<
>

Plan to use state emergency computers to buy tickets canceled

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Computers usually activated and staffed
during emergencies such as tornadoes, floods, paralyzing snowstorms
and fires were to be staffed Monday so state employees could buy
Colorado Rockies World Series tickets -- that is, until word of the
plan got out Friday.

KUSA-TV obtained a copy of an e-mail send by David Holm,
recently the acting director of the state Division of Emergency
Management, asking for volunteers to staff the super-fast computers
in the Emergency Operations Center.

"I need volunteers to help push buttons in attempting access.
You will need to use break time, lunch time or leave time to do
this and the only real perk I can offer right now is that if
someone does not pay their tickets within 3 days, you will get
first crack at them," the e-mail read.

Susan Kirkpatrick, director of the Department of Local Affairs
who initially approved the plan, told the station she did so to
prevent her employees from leaving work to try to buy tickets. She
said in retrospect, it probably wasn't the best idea to use the
computers.

She said her Internet technology department said using the
computers would not compromise security.

The Rockies on Wednesday abandoned their plans to sell World
Series tickets in person by a lottery system, deciding online sales
would be more fair.

The online-only sales will still begin at 10 a.m. MDT Monday.

Denver Public Library branches that usually open at 10 a.m. were
to open 15 minutes early so fans without Internet access at home
could buy tickets.

"We're thrilled to open early to support the fans of the
Colorado Rockies. This is a great time in Denver," said Celeste
Jackson, spokeswoman for the library.

Prices range from $65 to $250 and are limited to four per
person. Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) are scheduled in Denver
Oct. 27-29.

The switch was made in part due to the team's experience with
the wild-card tiebreaker game and the first two rounds of the
playoffs, when online sales reached 500 tickets per minute at one
point, officials have said.

The Emergency Operations Center, which opened two years ago, has
at least 30 computers that are to be used by local, federal, and
state officials in emergencies.

The group Colorado Ethics Watch says the computers should not be
used for personal gain.

"Even if it were open to all state employees, it's still a
misuse of public resources. Taxpayers did not invest in an
emergency response center so that state employees could use it for
their own personal advantage and buy baseball tickets," said the
group's Chantelle Taylor.