As we reported on May 13 and 20, 2021, Monrovia has filed an application to withdraw from the Foothill Workforce Development Board (FWDB), which distributes federal money for job skills assessment, basic education, job training, job placement, and community workforce development. The FWDB covers six local cities: Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Arcadia, Pasadena, South Pasadena and Duarte.
Upon publication of our story, we received — indirectly — a copy of a letter from Jan Vogel, CEO of South Bay Work Force Investment Board (SBWIB). The May 20 letter was addressed to the CEO of FWDB board, Dianne Russell.
Vogel took considerable exception to our story. Without pointing to specific “incorrect and misleading assertations,” Vogel claimed we never checked with FWDB for comment.
One of the key issues was a recent allocation of money to an agency 30 miles away. SBWIB received $1.5 million that was earmarked for FWDB. Vogel maintains that the only funds that SBWIB receives are for services performed and that the money is “in the form of reimbursement.”
“An article appeared recently in a Pasadena newspaper [Pasadena Independent] which made numerous incorrect and misleading assertions regarding the services provided to FWDB by SBWIB, Inc. Those services include, but are not limited to, providing procurement service to obtain training providers for participants in the various job training programs offered by FWDB, monitoring the schools, handling grievances concerning the schools, analyzing data, and providing quarterly reports,” Vogel wrote.
Vogel claims that South Bay receives a “nominal administrative fee of 3%” and that no FWDB funds “are expended on behalf of any other area but Foothills.”
Beacon Media has made numerous public records requests and sent emails regarding specific operational questions and financial dealings with South Bay. We have thus far received minimal feedback and many public records requests are pending.
Monrovia Councilman Larry Spicer and other leaders in the community say FWDB has been doing little for the city of Monrovia — less than they had anticipated, hence the reason they want to opt out.
The Monrovia City Council requested the move out of the FWDB Local Area and into the Los Angeles Workforce Development Board Local Area because it believed its constituents have been underserved for years. The local area modification application online has program documents in its appendix which the council says support the argument that local residents have been underserved.
Councilmember Larry Spicer, who is also on 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 [Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act] funds. We only received this data after filing a public records request on Dec. 22, 2020.”
This handover of funds has become another important factor as to why the City of Monrovia is submitting a local area modification application to leave the FWDB Local Area and move to the Los Angeles County WDB Local Area, according to Spicer.
Vogel maintains that South Bay is a great partner with FWDB and that all monies/grants received are used “100% solely for the individual clients.”
Not everyone agrees, as Monrovia City Manager Dylan Feik told Beacon Media Wednesday.
“I think it’s just astounding to see so much money flow out of our consortium into the South Bay … who from our communities will actually travel there for job training?”