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Priming the Pump for Poverty Programs

So how does an out-of-state company that gets paid $32 million under a three-year contract with L.A. County to help welfare recipients get jobs win a contract renewal when it fails to meet five of its eight goals?

This is L.A., baby, so it does it the L.A. way. It hires well-connected lobbyists like Harvey Englander and Associates and it starts spreading the money.

According to Garrett Therolf in the Times, Maximus Inc. of Virginia has contributed thousands of dollars to county supervisors and spent $124,000 on lobbying the county this year, making it the third biggest spender on influence peddling for the first half of the year, according to records.

The money seems to have helped. Maximus is still in the running for a new contract, one that includes a 21 percent bonus for achieving certain goals, despite being rejected by Department of Public Social Services officials, a review panel and the county auditor-controller.

“The recommendation to cut Maximus follows previous efforts by county
officials to sever the county’s relationship with the company, whose
aggregate 13 years of service have been marked at times by significant
shortcomings,” the Times reported.

It may have helped Maximus that the top-rated firm for the contract, Policy Studies Inc., of Denver spent only $5,000 on lobbyists.

Or maybe having Supervisor Don Knabe’s son Matt on the payroll of Englander’s lobbying firm is helping or that Englander himself has served as a political consultant to Knabe in the past.

No way any of that would influence anybody, according to everyone involved.

Whether Maximus gets the contract appears to depend on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky with Knabe and Mike Antonovish on side with the company and Gloria Molina and Yvonne Burke opposed, in part because they think the job placement work should be done by unionized county workers.

In 2000, Yaroslavsky took heat from the unions for casting the deciding vote for Maximus a year after the company made a $25,000 donation to a political committee run by his political allies fighting efforts to expand the Board of Supervisors.

Yaroslavsky
is likely to be in the same swing vote position again. His spokesman, Joel Bellman,
said: “He is still studying and gathering information.”

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4 Responses to Priming the Pump for Poverty Programs

  1. Anonymous says:

    A perfect example of “pay to play.” You’d think nepotism would be enough.

  2. AOracle says:

    And just why does the County need to hire an outside firm to find jobs for people on welfare?
    Are the various other County and State agencies not able to accomplish this task?
    What happened to EDD?
    Just another bag of taxpayer money flushed down the political toilet.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Each day we get more bad news. On March 3, 2009 we shall have to do a repeat on the kind of election that expelled Gray Davis (a good move, by the way)and get these people out of public service. There should be term limits, no closed meetings and honest books of receipts and expenditures. Also, on the part of the candidates, a promise to weed out the bureaucracy. No “body”, no check. Also no overtime except for wild fires and wild riots (police and fire). There are enough people on the payroll to fill all the potholes if they would do their job and quit the stalling.
    I know that the city council cannot pretend to know everything about everything, but I submit that a good source for the city’s needs are its people. When someone needs something, do it. Simple. That is your only purpose for being in office. Yes it is, really.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Don’t be naive. This has to do with lobbyists getting away with murder. That must be stopped. Knabe’s son working with Harvey and Mitch Englander is proof that Knabe’s son will be able to influence his father’s vote because you can’t go work with Arnie, who used to work for the Chief Legislative Analyst and is therefore involved in 99% of the issues in the city, and pretend like you and dad don’t discuss the issues.
    Nepotism is right.

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