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Friday, October 1, 2010

Silicon Valley Officials Challenge Ethics & Disclosure on Broadband Stimulus Award to Motorola

StimulatingBroadband.com 10/01/2010 San Francisco - The 2 chief executives representing the largest local governments in Silicon Valley have each made new moves to strongly challenge a $50 million broadband stimulus grant issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce for a public safety network slated to serve their area.


Chuck Reed, San Jose Mayor
San Jose city mayor Chuck Reed last week filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Department of Commerce demanding release of the application filed by Motorola, Inc. (now Motorola Solutions, Inc; NYSE: MSI) which resulted in the award by Commerce of the controversial San Francisco Bay Area Wireless Enhanced Broadband Project (BayWEB).


Reporter Mary Duan of the San Jose Business Journal just broke the Reed - FOIA story in the online edition of her publication, part of the national American City Business Journal chain.   


Separately, Santa Clara County Executive Jeffrey Smith yesterday tersely responded to the claims made by the San Francisco city department head who engineered local and congressional support for the award of federal funds to Motorola. Smith issued his response in a letter dated September 30.  The San Francisco official, Ms. Laura Phillips, an appointee of Mayor Gavin Newsom, is herself a former employee of Motorola.


Phillips was appointed by Newsom to head the city's Department of Emergency Management (DEM) in 2006 as the city's Board of Supervisors demanded the removal of Ms. Annmarie Conroy, a Newsom patronage appointee. Ms. Phillips now heads a semi-autonomous agency within DEM called the Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).  UASI, supported with federal funds from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), presides over a complex group of inter-related regional governmental bodies intended to coordinate interoperable emergency communications throughout much of Northern California.



StimulatingBroadband.com reported on Wednesday that Ms. Phillips and the 3 personnel on her staff at UASI most directly responsible for managing the Motorola local selection, and support of the Commerce award are former Motorola employees.  With Ms. Phillips, they collectively have more than 45 years of service with the company.  Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued the grant award to Motorola for the BayWEB project on August 18.


Dr. Jeffrey Smith, Santa Clara County Executive
Newsom was quoted in a press release issued by Motorola the following day applauding the BayWEB grant, saying, "I am proud that, working together with our cities and our law enforcement agencies throughout the region, the Bay Area will now be one of the nation's first regions to deploy this innovative emergency broadband communications network."  


No Responses
Staff in Newsom's office have not responded to any calls or messages asking what the Mayor is doing to respond to the criticism from officials in the region. Similarly, in off the record statements made to us, both senior officials and line agency managers at governments in Northern California have expressed frustration directed against the Newsom Administration and the Mayor himself for the escalating BayWEB imbroglio. These public sector employees criticize the lack of information provided by Phillips and UASI in response to numerous questions about the agency's actions.  To a person, they question why Newsom himself has not intervened in the issue, especially given his current status as Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of California.


Media staff assigned to the Office of U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and to NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling have also not returned our inquiries about a review of the BayWEB award triggered by a September 8 letter from Reed and Smith. 


Resources:
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. StimulatingBroadband.com  
      
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