December 22, 2014

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Lorain court expects report on data loss

LORAIN — City and Lorain Municipal Court officials expect to learn this week whether computerized records lost when a server crashed May 19 can be fully retrieved.

Besides court records, records from the Department of Building, Housing and Planning and Fire Department were lost, Auditor Ron Mantini said Sunday. Mantini said city data, which is backed up daily, was recovered in two days.

Mantini said court data hadn’t been backed up since Feb. 28. He said the court hired a contractor to retrieve the data and Information Technology Department employees are working on retrieval with the contractor and the courts.

Public access to the court’s website was working Sunday but had been down for about three weeks.
After the crash, the court switched to another server and couldn’t do daily operations and maintain the website, Judge Mark Mihok said.

Clerk of Courts Lori Maiorana said she expects data from Feb. 28 to May 30 will be recovered, but information from the first week of June may be lost.

The crash comes after criticism of the IT department and Maiorana by Joe Pinter, who was clerk of courts information system administrator until his firing April 3 by Maiorana.

In a May 31 letter to Maiorana, Mihok and Judge Thomas Elwell, Pinter said he was unfairly criticized by Maiorana in an article that appeared in the May 30 Morning Journal regarding the crash.

Pinter, hired in 2011, wrote that he had written documentation showing he warned of storage problems since 2012. Pinter wrote that he last backed up files Feb. 28 before AMCAD, the court’s Herndon, Va.,-based software vendor, was to do an update. He noted the crash happened more than a month after he was fired.

“Had I been on staff, I would never have condoned the service of the (Storage Array Network) without first manually backing up the system. This would be standard operating procedure even if the city had a valid offsite backup plan in place,” Pinter wrote. “One simply does do not do work on the central repository of data without first creating a full backup.”

Pinter wrote that Maiorana had a “nonchalant manner” about records retention. He said that during an April 3 meeting, Maiorana discussed suing AMCAD over previous problems.

Pinter said he told Maiorana chances of a successful lawsuit would be hindered by Maiorana not having participated in software training. Pinter said he was fired shortly after saying that he wouldn’t support a lawsuit.

Maiorana said Pinter told her he was regularly backing up the system.

“We assumed everything was current, but then we found out it was not,” she said.

Maiorana said Pinter was fired for insubordination. She said he had been “spreading himself too thin” helping other departments, which wasn’t part of his job.

“He’s a brilliant guy. There’s no doubt about it,” she said. “But he was just difficult to work with sometimes.”

In his letter and in a Feb. 5 email to court and city officials, Pinter accused the IT Department of causing a Feb. 4 crash. He said an employee removing servers without informing the courts inadvertently disconnected a server.

“To do any work in a production environment during production is gross malfeasance in all credibly accepted standards of information service,” the email said.

Mantini said, regardless of Pinter’s accusations, Pinter hadn’t backed up the court files since Feb. 28.

“Joe can spin it any way he wants,” Mantini said. “There’s a lot of activity on a daily basis and that system should be backed up every night.”

Mihok said the court has asked for a report from the contractor doing the retrieval on what went wrong — and why — so it doesn’t happen again.

“We’re not out to make accusations,” he said. “We just want to fix the problem and move forward.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.