An organization providing services for the homeless, unemployed and victims of domestic violence fought today to renew its contracts with Los Angeles County but found itself lacking support because of past misbillings.
Supervisor Gloria Molina gave the Chicana Services Action Center — which she said had been a county contractor for more than 35 years – credit for jumpstarting her political career.
“I would not have the opportunity to sit on this board if it were not for the CSAC,” Molina said, acknowledging the “many leaders of the Chicano movement” in the audience.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Condado No Renueva sus Contratos con un Centro en el Este de Los Ángeles 
In the 1970s, the group empowered women who “had not yet found our voice,” she said and when Molina ran for the Assembly in 1982, center members joined her in walking her district precinct by precinct.
“If they disappear, so will the empowerment of many, many young women,” Molina said.
The Department of Social Services let contracts with the center for domestic violence and homeless services to lapse in the last several months and disqualified it from other programs, according to Molina.
Molina acknowledged that the organization had had “its share of challenges” related to Community Service Block Grants, citing “fiscal and administrative challenges,” but said it had reimbursed the county for disallowed costs and made other changes.
“They corrected all of their problems. And, more importantly, they paid back all the money,” Molina said.
About 25 people spoke on behalf of the center, including its Chief Executive Officer Sophia Esparza, who acknowledged “significant problems” and said those responsible had been terminated.
“We want to continue to be a partner,” Esparza said.
Molina urged her colleagues to extend a contract with the contract to provide job placement and training services under the General Relief Opportunities to Grow program.
However, in a rare occurrence, none of her fellow supervisors was willing to second her motion.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, as chair of the board, called twice for a second, while the rest of the board sat silently in what seemed a rebuke.
“Item number 14 dies for the lack of a second,” Ridley-Thomas said before moving on.
The board voted next on extending $4.1 million in jobs services contracts to four other organizations. The vote was 4-1, with Molina casting the no vote.
“I vote no because it excludes the Chicana Service Action Center,” Molina said.
Department of Social Services representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.