I am fairly easy to get along with. And I try not to make assumptions about others’ motives. But, I don’t like to get jerked around either.
I have been covering the ongoing saga of the $8.5 million digitizing contract between the Brevard County Clerk of Courts office and BlueWare/BlueGem since the summer. I have covered it objectively and fairly. I have given all sides airtime. I have not jumped to unfounded conclusions. I have been proud of the work product.
But I’m starting to get irritated – and hence – suspicious. So with suspicion comes my now subjective look at things.
You see, every time I’ve written a story, more questions are raised. So I have tried to follow-up with the principals involved – primarily Mitch Needelman, one of his research clerks, or anyone at BlueWare/BlueGem that would respond to an email. It has been generally futile.
Within the last couple of weeks, I have begun to hear helicopters – I’m just not sure if they are black ones or not. And though he has yet to provide what I deem as solid proof of corruption, Scott Ellis might have been right all along. I have concluded this not by what Needelman and BlueWare have said or done, but because of what they have not said and done.
I wrote a story on October 17 to outline where the scanning process stood. The Clerk’s office and BlueWare jumped at the chance to crow. But then, questions were raised about staffing and facilities. So on November 1, I followed up and the Clerk’s office directed my inquiry to BlueWare. Over the next two weeks, I wrote two stories about how neither side would respond to the legitimate questions.
Finally, on Saturday November 17, Matt DuPree – the elusive ex-partner of Needelman and now BlueWare manager – emailed me and asked for me to call. I did and we spoke for about 30 minutes. He answered previous questions and agreed to meet me at their new facility the following Wednesday.
But – of course – that story raised even more questions. And then DuPree cancelled our appointment. And he didn’t respond to my text.
So, on November 29, I sent an email to Needelman, his research clerk, DuPree, and a BlueWare staffer. I asked for some basic information that should be a part of any government contract:
1. Performance bond contractual information as it relates to deliverables for the digitizing contract with BlueGem/BlueWare
2. Breakdown of BlueGem/BlueWare contractor costs, including salaries, benefits, equipment lease/purchase, other overhead
3. Copies of any contracts that contractor - BlueGem/BlueWare - has with subcontractors regarding digitizing work, including scanning, transportation, redaction, destruction.
My inbox is still empty. And Rose Harr won’t even accept my Facebook friend request.
I worked for a government contractor for 10 years and helped write many proposals. Every time we bid on a contract, we had to supply deliverables, costs, and subcontractor information. While we were rocket scientists, it was not rocket science. We were asking to use taxpayer dollars – and taxpayers have a right to know this stuff. And we still do.
I assume Mitch is simply trying to last until January. And Matt said he worked mostly with the Blue Group overseas. Evidently neither wants responsibility or accountability.
I’m an old ACC basketball fan. I spent years watching the Tar Heels and the Dean Smith four-corner offense run out the clock. But it won’t work on me. You see, I know how to beat it – attack the ball aggressively, foul occasionally to stop the clock, and make it count when you get a shot.
So – let’s play ball.