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Jon Fullinwider -- Chief Information Officer Los Angeles County/Los Angeles County Y2K czar
John Dennis -- Year 2000 Project Director, Department of Water and Power, City of Los Angeles
Frank Martinez -- Year 2000 Project Executive Director, City of Los Angeles


FROM: Michael Dowd, Portland Sustainable Lifestyle Campaign, 4/28/99

Here's a short essay that Larry Shook and I wrote. I hope you find it useful:

Community Preparedness: Y2K Insurance / Wise Investment


[I sent this message to select people on my email list April 24, 1999, to help make sense of this distressing trend in the "official stance" on Y2K.]

I attended a distressing community meeting Thursday night, April 22, here in Hollywood, to hear the three biggest Los Angeles Y2K honchos:

Jon Fullinwider -- Chief Information Officer in Los Angeles County (the LA Times called him the LA County Y2K czar." In January, from a piece the Times did, I flagged him as being a good voice for the problem we face. Hired two years ago, "He found the first meeting with LA County officials 'scary, because LA hadn't really begun to deal with the issue. The supervisors weren't really aware of the magnitude of the problem or its implications'...Fullinwider is regularly implored by treasurers from cities around California to please, please help convince their city councils that this is serious.")

John Dennis -- Year 2000 Project Director for the Department of Water and Power, City of Los Angeles.

Frank Martinez -- Year 2000 Project Executive Director, City of Los Angeles

They all had the same party line: Y2K will be no more than a big storm. Final tests of all systems will be June 30, and everything is expected to work. The only problems worth much attention are foreseen to be overseas.

They took written questions only. No participation from the floor.

People around me were in shock.

My report from the L.A. front: Y2K feels to me imperceptible. I haven't found it in any conversation. To the best of my knowledge, only Topanga Canyon, on our outskirts, and Beachwood Canyon, which is a small area of Hollywood, has much going. (Fran Reichenbach, from the Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association, organized the meeting.)


FROM: Jon Fullinwider, 4/28/99

Suzanne, I have not had an opportunity to respond to your questions surrounding Y2K and the potential global implications, especially third world countries that are clearly struggling. Regarding Y2K and local government, we have addressed all areas we can control or influence. Taking prudent precautions by following the Red Cross or the L.A. City Y2K planing guide is clearly endorsed by all.

With regard to your web site, it is very good and you are to be complimented on its design and information content.

When time permits, I will respond more fully to your questions. Thanks for all your support and involvement. It's people like you that will ensure we as a society are prepared.


[I sent this message to the above meeting presenters on April 26, 1999, in email with the subject line, "Please Help Me," in the hopes I could stir up a deeper conversation on this very important issue.]

Please help me. How can I reconcile your calming, soothing reduction of Y2K to a big storm, at the Hollywood meeting Thursday, April 22, with the following report from the U.S. Postal Service, which is circulating in email now? Can you reassure me that the readiness of Los Angeles, in the vast domains for which you are responsible, makes it safe for us here, regardless of what failures might occur in other systems, like the Postal Service? I will circulate your response among Y2K activists, who would love to hear some good news.

Attachment to email: NEWS FROM U.S. POSTAL SERVICE, 2/23/99

[I sent this follow-up message to the same people April 27, 1999, with the subject line, "I Still Need Help."]

I call your attention to the piece I forwarded to you yesterday having come from the Unites States Postal Service, and this one being from The Associated Press. It bothers me that in assuring us of the safety of Los Angeles you relegated what's on the Internet to the fringy crazies, when in fact data from official sources is what us concerned people are reading. How can Los Angeles be in store for but a big storm, if, as this story indicates, South America is headed for breakdown? Is this not one small planet now, where any part that falls apart affects us all?


FROM: Frank Martinez, 4/26/99

I don't have time today to research the hearing notes and the context - but I will do so soon and keep you informed of my findings.

However, my suggestion would be (from a personal preparedness standpoint) to take the following actions relative to the postal service:

1. mail early any really important items before end of year.

2. have a list of your monthly bills and the normal billing dates so you can monitor for "lost mail" if there is a problem.

3. basically, I believe there may be some "slower service" if automated sorting systems and support transportation are disrupted - but I don't see a complete breakdown.

Suzanne Replies:

Thanks so much for responding. However, my point wasn't about dealing with the Post Office problems, but was about how those problems, and problems in other vital systems and in other places figure to impact Los Angeles, so that your rosy picture about L. A. becomes suspect. See the other piece, about South America, that I've sent out today. We're in this together.

Frank replies to Suzanne, 4/27/99:

I have seen hundreds of different articles describing various potential problems - and I agree that it can be confusing and frightening. However, based on my continued interaction with the people actually working on systems, I do not see the type of catastrophic infrastructure failures predicted by some.

That doesn't mean that there won't be some problems or that the problems overseas will not have any impact on us. However, if our basic infrastructure is sound, then we can deal with other issues such as supply chain, issues etc.

Again, from a personal point of view, sound emergency planning coupled with vigilance as to new information is the best thing you can do at this point.

Let's stay in touch and share information.



[I sent this message on May 29, 1999, to John Fullinwider, John Dennis & Frank Martinez to stimulate some interaction among Y2K activists and the "officials."]

With thanks for your previous responses to me, and invitations to stay in touch, I'm forwarding some excerpts from a conversation on the Net. This has become the meeting place for the best Y2K minds, and you might want to join in. Through the participants in this conversation, who took great interest in finding out what you've done, those good things will be widely shared.

These appreciations have been tempered by concerns about the world's interconnectivity, so that no matter how well any one place does, it will be impacted by how badly others do -- and by concerns about naivete on the part of the powers that be about this.

With appreciation for what you've done and hopes that you'll be part of this masterminding.


Hello, this is the Coalition 2000 Civic Preparedness discussion list. To post messages to this list, address them to civicprep@4hlists.org. Please remember that reply messages will be forwarded to all members of the discussion list.


It would be wise to learn the correct lessons from Los Angeles' Y2K drill.

Having had the privilege of spending a couple of days with several of the disaster preparedness people from the City of Los Angeles, I can tell you that the City and County of Los Angeles are ahead of EVERYBODY as far as handling disasters, having contingency plans, etc. They should be considered the BEST PRACTICES case for everybody.

Communities would do well to emulate Los Angeles and conduct Y2K drills.

Mayor Riordan has shown a deep commitment to solving Y2K problems in his city. I wish the rest of America's municipalities showed the same resolve. The Millennium Alliance at www.tma2000.org has developed a blueprint for municipalities. They also have a workshop for municipalities. The Millennium Alliance was started by Candle Corporation (check the participants in Coalition 2000) to help local governments with Y2K. They have developed their workshop and blueprint with the help of the city and county of Los Angeles.

It is highly recommended that each local government take a look at what is offered, since -- as I said, the city and county of Los Angeles can rightly be viewed as "best practices" places.

A lot of cities are incorporating the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program that was developed in LA, and which can be easily adapted to Y2K. What the CERT program does is train citizens to be members of an emergency response team in the event of any emergency; the emphasis is on what will do the most good for the most people. The majority of the people that were rescued from the 1989 San Francisco earthquake were rescued by CERT members. Generally in a wide spread emergency like that, the professionals (Fire, Police, etc.) are tied up on the major problems, such as schools, hospitals, etc. and don't have the resources to get to the communities.

This is where the CERT members come in. CERT provides assistance until the professionals can get there. Check with your city and see if they have a CERT program; if not, have them get in touch with LA City.

It's good news that Jon Fullinwider came to Los Angeles County two years ago and set the county on an aggressive course of action to bring it into compliance. He had already done the same in San Diego County. I had been following his progress only since last October or so, when someone on the Year2000.com technical e-forum sent in an interview the techie had had with Jon, in which he said that when he first arrived in LA and had a meeting of department heads and had asked about Y2K (almost as an after-thought), he discovered that "it wasn't even on their radar screens." In the first quarter of this year, Jon Fullinwider addressed a group of Quality Assurance people. I went to hear him and again was impressed by the work he was doing.


Concurrent Conversation Topics:
The New Story
No More War


Beginning of Commentaries:
Calling us Home
August 14, 1997

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