Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Charles Parker: Divergent Views on Clerk's Contract Continue

Within a 20-minute timespan on Monday, I received two emails whose contrast could not be starker.
The subject of both is the controversial contract between the Clerk’s office and BlueGem Technologies to digitize court records.  The contract has been under scrutiny since its signing during the summer.
Clerk of Courts-In-Waiting Scott Ellis sent out a missive that he entitled “Clerk Loots $6.1 Million for Blueware: Hewlett Packard Left Holding the Bag.”  In it, he once again calls the BlueGem digitizing contract a “scam” and claims that Hewlett Packard has loaned money to the Clerk’s Office to pay-off the contract.
Shortly after, Clerk of Courts-In-Limbo Mitch Needelman issued a press release that begins, “On Friday, December 07, 2012, a milestone event took place in Brevard County that will change the way the Clerk of Courts does business from now into the future.”
The English teacher in me cries out, “…two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”
The contract has raised questions many questions.  I am still waiting for the answer to a few of them: Who is working, how much are they being paid, what property/equipment was bought, and what are the contract deliverables?
I have asked the Clerk’s Office, BlueWare/BlueGem, Matt DuPree, the Economic Development Commission, all five county commissioners, and the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce.
None have answered.  However, I think I already know the answer.  These basic criteria - present in most government contracts - are not written down anywhere. 
The contract is basically this: Here’s the money.  We don’t care how you get thejob done or how you spend the money, you have to get the job done by 2017.  Oh - and if you don’t - we’re covered by insurance that we paid for.  So really - we don’t care whether you get the job done or not.
And evidently the terms of the contract have changed from the original one signed this summer. 
Incoming Clerk Ellis lays out the wide-ranging and winding road-like scenario this way:
Needelman contracts with BlueWare.  Needelman realizes Ellis will cancel the contract and tries to sell it.  HP lends money to Needelman - who in turn gives some of the money to BlueWare, buys an insurance bond, and evidently purchases bowling balls (what else does Brunswick Corporation do?).
Also, in October BlueWare chief Rose Harr is given a cushy spot on the Brevard Workforce Board of Directors and then in November is given $760,000 by the same board for job training.
In this scenario, Ellis assumes the motive of Needelman - to keep Ellis from stopping payments to BlueWare and cancelling the contract when he takes office in January 2013.
But there is a problem with assuming the motive: there is no proof.  I am sure if Needelman did not write down contract terms and deliverables, he did not write down the terms of a nefarious plot.
As well, I am sure Needleman would say his motive to change the terms of the contract - which went from $8.5 million to $6.1 million - was solely to save taxpayers’ money. 
Ellis claims, “Clerks cannot enter into promissory notes and borrow money.  Legal opinions will be forthcoming when I get into office.”  At the same time, I would be shocked if Needelman didn’t have attorneys who gave him the “okay.”
And so the beat goes on.  Taxpayer money is being spent on a noble project, but the taxpayers don’t really know whether their money is being spent legally and efficiently.  For government projects, both should be the standard.


  1. The Clerk by law may not borrow money.
    No terms in any Blueware contract have been changed.
    Blueware got a $5.7 million advance on the $7.5 million remaining. The Clerk also picked up paying 3.55% interest on the note and the Clerk as customer paid for the Performance Bond for the vendor, Blueware ($200,000) plus the bizarre $200,000 payment to Brunswick.
    Why would anyone borrow money to make an advance on a five year no interest contract, even if the contract were legit (and it is not)?
    The money this time is stolen from Hewlett Packard.

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  2. Charles,

    If non-taxing elected officials could apply for credit and obtain it from companies, wouldn't constitutional officers all over Florida and across the nation already have maxed out their credit ratings?

    As the Clerk has its budget given to it by the Legislature, it doesn't have a bond rating. It cannot issue bonds, cannot tax, etc. It must spend only what the Legislature gives it, no more.

    The budgets of the Clerks in Florida are heavily reviewed by the Clerk of Courts Operation Corporation ("CCOC") before being sent to the Legislature for ratification. Even then, the Legislature, not the CCOC, makes the final decision as to what county gets how much.

    This is yet another illegal power grab in an attempt to provide liquid cash for Mitch & Co. pending January 8th.

  3. It is also by no means a noble project. It is a useless and unnecessary project. It would be bad enough to pay triple price for something you need, but these files are so rarely touched no mass imaging serves any purpose. It serves a purpose by pushing money in a circle through a circle of friends and accomplices. Rose Harr made the statement she needed to defend her contract from Scott Ellis to another company they tried to use to scam the public (too honest, they refused)and they found their way by having the Clerk borrow the money for them.
    Too bad for Hewlett Packard, they may already know they have been left holding the bag.

  4. Charles, I can fully support Scott’s contention that this is a wasteful, unnecessary make-work project that arose ONLY to facilitate the scam. I have used the Clerk’s records in my work on a daily basis for decades. Since the land records from ‘80 forward have been on-line, I have never once needed a doct older than that (14+ yrs?). Should I ever require such an old doct, I would consider this archival research and understand that retrieving it may take more time and effort.

    What we never got the numbers on:
    1. How many requests does the Clerk get each year for these old documents and how much Clerk’s time is spent responding to them.
    2. How many total documents are there to be scanned?

    Answers to these questions would have exposed this scam for what it is - hardly a ‘noble’ project.

  5. To my previous post I can add this:

    I can state with 99% certainty that no other county in FLA has spent $$ to digitize their ancient documents.

    This from the first County Clerk record search I checked - Dade
    “The Miami-Dade County Clerk's Office is making every effort to serve the public in an efficient, professional and courteous manner. Most recorded documents from 1974 to the present are available online at County Recorder's Official Record Search with older documents available from microfilm at our library located at Courthouse East.”

    Old records on Microfilm is good enough for Dade, but not little ol’ Brevard?

  6. You are all making this more complex then it really is. The first mistake is your applying logic trying to identify a need and then applying a solution. this whole project had nothing to do with improving a process. This is all about money and a quick hit.

    Here is the history:

    1 - Rose moved to Florida and needed to make money. She has no product and a big commitment to hire a lot of people inorder to get the incentives bluewhere committed to.
    2 - Matt meets Rose and they both need each other. matt needs a big payday and Rose needs the money - see 1 above.
    3 - Matt and Mitch are buddies. Matt can make a deal happen but needs to find something that somehow meets what Rose's company with no product does. Medical Records - Court Records, OK that's close enough.
    4 - Matt writes some specifications, gives to Mitch he posts them, Rose responds with Matt authoring a response to his questions and Mitch awards the deal to Rose.
    5 - Matt gets paid $90,000 for bringing the deal in and then gets hired by Rose. Life is good but Mitch loses election.
    6 - Rose needs to make sure she still gets the money. She trys to find a company to loan the county the money now so she can get paid. If she waits five years when the work is actually done it will be cancelled by someone not in the fix. IBM says no, HP says yes. HP does not know all the history.
    7 - Rose gets the money and spends or hides it all.
    8 - Result = County is out the money, HP is left holding the bag and Matt, Rose, and Mitch are laughing all the way to the bank.

    Accomplises to the scheme - Jennifer the make believe sales executive and Debbie the party planner.

    Not that complicated.

    1. I agree, Rose did not even have the rock for rock soup. However, I beleive Matt & Mitch & Associates have taken in far more then $90,000. Given how horrible the HP deal in unlawfully loaning money to the Clerk I'd give the money trail a few hound dog sniffs towards Hewlett Packard. Just as when something is too good to be true it is not, when something is too stupid to be true it also probably is not.
      Blueware/HP = Sarno Landfill/County Government. Both made $6 million in one day producing nothing. Neither will ever be used.

    2. The $90,000 was the first installment. The day the county wrote a check to Rose for $500,000 she wrote a check to Matt for $90,000. That was payment number one with moer to follow. Another part of the deal was she hired him as VP for BlueGem, paid him $200,000 plus commissions for future jobs and passed jobs. He needed to get on the payroll as soon as possible to pay for his medical bills that were adding up.

    3. Yes, and other payments of $10,000 and $30,000. On top of those were the $5,000/$10,000 monthly payments to Eligere, the corporate lobbying firm he ran. I would also bet a large chunk of the $5.7 million has disappeared overseas.
      The funny item in the HP loan was the $200,000 for Brunswick Corporation. Rose had wanted to buy a fancy boat, perhaps HP via the Clerk has now paid for it?

    4. Wow, you might have something there. I got side tracked with the Bowling Ball silliness, but I recall now that Brunswick owns a boat builder. Too funny!

  7. The funny part is the folks at Blueware think everyone is upset because the scanning is not done yet. So they are keeping a low profile trying to get it all completed as quickly as possible. Then in January they will pop their head out of their hole and say - Look we have 1.5 million documents scanned already.

    The only problem is they are so naive they do not realize the reason people are upset is becuase we paid 3 times as much for a useless fixed project that never should have been awarded to any one in the first place. All the hiding and avoiding answering questions can never change that fact.

    Scott you also don't know they are using proprietary methods to scan the documents that you need their software to read the document. So when you fire them, any documents they have scanned you are going to have to pay them again to convert them into a readable format for any generic program out there.

    That is how they made money over the last 18 months. All their old clients have been paying them the hostage fee to get their data back.

  8. There will never be 1.5 million images in the next four weeks. The photos from the press release are a Potemkin Operation. Live files which had already been scanned were shipped down for the photo-op for the press release. HP should have followed up with me when I contacted them a month ago, they would have had a better chance at recovering some of their money.
    I will say all damage wrought on this office since the election is due to the failure of those in power (and I am not talking FDLE) to have had the crooked rats removed back in September.

  9. What photos? What press release? Is it on the web?

  10. Charles has it as a .pdf. He graciouly sent it to me. I am sure if you email [email protected] you can get it. It would be better if they have the time to post it, laughable, a pure Potemkin set-up.
    It is like the thieves on Wall Street skinning us alive and saying what a wonderful thing TARP is for the whole country.

  11. Or e-mail me if you'd like, [email protected]

  12. I have read the press release and I am not really sure what they are proud of after reading the statements.

    This digitization of records will enable everyone who desires to access public records to be able to do so from any computer anywhere by the year 2017 - I can monitor my whole house and access my home computer from my smart phone today. They are bragging about a capability that they will have in 2017. We paid $8 million I want something today not in 5 years from now.

    1. The Clerk's records are already online for the last decade. When was the last time you needed to see a case from 1993? Even worse, the Blueware plan is to do far more destruction than imaging. So if you really wanted to see that whole case from 1993, many pages will be gone forever.

    2. And they have experience in destruction of classified records. There is nothing on their web site that indicated that. Let me guess they are subcontracting that part as well.

  13. Brevard County is the FIRST in the State of Florida to get digitization underway. I am very porud of both the Clerk's employees and BlueGem for getting this project up and running so quickly -

    Seriously!!! The contract was signed in April of this year and they just began scanning the documents after you have already paid them millions of dollars and you are proud of them for getting things up so quickly. What were they doing for the past 9 months???

  14. After legnthy negotiations that have spanned months, the contract for digitization of Brevard County's citizens' private and public records was awarded to BlueGem Technologies -

    I thought the specs were written by Matt, and then Matt responded to his own specs on behalf BlueWhere and then Mitch approved them and the contract was awarded. The whole process took three days. And from what I have read of the contract and specifications there is not a lot of details - we will give you $8 million and have the records scanned by 2017. No milestones, no checks and balances, no requirements.

    Oh yeah you had a bunch of make believe meetings in the Holiday Inn Express where Rose stood in front of the room pretending she was doing discovery for what the county needed and wanted with a whole bunch of fifth grade sticky notes. the contract was already written and signed at that point this was a dog and pony show for the employees to pretend it was some serious negotiations.

    Not really sure where the law allows the winner of the contract to be the one identifying the specifications of the contracts with the employees. Shouldn't the specifications already be defined and then we ask the contractor to meet those needs. I would think the contractor would leave out the stuff they find in discovery that would be hard to do or expensive and take the low hanging fruit.

  15. Can't wait for Karma to come and get Mitch and all of his associates for ripping off the taxpayers of Brevard County!!! Scott had said ALL along...Mitch is bad business. Boy was he right!!!!

  16. Hey folks....you do know that the Clerk's Office already has 11 High-speed Canon 9050 scanners and in reality had NO NEED to Outsource the project in the 1st place. If the Clerk's Office was setup to index in a more efficient way they could internally scan 2 million images a month

  17. So the Clerk's office had more equipment the day they signed the contract to scan documents than the company they signed the contract with.

    Do you think a program to setup an index system cost more than $8 million?

    And you ask why everyone is so mad....

  18. Anon 5:58 said: …So when you fire them, any documents they have scanned you are going to have to pay them again to convert them into a readable format for any generic program out there.
    - An additional criminal charge of Theft of Govt Property?

    Anon 1:01 said: And they have experience in destruction of classified records?
    -An additional criminal charge of Destruction of Govt Property?

  19. Great to know we have all this scanning equip while the process of scanning the most RECENT daily records has ground to a screeching halt this month.

    I’m now waiting on court case docs filed in early Nov to be viewable, that have for the past 5 yrs, been viewable within 5± days of filing. Yes, great progress.

    Too bad we couldn’t have gotten an INJUNCTION against screwing up all that was humming along just fine pre election!

  20. But if Mitch didn't lay off all the staff that were doing the scanning already how was he going to justify a scanning project and pay Rose all the money - stop using logic!!!!

  21. Sad to say....us Floridians are easy pray for the Chunky Tiger....

  22. I see Blueware has conned some people to joining their "sales team". Good luck selling a non-existent product. Lets see: The product is not finished, there is no user manual, there is no defined installation process or project plan, there is no installation team, the list goes on and on. Yeah, a recipe for success.

    Don't you people do your research on a company before joining them? You will make no money, be told by Matt Raab that he just cannot get an update/conversion done inside 6 months for your angry soon to be former customers, and you will be subjected to Rose's stupid ramblings about following her 23 steps to a sale. A bit of advice: Be sure you send out that Cup and Packet. I am sure getting a coffee cup and some tea will guarantee you get the sale.

    I guess the job market is still so tough that people will work for a corrupt company run by a psycho nut job. My guess is they do not last 3 months..and that is being generous.

  23. I worked at Blueware about 8 months ago - in sales. They kept promising the product was coming but in the meantime just keep selling to the customers I was told. I could never get a release schedule or what particular modules actually made the product.

    When the sales were not coming - because people do not buy vaporware - Rose blamed me for not following her patented 23 steps to a sale. These 23 steps is her excuse to use on her team when things fail. If it was so successful don't you think others would be using the 23 steps.

    And yes I was eventually fired because I did not send the coffee mug to my potential customer and she blamed the no-sale because I forgot that important step.

    In the end it was the greatest day in my life to get away from her and her family who are all a little warped.

    Let me tell you a secret - there is no product, she has no idea what she is doing and she blames everyone else. If you are a man she will hate you the moment she meets you.

  24. I just looked at their web site and under leadership team why do they have a picture of people who no longer work there. Answer - no one else is willing to have their picture put up there.

    The other interesting notation is she envisions Blueware leading the future of electronic health records. Here is the sad part of that diluted statement. There is this little thing called Meaningful Use - what it means is if the federal goverment certifies your product in the electronic health record arena they will pay people to use it. Like a rebate for your purchase. This Blueware software that Rose envisions for leading the future is not Meaningful Use certified, never has been and never will be. I am pretty sure if someone has an option between using vaporware with a dwindling user base and not reimbursable and any other product out there, they are probably going to chose any other product out there.

    Her and her daughter need to stop making global statements that are not true and make no sense. Here is a New Year's resolution for you - try telling the truth just for one day.

  25. Here is an absolutely hilarious comment by Rose. What a JOKE. Here is the url for the post:


    Rose Harr commented on Chris Paton's blog post “Robot and Frank”: The Future of Home Healthcare Robots?

    "Dear Mr. Paton and my friend David, Thank you for this ! The video is wonderful. I will use it for my company meeting if you dont mind. We are working in Robots also with Artificial Intelligence. Thanks for inspiring us. Rose Harr"

    Seriously??? Rose and Blueware are developing robots with artificial intelligence? They cannot even finish a software program. To envision her company as a developer of robots and artificial intelligence shows how delusional she really is.

  26. How many years can she use that picture? It was a glam shot she had taken 10 years ago. I think it is time to get a new shot. No one will take you seriously in the tech field when you look like you are modeling for JC Penney. I think Ellen DeGeneres is using this same pose. Take some of the money you recently taken and get new photos.

  27. It is the new year. Scott...when will the contract be cancelled and the legal proceedings begin?

  28. Shoot, I'm just waiting for the office to be functional and up and running again in his first few weeks. The clerk services have all but ceased to exist at this point!

    Needelman - the biggest loser/jerk/crook to ever have held an office in this County - hands down!!!

  29. Scanning images and shredding, who cares? This is only part of the obligation, the easiest and cheapest part. The REDACTION process is the most critical component and most needed service for any of the scanning (regardless of who does it) to be of any value to the Clerk's office and citizens.

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