Where is the Clerk’s Office Money Going?
Back in April I heard rumors a software firm had been meeting with the Clerk of Courts and taken on tour of the Office. I did not think much of it other than they were there regularly and seemed to be about town often at lunch.
On April 17th former United States Senator George Lemieux was in town and his busy schedule was posted through a few political message boards. I had a few friends who attended a lunch session and a dinner session with the Senator. During these meetings Mr. Matt DuPree, former partner with Mr. Needelman at the lobbying firm of Eligere, had a new client on tour. The client was a Michigan software firm named BlueWare, the subject of a newspaper piece in February anticipating the company relocation to downtown Melbourne. Talk was extensive over BlueWare and their work in Brevard, including at the Brevard Clerk’s Office. The BlueWare representative let it be clearly known Mr. DuPree was their man in Brevard County.
On April 18th a public records request was sent to the Clerk’s Office for any and all contracts signed with BlueWare (and other of their subordinate names) as well as a request to know if the contract had been bid.
On April 24th Mr. Needelman and I had a political debate at the Republican Women’s Club meeting at the Olive Garden on Merritt Island. An interesting question arose at the end of the forum. A club member asked about Mr. Needelman’s connection to Matt DuPree, former partner, centering on both Eligere and Source2 being from Orlando.
Mitch explained Eligere was a lobbying firm, he no longer worked there, and he was not working anymore with DuPree. This was a pretty informal operation, so I asked him did he mean he, as Clerk, had no contracts with any firms which had hired Matt DuPree?
“No, that’s not what I said”, Mitch went on, “People like Matt Dupree and Guy Spearman are helping me look at clients thinking ‘outside the box’ to move the Clerk’s Office into the 21st century”, and yes, he had contracted with some of these clients.
Somehow we moved into Matt being in the office with some of these firms all the time, and he somewhat beat around the bush that [that] was not so. I then said Matt has been in the office all week with the BlueWare people from Michigan and he ought to know as he was there as well.
The wheels then came off.
Mr. Needelman started heading toward me, continually asking “Were you there?” Well, of course not, but I would simply answer “I knew they were there”. Back and forth this goes, Mitch coming over toward me, “Did you see them?”, getting visibly upset and still questioning me if I was there.
The club president then ended the question and answer period. Evidently something big was happening in Clerk’s Information Systems.
On May 15th I picked up a BlueWare contract at the Clerk’s Office. It’s attached here, Signed April 6th, more than ten days before the FS 119 request. Note it took almost one month for the contract to be handed over.
Looking over the contract I suspected a misdirection. The contract called for BlueWare to evaluate and negotiate current contracts in Information Systems and to collect 35% of the savings as their fee. That’s fine, but not the type of contract to justify weeks in the Administration Conference Room and time spent with the Court Supervisors. I emphasize on May 15th ONLY the one contract was handed over in response to a request for all contracts with BlueWare. [editor's italics]
On May 17th the misdirection was confirmed in a talk Mr. Needelman gave at the Wickham Park Senior Center. Claiming an affinity for technical gadgets, he spoke of implementing a feature in production by BlueWare (their digital pen) and his effort to electronically digitize the massive number of files in the old Clerk’s File Room, a former school (Parkway Junior High) gymnasium under weak conditions for document storage. He neglected to state the massive undertaking would be done for very old files of closed cases, an expensive and time consuming effort we had previously deemed completely not cost effective. I had suspected before the BlueWare GoldMine dealt with scanning and imaging but never conceived it would be the unnecessary work of scanning in dead files by the hundreds of thousands.
On May 22nd I heard from a disgruntled vendor an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) had been issued by the Brevard County Clerk’s Office and it was vague and open ended (copy attached to this letter). In the ITN was a ridiculous timeline.
2.3 Project Timing:
On May 23rd I requested a copy of the ITN from the Brevard Clerk’s Office. I was told by the responder he knew nothing of the ITN or anything similar. He offered to check on it, and five days later, I have received nothing.
On May 24th came the Constitutional Officer’s Forum. The Clerk candidates were on at 8:15. We did video the debate but it will be a few more days before it can be posted. A discussion on BlueWare, Matt DuPree, and the scanning of the old files at Parkway ensued towards the end of the debate. During the exchange Mr. Needelman stated a BlueWare individual named Matt Raab and his associates were those who had been parked in the office for over a month, one goal was to image the massive volumes of old files at Parkway, he had NOT heard of the BlueWare firm through his former partner, the BlueWare representative Matt DuPree, and he, Mitch Needleman, has ‘no knowledge’ Mr. DuPree was working for BlueWare.
Right, got it.
The forum straw poll results were announced and I won 376-93. Mr. McDaniel, the Finance Director for the Clerk’s Office, and his family left in quite a huff. Within a few minutes all hell had broken loose in the foyer of the hotel. Next thing I know in a few minutes Deputies from the BCSO [Brevard County Sheriff's Office] arrived. Statements were being taken everywhere. As I left, about twenty minutes after the straw poll announcements, Mr. McDaniel, Mr. Needelman, and their families were in the parking lot with the Deputies. Unusual comments and animated behavior was still ongoing as I drove off.
Hopefully we’ll have the video up in a few days. It will probably be posted to www.brevardtimes.com.
In closing I have sent another public records request to the Clerk’s Office, as follows:
"BLUEWARE and other Software/Hardware RFP/ITN/Bids/Awards Public Records Request
We should know more within a week under normal FS 119 response times, given past performance of the Clerk’s Office in responding it may be a bit later.
This article © 2012 Scott Ellis All Rights Reserved
Paid political advertisement, paid for and approved by Scott Ellis, Republican for Clerk of the Court.
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