Now for Something Completely Different: The Story I Was Never Asked To Tell
Emergency Management Once Removed
By Jim Mullen
Since September 2015, “Emergency Management Once Removed” has served as a monthly commentary on current local, regional and national emergency management and/or homeland security issues, drawing on my experiences during 12 years as Director of Emergency Management for the City of Seattle, and 8 years and 7 months as Director of the Washington State Emergency Management Division. I also served seven plus years as an officer of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) culminating in 21 months as NEMA President.
Over the next six weeks, I will look back to a period before 9/11 and Homeland Security to a time when two events with disaster potential loomed large in Seattle and throughout Western Washington. Those were the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 1999 Ministerial Conference in Seattle, and the frenetic preparations for the transition from 1999 to 2000 – otherwise known as Y2K. My “sources” are drawn from my contemporaneous notes (a common practice of mine when trouble seemed to be afoot), personal recollections and discussions over the years with participants.
I will relate much more about WTO than Y2K. Disasters that actually occur always attract greater news coverage, spark more investigative reports, and consequently evoke sharper recollections. The 20th anniversary of the WTO riots in November 2019 may receive more than passing attention in the form of archival news coverage, references to the official, formal post- WTO investigations, media investigative reports, and even resurrection of a one-sided film that glorified riotous behavior that cost Seattle dearly. In contrast, Y2K’s anniversary may pass comparatively unnoticed at year’s end, precisely because it was a potential disaster, which did not happen.
There is at least one story about WTO and Y2K that has not been told – mine.
Beginning in August, and continuing through September, I will describe how the preparations for WTO and the Y2K transition took completely divergent paths. One worked out, one did not. I will discuss why I believe that happened.
Coming up August 22th: the first installment of
WTO and Y2K: The Story I Was Never Asked to Tell – Background Information on WTO and Y2K
Now for Something Completely Different: The Story I was Never Asked to Tell
In 2015, The Center of Excellence – Homeland Security Emergency Management celebrated its ten-year anniversary with an Educators & Practitioners Summit at Pierce College Puyallup. One of our keynote speakers was former WA EMD Director Jim Mullen. Jim is a wonderful speaker who has the ability to connect with the audience through his storytelling. It was not long after the Summit where the Center’s Program Manager, Kellie Hale, asked Jim to provide his insights, knowledge, and experience into a monthly blog titled ‘Emergency Management Once Removed’. For the past four years, Jim has maintained a monthly blog for the Center from topics such as climate change, the aftermath of 9/11, the larger concept of emergency management and much more.
Jim has offered to do something a little different and tell about his experience when he was the Director for Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management during the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 1999 Ministerial Conference in Seattle and the frenetic preparations for the transition from 1999 to 2000 (aka Y2K). The new blog series is titled ‘Now for Something Completely Different: The Story I was Never Asked to Tell’ and will be a seven-part series. Each part will be posted every Thursday via the Center’s Constant Contact mailing list, its Website at www.coehsemcom, and other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
As the anniversary of WTO and Y2K get closer, Jim’s blog series will be recorded for a podcast. The podcast will provide a little more detail on Jim’s firsthand knowledge as Director for Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management, best practices learned, and takeaways from the experiences. Recording of podcast will be available in November (date TBA). We will keep everyone posted of when Jim’s podcast will be available to access.
August 15: Now for Something Completely Different: The Story I Was Never Asked to Tell
August 22: Background Information on WTO and Y2K
August 29: Part 1: WTO Planning
September 5: Part 2: Pre WTO/Y2K Environment
September 12: Part 3: WTO “Planning” vs “Seminars in Crisis and Consequence Management”
September 19: Part 4: Havoc in the Streets
September 26: Part 5: A Look Back
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Information on this Blog is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not engaged in rendering professional advice or services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with an professional adviser. Opinions expressed here represent the viewpoints of individuals authoring the blog and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Center of Excellence.