Monday, April 9, 2007

Mr. Bennett, CCC, Diebold and Poll Worker Training

At the marathon CCBOE meeting on August 29, 2006 and the two that immediately followed in September, a few contracts were let for the outsourcing of Training following the debacle May election, for those to be working the polls in November. The contract with which most are aware is the one that appeared to have garnered the bid after an evaluation committee, containing Mr. Bennett's man, Vu, made their recommendation to the board to give the contract to Cuyahoga Community College for $736,390. ( See text version of the 8/30/06 Plain Dealer article.)

An additional 2 contracts, seeming greatly redundant to CCC's, and totaling around another 1/2 a million dollars, however, went to Diebold in the next two CCBOE meetings by September 15, an amount that was again raised an additional $410,000, as it was board-approved one day before the November election under the discussion of (publicly unseen, unless one knows to request and wait for a list of)"vouchers" in the 11/6 meeting - bringing the total to almost $1 million, not counting the over additional $1/2 million in ($180/hour, though proving worth of less than the board's usual $10 for worker temps) "project management" and some worthwhile "technical assistance" in helping to actually work with the Diebold junk.

Diebold's later training contracts, in some parts for having one person in each of CCC's and their own added-to number of 4-6 hour classes, at $600 per, were passed by the board with hardly a question, despite the fact that the 3-person Cuyahoga Election Review Panel whom the had board singularly selected after May, reported in their CERP Report, that Diebold's May failures and/or misrepresentations regarding such things as providing knowledgeable help at the polls, training CCBOE staff for their registration system, and especially failures in poll worker training might constitute the level of contractual breach to be sent for investigation to the county prosecutor. (See for instance the Final CERP Report, (available for download, along with the ESI Report, at the bottom of the page of the above link,) sections beginning on page 21, page 54, and pages 104 and 106.)

There were, however, additional strange things about these training contracts that may bear further study:
1. CCBOE bids for the official training contract garnered by CCC were requested on August 2, 2006 and closed at 11 am August 15, 2006. Though I still need to get the actual agenda used at the August 29 meeting, which shows the various amounts bid, (not shown on the agenda posted before the meeting which I had downloaded,) there was a large discrepancy in costs among the approximate 5 bidders, as I remember.
One of the highest bids, again from memory, came from Diebold for over $1 million, and one of the lowest, from the Ford Group, a group led in the main by the few people who had actually successfully performed CCBOE training, according to poll worker feedback, in the previous May election.
At the 8/29 meeting, the principal of the Ford Group spoke passionately and with examples, about the need for trainers who had working knowledge of and successful experience with delivering this detailed, complicated information, to best assure future pollworker knowledge, confidence, and election success. Cuyahoga Community College did not have that knowledge, but were cited to be "best" mostly as I remember, because they were an institution of higher learning in the area, and because they had facilities (for which a later "voucher" list of items over $10,000. showed they were paid $160 for each use, for a total of approximately $14,000 - an amount other groups could have also easily worked with to rent facilities.)

2. On August 3, the day after requests for bids first began, the Plain Dealer reported among other things that:
"To give the workers needed skills, Bennett said, he has contacted the head of Cuyahoga Community College to standardize the training."

Before even the bids actually had time to go out, and before the"evaluation committee" met during the week prior to August 29 board approval, a group which included Bennett's man Vu, to consider bids and make training contract recommendations, it seemed that in the ways of the CCBOE under Bennett, even CCC's contract was another foregone conclusion!
Was this another Hopcraft moment?

3. Though Diebold did not get their over 1 million dollar training bid on 8/29, on 9/5 and 9/15, they still gleaned almost $600,000 for Election Day Technician Training and "Poll Worker Technical Training."
There was a Bennett signed contract dated 9/15/06 for EDT training for $360,000, (which had a 7/31 Diebold quote attached that stated $297,750.) (Previous error: I have found amidst the "group" of docs provided by the CCBOE in response to record requests, another Diebold Training contract signed on 9/15, that DOES match the EDT training quote. It appears that the $360,000 contract signed by Bennett was for Diebold "Pollworker Technical Training" and was to replace (?) and suddenly vastly increase the price of the one signed two weeks before, as shown below. To date, it is unclear if it were treated as an addition, since the latter was also provided in answer to my record request.)

There was also the Bennett signed contract dated 9/5 for $210,000 for Poll Worker "Technical Training" which matched the 7/31 quote. (The pdf contract links are as received from CCBOE, except with my own document name changes)
And then there was 11/6's "extra" $410,000" as part of "MORE (publicly unseen & un-needed) $$$Millions to Diebold, and the CCBOE "Election Officials" Who (gladly) Pour The $$$Millions Into Diebold's Pockets".

4. But was CCC able to live up to their promise?
You can judge a bit for yourself from:
a. Mr.Bennett's election night speech, admitting some "glitches" in this $2 million training. A Long Look at the Dysfunction of Cuyahoga's 11/7/06 Election Day Meeting - Under Bob Bennett video clip #1
b. The WEWS "whistleblower" segment last week with a trainer and poll worker talking about how poll workers had not been provided the basics of what they needed to learn, and even how the "test" that all poll workers were to pass was an open book one, and that questions needed to be amended so more would "pass", and the CCBOE would have enough workers. (No video available here)
c. The last draft of CCC's 9/21 Draft Poll Worker Manual, (about which activists were asked for their at-home overnight, volunteered input) - confusing, even with incorrect grammar, and missing some of the very basics. (Though still very rough, I add my very hurriedly made notes, again volunteered quickly
after my own completely different, paid work, the night of 9/22, before the manual needed to go to print. Others also volunteered input. I added on 9/22 such things as, given the massive Diebold "crashes" in May, and the obstructions and security risks those bring to voting, the absolute necessity for poll workers or EDT's to keep detailed Diebold "failure rate" logs. That did not happen. I do not know how many of our 9/22 volunteered suggestions were included.)
I also understand that some CCBOE staff were also recruited, and additionally taxpayer-paid "extra" - $18/hr. vs. their normal approximate $10 - during the weeks prior to printing to provide much of the content knowledge which CCC did NOT have, at their $175/each/hour. Not only did that demonstrate that taxpayers were paying far too much to CCC for things they also could not deliver, but it underscores the often-seen perspective of the board's taking advantage of and devaluing many of its own employees who through many similar convolutions, have been held responsible for figuring out how to get work of elections done.
One can imagine the effects of such inequities on morale and final product. The "CCC manual", very similar in layout and appearance to the previous one already used in May, even then, was at a sorry, completely unsound and insufficient point.
d. Also you might note on the CCC training cost list, not only the $100-150 cost per trainer for each class, but also the $50,000 amount let for two months of work for just the training project manager. To date I don't know who picked up THAT tax-paid "bonus."

This is one small example of CCBOE "fiscal and election responsibility" under Bob Bennett.

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