SF mayor gets back to the keys to the city

"The first thing I want you to know, Mr. Mayor, is that when you walk out of this room, you will have the computer codes.

"The first thing I want you to know, Mr. Mayor, is that when you walk out of this room, you will have the computer codes."

So spoke Terry Childs, San Francisco's jailed network administrator, to Mayor Gavin Newsom, in a spur-of-the-minute jailhouse meeting, according to SF Chronicle reporters Matier & Ross. Childs summoned Newsom to jail Monday night via lawyer Erin Crane.

Childs shut everyone out of the city's networks be rewriting passwords and refusing to give managers access to the system. He was eventually arrested and held on $5 million bail for his refusal.

But yesterday, he had a change of heart. Perhaps urged by his lawyer to provide the code as a show of good faith, Childs said he would -- but only to Newsom.

Newsom didn't hesitate. Without asking the city attorney for an opinion or giving a heads up to police or the district attorney, he was at the Hall of Justice in half an hour.

With Crane by his side, Childs told Newsom about the computer system he'd set up and how all the current problems sprang from a series of misunderstandings. Crane didn't let him go on for too long, and Childs got to the business at hand, asking for a pen.

He then wrote out a very long computer code.

"This better be right," Newsom said.

"It is," Childs assured him, but asked the mayor to deliver it in person to the Cisco specialists - not to the city's computer brass.

So Newsom went to the Cisco engineers the city had hired to crack the code -- with minimal success -- and guess what: nada. Newsom called back to the jail and spoke with Crane.

"He said you would be calling and you would be upset," the lawyer said. "He forgot to give you the protocols to go along with the code" - and she read the accompanying computer prompters to the mayor over the phone.

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