Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mid week rundown

In the middle of my mid-life meltdown.

Yeah, I've been slacking. Sorry, but I'm just losing steam.

So I'm gonna run down everything I've been neglecting in a single post:

Item 1: Business as usual

What was that law we just passed (or was it just proposed?) about government entities not doing business with convicted felons? Well, technically this wouldn't qualify anyway because Mark St. Pierre, owner of Netmethods, hasn't been convicted he's just been indicted for multiple felony offenses. Still, one would think Mayor Kip Holden in Big Bad Baton Rouge would be more discerning in his contract bidding process as it appears Netmethods just landed another cool 460k in 2010 for crime camera maintenance.

From the Baton Rouge Professional and Operating Services Contracts report:

Notice that's "budgeted". I wonder if Kip is going to take a page from the Harrison Boyd playbook....just get the needle in the vein then bleed it dry when no one is looking, i.e., TDC, MSF, MWH.

But hey it's Baton Rouge so who gives a poop? I'm running out of energy trying to keep up with our own beloved burg, let's leave Red Stick to its own devices.

2. Bait and no switch?

One of the prescient matters I've been neglecting to report is the state of our city IT services. To oversimplify a very complicated story, our city's portal and many other city services were running on a proprietary CMS (content management system) owned by the MAS group up until December of 09. Harrison Boyd had originally hired MSF, back in July, to pick up where MAS left off but he and MSF were not-so-pleasantly surprised to find out that the MAS CMS was not owned by the city and would be leaving along with the MAS contract.

A pissing match ensued, but the MAS contract clearly stated they owned the CMS....panic time. Somehow the city negotiated a deal with MAS to extend the use of the CMS through December until they could figure out what to do.

At some point Boyd decided to hire a Washington, D.C. based technology firm, Telecommunications Development Corp. (TDC), to come in and save the day as apparently MSF wasn't prepared to handle the problem. At least that's what the original TDC contract stated...the contract seemed to suggest that TDC would implement an off the shelf service called Lagan.

Don't ask me what happened next but I can tell you that TDC didn't save the day and when the MAS CMS was pulled in December the lights went out on the city portal, or at least the ability to manage it. Even worse, many city IT services including the police records dept. were affected. Police reports couldn't be filed electronically for weeks and the paper reports began to back up in the office....sounds like a recipe for disaster, huh?

Somehow MSF came back into the picture to save the day by implementing yet another CMS solution called "SiteCore" of which MSF is an authorized reseller (convenient). The cost of this software is reported to be 11k. MSF and the city claims to have successfully migrated the city portal over to SiteCore....good news!

Hold on there skippy....not so fast. Without going into super high-tech parlance, I have been told by some super high-tech peeps of mine, that claim seems to be impossible after an extensive review of the city portal. So this begs the question....are we using the 11k schnizzel-wizzel service we just purchased? Are we still using the MAS CMS? Did we kidnap a monkey from Tampa Bay to beat on a keyboard until he types out "Methinks it is like a weasel" ? (Anyone else a Richard Dawkins fan?)

I'm just curious because there are a lot of really silly experiments I would love to conduct with 11k...the automated dog paw cleaner door mat, the laser toilet seat cleaner, the psychic lock which keeps 5 year old daughters from digging around in their father's know...stuff like that.

I'm still really fond of the idea of going back to the pre-Nagin, stone age, Flintstones city hall days. Yabba-Dabba-Do it without a computer.

3. Death to MWH! Long live MWH!

In recent weeks, the city's highest paid "consulting" firm, MWH, has become the MSM's proxy target of the Nagin administration for all things dagger throwing...culminating with this editorial by James Gill.

A couple of things I want to add to the conversation which you may not be aware of.

I have been told, by zombie peeps, that this company is not just consulting but practically running the city. Why? Because somebody has to.

From most accounts of folks I've talked to in the know, MWH has actually performed beyond the call of duty for the city. Did they overbill? Probably. Did they play the Nawlins' palm-greasing game? More than probably. Have they done a good job for the city? Seems to be another probably.

I just point this out because after years of examining graft in this city, my expectations have been greatly diminished and I'm certainly not as naive as I once was. Corruption is like the influenza virus, it's always going to be with us it just mutates every year and all we can do is try not to get sneezed on.

What matters more to me now is job performance....I can actually deal with the lagniappe factor of the city if the players lagniappin' are actually performing their jobs. I didn't say I could overlook the lagniappe factor, but I can deal with it mo' better if the players are actually performing on the field.

I'm not exactly coming to MWH's defense, but as always, I think there's a much bigger picture here that we're not seeing and that the MSM isn't painting for us.

Oh, and did I mention that MWH reportedly hasn't been paid for over 6 months? Yeah, there's that little factoid as well.


Anonymous said...

Wow. They haven't been paid in six months, and they've been picking up the slack?

What are you going to tell us next?

It is crazy when the bad guys become the good guys.

I'll be interested to see where this goes. Thanks for that update.

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering if you have seen Greg Palast's film, "Big Easy to Big Empty", and if you'd comment on it if you have.

Palast is an always entertaining and informative journalist who does real investigative work, but who also comes across as having a strong set of personal biases.

I'm always interested in where others would draw the line between the straight goods and spin in his work.

I found this film devastating, and I want to learn more about the company Innovative Emergency Management.

Following that thread might be right up your alley. Or it might be a bit much for a man in the middle of a "mid-life meltdown". has his stuff, and so does youtube.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

What a coincidence.
We have all 3 parts in a row on the Ladder fo'yo leisure viewing:
Bon Aperitif
These people are like the Corps' PR Firm OPP, only not nearly as qualified. But like the Girls of OPP, they are the last crumbling remnants of the Rumesfield Ho's of Engineers RepoLooters.
They are like a typical contractor from that posse that doesn't do a forking thing but fork things.
Outside of LSU there are so many different Stakeholders arrayed against Ivor van Heerden it's sickening, but this one company is behind the bulk of the PR Money.
Van Heerden's case is a Fulcrum Event.
It is a War of Competing Models.
Thank you for swinging this. It fits like a bloody domino.

Anonymous said...

You possess WISDOM that TRANScends us mortal TEAM members. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Actually took a quick look at SiteCore and it doesn't appear to be a bad solution. 11K doesn't seem bad. I was figuring for 11k they'd have slapped an open source solution in there.

I'm curious to hear what the super-geeky explanation is for why they couldn't have done the migration of content over to Site-core. Can you explain when you have some time?

Anonymous said...

@T - with so little time left, the current admin should not be making major changes or purchases. the responsible thing to do is leave it for the new CIO to research and implement.

also, there are much more affordable professional solutions. check out this industry-winner at $900 -

Anonymous said...

Ok. Now we have the geeks offering urls to their favority CMS. At the risk of futhering the MAS/MSF Debacle into v2.0, I offer the following. We can debate the merits of all the CMS out there all day and night. Bottom line is the City needs to rid itself of the Intelliport system. Based on the previous blogs and my own contacts, the Intelliport cms is not owned by MAS but licensed. If that holds true then it is still a Greg Meffert and Scott Domke product. Even if it's not true and MAS does own it, I think it's plausible to believe that it was purchased from GM/SD and that the development of the product was done largely with City dollars.

I agree with anon4 that the incoming CIO should evaluate and make the decision. However, my understanding is the decision and been made and the deal is done. Everyday that goes by that we continue to be beholden to the politics of the past is one day too many. Don't give a shit what we spend to get rid of Intelliport. Whatever that number is I assure you will pale in comparison to the fleecing of our City that has occurred under the Nagin and Meffert leadership.

If this administration has implemented something that accomplishes that then that might be one of the best technology gifts the Nagin administration could provide the new administration.