Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Net Neutrality Leaders Demand FCC Act vs. Comcast on Zoom's Cable Modem Fight 11/30/2010 San Francisco - A coalition of the leading public interest groups in the nation lobbying for network neutrality protections have this afternoon sent a joint letter to the FCC demanding that Commission side with cable modem manufacturer Zoom Telephonics against Comcast, in Zoom's formal complaint of anticompetitive action by the U.S. cable giant.

The letter of today, sent within the last several hours to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, is below:
Fp Map Naf Pk Fcc Zoom Letter of 11-30-2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

$50 Million Grant Application by Motorola for Controversial BayWEB Project Published 11/05/2010 San Francisco - So it has come to this: What should be a public document, involving millions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury, is apparently prized out of a federal agency under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), partially redacted, and sent anonymously to this publication.

We publish it here, as received. We do not know the specific source of the material, as it was transmitted to us by a non-governmental third party located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The document appears to be a nearly full text copy of the grant funding application submitted in March by Motorola, Inc. (now Motorola Solutions, Inc.; NYSE: MSI) to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The application resulted in the funding, for $50 million, of the controversial BayWEB public safety wireless communications project. Various governmental bodies, with the City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara in the lead of such effort, have petitioned for release of the full document for the past 60 days. 

Certain information in the document has been redacted, with citations given to the applicable parts of FOIA allowing for specified exemptions for claimed proprietary data.

FOIA BayWEB Consolidated

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.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

K Street's Best Guides to Capitol Hill's Changing Policies & Players 11/04/2010 San Francisco - If K Street lobbyist firms were in the food business, they would give away free snacks at the supermarket.

Since of course they are in the business of representing clients' interests in front of legislators, they instead give away tasty morsels of Capitol Hill analysis and updates. They track the changing players in Congress having influence over client interests.

A congressional sea change of the type the nation is now experiencing, as a result of Tuesday's not unexpected midterm blowout, is a boon for both K Street's leading lobbying firms, and for the smaller shops that specialize in particular policy areas with changing agendas. American business hates uncertainty almost as much as it hates governmen- tal action it sees as counter to its interests.

Currently, our two favorite guides to the new players, projected new assignments, and evolving new policy initiatives of the incoming 112th Congress are from lobbying powerhouse Patton Boggs LLP, and the globally integrated K&L Gates LLPThey are both free, timely, an invaluable.

Read the Patton Boggs work for detailed analysis of the leading public policy issues on the Hill now in transition. Check back in with the K&L document for updates as committee assignments for both the incoming Republican new majority in the House, and the remaining Democrats shifting to the minority, are seen.

For us policy and political types, a big shift on Capitol Hill is like the Superbowl and World Series all rolled into one. Thanks to two of K Street's standout firms, we can enjoy the game munching on these free snacks. Download the documents from the firms' sites:

K&L Gates LLP, November 2010 -
Election Guide 2010: A Guide to Changes in Congress

Patton Boggs LLP, November 3, 2010 -
President Barack Obama and the Closely Divided 112th Congress: An Angry Electorate Has Spoken, Now What?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rick Boucher Loses House Seat 11/02/2010 San Francisco - Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA-09), Chairman of one of the two most important committees on Capitol Hill framing American telecommunications policy and federal funding strategies for the sector, has lost his seat in the U.S. House.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA-09), Chairman,
House Subcommittee on Communications,
Technology and the Internet.
According to an Associated Press report out of Boucher's home state of Virginia, the fourteen term Representative from the rural southwestern Virginia Ninth District was defeated in balloting today by Republican challenger Morgan Griffith (R-VA). Griffith is the current Majority Leader of the Virginia House.  

Boucher, who has served on the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet since the 1980s, rose to become Chairman of the Subcommittee in this Congress as long term Charmain Ed Markey (D-MA-09) moved to head the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. 

Democratic concern for incumbent Members of Congress in the Old Dominion had most recently centered on Freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA-05) in the district adjacent to Boucher's to the east. President Obama campaigned for Perriello, who was also defeated today, in the Virginia Fifth within the past week. As champion political prognosticator Nate Silver wrote within the past hour, Boucher had been seen "as a slight favorite" to win a fifteenth term in the House.

As the Democrats now go into the minority in the House, speculation turns to Markey to take over the position of ranking member on the Subcommittee, a position he held when the GOP last had control of the chamber.

Our Take: A young man testifying to the Subcommittee 1989 was made to feel at ease by the accent, familiar visage, and steady hand of a fellow Bostonian serving as Chairman, and by a true gentleman from Virginia asking the most incisive questions with the utmost courtesy. Along with the then Chairman, Ed Markey, Rick Boucher would be instrumental in supporting what we from the public interest groups representing consumers and the cities were then pushing for: Competition for the cable industry from telcos. Today that is ancient history. Today that competitive environment, previously illegal under federal law, is a fact of economic life which fuels the entire broadband-enabled sector of our nation. It is so largely because of Rick Boucher. 

In succeeding years, Markey and Boucher would become the workhorses without whom the Telecom Act of 1996, and the subsequent recapitalization of the U.S. telecom infrastructure, would not have been possible. America's leadership in high technology is intimately related to that regulatory innovation. We leave it to others as to how and why someone who has added so much to our country, and to his own district, can be turned out of office by the constituents he served.

For now, we fondly recall some ancient history: 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Alert: Santa Clara County Files for Investigation by Commerce IG of $50 Million BayWEB Broadband Stimulus Grant

Inspector General has Federal Administrative, Civil, and Criminal Investigative Power 11/01/2010 San Francisco - In the first public filing of its kind under the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program of the Obama Administration, the County Executive of Santa Clara County, California today filed an official request for a federal investigation of the most controversial award under the program, the $ 50 million BayWEB public safety wireless project.

Todd J. Zinser, Inspector General,
 U.S. Department of Commerce
The filing, issued today by County Executive Dr. Jeffrey Smith, was made to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. As we reported in April, Inspector General Todd J. Zinser has publicly questioned if the agency that issued broadband stimulus grants within Commerce, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), has correctly deployed sufficient staff and other resources to properly screen awards under the program. 

Zinser, a well respected career federal manager, holds the power under federal law to conduct  administrative, civil, and/or criminal investigations for any matters involving the employees or programs of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Project, awarded in August to Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT), was in the first small group to be issued federal funding for an advanced emergency communications system using the 700 MHz spectrum recently licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Today's filing points to the activities of a governmental agency called the Bay Area Urban Security Initiative (UASI), as it heavily questions the process engaged in by the agency which resulted in the award to the firm. 

UASI is staffed exclusively by employees of the City and County of San Francisco, although the majority of the agency is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The City acts as UASI's fiscal agent and primary legal counsel. UASI's chief, Executive Director Laura Phillips, was appointed Director of the City's Department of Emergency Management (DEM) in 2006.  In 2008 Ms. Phillips was shifted to the UASI role. The present Acting Director of DEM, Ms. Vicki Hennessy, serves as the Chairperson of the UASI Approval Authority, the governing body of the agency., which has been researching and reporting on this story over the past month, will update our information on this important matter with statements from the relevant parties, and other follow-on information.

Links to copies of all filed documents in the request by Santa Clara County:
BayWeb Project 10 - BTOP Post Award Appeals & Reviews III - OIG, U.S. Dept. of Commerce

Letter to Todd Zinser Inspector General

The BayWEB Examination is our online resource about the project, with links to the most extensive public collection of documents available - many released under federal and state public records filings - and to all updated reporting on the issue.
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