Y2K information continues to be confusing. There is a lot of Y2K preparation underway by the town government. Reassurance statements by other levels of government, such as they are, are typically cleverly worded to assure people that everything is under control.
The U.S. Senate hearings of May 25 and June 10 continue to show Y2K is not under control.
What may be under control are the press releases and other public information to mask possible consequences of Y2K. The consequences cannot be accurately predicted.
Government officials at all levels state their concern that panic must be avoided. However, a recent meeting of Red Cross planners stated that three conditions must be present to lead to panic.
First, people are faced with an immediate emergency. There is not much to be done about that. It may happen. It may not.
Second, people perceive there is no avenue of escape. There is not much to be done about that, either, until a situation becomes clear.
Third, people do not have relevant information. Something can be done about that. With information, whatever comes, people make their own judgment for contingency plans that work for them.
After review by the Town Council, the status of the town government's Y2K preparations should direct that specific summary of the present status be posted in publicly accessible places -- and updated.
Given the ongoing development of the town's contingency plans, some details are not yet firm. For those give the town a date when useful information about such details may be available.
Several years ago Johnny Carson announced on his show that there would be a toilet paper shortage "tomorrow." Predictably, people raced to the stores the next day and cleaned off the shelves. Indeed there was a shortage! But, does anyone believe there would have been a shortage if he announced that wouldn't happen for several months? Of course not.
With information we avoid panic. Information needs to be timely. It needs to address us as responsible adults, not as if we were idiots.
The Town Council should take the lead to provide useful Y2K status information specific to Payson citizens. Town employees should not have to face panic when performing their Y2K contingency responsibilities.
Lewis M. Levenson