Friday, October 1, 2010

San Francisco City Attorney Begins Look at Ethical Charges in Broadband Stimulus Grant

Herrera Becomes First SF Official to State an Examination of BayWEB Has Begun 10/01/2010 San Francisco - San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is starting an internal effort to "address" the "concerns expressed by neighboring jurisdictions" about a $ 50 million federal broadband stimulus grant arranged by a City agency and issued to Motorola, Inc. (now, Motorola Solutions, Inc., NYSE: MSI) for an emergency wireless network called BayWEB.

Dennis Herrera, San Francisco City Attorney
As we reported this morning and earlier this week, Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose and Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith are the lead local officials in Northern California challenging the legitimacy of a $50 million federal grant for a 700 MHz. public safety communications network.  The BayWEB project was selected via a highly questioned local procurement / selection process manged by an appointee of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. 

The appointee, Ms. Laura Phillips, who heads a division of the City's Department of Emergency Management (DEM) is reported to have begun a 2 week sick leave by staff reporter Mary Duan in today's edition of the San Jose Business Journal.

Herrera is the separately elected chief civil law officer of the City and County of San Francisco.  He is the only San Francisco elected official who has responded with any public comment relative to the widening charges of ethical and procurement misconduct relating to the grant as voiced by elected officials heading other large governmental bodies in Northern California. Herrera, 48, has the duty of serving as legal counsel to all city agencies, while also being the oversight officer for all federal stimulus activities of city government.

This afternoon Herrera's office gave a detailed written statement that touches on this dual role, and the cautionary legal process that bifurcated role demands.  Herrera's press secretary, Matt Dorsey, responded to our inquiries with this statement:
  • "City Attorney Herrera is aware of concerns expressed by neighboring jurisdictions about the BTOP grant, and his office is engaged in internal discussions with his client departments about how we may address them.  
  • At this stage, it would be premature for us to comment other than to confirm that the City Attorney is aware of the concerns, and is looking into them.
  • When President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law, he challenged all public officials to prove to the American people that their trust in government isn't misplaced.  That's a challenge City Attorney Herrera takes very seriously, and that's why he convened a task force to oversee legal aspects of stimulus spending in San Francisco.
Now, that doesn't mean there won't be disagreements over how stimulus dollars are spent.  But it does mean when legitimate questions are raised, we owe nothing less than legitimate answers.  Right now, we're looking into it and working to get them," concluded the written statement received from Mr. Dorsey on behalf of the City Attorney.  

The BayWEB Examination is our compendium of information on the project. We believe it is the most comprehensive such collection available. We have assembled links to all media coverage of the issue, to online documents secured by us from confidential and open sources, to documents secured by others and by this publication under federal and state public records filings, and to our own published reporting.

Note on awardee identification: The project grant was applied for by, and subsequently awarded to, the entity Motorola, Inc., formally traded as (NYSE: MOT). Motorola, Inc. was split into 2 new and separate companies, which both began trading on January 5, 2011.  The network infrastructure side of the business, all public safety equipment lines, and the network integration / management services divisions became Motorola Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MSI). We have retroactively re-tagged our BayWEB stories with the MSI ticker symbol.
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