Molina aide says she doesnt want L.A. County to get involved in lawsuit between Taft and CDCR, will ask board to void contract
Just when it looked like Taft's Community Correctional facility was finally going to reopen, a media report from Los Angles says a Los Angeles County Supervisor wants to void the contract.
Public radio station KPPC posted an interview with a top aide to Supervisor Gloria Molina Tuesday night that quoted the aide as saying Molina has changed her mind and will likely introduce a motion next week to void a contract that would have sent inmates from L.A. County's overcrowded jails to Taft under a 5-year contract worth as much as $70 million.
Molina aide Roxane Márquez, in an interview with KPPC posted just after 8 p.m. Tuesday, said Molina was not aware that Taft was suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation when she voted in favor of the contract and now she wants to void the contract.
"We did not know that the State of California and the City of Taft were involved in litigation about the use of those beds," Márquez said. "We're not interested in getting involved in the lawsuit."
Marquez told KPPC that Molina only found out about the lawsuit a few days ago.
But Taft City Councilman Dave Noerr said if the supervisors didn't know, it wasn't because the city wasn't forthcoming.
He said the city was "very transparent" during talks with L.A. County in 2012 and L.A. County knew about the lawsuit.
The city sued the California CDCR in 2012, alleging the state is responsible for covering the costs associated with the shutdown and asking the court to find that the CDR does not have the contractual right to lease the facility back from the city at a cost of only $1 per year starting in 2017.
Molina was one of three L.A. County Supervisors who voted in favor of contracting with Taft.
Two others abstained.
Molina now becomes a swing vote and, unless the two who abstained, Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Riddley-Thomas, change their voes, could kill the contract. Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe both voted with Molina to approve the contract.
The reports that Molina changed her mind came as Taft is moving ahead with the process of reopening the CCF by late November.
The city stands to gain about $700,000 annually above the cost of operating the facility and it will provide jobs for more than 50 people.
In addition, the L.A. County contract will mean that the West Side Health Care District will provide medical services, including 24-hour staffing at the CCF.