Wednesday, March 7, 2007

MORE (publicly unseen & un-needed) $$$Millions to Diebold, and the CCBOE "Election Officials" Who (gladly) Pour The $$$Millions Into Diebold's Pockets

What would you do if, with someone else's money, and despite all their facts and demands that you not do it - you secretly bought, let's say, a riggable computer to keep the owners' books.
And let's say, the computer salespeople promised ahead of time that you would have nothing to worry about - they would be there for service; it could easily demonstrate that it's saving you and the boss time, money and aggravation, and that it's doing a far better job than if you continued to do things by hand; and because it's a computer which everyone assumes works fine, no one would notice that it's riggable.

it breaks down; freezes; chews up the papers you're supposed to show the boss; can't keep up with your keystrokes; and very obviously cannot even do what it's supposed to do, etc. - all while the boss keeps giving you more and more expert reports of how bad that computer company is, and expressing angry disatisfaction.

you, keep handing the company more and more millions of the owners' money to: assess what's wrong with your computer, and to unilaterally decide what's not under warranty before doing a lot of paid-for repairs? or to train you some more because they didn't train you right the first time? or to buy more computers from them, to cover yourself when the first one breaks down? or, let's say, to rent more peripherals because the first one's can not keep up? Would you keep listening to more of their lies, and keep repeating them to the owners? etc?

Or would you finally insist that they take their junk back, pay for the damages they'd already caused you, and give you back your money?

If you were the Cuyahoga board and former Director, you would do the former.

As I was reviewing events to finally complete my Observer report about the 11/7/06 election, (which I could not stomach re-living before this,) I came across the video which I have posted below.
For that midterm election I was gladly assigned to be the legally designated Observer at the Cuyahoga BOE, for a consortium of 5 statewide Independent candidates, which allowed individuals to be inside the polls and boards of elections on election day, and to watch the counting through certification.
(I shall post that report on this site, both in draft and when I complete, in finished form. It's so much an eye-opener that it might send some into denial, that that can't be happening to our elections, or into more cynicism, that it is.
My intent in publishing, however, is that it sends you, the reader, into enough outrage that you speak up and out to help stop it.)

The video below is one small, (but complete) part of an again, hard to believe, CCBOE 3-hour meeting, on
11/6/06, the day before the election.
It shows the board, under the unexplained term on the agenda "Vouchers", again handing Diebold another 1/2 million dollars, which for the most part would not even show up on our original contracts with Diebold, should someone be interested enough to ask for those.
(Example, one fellow election integrity advocate early this year, indicated he was looking for amounts paid to Diebold, and asked for a list of the contracts with them. Click the link below to see at what he got - an undated, (as many CCBOE documents are) incomplete list of expenditures, with no dollar amounts for the ones that were listed. Though it's undated, we know it was generated after the 11/06 meeting, since that date is shown on it.)

I too have asked more directly for information about all monies given to Diebold, ....I ...still await an answer....

The four 8/23/o6 items listed on the contract list above, BTW, totaled (cha-ching!) to more than 1/2 million dollars - for such things as two "project experts" one of whom was rarely seen at the board, the other, after being cajoled to appear at the CCBOE meetings (at $180/hour) could not answer any questions, except how much MORE Diebold was charging Cuyahoga, with more Diebold services and equipment, to supposedly "fix" "our" problems with what they'd already supplied along with promises - for far more than $10,000,000.

And you might want to compare the above 11/6 approvals shown on the list (under the one word name, Vouchers) to the below September 5 agenda, showing already amazing amounts.
(By the way, the inclusion of the version date/time on the agenda that you'll see at the link, re: meeting time and dates that change frequently and often at the last minutes with the board's personal schedules, also had to come from election integrity advocate repeated insistence.)
Click here, then on the 9/5 agenda link.

So, finally on 11/6/06, when wisely the one member of the board who, frequently at least asks the right questions, Ed Coaxum, got the "vouchers" revealed a bit, we heard that some costs that even were on contracts before, were, on the day before the election, to get EASILY doubled.

That Monday, just as over the previous summer of ’06's meetings' ridiculous payments to Diebold, - county taxpayer money that could go for healthcare, education etc. - found these payments defended by Vu and Dillingham (now forced out, so highly paid, CCBOE "consultants"- see blog items below), and were questioned by the board only enough to make it look like someone cares, BUT, again, were easily passed. (While you watch the film below, you'll also notice that Mr.Bennett stayed unusually quiet, but attentively affirming – I guess so if anyone might find out if there might be any kickbacks involved, he might be less “involved.”)

The surprise hidden costs on 11/6 included:
• 2 days of 25 techs to be on the election day helpline! The night before and the day of election, each at $157.50/hour! They would have been sitting next to CCBOE temps making $10, or at most other computer consultants making $25/hour.
Grand total? = $460,000!
(Though this was a "not to exceed amount", I feel pretty certain, (and being unable to get the public information facts from the board,) that that was probably the amount Diebold got.) With 1100 Election Day Technicians, and less than 600 polls, there is no way that 25 Diebold folks were needed for 2 days …Notice Dillingham (kind of) saying that would account for 50 calls from technicians (!) from each polling location! Now what does THAT say about the quality of training DIEBOLD provided for their other hundreds of thousands dollar training contract?!?
• EXTRA printed "opening and closing instructions" for each precinct bag (though each poll worker got a copy at training, that printing also paid to Diebold. With 4 workers per precinct, and usually at least 2 precincts per location - plus, the EDT with personalized support - do you think that was necessary?)
Grand total = $6,300
• And rental of 20 more of the optical scanners that didn't work in May, and had the board in a panic, using valuable time testing and tweaking the week before November 7, because again, the first additional 20 rented also weren't properly reading test ballots in the tests. The board wanted to make sure they would have enough, since the first 20 we bought at $9,000 each for May were so crappy and slow - and didn’t work at all due to DIEBOLD’s liability (CERP report.) (The board, by the way again, did nothing to hold Diebold liable about that May situation, though it cost county taxpayers for hundreds of hours of temp services to supposedly
count ( a whole other hard to believe story) the more than 100,000 absentee ballots then.)
The board originally planned to rent only 20 additional from Diebold to make up for Diebold's failures, (also unseen costs.) But at this meeting they upped the rental number to 45 more, for a …Grand total of $27,500.

And there you have it folks, more of our money pouring into Diebold's pockets.
(A part I left out of the film below, which intervened the discussion, was the approximate 1/2 hour dickering over the $3,000 voucher for employees to park near the board building to come to work.)

Some Say Elections Boards Need to "Partner" with Computer Vendors, Because They Have So Little Computer Expertise On Their Own....

...And they add that the 2002 Help America Vote Act, shoved through the 2002 Congress, demanded that the (riggable ) electronic voting systems be spread into every voting district across the nation.
As bad as that Act was, a proper reading however, shows that the machines were NOT demanded, though Mr Blackwell, then Ohio's SoS and 2004 Bush Ohio campaign co-chair made it sound so. And just a little bit of thought shows that the real problems of 2000's election, which HAVA was said to "solve" had little to do with chads.

And when thinking about the above excuse, forget about the computer expertise, that can be independently hired (at alot less than millions.) What about consumer common sense?

And if you were an election official, truly intent on providing your fiduciary duty - fair, accurate, cost-effective elections - and transparent ones, (inherently impossible with Diebold machines. No one from the public has ever even been allowed to see their computer code that tells the machines how to "count" and we thus have no way to to know if and when they are doing that according to normal definitions. Trust them, does NOT work in this situation....)
-wouldn't you at least have looked into the national facts that shows Diebold unethical, an unending money pit, and in way in over their heads, rather than simply ignoring?
And might you not have thought to get a real expert computer expert on staff, representing the interests of the people of Cuyahoga, not Diebold's?

The above thought is also put forth in the following article from Fortune magazine. There, they also mention that
• now as the really big bucks have been wrung from counties with the original billions of federal taxpayer dollars for machine sales per HAVA;
• and now that only follow-up and support and less than billions of proprietary items are necessary;
• and now that the movement toward returning to hand-counted, paper ballots is roaring through the country from citizens waking up to this election horror nationwide;
• and now that such bills have begun being proposed in Congress by a stalwart few, such as HB.6200 demanding we return to verifiable, transparent, hand-counted paper ballots

- so now these vendors are ready to jump ship. Notice in the article, that Diebold is now even taking its name off their "wonderful" voting machines.

But where does that leave us? Alot poorer, with "leaders" that very well may not be people we have chosen, and back at square minus-100.

Where that leaves the CCBOE is questionable, however.
Maybe a certain few are not poorer at all. Unless enough people begin standing up to these "election officials", telling them to stop abusing our money and elections, it also may leave them just continuing to "partner" with Diebold's new owners.

Here's the film of part of the 11/6 meeting. (Please excuse the camera moving around a bit. As you'll see, we had one videographer there who does not understand the video etiquette of at least trying not to get in front of another's placed camera) :

1 comment:

Janet said...

thanks for making this info available - Janet