GigG files complaint against competitor in SC2 challenge

by Ben Holder

CityFi logo.

A contestant in Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge has filed a formal complaint against another team and is asking for the city to hand out sanctions. Emails show that team Gig G believes that another contestant, CityFi, “…violates the rules and regulations of this competition as outlined on both the SC2 Website and at the recent work session meeting held with the six finalist teams by yourself and outside competition management company.” Gig G team member Larry Cecchini wrote the email.Gig G is specifically at odds with a PDF that was created by CityFi and emailed to, “an unknown group of people within Greensboro (and maybe beyond the city),” Cecchini wrote. The PDF CityFi created was and sent out was a Request to Participate in field demonstrations. The email shows nine things that Gig G feels are unethical and unfair, and it ranges from CityFi using the city’s logo, to misleading the reader, to misrepresenting facts. Cecchini ended the complaint by stating, “Cityfi Team should be sanctioned for this illegal and unethical action.”The SC2 Challenge is an economic development contest organized by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. In the fall of 2012, Greensboro was selected along with Las Vegas, Nevada and Hartford, Connecticut to participate in the contest. Six teams continue to compete for the top prize, A selection committee made up of five-members will decide the SC2 winner. The winner of the contest will be the one that has the best idea about how to stimulate local economies and job growth. The winner, who will receive $500,000, is expected to be announced in August.Roch Smith, Jr. of CityFi says, “We’re flattered this other team is paying so much attention to Cityfi, but those accusations are unfounded and inaccurate. We are enthusiastically working on making Cityfi’s idea for city-wide public Wi-Fi happen for the benefit of the people of Greensboro. We are doing so in accordance with the rules of the SC2 contest, and assertions to the contrary are just plain reckless.”Ironically, after city officials released the names of the six finalists for the contest in December 2014, YES! Weekly Staff revealed that contest judge Wayne Szafranski, an assistant vice-chancellor for outreach and economic development at NC A&T State University, was listed as someone working with Gig-G. When Mayor Nancy Vaughan was asked by YES! about Szafranski being a judge and being listed as someone working with Gig G she said, “In my opinion, if a judge had contact with one of the submitting teams he should have recused himself from the entire process.” The city ultimately ruled that Gig G was not in violation.Text of formal complaint after the jump.{::PAGEBREAK::}From: Larry Cecchini []
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2015 12:41 PM
To: Gaither-Eli, Prince John
Subject: Formal SC2 Competition Competitive Action Complaint Registration
Importance: High

Dear Prince John,

This email formally registers the Gig G Team’s complaint regarding the CityFi Team’s competitive actions.

Attached please find a PDF document that was emailed to an unknown group of people within Greensboro (and maybe beyond the city).

It is our position that this document (and the corresponding strategies and tactics it represents) violates the rules and regulations of this competition as outlined on both the SC2 Website and at the recent work session meeting held with the 6 finalist teams by the yourself and outside competition management company.

Support/Rationale for Our Position

1) The prominent use of the City of Greensboro’s logo at the top of this document alongside the Cityfi logo is unauthorized and immediately conveys a partnership, endorsement and approval to all receiving this document which is illegal (and uses the city logo without legal permission)
2) The layout design which similar to a professional Press Release is indicative of an approved communication at the highest city levels
3) Note: The contact person in all PR Press Releases is always an authorized representative of those sending the notice out. This contact person is misrepresenting his role and authorization to speak for the city
4) The leveraging and inference of an “RFP” (Request for Participation vs. Request for Proposal) in graphic look and design immediately communicates that this is a “city approved request”.
– This is in fact how the city conducts all its official business it is sponsoring
5) The opening sentence immediately misleads the reader as to who is writing this document (again unauthorized to represent the city)
6) The second and third paragraphs are constructed as if the city was describing the Cityfi project vs. the truth being that Cityfi is trying to exploit the equity of a non existence city partnership (they haven’t won anything yet)
7) The “Schedule” and “What is being evaluated” leads one to believe the city and this group are proceeding ahead as partners in this “test” . That again is a misrepresentation.
8) All the points listed are a laundry list that set up the next section “Who SHOULD participate” as a call to action which means, “if you hope to be involved with the city and its partner Cityfi on this project later “WE” are seeking (who is we?) you SHOULD participate Now. This is unethical.
9) The overall look, design and language of this document is exploitive of positions, relationships and approval that the Cityfi group has not achieved, developed or earned at this point in time

This is an attempt by the CityFi Team to exploit lack of information and knowledge among the recipients of this document and make the recipient believe they have procured a higher position with the city than is the truth.

This tactic is nothing more than a misrepresentation (that violates the rules and spirit of this competition) to not only gain an unfair advantage over other competitive teams but also get others to fund (human and capital resources) their project under misunderstood circumstances.

It is our position that the Cityfi Team should be sanctioned for this illegal and unethical action.

I have copied two other competitive teams who I know are also abiding by the rules.

Respectfully submitted,

Larry Cecchini