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November 13, 2006 03:16 AM UTC

DEC Technical Chief Put on Leave

  • by: Colorado Pols

From the Associated Press:

The Denver Post reports Anthony Rainey, the Denver Election Commission’s technology chief, has been put on “administrative investigative leave.”

City Councilwoman Marcia Johnson told the newspaper that Commissioner Sandy Adams said Anthony Rainey was placed on leave in the wake of long delays for hundreds of residents trying to vote Tuesday.

Some had to wait in line for three hours. Others gave up. The delays were blamed in part on a balky computer system used to check voter registration. City officials have said Rainey ignored their warnings about potential problems.


34 thoughts on “DEC Technical Chief Put on Leave

  1. They would taken this guy out back and put a bullet through his head.

    Then, we would have a new technical guy.

    This election was (or is) ridiculous. I am still not sure whether or not my absentee ballot has been counted.


    1. There’s no reason to think your vote won’t be counted. Again, people, undue hysteria about this won’t solve anything. No one is alleging that votes aren’t getting counted, and that is the most important thing.

      No, it didn’t go well, and in light of the facts that have surfaced this past week this guy ought not to be in charge of DEC’s IT for another second. But as long as all the votes got counted, and as long as things go a lot more smoothly next time, I say chill the fuck out. Okay?

      1. The impact of how many people left because of this is never going to be known but there had to be a hell of a lot of people who tried and had to say f&*)k it and didn’t vote. Who knows if this might have turned some closer initaitive votes. I don’t condone physical violence so the guy calling for executions is over the top but to say all votes will be counted is far from the whole story now isn’t it.

        1. have no one to blame but themselves (unless they had a really, REALLY good reason). That’s a bunch of claptrap to say their votes weren’t counted – they weren’t CAST for voluntary reasons.

          I never said this was good, but it wasn’t like many of the states back east that had more serious problems either. I think many people complaining secretly wish it was that bad so they can thump their chests about something. But Denver voting problems got scant attention in the press because, compared to other places, the problems weren’t all that serious.

          It’s come to light that the system wasn’t tested and that the software was essentially in beta. That’s unacceptable and this clown is paying the price. That’s good. But I’m not going to be outraged unless a) it’s shown that votes CAST (guess I have to emphasize that) were not counted, or b) if this is all screwed up again the second time. I wasn’t pissed at the long lines and down systems on Election Day because I expected it – anyone who’s been through a systems conversion at work knows it’s always messy. I think most of the “outrage” is bellyaching over this. Now, again, knowing it was a big beta test does make me mad – but no one has said that votes weren’t counted, and that is the most important thing. Perspective, people, keep it in perspective.

          1. Having over 30 years in IT, most of it with the State of Colorado, I know that testing is very tedious and expensive.  But… it MUST be done.  Test cases must be created using the best minds available.  That includes ALL the expected users.  That also means every IT person in the shop (and ANY shop that has a clue what’s being tested) can offer suggestions.  That means every administrator in the STATE can offer suggestions.  There’s no end to where the suggested test cases may come from.  They must all be validated or tossed, and they must thoroughly cover everything the software is expected to do and dang near everything it is NOT expected to do.  Test case writing is an IT science that cannot be treated lightly.  Period.  I do NOT subscribe to the theory that every new system is expected to result in chaos when it it first implemented – there is no good excuse for that.  Think about it – pay for it – and demand that it be done well.  Nothing else is acceptable.  Didn’t we learn ANYTHING from Y2K?

            1. when I say it wasn’t tested. She seemed to be in the know. I wasn’t there so I actually have no idea how much testing occured, or how extensive it was, but by all accounts it was less than adequate.

              I used to be a business analyst in the payroll dept. of a Fortune 500 company when I lived in Seattle and I was part of the team that upgraded the software. We tested extensively and it was still messy when we went online – no matter how many scenarios you imagine there’s always something that no one considers and is discovered only at go-live.

              1. Obviously you lived in a different era than I.  Only small, superficial things were found in released software because the big things were tested so thoroughly they could not/would not fail.  How about the transposed printing?  That can be so easily tested out that only a newbie would miss it.  Not all tests have to be electronic, some of us can test those things without computers.  Load tests can be used in beta as well as all the other tests.  The point remains:  All parts of the system MUST be adequately tested.  Nothing less is acceptable.  Oh yes, another basic point:  Test cases start from the requirements statement, and the requirements statement/document MUST be thorough – it is basically the Statement of Work!  Point made – end of discussion. 

                1. I guess the fact that I wrote “system not tested is not acceptable” keeps getting lost on people.

                  Messy is kinda acceptable – by which I mean that I’d test it like you would if I were in charge, but politics (both in the workplace and in the political arena) always seems to preclude such thorough testing. Someone says “we don’t need to test that” because they want to get it done quickly. Either budget is on the line, or someone’s face because they blithely said “I can get it done by THIS date” and by hell or high water they’re going online then. So things are messy, and it’s out of our control to make it otherwise.

                  BTW I doubt any such conversion in your experience has gone without a hiccup, but if it has then for God’s sake go down to the Election Commission and lobby for the job! We need someone like you in charge of the technical side.

            2. The tech from Sequoia who serviced our vote center told us after some very pointed questions (there were three techies serving as poll book judges at our center), that not only had it not been tested (except during the primaries, when it also had some failures), he also told us that they weren’t done programming it.

              After the election day meltdown,

              But that isn’t all. Wait until it comes down that our man Anthony may have fudged on his resume, and may not have the educational background he claimed before he got the job.

                1. I missed your comment first time around. Your comment was not rhetorical, right?  You said that Sequoia people could only be there escorted by DEC staff. Can you find out if that was the case? Can you ask the SOS to investigate?  I notice that no one gave you an answer on this blog…but you are evidently one of the few knowledgeable about the actual workings of DEC.
                  Are you following through on this?

      2. The focus is just on getting the votes counted; no one knows if the count is fair….there has not even been time for that.  Who is in charge of the IT function with Rainey gone?  Who is protecting the process and the ballots?  What is Sequoia’s role in all of  this?

        Yo, Aristole, do you own stock in Sequoia?  You are such an apologist and keep attacking those of us who are legitimately concerned about the integrity of the process in Denver.

        1. You seem to wish this was Ohio or some place with real bad problems. It wasn’t good but unlike you I’m waiting for FACTS to come out – it’s one thing to SUPPOSE that votes were lost, it’s another thing to KNOW it. That’s the difference between you and me.

        2. I would assume the assistant IT guy (sorry, don’t know his name) is in charge. If worse comes to worse there is an different IT person from the City Clerk’s Office who works at the Eleciton Commission during the election season who could fill in until a new IT guy is hired.

          1. shares the blame, but it looks like he is the guy being thrown under the bus – can you say Scape Goat?

            The reality is he reports to Matt Crane, Then Gaydeski then Wayne Vaden.

            Matt Crane as head of operations is in overall charge.  Interesting that he is a married to a Sequoia employee.

  2. The KGB comment is in poor taste, at best.  I am requesting that Colorado Pols remove it.  I am glad that Rainey is on administrative leave. Now  Sandy Adams and  Susan Rodgers need to resign.

  3. The state of COlorado and Denver are very weird when it comes to tech. Our state WAS the one of the largest tech employer about 5 years ago. Interestingly, the largest were USWest/Qwest, IBM, Sun, and HP. Ignoring Qwest, the other 3 are big competitors against each other, yet contribute countless millions to the taxbase of Colorado, Denver, and Denver Tech. All 3 Push Unix/Linux (as well as their own proprietary OSs, but will service Windows (increasingly less)). No big deal, right?

    Well, nearly 5 years ago, I tried to get Owens to implement a form of an X-Prize for starting businesses here. In particular, it would make use of one of our strengths; employees from IBM, Sun, and HP. It was interesting to get back the response from Owens and Holtzman. Roughly it showed very nicely that holtzman was clueless about tech, but it also showed that Owens was stuck to Gate’s pants rather than interested in what was good for Colorado. The sad thing is that Owens wiped out a number of low-cost Sun, IBM, and HP boxes to replace them all with very high costs Windows boxes. All in all, Owens/Holtzman have been a true disaster for Colorado.

    I found that Denver was not much better. Even though I dod not bother recording their remarks, the gist was that the people of Denver wanted nothing to do with Sun, IBM, or HP. And they would figure out how to bring jobs to Denver, thank you very much.

    That is why these days, I admire leaders like Romney who does not care about the money that somebody has, and is more concerned with what is good for the state. As it is, I can not see that much difference between Owens and Hickenlooper vs. Delay, Musgrave, Hastert, Ney, etc. They are only interested in what will help them, not what helps who they lead.

    I am about to resend this to Ritter, but, this time, I will CC to a few folks that I know over at IBM, HP, and Sun. I suspect that when the companies come calling asking why the state is not supporting them, then they may decide to go elsewhere such as California, Texas, or Mass. who happen to like high-tech companies.

    1. I know the Hickenlooper family.  John and Helen are two of the most humble people I know. (Especially compared to his predecessor.)  They are unpretentious despite a moderate wealth. John does need need to do that which “will help him.” 

      He is not mayor for the glory, but with the desire to make Denver a great place to live.  You may disagree with his decisions, but they are never self-centered or to advance his political career. 

      Ghandi once said, probably in metaphor, “Pardon me, I must catch up to my people, for I am their leader.” We need hundreds, thousands of men and women in politics like John Hickenlooper.

      1. Hummmm. I am not convinced of that yet. One thing I will admit is that it was in his first year that I sent a re-written version to him. It went to somebody else who said that it sounded great, but on the next contact went into the whole spiel that I mentioned earlier. For all that I know, he never got it. I do have to say that Hickenloper does appear to be the servant type.

        OTH, I had several different guys contact me from Owen’s office, as well as a letter from him (funny that at the time, I lived just up the road from him).

        1. I would suggest that just because you didn’t get responses that you would have preferred, or not at all, doesn’t mean that what I said is untrue.

          No one, in any job, let alone public office, in hindsight, meets everyone’s standards. 

          I only offered my direct experience as to the type of person that JH is.

      2. But making nice nice doesn’t protect the process of voting.  We need someone who cares about winnning and will fight to protect the process….whose concern is not how Denver “looks” on CNN but that the vote is accurate and fair…and that the real winner gets certified….

        What is happening now is that the system is disinegrating BEFORE the count has been completed let alone CERTIFIED….What shocks me is that neither Gordon nor Coffman has gone to court to get some kind of oversight until the vote is completed and certified….  Who is the IT guy, now, who has access to the Sequoia codes?  Where is the citizen’s watchdog?

        And for you Aristole, take your own advice and let the big folks get this squared away.

        1. Your last sentence makes no sense – a) I never said that the “big folks” shouldn’t square this away and b) it’s at odd with the rest of your post, and indeed every post you’ve had about this. You think the “big folks” screwed up royally, now you want them to square it away?

          Just another confused dwyer post.

          1. I was suggesting you shut the f….up…which I believe is what your general advice was a few posts back.  Here, there is a great deal of technical analysis being presented.  I think that is worthwhile.  Then we get a rant from you. I gather that you think there is no reason to be concerned because you voted without a wait and even if there is a problem, good little boys and girls shouldn’t say anything or maybe you are saying something else. I mean you do know, don’t you, that the counting is still going on and that the IT Director has been placed on administrative leave. That is extraordinary.

              Big people are those of us trying to protect the constitution and the vote and figuring out how to do that is part of the discussion here.

            The problem right now is that the DEC is in free fall and I have no reason to believe that the integrity of the election is being preserved. The discussion here is informative but the problem won’t be solved until someone with standing and I believe that will have to be a candidate, steps in with a court order to protect the vote.

            1. You’re “big people?” Big people don’t tell people to shut the fuck up (you know, we’re all adults, you can spell it out) and you can’t point out a single post where I even alluded that that’s what people should do.

              All I said – to you – is that you’re hysterical. This post of yours is also hysterical. Yes, people are offering technical analysis and pointing out the actual problems. You haven’t done that, you’ve just sworn up and down that the long lines and problems mean that the vote is fraudulent. I’m sure that’s not the case but, as I’ve said earlier, I’m waiting to see what comes up.

              The system wasn’t tested. That’s unacceptable and I’ve already said that before. But that wasn’t revealed until a few days after the election. My vote center had long lines too – I waited over an hour. But I saw only one person leave the line and he said he’d be back later.

              I have two points about all this: One, that if you left line because you don’t like lines, tough shit. If you were physically unable to wait, that’s another matter but I have not seen one reported instance of where that happened. Two, let’s wait for all the facts to come out. So they’re still counting votes? That tells me that those now working on it are doing their best to ensure that it’s accurate. Again, it wasn’t public knowledge that they system wasn’t tested. Again, that’s unacceptable. But as long as all the votes cast are counted, I for one won’t join you in your lather. Sorry if that sticks in your side… Well, actually I’m not because that’s your problem.

              PS I liked the line about me ranting… You’re projecting.

              1. That is what you wrote and that is to what I was referring to…..why does it upset you so much that adults are really concerned about the integrity of the vote and are expressing that concern. That is a geniune question. I truly do not understand.

                Let me see if I can explain to you what the problem is.  The long lines were a symptom of a bigger problem: Untested procedures, processes and software.
                The inability, now, to complete the vote in a timely manner is also a symptom: a technical system in chaos.  Those two facts, NOW, compromise the integrity of the whole election.  The only way  left, right now, to protect the integrity of the count is to have objective, technical, oversight. That is not being done. Once the voting is done, there is no easy way to determine if fraud was commited or not.  The bulk of the electronic machines have no paper trail and NO way of verifying the real vote.  The scanners and paper ballots are a suspect technology, too.

                Fixing things for the next election does NOT preserve the integrity of this one.

                Placing the IT Director on administrative leave before the process is complete is troublesome. 

                The chaos, the system failure, could be a smoke screen for fraud.  I don’t know. I do know that citizens have the right to know that their votes are counted accurately.  Is that my rant? HELL YES.

                1. and if you read closely, without the fog of outrage, you’d see that. Chill the fuck out means, Stop calling for people’s heads to roll, stop ranting and raving, and GET THE FACTS. (I don’t mince words – if I want to say “shut the fuck up” then that’s what I’ll write. But I won’t because I don’t anyone to shut up – but I do want them to have a cool head because hotheaded rants don’t add anything meaningful to the debate.)

                  Now, we know that the system was untested and possiblly still in a state of development. That’s unacceptable, and this is not the first time I’ve written that. But was anyone saying that on Election Day? No. They were just complaining about long lines and computers going up and down. While it’s a genuine concern that votes may have been lost, no one has stepped forward to say that it has. (Disclaimer – I’ve been extremely busy and have not looked at a newspaper, or this site, until now and I have not read any diaries posted since Monday night. So this is all based on what was available through Monday night, not on any new revelations.)

                  So the votes are taking a long time to count. Not good, but nothing to lose your shit over either, IMHO. We now know that we were using an untested system, so the time it’s taking is a GOOD thing –  it means that they’re trying to see if all the votes were recorded.

                  Now, they better get their shit together so it doesn’t happen again. But don’t ask me to sing your outraged song.

        2. Hick appoints one person.  He has no oversight, no control other than the bully pulpit.

          Even so, he has said that if he can’t oversee a corrective process to a satisfactory end, “the honeymoon is over.”

          That’s a pretty up front kinda guy, IMHO.

    2. What exactly is the state supposed to do for me? The biggest help would be if companies did not have to handle health insurance but that is a bigger problem than startups.

      Aside from that there isn’t really anything I can think of that we need from the state. We could always use more sales but it doesn’t help us long term to get the state to buy from us just because we are here – because that doesn’t help elsewhere.

      Probabably the best thing you could do is to improve the schools – K-12 as well as CU and CSU. Every time we post openings for interns at CU I am astounded at both how badlt written most cover letters are (and how few actually answer our initial questions when we reply to their query).

      – dave

      ps – I do think an X-Prize is a fun idea. But how do you have something that is a very clear goal (so the winner is not a political decision) and yet is of interest to a lot of campanies?

      1. The idea is actually simple. 2 examples that I have thought of is a core library for an educational system. All the more interesting considering the OLPC work over at MIT. Another was for a tax system to help tax payers (business and residential) as well as the govs.

        1. A group outlines the requirements for the software.
        2. Give a time constraint for the contest. (say 1 year).
        3. At the end, all VALID (i.e. met all requirements) entries are judged. Assuming that none were available, then no winner.
        4. Assuming that at least one group met all the requirements, then it would be the winner.
        5. If multiple, then a group judges them based on other criteria. The winner would get a cash prize. Simple as that.

        There needs to be several things about this to make it useful to the state.

        1. It has to be a company headquartered within the state. That means large companies outside of the state are out. It could be an attempt at a start-up, but the company must have at least a certain percentage within the state.
        2. The winning code must be released under GPL (or something similar). This means that the state/entity will have others to work on it in the future.
        3. Ideally, the state/city would have it work on  Open Systems, assuming that they wish to lower the money that is wasted. If nothing else, go check Jeffco who has moved heavily into Linux and Java.

        The GPL part will piss off some and stop others, but the state is offering up a cash reward for this. In addition, the state would then offer up a limited no-bid support contract for the company. Assuming that the company and gov. entity can come to a reasonable agreement, it might be something like 2 years for x dollars. After that, the bid is competitive open. If the 2 can not come to agreement, then it is put up on competitive bid, but with the company being allowed to bid.

        When you think about it, combine the above with the state/entity moving to using Linux/Solaris on the desktop (which reduces their costs), then the state can really lower costs while increasing software deliverable. Keep this in mind with the Holtzman/Owens social service fiasco that simply channeled money to their friends. That is exactly what needs to be prevented. Between that and Owens t-rex nightmare, he has simply funneled money out to his buddies.

        Keep in mind that this is designed to fund small start-ups/companies within our state. Obviously, if somebody is already selling a competitive product, then there is no sense going at it unless the product is in a market that the state should be in (say education).

        1. Why on earth should we write an open-source project that we might get paid for if we complete it?

          First, we have to meet the criteria and there is always a judgement call on that. And then if we meet it and others do, it’s a political decision on who “wins.”

          I think this is a really dumb idea.

          We can put the same effort in to products we know people will buy.

          1. First, you are focused on ERP for a very targeted group.  I doubt that this would interest you. There are loads of other in the state who fire up start-ups or who want to.  However, companies such as HP, IBM, Sun, and many other small companies will be interested in seeing something like this happen. It allows them to work closer together. In fact, this is what happens indirectly in the valley. This approach can work well for our state and the small companies.

            As to picking the finalist, well, if all criteria are met, then all you can do is more to subjective pick, unless a better approach can be suggested.

      2. Would have lasted another three years without further investment if it hadn’t been for having to offer health insurance to our employees. And we might not have had to abandon it if we had had that extra capital to promote our product in 2001.

        We could have been belped greatly by a program in which the state could have given support to business incubators–but Owens chose not to do that, even though the biggest problem startups in Colorado had in the late 90s was a dearth of angel investors.

        There was no leadership in business development on the part of Owens or Holtzman. All we saw was a lot of posturing and preening. We needed pragmatic leadership and all we got was freemarket BS, as all the jobs started bleeding to India.

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