A town hall computer technician has blocked the computer system of the city of San Francisco to everyone but himself.
The Guardian reports that Terry Childs, 43, an employee of the city government, has been charged with computer tampering.
But as he languishes in jail in lieu of $5m bail, the city is unable to gain access to its computer system.
Childs was arrested on Sunday. He had already been suspended from his $127,735 (£64,000)-a-year job with the city for alleged insubordination, the newspaper reports.
Angered by the suspension, he allegedly created a password to the city's computer system giving him exclusive access. He has refused to reveal the password to the city or the police.
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is doing his best to calm fears that the city is in crisis.
He said, "There's nothing to be alarmed about, save the inability to get into the system and tweak it. Nothing dramatic has changed in terms of our ability to govern the city."