Thursday, March 3, 2011

Alert: Strickling of Commerce Dept. to Meet with Stimulus Grant Group that is Subject of Federal Probe

Lawrence E. Strickling
Does Direct Role of an Assistant Secretary Amount to “Advocacy for the interest of Motorola”? 03/03/2011 San Francisco - Assistant U.S. Secretary of Commerce Lawrence E. Strickling will meet in Alameda County, California tomorrow, March 4, with a group of local elected and appointed officials attempting to move ahead with the controversial $50 million BayWEB broad- band stimulus project.

Strickling's agency funded the advanced wireless public safety network with a $50 million federal grant issued to Motorola, Inc., (now Motorola Solutions, Inc.) of Schaumberg, IL. The  manufacturer controls a full 80% share of the domestic public safety communications equipment market. 

Department of Commerce Inspector General Todd Zinser confirmed in congressional testimony on February 10, and previously via an agency announcement of December 17, that it is BayWEB that is the subject of “a review of an infrastructure grant award to a San Francisco Bay area recipient.”

Strickling’s scheduled presence at a meeting of local officials from the Bay Area, now called the BayWEB/BTOP Governance Task Force, was posted earlier this week in an agenda. His attendance was confirmed with the two leading critics of the award by NTIA’s Senior Advisor for Broadband,  Ms. Angela Simpson.  Alameda County Deputy Sheriff David Kozicki this morning confirmed for this publication that “He will be attending the meeting”, in reference to Mr. Strickling.

Ms. Simpson had earlier been in communications with the award's lead challengers, Mayor Chuck Reed of the City of San Jose, and Dr. Jeff Smith, County Executive of Silicon Valley's Santa Clara County, to schedule a meeting among Strickling, Reed and Smith. Sources tell us that the three officials will meet in the region tomorrow morning.

By taking such a direct and prominent role with his support of the BayWEB project while the IG's investigation and review is being conducted, Mr. Strickling risks further giving the appearance of being engaged in ongoing “advocacy for the interests of Motorola, Inc., rather than advocacy for the integrity of the grant process.” Precisely such a charge was made in a letter to Strickling dated February 28, from County Executive Smith. will update this Alert with details of the current issues in contention between NTIA and local officials, and with reporting on recent communications with members of the California congressional delegation by in-region critics of BayWEB.

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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