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Archived: Editorial: Were County Supervisors Swayed by Costly Lobbying Effort?

Well, it appears that well-heeled lobbyists and companies will continue to thrive in Los Angeles County.

On Tuesday, three members of the County Board of Supervisors voted to go against the strong recommendation made by County staff that a new vendor, Denver-based Public Studies Inc, be awarded a multi-million dollar welfare-to-work contract, replacing the often criticized company which had held the contract for 13 years, Maximus Inc.

Claiming the review process was “flawed,” supervisors ordered staff to start the review all over again. Staff have already spent a year and thousands of hours of staff time reviewing the contract, at an estimated cost of a quarter of million dollars of taxpayer money.

The vote came despite two other reviews of the bidding procedures that agreed with the Department of Social Services staff recommendation to change vendors, and at a time when the County is struggling with anticipated cuts to revenue.

Maximum Inc has reaped tens of millions of dollars over the life of the contract, and would receive millions more if its contract is renewed.

Maximus Inc has reportedly spent $200,000 lobbying the county.  Public Studies Inc, however, only spent a paltry $25,000 lobbying the County during the same time period. Could that be the determining factor that influenced Supervisors Don Knabe, Michael Antonovich and Zev Yaroslavsky to vote to start the bidding all over again?

Supervisor Yvonne Burke abstained from the vote, while Supervisor Gloria Molina called the vote “shameful.”