GOP leader: Punish state official over Rockies ticket plan
October 24, 2007
DENVER ” A Republican lawmaker demanded Wednesday that Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter punish a high-ranking official who approved a plan to use the state’s emergency-response computers to buy World Series tickets.
The plan was scrapped after it was leaked to the media.
State Rep. Mike May of Douglas, the House minority leader, sent a letter to Ritter calling the scheme a “serious indiscretion” by Susan Kirkpatrick, director of the state Department of Local Affairs and a member of Ritter’s Cabinet.
“In the case of an emergency, these computers could literally mean the difference between life and death for Colorado citizens. It is outrageous that an official who is responsible for public safety would consider compromising these resources,” May wrote.
He called for “serious and immediate action” against Kirkpatrick and any other state employees involved.
Ritter’s spokesman, Evan Dreyer, said the governor’s office is addressing the matter administratively. He declined to elaborate, saying it was a personnel matter.
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“This was a bad idea. Fortunately, it was never implemented,” Dreyer said.
Kirkpatrick has said she approved the plan to prevent her employees from leaving work to try to buy tickets for the Denver games, which were sold only online. She said in retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to use the computers.
She said her Internet technology department determined that using the computers would not compromise security.
The computers were located in the state Division of Emergency Management, which houses a number of state agencies. The computers are usually activated to help respond to tornadoes, floods, paralyzing snowstorms, fires or other disasters.
The group Colorado Ethics Watch said 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 Chantelle Taylor, a spokeswoman for the group.
The Rockies’ first attempt at the ticket sale ended in failure Monday when the computers handling the transactions where overwhelmed and locked up. Only a few hundred tickets were sold.
The sale went off relatively smoothly on Tuesday, when more than 50,000 tickets were sold in about 2 1/2 hours.