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L.A. City Hall employees urged to stop watching Olympics at work

L.A.'s chief technology officer sends email imploring city workers to stop watching the Olympics online, fearing it could trigger a massive computer crash.

August 01, 2012|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Children play on the Olympic rings at the rowing venue in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England,
Children play on the Olympic rings at the rowing venue in Eton Dorney, near… (Natacha Pisarenko / Associated…)

Olympics coverage is certainly winning gold medals at L.A. City Hall, where so many employees are watching online that the city's chief technology officer begged them to stop for fear of a municipal computer meltdown.

"We are experiencing a high volume of traffic due to people watching the Olympics online. I respectfully request that you discontinue this as it is impacting city operations," city tech guru Randi Levin wrote in an email sent to thousands of workers Tuesday morning.

The email came on a day when the U.S. women's gymnastics team was competing, as well as the women's soccer team.

Some council members expressed alarm at the prospect that city employees were watching the Olympics instead of doing their jobs.

"City employees aren't paid to watch the Olympics on their computers or TV. That is not what the taxpayers are paying them to do," said Councilman Dennis Zine, who saw the email. "The question is where are the supervisors when this is going on?"

Councilwoman Jan Perry said she's outraged and wants the city to block Olympic streaming from City Hall computers.

Mark Wolf, executive officer for information technology for the city, said he had not discussed the email with Levin but said any time employees watch streaming material, it takes up a tremendous amount of bandwidth. NBC is streaming the games live online, which taxes highly valuable bandwidth.

Asked about the city's struggling computer systems, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's press office referred calls to Levin, who did not return calls seeking comment.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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