NEW: Block Calls Out RI Leaders for Failed DMV Contract with HP

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

 

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Ken Block

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block blasted the state for its contract with Hewlett-Packard (HP) to upgrade the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which Block said is "years behind schedule and millions over budget." 

Block also questioned why the state then signed a contract in 2013 with HP for $89 million over five years for a Medicaid contract extension.

“Hewlett-Packard has dropped the DMV ball not only in Rhode Island but in other states as well.  We discovered that there were major problems with DMV upgrades in Vermont, California, and New Mexico all linked to HP or its subsidiaries," said Block.

Block noted that in 2012 Vermont won an $8.37 million refund from Hewlett-Packard as the result of a failed DMV computer project, and in 2013 California fired Hewlett-Packard for work on a DMV modernization project after spending $135 million on a 7-year effort where minimal work had been completed.

“Given the history of this failed project why hasn’t Rhode Island been reimbursed for HP’s failure to deliver?” said Block. 

Medicaid Contract Questioned, Compared to First Southwest

“What is even more disturbing is the fact that the state has had this ongoing problem with HP on the DMV upgrade for years, yet still decided to sign an $89 million 5-year Medicaid contract extension with HP in 2013,” said Block.  “This is just as concerning as Rhode Island’s decision to rehire First Southwest as its financial adviser despite the fact that they are being sued by the state over their role in the 38 Studios debacle.”

Governor Lincoln Chafee and Gina Raimondo approved a new two-year contract with First Southwest in March. 

“There is a complete lack of common sense in our state government,” said Block.  “I will push to end what appears to be a hopeless technology project and recoup as much money as possible from the failed vendor.  When other states pull the plug on a vendor and Rhode Island does not, it should give us all pause.  I will bring common sense back to Rhode Island government.”   

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Block Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI

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10. Can Block convince voters he is more than a third party player?

 

To win in the GOP primary, Block is going to need to convince GOP primary voters that his ideals align with the fundamental beliefs of the Republican Party. 

 

He did get a political gift.  As GoLocalProv reported - Blocks opponent in the GOP primary, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has been a consistent donor for a decade to many of the top Democrats in the Party.

 

Both Block and Fung will be challenged to explain their GOP credentials.

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9. Is Block too much of a techno-candidate?

 

Block, the founder of a software company, love to talk about technology solutions to public policy problems. He is going to have to define his solutions to problems in a tangible way.  Often, voters connect to simple themes, "Hope and Change" or from "Head Start to Harvard." 

 

Block is going to need to be able to show he can connect to all Rhode Islanders - we are a retail political state.

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8. Can Block raise money?

 

Block has demonstrated he is serious about running - he has already invested $500,000 of his own money to win the GOP primary, but he will need an estimated $3 million to win the primary and General Election next November.

 

To date, his fundraising base has been small and while Fung is no Gina Raimondo in fundraising, he does have a modest Republican fundraising base.

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7. Will Block defend the behavior of National Republicans?

 

If 15 months from now Ted Cruz works tirelessly to close the federal government over the implementation of Obamacare, will GOP Governor Ken Block speak out on the issue? 

 

Will Block praise or criticize Cruz? In the primary, conservative voters may want him to praise Cruz and in the General election, the majority of voters may want him to condemn Cruz.

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6. Can Block attract RI GOP leaders?

 

A few weeks ago Fung announced an advisory group of prominent Republicans.  The announcement gave Fung's efforts some momentum. Block would pick up a lot of credibility if he were to peel some Fung supporters over to his team.

 

In addition, a number of leading Republicans have yet to make an announcement - if they break to Block it may create momentum.

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5. Can Block connect with voters in the General Election?

 

Assuming Block beat Fung in a GOP primary and went on to face a progressive Democrat like Providence Mayor Angel Taveras or rising star Clay Pell, can Block work the Greek Festival in Cranston or the Scituate Art Festival as well as these Democrats?

 

Will undecided voters connect to Block?

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4. Will Block's lack of previous elected office help or hinder?

 

It can be argued that never having been elected before could be perceived as a negative.

 

Sure, Governor Don Carcieri was never previously elected to office and Governor Bruce Sundlun had only been elected to the state's Constitutional Congress, but voters may want to be sure that Block will know a federal emergency declaration from a new software version - or will each new storm be deemed Sandy 2.0 and so on.

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3. Is Block the smartest guy in the room?

 

Make no mistake about it, Block is smart. Business smart, policy smart, but could he be too smart and then not be able to connect to voters.

 

Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar (so was Gina Raimondo), but one thing about Bill Clinton was that he could play the role of a good ol' boy as good as anyone. He could make any voter feel right at home.

 

Block will need to channel his intelligence into a language and approach that connects to the CEO he is asking to support his effort as equally as asking a unemployed mom in Pawtucket.

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2. How will he handle the plethora of special interests?

 

This time Block will have to answer the questionnaire from the FOP, the Right-to-Life groups, the Environment Council, MADD, the Teamsters, The Northern RI Chamber of Commerce, NEA-RI, arts advocacy groups, the NAACP, and you get the picture.

 

Consistency will matter. One group's endorsement will spark another groups condemnation. Mr. Block, welcome to the 2014 governor's race.

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1. Can he handle the hot lights?

 

The one thing about being the third or fourth candidate in a race is people remember the smart things you said, but don't pay much attention to the dumb things you said. Heck, you really didn't have a real chance to win so the assessment is not very stringent.

 

This time will be different. He needs to run not one but two nearly flawless races to be the next Governor of Rhode Island. His effort in 2010 will help him, but this time he has a real chance to win and the stakes are much higher

 
 

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