West Covina city staff allegedly asked to unlawfully approve development project

WEST COVINA – Mayor Roger Hernandez at a meeting Tuesday called for an investigation of the West Covina Senior Villas project after a city employee told him that fellow employees are being asked to unlawfully approve parts of the project.

Hernandez said a city employee approached him because city employees are being asked “to unlawfully approve things to move the project forward.”

Hernandez asked City Manager Andy Pasmant to investigate the project and all employees involved with the development.

Developers Pacific Development/TELACU Industries proposes to build a 24-unit condominium complex on Workman Avenue. The complex would provide affordable housing to seniors.

  • Patriot04

    Sounds like yet another example of government employees being pushed to cut corners. At least these city employees seem to have some sense of outrage about it. Our neighbors in Los Angeles County should take a lesson from these West Covina employees and stand up to the big company that’s been pressuring them.

    Last year, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services procured for vendor services to operate the county’s GAIN case management services (essentially a welfare to work program). Two bids came in from the incumbent company (Maximus, Inc.) and newcomer Policy Studies Inc. (PSI). Both were scored by a neutral third party, and PSI beat Maximus solidly in several categories, including performance and bid price. Maximus protested the results, but they were upheld on 3 levels and PSI was recommended by DPSS to receive the contract.

    The Board of Supervisors disagreed. They rejected the recommendation with 3 votes. They claimed the process of consensus scoring somehow concealed bias from the DPSS, though no specific evidence of this bias was ever presented. Furthermore, this scoring process was documented as a valid process which had been used for years prior to 2008, and the same process whereby the incumbent Maximus had been recommended and awarded. The BOS then directed the DPSS to extend Maximus’ contract for 6 months while they reissue the RFP and devise a new scoring method. Why the complete 180 now?

    The BOS also expressed some superficial concern that the cost of the contract may exceed county requirements (see County Prop A). Although language could’ve easily been built into the contract to ensure cost neutrality/savings, the BOS rejected that argument and asked DPSS to review their contract monitoring costs for possible reductions and eliminate or reduce pay for performance provisions that could drive up the overall contract cost should the vendor outperform expectations.

    The reissue of this RFP makes no fiscal sense whatsoever, particularly given the dire state of California’s economy. What’s more, the state faces federal penalties to the tune of approximately $185 million if they do not meet a preexisting federal threshold. Why is the BOS insisting on spending MORE of our tax dollars in an effort to maintain their business relationship with Maximus – a company whose performance was scored lower and contract priced higher than PSI? (The county has estimated the cost to reissue the RFP to be $250,000). If PSI had been chosen, their contract would save the county over one million dollars annually. What’s going on here?

    An LA Times article from last year exposed just how entangled Maximus is with the BOS. In the first half of 2008, Maximus spent over $124,000 on two lobbying firms, more than doubling what they spent on marketing in the past year. Perhaps even more troubling, Maximus donated $1,000 (the maximum allowed) to the campaigns to re-elect supervisors Don Knabe and Michael D. Antonovich. They even gave $1,000 to two members whose terms had 2 years left to run. Apparently, the BOS would rather take $1,000 of easy money than save the taxpayers over a million dollars a year. The math doesn’t add up.

    In these lean times, the board ought to re-examine their motivation because it’s certainly not focused on the bottom line.