city equipment would be impossibly time-consuming and expensive, officials say.

The city is outlining its efforts to handle the problem in a disclosure statement expected to be released at the end of this month. Drafting of the document is being overseen by Mayor Wellington Webb's chief of staff, Stephanie Foote - a sign that Y2K compliance is a high priority for the mayor.

Preparing city offices, equipment and Denver International Airport for the millennium is expected to cost city taxpayers at least $44 million over three years. That price tag - which doesn't even include the quasi-independent Denver Water Department - is conservative, and exact spending totals keep rising.

"It's a variable target for me,'' Bufalo said of the bottom line.

Setting priorities for Y2K repair is sort of like hospital triage.

Once equipment related to public health and safety is tested and compliant, crews will focus on a second tier of the city's fix-it list, which includes security cameras, burglar alarms, keypads, parking meters, elevators, cashier systems, fueling operations and heating systems. They're also working to ensure that the city continues to levy property taxes, speeding fines, license fees and dozens of other revenue sources that keep the electric bills - and Y2K consultants - paid.

Those tasks are expected to take up consultants' time as the clock ticks over the coming 12 months.

That will leave a third tier of equipment untended and possibly broken until higher priority equipment is fixed. Explaining the strategy, Bufalo said it may be cheaper to let things break than to spend the money and manpower identifying every microprocessor in every Xerox machine, garage door opener and thermostat.

"Sometimes you can spend a lot more money trying to analyze and solve problems than just dealing with them later as needed,'' he said.

The year 2000 will start on a Saturday, leaving city officials hoping to solve problems in third-tier equipment before the workweek begins. Problem is, experts say, businesses and governments throughout metro Denver also will be scrambling to fix their broken thermostats and copy machines.

"Just as there simply aren't enough people to fix the problems beforehand, there won't be enough to repair breakages immediately after,'' said Steve Segal, an attorney specializing in Y2K issues at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.

Anticipating glitches, Mayor Wellington Webb recently issued an order putting critical city workers on warning not to take vacations next winter so that they'll be on hand to handle year 2000 issues.

That could mean directing traffic or addressing and stamping tax bills by hand.

Bufalo says Denver is "slightly ahead'' of other cities in dealing with its embedded technology. Chicago and Albuquerque are lagging behind the national curve, while Portland and San Francisco lead the effort, local experts say.

In January, Denver will spend $30,000 to hire the Washington D.C.- based Public Technology Incorporated to, as Bufalo put it, "give us a sense of how we stack up against other cities nationwide.''

Still, no matter how much time and money city officials sink into the effort, experts say Denver will never be fully prepared for the millennium. Not even the wealthiest and most foresighted private companies will be totally ready.

"You cannot completely get to compliance. It's just not possible,'' said Cathy Moyer, a computer consultant who lectures throughout the state on Y2K preparedness.

"It's hard to say anybody's doing enough.''

Experts say Denver's plan - or lack thereof - is neither unusual nor unwise. Governments, agencies and big companies throughout the nation are realizing that time and budget constraints will keep them from fully inoculating all their high-tech hardware from the year 2000 computer problem.

What's different about Denver's approach, experts say, is the city's candor - admitting the likelihood that low-priority equipment will bust at midnight of the new millennium.

In the private sector, leaders of publicly traded companies are bound to disclose information about factors that could affect future financial results - including potential Y2K problems. Those withholding information could face fraud charges.

Even though experts say most companies won't fully prepare for Y2K problems, few, if any, are openly acknowledging that they'll suffer technical problems, as the city is.

"I'd probably cringe if a client took that approach,'' Segal said. "On the other hand, the city should be lauded for being that forthcoming. Many companies aren't.''

City officials aren't bound by the same rules, but still are responsible to be forthright with taxpayers and holders of hundreds of million of dollars in city bonds. That, officials say, explains the city's candor about likely Y2K inconveniences.

"We as a government have a responsibility to serve our citizens,'' Bufalo said.

And preparing for the millennium may have as much to do with public relations as it does with technology. Sources close to the city's Y2K efforts say the Webb administration wants to avoid making promises it can't keep - making itself vulnerable to the kind of disappointments that haunted Webb after repeated delays in opening Denver International Airport.

"No one wants to look like we're not doing enough, like we're in Y2K denial,'' said one city official who asked to remain unnamed. "But on the other hand, no one wants to spend tons of money preparing for a disaster that likely won't happen.''

Said Moyer: "The best thing we can do as a community is to just get an attitude adjustment, to lower our expectations. People need to anticipate that things will break.

"The moral of the story: Expect inconvenience.''


-- Linkmeister (, November 16, 1999.

Sorry...bold off.

-- Linkmeister (, November 16, 1999.

"Roll of the dice" + computers = guaranteed problems

-- PJC (, November 16, 1999.

Methinks the authorities protesteth too much.

-- Deb M. (, November 16, 1999.

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