A proposed $3-million federal grant for a youth job-training center in South Los Angeles was sent to two City Council offices for further study after a hearing Monday in which questions were raised about the no-bid grant.
After personal lobbying by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), the U.S. Labor Department recently announced plans to provide the funds to Community Build Inc., a riot recovery organization that Waters was instrumental in launching.
The grant needs council approval because federal officials want the city to help administer it.
At the hearing, Councilwoman Rita Walters, whose district includes a portion of the neighborhood targeted by the center, questioned the lack of specifics in Community Build's plans. When grants are awarded without competitive bidding, Walters said, "There's a necessity to meet a higher standard with respect to documentation."
Walters said she was "shocked" to see that her name in the organization's documents as a "proposed partner," even though she has had no involvement in planning for the job center.
The council's Community and Economic Development Committee ordered the grant reviewed by the offices of Walters and Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has raised concerns about the lack of competitive bidding and the limited track record of Community Build. The center would be in Ridley-Thomas' district.