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Mayor should stop witchhunt against Public Works employees

After reading the article “Computer porn case goes criminal,” on the front page of the Aug. 8, 2013 issue of The Vidette, I am compelled to share my opinion. First of all, this is nothing other than more harassment by Ken Estes and Kristy Powell. Regardless of what was found on any computer, the computers were all “unsecure” from day one of being placed in the public works employees’ work area. That means that the computers were not “password protected,” which means you or I or anyone could sit down and have full access to the computers without entering a password. Not only were they “unsecure” in that manner, they were not specifically assigned to any one person. There have been numerous seasonal employees throughout the last several years who have been on those same “unsecure” computers as well.

Additionally, there have been documented times that an individual with psychological/mental issues has gotten into the public works’ shop when no one was around and locked himself/herself in an office and got on the computers. Law enforcement had to get involved to help remove this individual from the premises.

I am, in no way, advocating inappropriate use of city computers on city time in any way, shape or form. I’m merely pointing out that if, in fact, inappropriate websites have been visited, there is no way to prove specifically who was on these websites when all of the machines have been “unsecure” since their placement. Anybody (including Ken Estes or Kristy Powell) could have gotten on those computers to “set somebody up” if they were so inclined. I am just mentioning the possibilities.

In fact, a couple months ago when the public works employees’ computers were first taken away for the “forensic analysis,” they were taken by Public Works Director Rocky Howard and dropped off on someone’s back porch. I know this because I listened to a voicemail that Mr. Howard accidentally (wrong number) left on some random person’s (my friend’s) cell phone, explaining that he had dropped off the computers on their back porch. Is there anyone out there who remotely thinks this sounds like a “secure” and “professional” procedure was followed?

Again, I would never defend inappropriate use of city technology, but there is no way to pinpoint specific individuals who may have been doing this because of nothing other than the city’s lack of security in the area of technology in the first place. That being said, my question then is, “Why is Ken Estes wasting area law enforcement agencies’ valuable resources on something that can never be proven?” Apparently, Ken has little or no regard/respect for his law enforcement brethren’s time if he’s allowing his sidekick Kristy to contact the Washington State Patrol to see if they would help with the investigation.

Since all of this began, I was wondering if all city employees had signed an “Acceptable Technology Use Agreement” of some sort, outlining all of the city’s policies governing computer use. Surprisingly, no one had done this when I checked several weeks ago. I would have to think that is pretty much unheard of in 2013, especially when it’s a government agency. So, I called the city clerk’s office today (Aug. 9, 2013) to check on this and was told that as of a couple weeks ago, “policies” concerning technology use by city employees had been drafted, and they were in the process of having city employees sign them.

My goodness. Timing is everything!

Ken and Kristy, I beg you: “Please STOP harassing your employees and wasting valuable time and taxpayers’ money on fruitless investigations!”

Teri Zillyett lives in Montesano and teached English.

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