Monday, February 21, 2011

Motorola's BayWEB Broadband Stimulus Project Back in News

Personal Commentary on the Worst Broadband Stimulus Award in America 02/21/2011 San Francisco - Sometimes we just hate to be right. Yeah sure, we hate to be vindicated, proven right, or ever have all our head banging against intrans- igent bureaucracy validated. We just absolutely hate it. 

In late September 2010 we said that the $50 million broadband stimulus award for the so-called BayWEB project, issued to Motorola, Inc., now Motorola Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MSI) was the worst, most troubling award under the entire national program. 

In the interim, most of the media in Northern California has ignored the story.  In that they are very good company, what with all the electeds in the City and County of San Francisco doing the same. Ignore the issue, it will surely go away. Don't worry that the lead folks that engineered this deal were all employees of said CCSF, who were also all former employees of, wait for it....Motorola. Move along, nothing to see here.

Last night, Oakland's KTVU-TV aired what is only the second broadcast TV report on this public funded disaster, which NTIA has still not repudiated. The station's report is as detailed as a TV news clip usually gets.

Commerce IG Zinser, Serious Adult
Last week for the first time this most putrid of broadband stimulus awards was inserted, by reference but not direclty named, into the Congressional Record. It was part of the testimony of Todd Zinser, Inspector General of the U.S. Commerce Department to the oversight hearing of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Mr. Zinser, who has documented serious problems with NTIA's management of the program for more than year, is now providing adult supervision at the federal table.

The IG at Commerce has taken on an investigation of BayWEB, at the urging of Santa Clara County.  The other adults dealing with this issue are Chuck Reed and Jeff Smith, Mayor of San Jose and Santa Clara County Executive, respectively. Playing the role of petulant child against the adults is former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, now, unbelievably, Lieutenant Governor of the largest state in the Union. More on his role in this mess later.   

Gavin Newsom, Petulant Child 
If you want to review the whole sordid tale of BayWEB, going back to the prior projects and staffing of the San Francisco-based public agency that created the project, start with any of the The Appearance of Impropriety series. The series launched in 2008. It is nothing short of chilling to see that tens of millions of public dollars were spent so recklessly on systems that our first responders rely on - sometimes for their lives. 

The series is written by Daryl Jones, a professional wireless engineer who specializes in public safety systems. What is Daryl's expertise to write such detail about a history he exposes as so wrong? I tell people, they only need know of one. His firm manages all the public safety radio systems that supported the entire multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional response to the San Bruno gas pipeline disaster. That interoperable system held up during that incident -- one that is clearly of national-level significance to the emergency management community -- flawlessly.  That's expertise, and plenty, for any of us.   

Word on the street is this isn't the last in-market media that is finally going to investigate. We say welcome to the party.

We've put together the most extensive compendium of news articles, video clips, original documents, and our own reporting and investigation, here: The BayWEB Examination.

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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