Government officials try to reassure philadelphians on Y2k threat : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Published Thursday, November 18, 1999

Government officials try to reassure Philadelphians on Y2K threat


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Representatives from the federal government came to Philadelphia to help reassure citizens that they need not fear widespread problems after the date clicks over to 2000 on computers around the world.

With six weeks to go, computer systems in crucial transportation, utility, and government sectors should be prepared for the transition, although some precautions are advisable, officials told about 200 people at a Y2K " Community Conversation" at Drexel University on Wednesday night.

" It' s important for everybody to understand that no one can guarantee perfection, and even with the best of efforts, some glitches are to be expected, " said John A. Koskinen, chairman of the President' s Council on Year 2000 Conversion.

Koskinen said people should prepare for New Year' s Day as they would for a winter storm, such as keeping a three-day supply of food and water.

Also attending the meeting, one of the last of a nationwide series that began in April, were representatives from state and city governments, the Social Security Administration, the Small Business Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, and some utilities, hospitals, and other agencies and companies.

During part of the two-hour meeting, audiences at similar forums in Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; Milwaukee; and Baltimore joined the Philadelphia meeting by satellite.

All got the usual reassurances that nuclear missiles will not accidentally launch, Social Security payments should go through, and most VCRs should work. They were also told the federal government has no plans to declare martial law.

But panelists also said there may be some problems. While Philadelphia' s 911 system is expected to work, for example, that may not be true for other 911 systems around the country.

And although about 80 percent of the nation' s small businesses are prepared, SBA representative Joseph F. Sobota said the other 20 percent represents a lot of firms, since there are an estimated 18 million small businesses nationwide, including 6 million self-employed people.

Ingrid Jackson of Powelton Village is less worried about computers than people.

She thinks there is a " mild hysteria" fueled by advertising about Y2K that may get worse as the date approaches. Jackson said some people talk about storing food, withdrawing extra money, even arming themselves, but she doesn' t plan to do so.

" I' m trying to take precautions not to be a part of the problem, " she said.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

-- Homer Beanfang (, November 18, 1999


Given Philadelphia's less-than-sterling performance on their school payroll:

...I'd say they need all the reassurance they can get.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), November 18, 1999.

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