Los Angeles County Supervisors Approve No-Bid Contract With Not-For-Profit Group To Provide HIV/AIDS-Related Services
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved 3-2 a nearly $200,000 contract with not-for-profit organization AltaMed to encourage young Latino men who have sex with men to seek HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services, the Los Angeles Times reports. The contract, which will be paid for using a federal grant, will require AltaMed to hire a new staff person to head up the program, according to the Times. Some supervisors questioned the way AltaMed received the contract because it was awarded without accepting competing bids from other organizations. John Schunhoff, chief operating officer of the county Department of Health Services, said AltaMed -- which operates in the eastern and southeastern parts of Los Angeles -- was selected because the group has a history of providing quality HIV/AIDS-related services to Latino men. However, county auditors are investigating a tip that AltaMed might not have provided adequate HIV/AIDS-related services under other contracts with the county. "You have an entity ... being awarded a contract under investigation by our auditor-controller," Supervisor Don Knabe said, adding, "I just have a very hard time on a sole-source situation like that making that award." Schunhoff said county health officials only had four weeks to submit a proposal to the federal government for the grant and did not have enough time to seek other bids, according to the Times. Supervisor Gloria Molina asked county public health officials to avoid similar concerns in the future by allowing other groups to register for contract consideration.
In related news, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation on Friday filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County, alleging that county officials allowed former director of the county Office of AIDS Chuck Henry to award contracts to groups with which he had ties, therefore "punish[ing]" groups with which he was not affiliated, the Times reports. In the lawsuit, AHF President Michael Weinstein said Henry ordered a series of "arbitrary and punitive and other programmatic audits" and made attempts to reduce county funding for AHF because Weinstein criticized the office, according to the Times. Last month, county auditors accused AHF of overcharging the county $348,000 for HIV/AIDS-related services at AHF's Carl Bean House hospice in Los Angeles. County officials declined to discuss the lawsuit but said the county awards contracts "fairly and based on merit," according to the Times. Henry was removed from his post last month after a county investigation revealed he had solicited contributions from country contractors for then-mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa (D), who has since been elected mayor (Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 6/1).