Sunday, May 6, 2012

$1/3 of a Million for What?

I was sitting at home today semi-enjoying watching Baltimore against Boston at Fenway.

In the middle of the game I got a call from a friend of mine who knows far more about computer technology than I.

He asked me what was going on with one of the items on Monday night’s town council agenda.

Naturally I asked him which item.

He said item number ten, which reads as follows: 

10. Vote to ratify the proposal of GBE Technologies of East Providence, RI in an amount not to exceed $336,540.00 for the installation of Telephony LAN Technology in the new Middle/High School.

He pointed out to me that this raises a number of questions.

First, is this just the network for the telephone system? If so it seems to be extremely steep.

Second, if it is not just for the telephone system, but a LAN (Local Area Network} for all computer resources, is it wireless? Even in this case, it still seems very expensive.

Following his call I looked into several other aspects of this item.

First, I could not find any website for a GBE Technologies in East Providence, Rhode Island. When garage shops that produce a smart phone App have a website, why doesn’t one exist for a company getting a $336,540 contract?

I did find a GBE Technologies out of Hong Kong. Their name stands for Giveaway Business Expert. They tout themselves as an OEM manufacturer of MP3/MP4 players and USB drives. Hardly an enterprise specializing in this matter.

What subcommittee vetted this agenda item? Who advised them on the technical issues? Can they answer these questions?

I think those of us who are footing the bill deserve an answer.


  1. The Penn and Teller punchline is fantastic. It illustrates the sleight of hand that has been going on in this town ever since Carlisle.
    When are we going to wake up to the illusions over the reality?

  2. aka Jester


    "CBE Technologies understands that many educational institutions and libraries are finding it tougher to keep up with the technology needs and savvy of their students while maintaining the costs of their IT environment. Our team of education experts has been working in the industry for over 20 years and includes former K-12 educators and administrators with many years of hands-on experience."

    "With offices throughout New England, your company will have a dedicated CBE Technologies team including engineers, technicians, project managers and salespeople to help you navigate your toughest IT projects. Give us a call at 1-800-YES-TECH, Option 1 or email us at"

    1. So what IT project in Southbridge is worth THAT price?

    2. OK, at least we know they exist.

      Nevertheless, try CBE Technolgies on google.

      Why aren't they there if they are so prominent?

      Above and beyond that, what are the answers to all the other questions?

    3. Because it sounds "sexy" to say that a school has Internet. Big deal, it doesn't justify the cost if you have nothing to connect to it, and even if you do, it still doesn't justify this outlandish expense.

    4. Look at it this way:
      First, type into google,
      the o'zone southbridge ma

      then type in

      GBE Technologies east providence R I.

      Now "Jester" tells us it's CBE Technologies. Well, EXCUSE ME for not trying all variations of the typos on the town council agenda. I guess we have to triple the salaries of the typists,

  3. This town needs a $350,000 LAN Technology system like I need a hole in my head.

    If they have to call a teacher, get a cellphone. How in the world can they justify this cost? Are they giving computers to students as well? This town has officially gone mad. I'm sure that using a phone is not worth that money. Nor is an Internet network. It all runs downhill in Sowbridge.

    1. Don't you mean like you need another hole in your head?

    2. Dennis with one "n", wrote above not to be confused with the real one!

    3. Dennis (the real one):
      Thanks for pointing that out. Some weasels will stoop to anything!

  4. Just like everything else on this blog...lets not get some facts and see what this project entails...could it be phone system, internet, hardware...I believe that there is a project manager, tech consultant from architect, tech consultant from school system and then state oversight...but then again, we can never say anything positive in this town!!!

    1. Excuse me again, you biased booster twit, but I am asking for facts.

      If you've got them share them. Otherwise stop wasting our time with your worthless town hall talking points.

      I don't care what you believe, I'm asking for proof. Some people believe in fairies, it doesn't make them real.

    2. Wow, a biased booster twit that is wasting your time. I honestly thought that we could have respectful discourse on this site.

    3. All you "thought" was that you could provide a couple of backhanded insults and now you act like you're the wounded victim.

      You're pathetic.

  5. A quick search of Rhode Island Corporate records shows that this company CBE technologies did file annual report.
    Brief Description of the Character of the Business Which is Actually Conducted in Rhode Island:
    "Value Added Reseller of computer and telephony hardware and software and related services"

    The earlier comment about the services they provide would also lead one to believe that a school being built for 70 million dollars and entering the 21st century would require technology.

    The library would need a system, food service would need a system, the police want access to computers for security, but I forgot...we live in Southbridge and everything our political leaders do or attempt to do are wrong..after all..the Monday morning quarterbacks have all the answers and do not want to provide real solutions!!!

    After living my entire life in Southbridge and seeing where we are not going as a community..time to sell the house and move on...but with all the negativity in the town and lack of vision who wants to buy a house here.

    1. First, now we know that it's CBE Technologies and not GBE Technologies as the agenda says. Excuse me for having any faith in our town's public documents.

      Second, you still haven't addressed the issues raised as regards the nature of the system and its realistic cost given technical specs, nor its contemporaneity as a technological template.

      Being a public company is nothing more than a paper filing. Remember Green-Brown Consulting?

  6. aka Jester

    Hq: Boston, MA (?)

    Industry: Custom Computer Programming Services
    Location: East Providence, RI
    Phone: 617-514-1700


    Status: Privately Held
    Revenue: 20M to 50M
    Employees: 100 - 250

    1. Thanks for providing some facts rather than mere speculation.
      How did you know it was CBE Technologies and not GBE Technologies as is posted on the TC agebda?

    2. aka Jester

      Through a general search via Computer Tech, East Providence, RI

  7. If this contract is for the New "Lazo" Middle/High School, I would say everyone should be ticked off with 7 Wonders of Southbridge as well.. It not enough that they built a $70 million dollar school, want a new lunch truck with electrical outlets and a tailgate that goes up and down (or it's a deal breaker), want this $300K (plus) tech contract, have a outside company (ABAC's) overseeing the special needs ABA portion (Who knows how much that is costing), and yet they come up short $700K so there maybe "PINK SLIPS" going out (mentioned at the end of April 24th SC Meeting).
    Enough is enough!!!! STOP SPENDING OUR MONEY!!! Lazo pay your back taxes along with the other tax deadbeats.. Put contracts up for bids and make sure the moneys there before you vote.. I would rather have the teachers over the over-priced technology and lunch truck with the outlets and tailgate that goes up and down... Come use your heads and pretend the money is coming out of your pockets...

  8. Instead of bashing this plan, or particular IT company, why don't you folks do a little research about what neighboring towns spend on tech. Also, keep in mind Southbridge is starting way behind the 8 ball with tech, thanks to poor funding in the past. There's lots of catching up that needs to happen here.

    1. You can call it bashing if you want.
      All I'm doing is asking for information that should have been gotten by the people who put this contract on the agenda for approval.
      So far the only thing that appears to be the case is that nobody proof reads these agendas before they are posted (i.e. CBE instead of GBE).
      Instead of telling me or anybody else to do research why can't somebody answer if the TC or SC did the research. If they did, what are the answers to the questions being asked? If they don't have the answers, why is it our fault that we haven't done their job for them?
      Finally, this new talking point about "negativity" is already wearing thin. The negativity stems from years of deception, opaque decision-making and continued decline. If you want optimism, provide some reason to believe anything has changed.

    2. Well perhaps the people making the decisions know what is involved here because they've been attending the various meetings and involved in the process all along rather than gossiping via telephone or reading blog posts made by ill or uninformed people.

      If you were concerned enough about this you should have attended the meetings but now all of the sudden you're an expert and going to save us.

    3. Sure, and while we're at it let's eliminate the council and require every citizen to attend every meeting and vote on every issue. Hogwash!
      If you're right those elected or appointed to review these things should be willing to answer for what they recommend.
      Since when is it negativity to ask questions and complain when you don't get any answers?

    4. Government is supposed to be transparent. People are elected in Southbridge to represent the people, not the other way around. Most people work for a living and have families to look after, so, our elected officials need to do a better job at explaining things. Do you really think that not going to a meeting makes one uninformed? I can tell you, without seeing what they're getting for their money, that, if it includes hardware, going through a VAR is an expensive proposition. Cutting out the middle man and going direct on hardware, especially for an educational institution (software as well), the price breaks get passed on directly to the school. How many of the councilors are information technologists? Going to a meeting doesn't make a person one.

      This reminds me of when certain councilors blame the people for the sentiment, as they like to call it, the "negative" tone of people in town. Well, councilors, the example that you're setting is not exactly one to make us proud.

      It's high time we vote out those people who get elected by the will of the people but serve at the expense of the people. No councilor has any right to treat a citizen with an iota of disrespect. That's where the negativity comes from.

  9. Southbridge expatriate here.
    Bureaucrats can't into technology but once you're around them long enough you can usually suss what they mean. Just from the agenda line, I would wager it's solely for the telephony installation. Hardware alone on a school that size could potentially eat a third of said cost, let alone design and implementation of the system. If this also includes the general purpose LAN install, which I doubt since it should piggyback on the installed LAN, then it's a bargain.
    Maintenance and long term support should scare you a lot more than installation. When I was in town, 'maintenance' meant replace everything because a salesman said so and there was no 'long term' anything.

  10. Ken makes one really valid point. Does anybody check these things before they are posted?
    There's no way Ken could have known that "GBE Technologies" was a typo.
    At least he corrected their misspelling of meeting in the line "Immediately following the Planning & Development Subcommittee Meeting". If you look at the copy of the agenda on the town website at:

    They spelled it as "Meting".

    1. Im surprised that that busy body on Maple Street hasnt corrected it to her version of spelling it (MEETUN)after all she always has her facts straight!


All comments subject to moderation. All commenters must use their own name or a screen name. No comments labelled as "Anonymous" will be published. To use your name or a screen name select "Name/URL" from the drop down menu. Insert you name in the "Name" space and leave the "URL" space blank.