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San Francisco's 'rogue' sysadmin still being paid while in jail

Mayor says bricked IT system won't affect ability to govern

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San Francisco’s officials were squirming with embarrassment today as it emerged that they are still paying the salary of the banged-up sysadmin accused of locking down the city’s IT network and refusing to divulge the password.

The City has been forced to call in help from Silicon Valley, including engineers from Cisco, to help it access its own data after irate techie Terry Childs allegedly set a master password giving him exclusive access to the network. The city’s mayor says this could take up to eight weeks.

Terry Childs, a 43-year-old from the Bay Area city of Pittsburg, was arraigned yesterday on four charges of computer tampering, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. He was swiftly returned to the jail cell where he has been marking time since being remanded over the weekend in lieu of $5m bail.

Childs is accused of locking city officials out of their brand new FibreWan network, which stores around 60 per cent of the city’s data after a run-in with the city’s head of security, the Chronicle reports. When he was arrested, he allegedly gave the city a bogus code, and has now gone completely silent.

According to the Chronicle, Childs was asked to leave his post on July 9 for alleged insubordination.

But even though Childs has been locked up since the weekend, and is refusing to help the city get back into its system, San Francisco continues to pay his $126,000 annual salary, though it says they will convene a meeting on whether Childs should be place on “unpaid leave”, possibly as early as this Thursday.

Further embarrassment for the city came when it emerged that Childs is a convicted felon. According to the Chron, he was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary charges dating back to 1982, and was on probation or parole until 1987. Childs apparently disclosed his convictions to the city when he applied for his job five years ago.

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom sought to reassure the city’s residents and demonstrate his own technical expertise, insisting to reporters: "There's nothing to be alarmed about, save the inability to get into the system and tweak the system.”

"Nothing dramatic has changed in terms of our ability to govern the city," he added, something will be no surprise to anyone who’s had the joy of dealing with San Francisco’s politically correct but often self-serving municipal bureaucracy.

At least Newsom identified what makes BoFHs run amok: "He was very good at what he did, and sometimes that goes to people's heads and we think that's what this is about." ®

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