Wednesday, March 07, 2007

DOJ Grant Redux Volume 2; Chapter 1

I said I was pissed and I was going to turn up the heat....I had no idea what was going to boil to the top.

I got in touch with Grant Holcomb, the man asked by the DOJ to spec. the 2003, 7 million dollar. interoperable communication systems grant which would have provided the city with a storm proof communication system for all of our first responders....pre-Katrina.

He has sent me a wealth of information which helps shape the story of what happened to the grant and how Meffert undermined the process and killed our chances of implementing the technology.

There is so much information here....I am going to have to break it up into pieces....many pieces. The first exhibit, and probably the most contentious, is a letter Holcomb sent to Meffert challenging him to a public debate on exactly what went down during the grant process.

Let's see if ImagineANON #1's deafening silence lasts or if they have the balls to respond:

To Greg Meffert - Deputy Mayor and CTO of the City of New Orleans,

I would like to arrange a public debate between the two of us. I waited until after the Mayoral elections to eliminate one more of your excuses and false accusations.

I want the largest possible public audience so I can state that your unethical and unprofessional conduct contributed to the loss of life during hurricane Katrina.

I want to prove that you are an unqualified and incompetent appointed public official who has undermined public safety and national security through the serial abuse of authority.

Regarding the $7 million U. S. Department of Justice public safety grant that you intentionally misdirected, my business relationships were disclosed in advanced and received a legal opinion authorizing me to proceed. This was done well before the U. S. Department of Justice received the City of New Orleans grant submission. I challenge you to fully disclose all of your business relationships as I have done.

Regarding your recent statements to the press, you continue to assume everyone you talk to is stupid. You are claiming that I attempted to commit a fraudulent act against the U. S. Department of Justice, an organization comprised of lawyers who convict people of crimes for a living. Your claim also implies that every lawyer and public official I worked with along the way had a lesser legal authority than your associate Sherry Landry.

Does the public know that your first act as an appointed public official was to give yourself and Sherry Landry a raise? At a salary of $150,000.00 per year the public should gain some meaningful benefit, like addressing issues of public safety.

Does the public know that you have a liberal arts degree and do not have the engineering credentials to be the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of anything, particularly the City of New Orleans? Ordering Microsoft Software and Dell computers and hiring a third party to set up a web site does not make you "technical", nor should it cost the taxpayers so much a year.

Does the public know that Sherry's legal opinion against me was rendered after multiple failed attempts by you to kill the $7 million public safety grant? Here is the chronology of events that I witnessed first hand:

1.) The U.S. Department of Justice awarded the City of New Orleans a federal grant based on my team's engineering research, efforts, experience, and expertise. The City of New Orleans staff wrote and submitted the grant based on our input. The grant would not have been awarded had Tulane University not invested nearly a million dollars in labor and research and development.

2.) All of my actions were conducted under the direction and authority of the City of New Orleans Director of Homeland Security and the Tulane University General Counsel. The relationship between the City of New Orleans and Tulane University was approved and was just as legal as the other 27 contractual relationships in place between the two organizations at that time.

3.) On the evening the Mayor announced the grant award, where the City had me demonstrate the same working technology to the press that I had demonstrated to your assistant 4 months earlier, you called the City's Director of Homeland Security and angrily complained how upset your business partners were about the grant announcement.

4.) Two weeks after the grant award announcement, during our first face-to-face meeting, you walked into the room in front of over a dozen witnesses and accused me of and I quote "ABM - Anything But Microsoft". Instead of focusing on how to allow the region's first responders to communicate during a crisis, you focused the entire meeting on how you could direct the federal money through your business associations just to the City of New Orleans. You clearly stated that you did not want any of the surrounding Parishes to receive any of the grant money. Since you still had not read the grant request or response, you did not know that it was a U. S. DOJ requirement that the money must be used for improving regional communications.

5.) At first you attempted to delay the final grant acceptance paperwork by missing and postponing the meetings scheduled for the grant acceptance signing. The Director of Homeland Security had to embarrass Mayor Nagin into signing the documentation at a party literally minutes before the overnight shipping deadline. What leverage did you hold over Mayor Nagin that would make him turn down such a critical federal grant?

6.) Within days of our meeting, you or a member of your staff copied all of the emails belonging to the Director of Homeland Security into a public Internet folder. You or a member of your staff then contacted all of your business associates, directed them to the location of these emails, and then directed these businesses to write formal letters of complaint to Sherry Landry. They all complied with the request at the same time. Sherry confronted myself, my boss, and a member of Tulane's legal staff at a meeting she requested. Sherry accused us of numerous fraudulent acts. We were shown the complaints containing the original emails she claimed got onto the Internet accidentally. Any technically literate individual knows, and can easily prove in a courtroom, that this type of "accident" is impossible. You are responsible for the email system for the City and you allowed information critical to national security to pass into the public domain. Why didn't you use any of this "evidence" or complaint materials in your letter to the U. S. DOJ? Why wasn't I fired for wrongdoing? Why has this important evidence of wrongdoing on my part and Tulane University not been given to the press? You and Sherry did not act on this because you knew any investigation by the U. S. DOJ or the FBI would have surfaced your unethical and illegal conduct on this matter.

7.) You retained an engineering consulting company called BearingPoint to draft a statement that the technology my team had developed was not real or valid. I was read the statement produced by BearingPoint, which was given to Mayor Nagin. I went to BearingPoint's office and attempted to turn over a working solution for their evaluation. I was denied access to their office. The Director of Homeland Security put our solution through months of testing to ensure everything worked as advertised - before the grant submission. If you had bothered to really check out my past (NASDAQ stock symbol TGCC) you would have determined that the basis of the technology was developed at a cost of over $20 million dollars when I was the CTO of this publicly traded company. A commercial version of the primary software had been sold for many years before I became a Tulane University faculty member. You did not release the BearingPoint statement to the U. S. DOJ because you knew a reasonable person could easily verify the reliable functioning of the technology.

8.) Your final attempt to kill the grant was a very subjective letter to the U. S. DOJ stating that my team and I at Tulane did not comply with City and State procurement regulations and there was a "conflict of interest". If you had wanted to, you could have just as easily argued in our favor. Again, as seen by your actions above, you were pursuing your own personal interests instead of the safety and security of the citizens of the region. Please explain how Tulane University, a not-for-profit institution and the largest employer in the region, is not the better business partner for the City than Dell Computer? Did you buy 3,000 or 4,000 Dell computers, I cannot recall the exact number? A Dell employee called my lead engineer asking for advice on the grant implementation and implied that they were taking over the grant. Why is it that you can select Dell computer, without following procurement regulations, yet my actions are illegal after following all local, state, and federal guidelines managed by multiple experienced staffers from both the City and Tulane?

9.) After you reminded the Tulane General Counsel that the University had 27 active contracts with the City of New Orleans, I was told by the Tulane administration that they would no longer pursue the grant or take legal action to stop you.
Even an appointed public official must serve the interests of the community. Your actions reflect that you only serve your own interests.

I am an honor graduate of the United States Marine Corps Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare Defense School. I am a combat veteran. I have a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. After attending the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, I taught Electrical Engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy. I have over 25 years of experience behind my claim that the inability to communicate during a natural disaster or terrorist attack directly results in the unnecessary loss of life. The grant submission presented how vulnerable the citizens of Southeast Louisiana are during a disaster. You intentionally ignored this critical information.
You abused your position and you ignored the safety of the citizens of the City of New Orleans. I personally think your negligence was criminal in nature because your actions were deliberate and intentional.

I pray that Mayor Nagin is successful in rebuilding the City of New Orleans and protecting its citizens. His first act should be to fire you immediately and start a grand jury investigation.

--


Signed,

Grant K. Holcomb

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

BAM! I would love to hear what Imagine Anon#1 has to say after this! This is amazing D. Thanks to Mr. Holcomb for giving us concrete opinions and evidence that Meffert is and has been raping the City to feed his ego and his pockets with slimy tactics such as this. This letter is just the transperency that we need to keep those that are appointed to public office in check.

I hope Meffert chokes on his balls after he tries to swallow this. This is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE!!

Keep up the great detective work and in keeping those in charge honest, Dambala! We need you and your fellow bloggers to keep chipping away the mold that has embedded this city for years.

It's time to clean house!

da po' boy said...

After reading your recent posts, this becomes more interesting:

Greg Meffert, the former New Orleans Chief Technology Officer and Deputy Mayor, has joined Previstar’s Executive Advisory Board.

***

“I met Previstar when they were engaged to help manage the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina. I understand what this company can bring to communities and organizations,” Meffert said. “I also see how powerful Previstar’s offerings can be if implemented before a crisis occurs.

Dambala said...

wow....wow....how did you find that out po' boy?

da po' boy said...

Sorry. I forgot to include the link.

http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20070307005765&newsLang=en

It's from a PR release.

Anonymous said...

"Met" as in when GM was vice mayor?

http://www.previstar.com/Knowledge_Center/
testimonials.htm

Client Success
City of New Orleans – Hurricane Katrina Recovery

"(Previstar's) efforts in the recovery process ... has saved the City literally tens of millions of dollars."

Greg Meffert
Chief Information Officer
City of New Orleans

Previstar's role/features:

Management of FEMA recovery, reporting, and reimbursement process
Management of rescue, recovery, and rebuilding resources
Management of public 311 system and knowledgebase
“The system was quickly implemented and operational. A by-product of managing the assets and resources has been an audit trail that allows us to automatically generate our FEMA reimbursement requests. … [T]he work and efforts in the recovery process ... has saved the City ‘literally tens of millions of dollars. … We are so impressed with the capabilities of the system that we are currently expanding its usage…”

Greg Meffert
Vice Mayor/Chief Information Officer
City of New Orleans

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Released an hour ago:

http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/
index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20070307005765
&newsLang=en


March 07, 2007 11:05 AM Eastern Time

Former City of New Orleans Chief Technology Officer Greg Meffert Joins Previstar Executive Advisory Board

ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Greg Meffert, the former New Orleans Chief Technology Officer and Deputy Mayor, has joined Previstar’s Executive Advisory Board.

Previstar provides the industry’s most comprehensive software to help emergency managers and public health officials plan for, respond to, and recover from any incident or event.

“Greg’s involvement in so many different aspects of New Orleans’ city government—from management information systems to ground transportation and city planning—gives him a wide-reaching, yet intimate knowledge of the critical issues facing our clients,” said Keith Stringfellow, President and CEO of Previstar. “He knows first-hand how essential disaster planning is to a municipality confronted by, and recovering from, a devastating crisis.”

“I met Previstar when they were engaged to help manage the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina. I understand what this company can bring to communities and organizations,” Meffert said. “I also see how powerful Previstar’s offerings can be if implemented before a crisis occurs.”

Meffert became New Orleans’ first Chief Technology Officer in 2002, and he was elevated to the number two position in the Mayor’s office within the first year. From the beginning of his tenure, he leveraged his entrepreneurial expertise in the private sector to help the city save millions of dollars in operating expenses.

In addition, his achievements in Web, Wireless broadband and digital government have been recognized by the computer industry, government organizations and universities. He has been cited and profiled by over one hundred books, periodicals, newspapers, magazines and television news programs.

Prior to joining the City of New Orleans, Meffert founded ITS and NetEX/Certia, companies that provide encryption technology for online transaction companies, the US Army and related Department of Homeland Security initiatives. He served as both CEO and CTO of the companies.

A native of San Antonio, Texas, Meffert has been a business leader in New Orleans for the past 20 years. He is currently CEO of Logistix (www.Logistixco.com), a consulting and services company with a focus on municipal online services, disaster recovery, and metro-scale wireless broadband networks.

About the Advisory Board

Previstar’s Executive Advisory Board works with the company to enhance its relationships with the private and public sectors, identify partnering opportunities and assist in new product development. The board is headed by Andrew B. Maner, former Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Homeland Security. Board members include Martha Braddock, former Policy Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Major General Philip G. Killey, the Adjutant General of the South Dakota National Guard (ret.); and John A. Gordon, General, US Air Force (ret.), and Homeland Security Advisor to the President.

About Previstar

Organizations have used Previstar to prepare for bioterrorism attacks, to protect citizens and athletes at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics, and to recover from the multiple 2004 Florida hurricanes and Hurricane Katrina. Previstar enables any jurisdiction or organization to become compliant with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) guidelines.

The company recently released its Continual Preparedness System, a Web-based, modular, that delivers totally integrated intelligent resource and information management, dynamically directing the resources, tasks and relationships necessary to protect responders, citizens, and property. Previstar is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and continues to conduct research and development activities at its facility in Knoxville, Tennessee. For more information visit www.Previstar.com.