American Post-Gazette: Goofy is as goofy does

A m e r i c a n P o s t – G a z e t t e

Distributed by C O M M O N S E N S E , in Arizona

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Remember the clowns at Ringling Brothers Circus?

They may be running the county now

Excessive spending going on at County IT

Check out the article in the New Times about Maricopa County IT CIO Steve Wetzel spending money on computer equipment like it’s going out of style. What is going on? The county is in the middle of one of the biggest fiscal crises ever, and the Board of Supervisors is already in trouble for spending $347 million on a new luxury court tower. The Board of Supervisors has forced the Sheriff and County Attorney to cut their law enforcement budgets by 15%.

Who is this guy and why is he doing it?

According to New Times, an anonymous letter revealed that Wetzel is a former employee of Cisco Systems, and got Cisco to give the county a mysterious $527,000 donation. Obviously they’re not doing it out of the generosity of their hearts.

Excerpts from the article:

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent wiring these offices and more for Cisco WiFi, only to find out that security rules governing wireless transmission of the sensitive data these offices handle, ever prohibit them from turning them on!

Additionally, Mr. Wetzel has spent millions on Cisco racks, routers and installation labor in order to build his “Gigabit to the desktop” across the County. Much of the equipment is still not turned on, yet the County is already on year two of a three year Cisco warranty!

A trip to the basement of the County’s 301 building will show stacks of expensive Cisco equipment still sitting in their original boxes, uninstalled.

The letter also states that a member of the Board of Supervisors, (whom the letter, suspiciously, does not name), traveled to Sweden on Cisco’s dime to attend Al Gore’s Nobel Prize ceremony.

The anonymous letter says that this is the 5th CIO the county has hired within the fast few years! Inept. Wonder how much it cost taxpayers to hire and train all of them. Apparently Wetzel is buying these ultra-expensive servers in order to turn the county into a #1 data center. Which goes against the grain of government, which should be concerned about costs, not fancy new computer equipment trying to compete with the private sector. According to the anonymous writer, the county currently runs on one Cisco server just fine, but Wetzel is buying four more at a cost of $500,000 each! Arizona Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett gives this outrage a free pass, since the County Supervisors and managers have sidled up to her giving her special access to their offices. What a shame, at least the New Times is reporting this.

Posted by Cactus Alliance at Wednesday, August 19, 2009


  1. The wireless thing sounds like a fiasco and if they have purchased equipment and not even turned it on for 2 years that is really inexcusable.

    As to the rest, I doubt the county IT is running ‘just fine’ on one cisco server and no doubt having higher data speeds would improve overall speed of service and lord knows what other problems the have.

    Companies often donate equipment if it may be slightly out of date or a product line they are canceling. This allows them to write off the donation for things they would otherwise throw away. It is not really clear to me what the downside of this is and what exactly is illegal about accepting donated equipment. It also seems that they are helping with consulting on how to improve their systems. If they have worked out this as a donation one would think this might be praised in these financial times. This really seems like grasping at straws.

  2. Todd langfried, obviously the entire county is not running on only one server, there are hundreds of servers countywide. This is some specialized kind of advanced server that is probably not even necessary. Most county employees aren’t complaining, their computers are faster than their personal computers at home.

  3. Another case of “needed” transparency!

    I’m beginning to think that county officials are training for eventual selection to the Federal Reserve Board!

  4. Alicia Gegner says

    I see lots of excuses all the time, for what seems to be inept management, and sometimes bad behavior.

    Guys, here is the bottom line – if I always made excuses for my children when they do things they should not do, would that encourage them to behave correctly, or keep on doing what they are doing? Doh!!

    There are electric dog collars that zap our little furry friends when they go where they should not be. Maybe we need to buy some of these collars for our county officials. It sounds as though there is a lot of weird stuff going on at the county. Why would equipment be gathering dust for two years when it ought to be installed and working for us? Why is the county laying off so many folks when it manages to find lots of money for the toys and monuments they want for themselves? Why is it, when we try to find out what is going on, and who is doing what to whom, they hide the files and lock them away?

    So many questions; so few answers. However, there will be elections, and the voters will have a chance to set things straight again. I can’t wait.

  5. Mary Jane
    Yes, I understand this about the server, I was simply pointing to the fact that it appears the summary writer not be all that well informed.

    The letter refers to Cisco 6509 which it has had for seven years. The Cisco 6509 is not a server but a switch and I clearly don’t can’t know all the details, but I hardly think it outrageous that the county needs additional ones.

    I assume the current desktop speeds are 10 megabit which is not very fast. In fact I bet the effective speed workers get at home may in fact be faster than what they have at the office.

  6. Alicia Gegner
    You are so right. Clearly we need to get rid of the GOP domination of our entire county government. They clearly cannot be trusted to be effective in this role.

  7. I work for a small company and we have 4 6509’s (2 in use, 2 in storage), so its not outrageous for them to need that many. It all depends on how many ports you need, and with the average office cube having ethernet ports (including for VOIP network), they add up quickly. Yes 6509’s are expensive, but easier to manage than a multitude of smaller switches that would end up costing about the same.

  8. They still use an antiquated switch and they have all this new equipment sitting around? This is obviously a ploy to lock out competition. The Newtimes mentions Calence involvement. Aren’t they the ones that took over the State IT group? Cost went up, service went down. The “donation” will be chump change when they are done. Yep, seems like something the stupidvisors would approve. Fits right in with the Taj, another taxpayer ripoff.

    Todd, don’t fool yourself, these aren’t real republicans. They are the Brewer, Bush tax and spend type that used to be reserved for D’s. They will be gone by the next election. Jail or voted out,and real republicans will take over.

    Anyone check out this Wetzel guy to see if he even has a degree or just the Cisco certification?

  9. The Mole –
    Brewer is not a real Republican? You have got to be kidding. The whole bunch are in fact conservatives. Oh, and of course I was also talking about Thomas and Arpaio.

  10. Mole is right, real republicans don’t push for tax increases. As for Thomas and Arpaio, they very popular and will continue to get elected until they decide they are done. You crybabies will get up your rants, but the majority is smart enough to know we need them. I know people like Todd will continue to bash them and hope for people that will not enforce the law, but their efforts are in vain.

  11. Bilbo and Mole:

    If Todd had his way, the other four supevisors would be Mary Rose clones!

    The liberal Democratic dream: “A Parasite’s Paradise”!

  12. Carlist,
    Actually no.

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