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Chris Smith: Bored teens Zoom-bomb the Windsor Town Council

It was coincidental that the infection-leery Windsor Town Council hosted its first-ever virtual meeting on April Fool’s Day.

The session, conducted before an empty chamber and carried live on cable TV, went swimmingly right up to the public comments portion. Mayor Dominic Foppoli announced that he’d invite citizens at home, one by one, to address the council via their phones and the Zoom conferencing platform.

Comment No. 1 was normal. Then Foppoli invited Caller No. 2 to speak.

“My name is John Smith,” a young man said. “I live on ?8825 Oakfield Lane (there is such an address).

“Let me get a medium pizza, pepperoni.” Click.

Mayor Foppoli took the Fool’s Day prank in stride.

“Good one,” he said.

There followed four more Zoom-bomb calls from people also sounding to be bored and conspiratorial teen boys. One was sophomorically crude. Sadly, the cleverest call of the bunch was the pizza order.

“All right,” Foppoli said at one point, “Anybody who doesn’t go to Windsor High School like to call into our meeting?”

Though the callers aren’t likely to get extra credit for their civic engagement, council members were encouraged that at least the kids were aware the meeting was happening.

With actual, physical human gatherings shut down by the pandemic, Zoom conferences have become nearly as common as face masks and antiseptic wipes. And the Windsor council is far from the only victim of a Zoom-bombing.

Trolls “are jumping into public Zoom calls and using the platform’s screen-sharing feature to project graphic content to unwitting conference participants, forcing hosts to shut down their events,” reported the New York Times. The story noted that a public Zoom chat hosted by Chipotle Mexican Grill and the singer Lauv was scuttled “after one participant began broadcasting pornography to hundreds of attendees.”

Next up: the Windsor town council may look at taking its public comments via email.

HHHHHH

CHALK AND BEARS: Amid this historic, virtually global shelter-in-place, kids of all ages are loving the chalk art and the teddy bears that enliven walks through the neighborhoods.

Kathy McMorrow shares her delight at finding that “some artistic souls” drew a large, colorful, chalk heart at the end of every driveway on Santa Rosa’s Horseshoe Drive.

“Really picked up my spirits,” McMorrow said.

Phase 2: Reported McMorrow, “Someone has added smiley faces inside the hearts.”

Suddenly, we’re fending off cabin fever by striking out more and more often on walks. Not just the littlest of us are lighting up at the sight of teddy bears and other stuffed critters and such placed in windows and on porches and even in trees.

The Teddy Bear Hunt is occurring around the world. Some participants are posting notes alongside the stuffed animals in the windows: We’re not scared. Remember to wash your hands. A bear hug from us to you!

There’s a handsome brown bear in our front window and I’m contemplating what would be good to replace him with, or to have join him.

I’m thinking I’ll tape plastic Easter eggs to the window, add a few now and then and invite kids to tally them.

You’d count ’em, wouldn’t you?

You can reach Staff Writer Chris Smith at 707 521-5211 or chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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