Saturday, April 7, 2007

Diebold Repairs? Another "Overlooked" Financial Hole.

At the August 23, 2006 CCBOE meeting, under Bob Bennett's "fiscal leadership," and Blackwell contract that also demanded no requirements for Diebold liability or responsibility for their failures, the Cuyahoga Board handed over complete control for Diebold alone to decide:
• which of our 5,000+ $27,000 each, machines had been broken during their one time use in the May election,
• which repairs were under "warranty" and which we had to pay to fix,
• how much each repair would cost,
• and via such "repairs", our $180/hour Diebold "Project Manager, Hiner, orally promised to make them all "fit for use" in November's election.

A really good arrangement for Diebold, and a pretty bad one for us, under Bennett's "management", I think most would say.

(This is also the meeting - though not on the agenda, as usual, when Bennett wanted to proffer a "surprise public attack" on anyone he saw to possibly negatively impact his power - at which Bennett attempted to discredit the Election Science Institute's then-recently completed audit, which has been since nationally used and referred to in attempts of other experts to set new and better voting standards. See Video: Board Attacks Election Science Institute)

While I disagree that these Diebold machines that "count" our votes with secret software, inside "black box" machines can, even when working correctly, ever be made "fit for use" in a citizens' election, the board , even after I asked about their demanding some Diebold warranty of Hiner's promise, neglected to do even that.

When looking at some of the documents involved in what appears to be a cozy little arrangement that Diebold and others have going for themselves, the facts of financial responsibility to us, the taxpayers, become even more astounding.
• The "Diebold Tech Associate Attachment" that shows:
  • "the analyzers" of unknown capability making $75/hour to determine "our costs"for fixing their failures
  • "the fixers"- also unknown and unpromised at $135/hour
  • and even our paying their travel costs, for shipping for stuff they didn't bring, or their need to send machines out because they couldn't fix them.
  • And shows the "sole source" letter saying no one else but Diebold could possibly do such an assessment and repairs.
• The $268, 650 contract, that even says N/A, on the line that could have made Diebold financially liable for not finishing the "work" on time.

• One of the Diebold repair logs from September about what the above folks "found."

Hiner's as usual, droll memo, dated 9/14/06, stating that yep, "Phase One", Diebold-talk for their "analyzing time" was on course with their estimated charges; and reminding that there still were many other unknown expenses involved that Cuyahoga would be paying.

Then unlike the behavior of most normal consumers under such circumstances, even during the November 7 election the CCBOE did NOT keep logs of Diebold failure rates!

To give some window of just how "fit for use" those hundreds of thousands of "analysis and repair" dollars gave to voters (and poll workers) of this county, however, I offer here a rather unintelligible report (as it came, as usual from the CCBOE,) which reflects some of the calls that came into the board for help at the polls.

Though the report is titled "all calls" it is apparent from reports made during the election day meeting that there were many other calls of varying kinds; and there may be various other types of reports at the board, "pink sheets" and "security log" reports from the polls, hundreds of sheets and not easy to post.

One does not need to be able to actually read, nor even to take this report as totality, to be able to immediately notice numerous reports of again broken printers (AVPM or other such permutations,) bent signature plates, broken legs and more.

Since November 7, nary has the board, including Bennett, said one word to Diebold about all the very potentially wasted money involved in purchase and "repairs." The only Diebold conversation that has been undertaken has been about their absolutely failing, $7,000 each EMP's. (See The Diebold EMP Folly)

Bennett said when this Diebold junk breakage issue started before November, that the fault lay, NOT with Diebold junk - but with his previously not being appropriated MORE $1/2 millions from Diebold, for their also junky roll carts.
He eventually got those, though Diebold was very late in their delivery of them (I guess their tin tube maker of legs, or rubber wagon wheel supplier was on vacation) - again to no financial loss to Diebold.

In early August, '06 Bennett also got more of what he wanted, ANOTHER $4-5 million from the County Commissioners, to buy 900 MORE of the junky, riggable Diebold machines, plus many of the supplies that Diebold also sells, and are needed to actually make the machines work.

The Commissioners did not voice much agreement with Bennett's stated need for the new machines, in fact they showed that he was using invalid voter numbers to show the need for the more millions. But they went along with the new appropriation that went from county taxpayer coffers almost all directly into Diebold's pockets, seemingly to just try to finally settle all the difficulties with the Board and with the already huge investment in May's election.
(After the July release of the CERP Report, about May's election, containing often scathing reports about top management behavior, (see Section 7) among other things, there had already been two 2-2 splits among the board, with the Dems trying to oust of Vu and Dillingham then, and the Republican members wanting them to stay. Eventually with Blackwell supposed to break the tie, and the influx of new money, and the appointment of former BOE director, Tom Hayes, at $4,000/week, to babysit Vu to get the county through an election and allow Vu and Dillingham to save face and some money, the Director and Deputy stayed for another few months until their March, '07 ouster )

At that Commissioners' 8/9 meeting, Florkiewicz's appeal for the additional county millions was different than Bennett's inflated numbers. She repeated more than once, that we needed MORE of Diebold machines, to act as back up to the 5,000+, used-one-time, and "repaired" junk, when they would break down AGAIN!

Especially when you add OTHER items just on the same 8/23/06 CCBOE meeting agenda mentioned above regarding repairs, the pattern becomes unmistakable. It contained a:
  • Sole Source Agreement with Diebold for Level 2/3 Support Specialists to provide part time support to the County for GEMS related questions or issues. ($47,250.00)
  • Sole Source Agreement for Diebold for Director and Product/Implementation Subject Matter Expert (Jessica Hiner.) ($61,200.00)
  • Sole Source Agreement for Diebold for Co-Project Manager (Peggy Patton) $91,800.00)
All three were part time for a few months. Though reports about the tech made it consistently appear that he actually helped a great deal, the latter two women making $180/hr. were rarely seen at the CCBOE, were unable to offer many substantive answers if any, and were, however, great at finding new ways to get more Cuyahoga money.
Hiner who, it appears from other agreements may have double dipped on her time also as a "trainer", appeared at most CCBOE meetings. She mostly carried back and forth "answers" she herself didn't know - until November 7, when her contract was over. That's how much our "product specialist" cared about what she left in her wake at the CCBOE.

Given all of the above, do YOU consider the board's action under Bennett fiscally responsible, with YOUR taxpayer money?
Even the first approximate 5,000 "free" machines, as they are termed, were paid with federal taxpayer funds, as horribly routed often by friends of riggable voting machine makers, with HAVA, the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Or does the Cuyahoga board's behavior under Bennett, their non-accountable, continued piling on millions to Diebold, while demanding NO responsibility from the vendor - almost as if they were trying to keep up with some quota - bring other phrases to mind?

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