Persona non grata: EGN Blocked From Accessing City of Elk Grove Web Site

A Glitch or intentionally blocking? For the last several days, EGN has been unable to directly access the City of Elk Grove’s of...

A Glitch or intentionally blocking?

For the last several days, EGN has been unable to directly access the City of Elk Grove’s official website, The problem started late Thursday evening and has continued unabated.

In the interim, EGN has accessed the city website with other IP addresses so it does not appear that the city server is experiencing any persistent network problem.

The problem was common to all computers sharing the same IP address as EGN. None of the computers using EGN’s IP address had trouble gaining access to any other website. Also, the computers ran a variety of versions of Windows on different browsers.

An early Saturday morning e-mail to Elk Grove City Public Information Officer Christine Brainerd elicited a response from city IT staffer Nicole Guttridge suggesting that I clear the computer’s cache. After doing this procedure, access to the city’s website was still denied.

To validate that there was nothing wrong with the computer, a visit to the Elk Grove Library on Elk Grove Boulevard was made. Once connected to the libraries Wi-Fi network, access was immediately gained to the city website.

A number of worldwide contacts have all verified they have been able to access Elk Grove’s website.

Another e-mail was sent to Brainerd recapping the procedures and seeking an explanation. Brainerd followed-up on Monday morning. Brainerd also advised me to e-mail Guttridge.

According to information provided yesterday by independent software engineer Lou de los Reyes, blocking internet access is an easy endeavor.

“It is very easy to block an IP address or even a range of IP addresses,” de los Reyes said. “That would explain why every computer you have at home is being blocked.”

“Have you made enemies with the City of Elk Grove?” added de los Reyes. (Reyes was not made aware of any stories on EGN that might has caused this possible access blocking activity. That was an unsolicited comment.)

On Monday morning Guttridge responded via e-mail that “we do not block particular IP addresses from our website, it must be an IP conflict.” Guttridge then suggested I call our IPS, who in this case is FrontierNet.

After spending close to an hour Monday afternoon with FrontierNet Tech Dan #828 in Rochester New York, Dan opined that the access was being blocked by the City’s server.

When asked if he thought that EGN’sis particular IP address was being blocked, Tech #828 said “yes.” He went on to say that blocking was done based on the first three number prefix and the other numbers after the prefix were dynamic. Tech #828 went on to say that hundreds of people could potentially be blocked.

In follow-up conversations Brainerd and Guttridge, both asserted that the city would not block access to anyone. When asked if it was possible the city website had been hacked, neither offered an opinion stating that an outside company actually handles the servers.

After going over several technical procedures with Guttridge and her associate Mohammed Ahmed, there was no resolution. Both assured me that the city was not blocking access and promised to work towards resolution.

I received a follow-up call from Ahmed who took me through the modem shutdown routine to no avail. He them referred me to another website, American Broadband Services. This is the company that does the actual hosting for the city.

Bingo! There are now two sites in the world I cannot access.


As I told Ahmed, of all the gin-joint websites in the world, why can't I gain access to these two? Intuitively, the problem must be on their side, not mine, or for that matter Frontier’s.

Ahmed went through a few more routines on my computer changing setting, testing random website once again to no avail.

Lest I be Gary Webb-ed, a big part of me really wants to believe there is some sort of technical glitch either with my IP address, FrontierNet, The City of Elk Grove or American Broadband Services.

In fact I hope there is some easy explanation. I hope I can write that it was some colossal f*&k-up on my part.. As a taxpaying civic-minded Elk Grove Citizen, I really want this outcome.

But thus far the city has not been able to offer a reasonable explanation of why my IP address has been denied access.

Of course the question that must be posed is this denial of access something more nefarious. Could someone have taken it upon themselves to block an IP address that in the last week provided a forum for people to express environmental concerns over the city’s sphere of influence application or question city expenditures for cookies?

If so, to what end? Just petty harassment to send some sort of message?

I truly hope this is just a technical problem because if it isn’t, it has far worse implications.

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Anonymous said...

I am also unable to access the Elk Grove City web sites. It has been almost a month. I get the notifications of meetings but no page. I wrote to the support people about eight times with no response at all. I finally called Taro, at Planning, and he asked his IT people and they said it could not be their issue. I contacted Frontier and they could repeat the "drop" they said they saw the problem, didn't understand it and haven't contacted me again. This is a workaround:

When your site fails, open this page and paste in the address then continue, say see site anyway at the warning. This is the only thing that works for me, and yes- I think it's a conspiricy! :)

Phillip Stark said...

It might be the city (or someone) didn't like the fact someone from THERE posted on here so they blocked the ability for city staff to post comments. Not long ago there was a comment from someone stating the funds for staff events was not city money but employee money. Might be that post is what got the blocking started. Of course, I'm only speculating and have nothing to back up my notion other than coincidence.

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