Portage, Ind., City Leaders Approve Internet Outage Investigation

The outage during an Oct. 2 meeting forced council members to find alternative means of live-streaming the meeting and accessing documents.

by Joyce Russell, The Times / November 1, 2018

(TNS) — The city council this week approved an official investigation into an Internet outage during a recent council meeting.

On a 5-2 vote, with Pat Clem, D-2nd, and John Cannon, R-4th, voting against, members said they want to find out why there was no Internet service to Woodland Park the night of their Oct. 2 meeting.

Council President Mark Oprisko, D-at-large, said after the outage, he could not get any answers on what happened. The council meetings are live-streamed and the outage, he said, caused council members to find alternative "hot spots" to stream the meeting. He added the council also uses a paperless system and must access documents for the meeting via the Internet.

Oprisko said the council wasn't informed prior to the Oct. 2 meeting about any issues with the Internet.

Oprisko said he spoke with City Council Attorney Ken Elwood and has formed a committee, including himself and council members Liz Modesto, D-1st, and Sue Lynch, D-at-large, to look further into it. The investigation was prompted, he said, after he sent emails and a Freedom of Information Act request for information to Park Superintendent Jenny Orsburn and the city's technology consultant.

Oprisko said he spoke with the consultant, who didn't even know there was an outage, but Orsburn did not reply to requests for information.

Elwood said he received a call from an attorney representing Orsburn regarding the FOIA request.

Oprisko said he was also told that cameras at the park haven't worked for months or years, which he believes could be a liability issue, but cannot get any information from park staff. The council will be able to subpoena people, if necessary, to conduct the investigation.

"It could be nothing. I just want to look into it," said Oprisko, adding he had heard other "rumors" he wanted checked out.

Clem objected, saying the council had no authority even if wrongdoing was found.

The council has no control over the park department, including disciplining personnel.

Orsburn did not reply to a voice mail or email left by The Times asking for comment.

©2018 The Times (Munster, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.