Update on Progressive Consulting: Dallemand’s Tech Consulting Firm

Back on November 24th I reported that one of the firms that had been at the center of the spending frenzy by former gypsy superintendent Romain Dallemand called Progressive Consulting were misrepresenting their credentials. This is an extremely serious violation when you are doing business with a governmental entity like a school district and could have some serious repercussions if it can be demonstrated that these credentials were used to help secure government contracts. Further legal difficulties could also be expected from the SEI and Carnegie-Mellon.

Notice the words “The Only Capabilities Maturity Model Integrated Certified Company in Macon, GA followed by the logo of the Software Engineering institute and Carnegie Mellon.” 

Now please take note of their revised website below. Those words and the logo have been removed. 

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Quite a big change. No mention of Carnegie Mellon, the Software Engineering Institute, or their certifications. Additionally, pages within the website that made reference to those entities and certifications have been removed entirely. People that follow this blog will also know that Progressive Consulting built the Macon-Bibb EOC website. Their website went down for several weeks after this article called Macon Bibb EOC Heating Assistance Leaving Truly Needy in Cold received some national media attention.

The ties with the Bibb BOE and Progressive Consulting go all the way back to 1990. In fact Progressive’s very first contract was with the Bibb board of education. I am not insinuating that Isaac Culver is not a qualified consultant or doesn’t know his stuff. From my research he has some impressive accomplishments. But I think once he decided to try and flog useless dumb terminals he stepped out of his comfort zone or wheelhouse.

Progressive should have stuck with  programming, databases, and the software side and avoided hardware sales and installations which is a completely different animal. They were a small and specialized software business and should have stuck to what they knew but I suspect greed got the better of them.  Their choice at all seems highly suspicious  since they were a reference for Tom Tourand for his job in the BOE. One of Tourand’s references on his employment application was Isaac J. Culver III, the president and CEO of Progressive Consulting.

Both Romain Dallemand and Tom Tourand both seemed anxious to spend money like it was burning a hole in their pocket. Both men had little understanding of what a large school district actually required and this was a recipe for disaster when you allow two luddites to spend millions on technology purchases. I find it hard to believe that Progressive Consulting  would have been selected had this gone to a bidding process with due diligence and more scrutiny or with a competent IT person.

According to a report by the Macon Telegraph with a Georgia PSC Report

Just weeks after Tourand’s appointment, Dallemand signed a contract with Progressive Consulting to provide “technical project management services and E-Rate construction projects” for the school system, without board approval, the report said. Progressive would provide network engineering support for the system’s Technology Department.

 

The board had authorized Dallemand to negotiate a technology contract with Progressive, but the contract should have come back to the board for final approval, the report said. In time, the school system paid Progressive about $1.3 million for technology consulting work.

 

One name stood out on Progressive’s bid proposal, the report noted: Allen Stephen, the president of CompTech Computer Technologies Inc., a minority-owned company based in Dayton, Ohio.

 

Progressive Consulting later brought CompTech into the huge technology project. The PSC report contains a letter from Stephen vouching for Progressive’s program management on a “disaster recovery system” that Stephen said had helped his company during a severe storm.

Progressive were far from being the only ones in this report that raises serious questions and it also seems they simply bit off more than they could chew. A small company like Progressive never had the capabilities or personnel to handle a project that large to begin with.They also lacked the proper expertise, certifications, or personnel.  Instead of doing the work they acted more like a General Contractor and brought in other companies to do the work adding to the cost with so many additional layers. Had Bibb hired a capable IT person instead of Tourand he/she should have been able to oversee that effort and would have never chosen to go with incompatible dumb terminals.

The PSC report also revealed that the Bibb County school district said it “uncovered evidence of collusion” involving Culver, Stephen and a Bibb County school employee whose name was redacted from the report. The report included a copy of an email from Culver to CompTech, which read: “This is a template for your invoice to BCSD. The pricing includes 10% on each unit sale for CompTech. … Just have your guys prepare the attached on your invoice and submit to (name redacted). It needs to be done pretty quickly so he can get a PO# generated today. Thanks, Isaac”

There is a lot more information in the Macon Telegraph article as well as links to the PCS reports and copies of the emails. It is certainly worth your time to read it if this subject interest you. Even though that article was published on November 23, 2014 I am reasonably confident there is more to come on this story in the not too distant future. Investigations are progressing if at a snail’s pace.
The recent change to the Progressive Website may be a substantially more significant development than anyone realizes.  😉

Is the infamous BOE5 now reduced to the BOE3?

For those of you unfamiliar with the term BOE5 it refers to a cabal that included Wanda West, Tom Hudson, Susan Middleton, Ella Carter and Tommy Barnes. With eight total Board of Education seats 5 was a supermajority. Nearly all of the votes for Dallemand’s lunacy received a rubber-stamp 5-3 vote. They continued to vote for Dallemand’s proposals long after evidence and common sense dictated they take a pause, For that reason they became known as the BOE5. The fact that the Bibb BOE is one of the very few in not the only BOE’s in the state with an even and not odd number is a whole other can of worms and I hope they can reduce their number to 7 or even 5. Of the original BOE5 only 3 now remain: West, Hudson, and Carter.

In an earlier article I also asked if Tom Hudson, who is a current BOE member, has ever received any payments from this company. Tom Hudson was appointed by Jack Ellis to two terms on Transit Authority Board. Hudson seems to be a perpetual thorn in the side to the other board members and often is the sole vote in opposition to otherwise unanimous votes. He also was frequently at loggerheads and got into  heated verbal exchanges with Dr. Steve Smith the former interim superintendent. Dr. Steve Smith had this to say about Tom Hudson.

I don’t understand how he can complain about overspending about ($21,000) and sit there while my predecessor abused board policy nine times without (Hudson) questioning it,” Smith said after the committee meetings. “I was creating fairness and equity in the school system so that everybody was treated fairly.”

Hudson is clearly getting more and more desperate. The recent selection of Themla Dillard as president and removal of Wanda West suggests a power shift or coup.   Wanda West was a “female version of Romain Dallemand while superintendent of Twiggs County” This is  according to three former Twiggs County teachers that contacted me to discuss their personal experiences, knowledge and assessment of West while working in Twiggs. These reports seem to confirm her familiarity with school budget deficits. Bibb was not her first deficit rodeo.  I was told by retired Twiggs Couny employees that the budget was balanced prior to Wanda West becoming superintendent and am trying to confirm that. What is confirmed is she left her job hastily and in debt with a lot of enemies in Twiggs County.
 From the Twiggs Newspaper at the time she resigned: “West, who had told board officials that she planned to retire at the end of the 2005-2006 school year, unexpectedly retired in the first quarter of this year, just before BOE officials introduced a controversial plan to cut expenditures by closing Dry Branch Elementary School in order to balance the 2006-2007 budget and to begin the process of pulling the system out of a severe deficit position.”
West and the other members of the BOE5  allowed people like Romain Dallemand, Cliffard Whitby, and companies like Progressive Consulting to rape our school district of close to $52 million (give or take a few million). Though Middleton and Barnes are no longer on the BOE, it looks like Hudson intends to do his damnedest to make life as difficult as possible while he is still there.

Tom Hudson

 

There have likely been numerous qualified candidates for superintendent that Hudson objected to for specious reasons.  I am confident Hudson is the the main reason we still have not hired a permanent replacement. Hudson is only interested in replacing Dallemand with another Dallemand 2.0 who promises miracles and checks the right boxes.

The fact that to this very day he continues to defend Dallemand should tell the people of Bibb County all they need to know about Mr. Hudson. He doesn’t care about students or schools only his agenda. He excels at accusations and bellicose bloviating but is not interested in being anything more than an unapologetic obstructionist and a distraction.

Poor Ella Carter at this point is a shadow of her former self. She has destroyed what was once a very stellar reputation as a teacher and I fear due to her advanced age is rather easily manipulated and certainly easily agitated. She is stubborn and will not deviate from her position regardless of what the evidence or common sense shows.

Ella Carter

She should have retired gracefully years ago and appears a bit dazed and confused at times. Her ridiculous outburst in the video below blaming people that disagree with her as being racist was beyond the pale. She has no evidence only beliefs and a suspicion. For her to call other board members racists was an intellectually lazy and dishonest pursuit that will only cause more tension and is used for people who have lost the debate and are looking for a nuclear option for their hail mary.

This is not about racism, it is about her incompetence and her acquiescence that allowed Dallemand to waste $52 million under her watch. She along with her four former allies must accept responsibility. I hold Susan Middleton who was white to the same standard and find her equally culpable. Bringing out the race card was sign of desperation and shows that she is grasping at straws and unwilling to simply apologize for the part she played as a Dallemand puppet.She had every opportunity to ask questions after so many red flags but did nothing.

Wanda West appears to be so completely self-absorbed that I am not sure she is really bothered with who they choose as long as they respect her “Authoritah” and call her Dr. West. She famously made an idiotic comment that she didn’t drop the ball (referring to Dallemand and the missing $52M) because she didn’t know there was a ball in the air to drop. The irony that everyone else in Macon knew and had told her is irrelevant. Her hands are completely clean, at least that is what she wants us to believe. If she would simply acknowledge that she screwed up by supporting Dallemand in all those votes and apologize it would demonstrate she at least learned her lesson. But like Ella Carter she wants to dig her heels in deeper instead of taking responsibility for the part she played and admitting those mistakes. Telling people to move on and forget the past is a lot easier to do if the people responsible apologize, acknowledge the role they played, and let people know they will not be fooled again by a superintendent with all flash and no substance.
Ms. West lists a job title as Regional Exeuctive Director at PABSUnlimited, Inc.on her LinkedIn Account.  I found a website called PABS unlimited but it rather sparse and incomplete. Under “Staff and PABS Edu” it says “Under Construction” In fact it is not very clear what they do besides selling a mysterious event registration for $179. I wonder in the Bibb schools system has ever had any dealings with PABS or PABS employees or executives?  Enquiring minds want to know.  😎

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There are certainly quite a lot of nebulous “Educational Consulting” companies in and around Macon that have managed to win various contracts with the Bibb BOE. They receive substantial amounts of money from the districts. I hope the Board under Dr. Dillard will now take a long and hard look at all of these disbursements and make sure it is money well-spent and not wasted.

Consider this notification that I am aware of numerous questionable disbursements to shadowy groups, individuals, and companies and am now giving the new BOE ample time to clean house.  The BOE needs to make sure no groups are receiving payments while acting as babysitting services.  Hint: No company, charity, group, or individual should be receiving any taxpayer school funds if they overtly discriminate and refuse to assist students based on race or gender or can provide a detailed curriculum and detailed paper trails with assessments and evidence that students are actually being tutored. Not one penny should be handed over to a group that uses race specific determinations to select students. It is time for some spring cleaning ladies and gentleman and ridding the Bibb school district of race or gender specific groups that are babysitting services is a great place to start.

 

Maybe Tom Hudson, Ella Carter and Wanda West are just perturbed that that they were unable to easily cajole or manipulate Thelma Dillard as easily as they might have hoped. Thelma Dillard does not appear to be a puppet and has earned this watchdog’s respect as an independent thinker more interested in the schools and students than self-aggrandizing pomposity. I may not always agree with Thelma Dillard on her votes, but I can at least respect someone with gumption and independent thought.  She is her own woman with her own opinions and does not appear to be easily bullied by special interest groups or other board members.

Keep it up Thelma and you might win our Elba Peach Award. Guess who we might nominate for the Rotten Peach Award….

Stay tuned for much more to come and in the meantime make sure and read our Cotton Avenue Mafia report. It is not succinct but it is a virtual page turner that would make Tony Soprano jealous.   Nepotism, Cronyism, and the Cotton Avenue Mafia Rule Macon, GA

In the meantime it looks like the Perry retreat is not off to the best of starts as they try and mend fences. The best way to move the Bibb school district forward would be for the reaming three members of the BOE5 to voluntarily or involuntarily resign.  It also seems a blog in Macon is getting under Tom Hudson’s skin. I wonder who he could possibly mean? As I have stated here many times before Tom Hudson and any other BOE member are welcome to call me for a phone interview where they can give their side of the story as long as they agree to answer some questions I have over connections to educational consulting contracts, connections to DFACS, Progressive Consulting, Cliffard Whitby and a few more.

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  1. JustSaying January 24, 2015 Reply
    • Alan Wood January 25, 2015

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