We have created a special page on the Y2K Survey Website that includes photographs and links to the recent Senate hearings:

The testimony of all participants can be read at:

Or watched and listened to via Real Video at:

Rogue Valley resident, Liza K. Christian, former Executive Director of the Rogue Valley Y2k Task Force was one of four presenters at a Special Senate Hearing today in Washington, D.C. Also testifying were Paloma O'Riley, Co-Founder of the Cassandra Project, Edward Yourdon, author of Time Bomb 2000, and Mike Nolan, City Administrator for Norfolk, Nebraska. The hearing was held to examine the issue of community and individual Y2k preparedness, and the related role the media plays in providing information to assist communities and individuals in their Y2k preparedness efforts. In light of her extensive involvement with this issue, Ms. Christian was invited to testify at the Washington D.C. hearing by Senator Robert Bennett, Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem.

The full text of Ms. Christian's oral testimony is reprinted below.

Testimony of Liza K. Christian

former Executive Director, Rogue Valley Y2k Task Force located in Southern Oregon and serving Jackson and Josephine Counties.


Honorable Senator Bennett, and Distinguished Members of the Senate

Special Committee on the Year 2000 Problem

Thank you for inviting me to participate in today's hearing. It is with both honor and humility that I sit before this distinguished panel. I bring you greetings from the great State of Oregon, and the beautiful Rogue Valley. My statement as well as the supportive written testimony entered into the record is not exclusively mine, but reflects the voices of my colleagues.

As you know, the nature of the Year 2000 problem is complex and challenging; its remediation a formidable task.

Many view Y2k as a confusing maze of conflicting data. But the question that consistently rises to the top is straightforward: is it a problem or not?

In part, the confusion stems from what is perceived at the grass-roots level, as an orchestrated "public relations campaign" designed to tranquilize the American public.

Why we ask?

The reasoning offered is this: if you provide full disclosure, people will act irrationally and panic, and the country will suffer an economic and banking collapse.

While some "positive" statements about Y2k progress are grounded in fact, others seem like "window dressing." We submit that such mis-leading, and artificial restraint will breed an even worse panic later. But adequate preparation prevents panic.

In the Rogue Valley, where I served as the Executive Director of the nation's first grass-roots community-preparedness organization called the Rogue Valley Y2k Task Force, many intelligent, thoughtful individuals investigated this issue. We believe that the Y2k paradox is

now of titanic dimension.

In a March 1999 joint statement by Senators Bennett and Dodd, we read "Y2k is one of the most serious and potentially devastating events this nation has ever encountered. It deserves our top priority. Make no mistake, this problem will affect us all ." And from John Koskinen, Chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion: "I urge [you] to treat this matter with a sense of urgency time is of the essence ."

Yet, in another set of quotes we read, "all is well; don't worry; we have it under control; business as usual."

An urgency to prepare; but don't worry, be happy? Isn't that an oxymoron? One statement cancels the other. The result is procrastination, and the population is once again lulled into a false sense of security.

Frankly Senators, as you are fully aware, many people are scared. Some

even despairing. They don't comprehend the complexities of Y2k. There's

no frame of reference, no historic precedent from which they can

comfortably or reasonably examine this issue. What they don't

understand, they tend to ignore. In spite of some progress toward

preparation, the pendulum unmistakably swings toward denial, apathy, and


As this attitude rises so does the potential for hardship.

The media, in our opinion, has done a less than adequate job of creating

Y2k awareness; let alone fully examining and reporting on the potential

impact to every area of our lives. Where is the investigative

journalism? Did they read the recent 164 page report of the U.S. Senate?

Doubtful. Instead they merely echo the "bump in the road" bias.

In our experience, the media is looking for sound bites and headlines.

Articles and interviews often ridicule those who choose to make

preparations to survive a hardship or crisis. They are labeled

"doomsayer, whacko, alarmist, nut case." At times, the media have even

appeared hostile or outright disinterested.

We would ask: how does it serve anyone's best interests for people to be


As a nation, we must form an effective way to help citizens prepare. The

risks of Y2k-related failure and the benefits of individual and

community preparedness justify a rigorous approach. We cannot afford the

luxury of skewed rhetoric.

In my short time remaining this morning, I'd like to suggest some ideas

to help mobilize such an effort:

1. We advocate for federal, state, county, and city governments to

marshal every resource at their disposal to lighten the burden of

emergency preparedness in this troublesome time of our nation's history.

2. Encourage investigative journalism on the part of the media. Look for

proof. Verify facts. Report obvious statistical manipulation. Partner

with community agencies and efforts aimed at preparedness. Build

awareness at every level. Provide resources for the American public to

thoroughly examine this issue. In our written testimony, we have

provided suggestions that can help any community springboard into


3. Encourage individuals and communities to become pro-active not

reactive. Assist the American people in developing sound contingency

plans for themselves and their communities and practice emergency drills

in their homes. Assemble the expertise of existing disaster relief

agencies; form coalitions and partnerships with, and encourage civic and

religious organizations to 1) disseminate awareness materials and 2)

develop and coordinate strategic, targeted contingency plans (serve as

shelters, identify "at risk" people in their own groups as well as the

their communities), and 3) build community. Bring support groups in on

the front-end of planning efforts so they will be effective at the


4. Join the Rogue Valley Mayors in their "Proclamation for National

Awareness & Preparedness Month" during September 1999. Help organize

events and provide resources and tools for emergency readiness that span

the nation. Call for similar action in every state, county and city, in

order to minimize the impact of any emergency, be it a personal

hardship, a natural disaster, or crisis of computer origin. It is time

to become pro-active and not reactive.

5. Support informational and educational awareness campaigns. Organize a

media campaign and blitz every print and electronic media entity.

Provide in-depth reporting; develop positive, doable strategies; build

community awareness at every level: 1) remediation, 2) mitigation, and

3) preparedness, for businesses, individuals, and communities.

6. Establish effective neighbor-to-neighbor sanctioned strategies that

engender a genuine sense of caring, and lay the groundwork for

individual and community preparedness. It is imperative that the

American public thoroughly examine this issue and think and act for


7. Advocate for a robust network of serviceable shelters for times of

emergency. It will take focused cooperation to partner in such effort.

We do not have a moment to lose.

8. Take advantage of the experts: from disaster relief and emergency

preparedness agencies to institutions that provide first aid training,


9. Form coalitions and partnerships with civic and religious

organizations and develop targeted, strategic contingency plans.

10. Enlist every government agency and business to provide full

disclosure to the American people.


11. Call upon every member of Congress to hold town hall meetings to

educate and inform their constituents. Discuss, develop, and execute

strategic contingency plans for emergency preparedness. Build

relationships instead of resentmentŠ trust instead of doubtŠ hope

instead of despair.

It takes unusual courage to act in the midst of adversity. It takes

vision and exceptional leadership to act before the crisis arrives.

This concludes my remarks. Thank you for your willingness to consider

the voice of the grass-roots organizations. It has been my privilege to

speak on their behalf.

Submitted May 20, 1999


Liza K. Christian

Ashland, Oregon


Kerry Brock

Director of Broadcasting, Media Studies Center

The Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem

May 25, 1999

Y2K is a unique tale playing itself out on the landscape of American

journalism as part concern and part cartoon. And as you said, Senator

Bennett, "How do we strike a balance between Paul Revere and Chicken

Little?" In recent months my organization, the Media Studies Center, has

heard from hundreds of journalists who are looking for the proper voice

in which to tell this story. In the words of a reporter from the San

Jose Mercury News, right now journalists on this beat are forced into


Many news organizations are not digging into the technical

vulnerabilities of their towns, cities, and states. In part, because of

a lack of leadership from the federal government. Not only a lack of

leadership, but also a lack of consensus within government entities

charged with gathering these facts.

The governments' own Y2K Czar, John Koskinen, advises journalists to

continually drive toward the facts . Though it seems obvious to

journalists in the know, Mr. Koskinen seems to avoid facts. Always in a

calm and low key presentation, he tells us the power industry nationally

has done well but he's concerned about local power companies. He thinks

the national telephone systems will work but he is concerned about the

1400 small telephone companies. He indicates we should not worry but we

should worry.

These are not facts, but public valium, and the news media as a whole is

not picking up on it. As Jeff Gralnick of CNN told us "journalists are

drowning in a sea of conflicting information."

In the absence of consistent facts, government proclamations that are

not stories become stories. Consider these headlines; "FAA head books

flight for New Year's," "Y2K Czar Sees Serene January 1," "Don't Panic

Over Y2K, Senators Say."

Then, journalists find conflicting information in the government's own

Y2K websites. For starters, this Senate committee's web site offers a

clear link to Mr. Koskinen's Y2K. gov website but Mr Koskinen's buries

its link back to the Senate's. Why? Is there a difference of opinion

between the two?

Senator Dodd, you state: "The world oil supply faces a series of Y2K

risks from the well in the ground to the gas station in your

neighborhood." Mr. Koskinen says, " Although there may be some minor

disruptions .... the industries are confident ... that the supply of

natural gas and petroleum...products (will be) uninterrupted."

This committee cites a GAO survey that raises major concern over the

readiness of America's water utilities. On the other hand, Mr Koskinen

reports cautious optimism that water utility services will continue

uninterrupted by Y2K issues. Journalists are not getting a clear and

consistent message . Marsha Stepanek of Business Week magazine says

"this story takes commitment and manpower" and Senators, you need to

explain why news organization should give it both.

A few journalists have been assigned the Y2K beat and they get it; they

understand this issue is not black and white - it cannot be polarized.

Long ago they abandoned the plane-falling-out-of-the sky-analogies in

their reporting. These are the reporters looking every day for hard

information. Journalists want you to admit what you don't know and admit

why that worries you. Then they can explain to the public how the lack

of information might signal problems. And they can report how the

government suggests we prepare to cope with potential problems.

Unfortunately, journalists on this beat tell us they now find

information that looks suspiciously like a cover up. ABC correspondent,

James Walker, found the following instructions on an electric utilities

website regarding a Y2K drill:

"Do not make the drill too complex. We want to have a successful and

meaningful story for publication."

Then there is the rest of the news media, reporters doing stories every

day on health, finance, religion, politics, media, the arts,

entertainment, news, weather and sports. There is a potential Y2K issue

in each of these areas and more. Help journalists understand that it is

not just a technology story and help them explain that to the rest of


It is important to recognize that there are individual examples of fine

Y2K coverage every day and local news organizations taking it upon

themselves to make preparedness suggestions. News reports in Miami tell

residents to prepare as if for a hurricane, in San Francisco as if an

earthquake, in Oklahoma as if a tornado. But it remains a patchwork of

reporting that has not formed a nationwide mosaic of understanding.

Big companies are admitting in increasing numbers that they won't be

ready in time. Perhaps the government could convene a summit that brings

captains of industry together to explain to journalists how system

breakdowns in the private sector might affect the public. Through the

news media you could instantly attach honesty, leadership, public

understanding and perhaps calm, supplanting the current environment of

ignorance, confusion and in some cases, panic.

Y2K is not a hurricane earthquake or tornado: this is an expected event.

If Y2K failures are a fraction of what the government believes they

might be, in the post-millennium blame game, journalists will haunt the

people responsible for duplicity.