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LA workers asked to stop watching Olympics online

Wednesday - 8/1/2012, 7:59pm  ET

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Olympics are so popular at City Hall that Los Angeles workers are being urged to pull the plug or risk a municipal computer meltdown.

Randi Levin, chief technology officer for California's largest city, sent an email Tuesday to thousands of city employees, asking them to stop watching the games online at work, according to the Los Angeles Times ( http://lat.ms/OAuDVx).

"We are experiencing a high volume of traffic due to people watching the Olympics online" and it is affecting city operations, Levin said.

Apparently city employees got the message.

Internet traffic on the city's computer system had returned to normal Wednesday, said Mark Wolf, an executive officer with the city's information technology agency.

"It had spiked about 20 percent," Wolf told The Associated Press. "It was not enough to impact business applications, but it was enough to give us a nudge to see what it was. We looked into it and saw it was attributed to the Olympics video."

NBC streams the Olympics live on the Internet. When employees watch streamed material, it takes up a tremendous amount of bandwidth, Wolf said.

City Council members said work is no place to watch the games.

"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," Councilman Dennis Zine told the Times. "The question is where are the supervisors when this is going on?"

Councilwoman Jan Perry said she wants the city to block Olympic streaming on City Hall computers.

In state government, there were no similar performance problems, according to Christine Lally, assistant secretary of legislation and communication at the California Technology Agency.

So far, no similar problems have been reported in other large California cities, including San Diego and San Francisco.

"Our employees are here to work, not watch television, whether it's on a city computer or their iPad or a television," Darren Pudgil, spokesman for San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, told the AP.

San Diego, the state's second-largest city, has about 10,000 employees, including police officers and firefighters.

"If they are observed watching television, whether it's the Olympics or Oprah, we'll take appropriate action," Pudgil said.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)