The Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board (WDB), at the request of the Monrovia City Council, has drafted a Local Area Modification (LAM) application to request of the California Workforce Development Board and the governor that Monrovia be allowed to move from its current Foothill Workforce Development Board (FWDB) Local Area to the WDB Local Area. A draft of the LAM application can be found on the City of Monrovia website and the council is asking for public comment on the application.
The Monrovia City Council requested the move out of the FWDB Local Area and into the WDB Local Area because it believed its constituents have been underserved by the FWDB for years. The LAM application online has WIOA program documents in its Appendix that the council says support its belief that residents have been underserved.
According to its website, the California Workforce Development system is “responsible for assisting the Governor in performing the duties and responsibilities required by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA).” According to an April 29, 2020 posting on the Federal Register by the Employment and Training Administration, California received approximately $406 million dollars of federal WIOA funds in 2020. These funds are to help train employees and connect them to jobs with businesses. WIOA funds pay for employee job skills assessment, basic education, job training, job placement, and community workforce development.
In 2015 after WIOA became federal law, the City of Monrovia entered into a Joint Powers Authority along with the cities of Arcadia, Duarte, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and the FWDB. The FWDB is the Local Area board responsible for spending these WIOA funds and meeting the employment outcomes required in the legislation
Council Member Larry Spicer, who is also of the FWDB Policy Board, explained that the City Council’s decision to request the move has been years in the making. “The City Council voted to leave in August 2020 because of years of frustration. We have been asking for years to get easy-to-understand data that showed how our constituents have benefitted from WIOA funds. We only received this data after filing a public records request on Dec. 22, 2020.”
The LAM Appendix, for example, contains a slide from a March 2, 2020 presentation to the Monrovia City Council by Foothill Workforce Development Board Executive Director Dianne Russell Carter. The City Council at this meeting requested clarification due to Russell Carter’s presentation slide inconsistencies. The slide, on page 26 of the Appendix, is titled “FWDB PY 2019 – 2020 WIOA Allocations.” However, the table below it states the 2018-19 “Suballotments Per City.”
Other information about number of Monrovians served were on the slide. The City Council requested clarifying data from the presentation. According to Spicer, Russell Carter never provided that clarification.
More than nine months later, Spicer followed-up on the council’s request.
In a Dec. 14, 2020 email to Russell Carter and Rachelle Arizmendi, mayor of Sierra Madre, and the policy board chair of the FWDB, Spicer requested “simple, easy to understand data that shows how Foothill (FWDB) has served my constituents.”
In her Dec14, 2020 response Russell Carter wrote, “I am not sure of the purpose of such specific information or data. The specifics of your request will require a great deal of staff work hours.”
Arizmendi agreed with Russell Carter, writing in a Dec. 16, 2020 email that, “researching past program’s year’s data would be extremely labor intensive.”
However, according to a source familiar with WIOA program data, FWDB staff would not even be responsible for gathering the data Spicer requested. According to the source, who wished to remain anonymous, Los Angeles County data analysts could fulfill the request and could have provided this data in a short time, perhaps even one day.
“That email exchange is what my time on the Foothill Policy Board has been like for years,” said Spicer. “It was unfortunate that we had to file a legal public records request to get data that should be available for our council to make decisions.”
The Dec. 22, 2020 public records request resulted in almost all of the requested data being released to the city on March 3, 2021.
The WIOA program data that was finally provided to the city is included in the application. The data raised significant concerns for Monrovia officials.
From WIOA Program Year 2017-18 to 2020-21, Monrovia residents have seen a 77.4% drop in access to WIOA classroom training funds from $65,908 to $14,910. In the last three years, the WDB has provided classroom training to 35 Monrovians while the FWDB has only provided classroom training for 14 Monrovians, a 250% difference. During that time, the WDB spent $103,896 on those trainings versus $63,129 spent by the FWDB, thats 165% more in funding.
The WDB has provided Monrovians with these services even though Monrovia is not in the WDB Local Area.
“The City Council believes, and the data supports this belief, that the Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board would better serve our constituents,” said Spicer.
Beacon Media, the owner of Monrovia Weekly, has filed a public records requests from FWDB to receive WIOA program documents for the residents of all six cities served by the FWDB and, thus far, the request has proved fruitless. Return correspondence to our repeated requests for comments or information cite the coronavirus for lack of response. As of May 6, 2021, this newspaper has received none of the WIOA program documents requested.
We would like to hear from anyone in the community who has had personal experience with FWDB and how they may have helped your career goals. Please email [email protected] with your thoughts.
The Local Area Modification application can be found at: www.cityofmonrovia.org/Home/Components/News/News/2967/1901?backlist=%2fhome.
Public comments can be emailed to [email protected].