CARSON CITY — Nevada officials have begun awarding contracts for “green jobs” training projects that will be funded by federal money, and one consulting contract for at least $48,000 has been awarded to a Clark County commissioner.
The contract was awarded by the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to Lawrence Weekly. According to internal documents at the Legislature, the purpose of the contract was listed as “green jobs training coordinator — Southern Nevada,” with the contract starting last month.
Weekly said that although he has seen other elected officials accept state contracts, he held off on accepting the offer because he feared a conflict of interest.
“I didn’t sign and start it until May,” Weekly said. “I thought that might be a concern if I’m an elected official and working for the state.”
Weekly said he asked the Clark County district attorney’s office for an opinion and was told that based on his role, there was not a conflict.
DETR spokeswoman Mae Worthy explained that the department awarded a contract to a private job agency for $120,000 to fund two part-time positions. Both will facilitate a program to train a renewable energy work force how to weatherize homes and increase energy efficiency. The job agency then entered into the contracts.
Weekly’s contract was listed in the Legislature’s documents as $60,000, but Weekly says he will get about $48,000. Job agencies charge fees which could explain the difference.
Weekly said he was hired to conduct outreach and help develop curriculum for training programs.
Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, has been working on legislation that would restrict the state’s ability to award contracts to elected officials and public employees. Her bill, AB463 passed out of both houses and was sent to Gov. Jim Gibbons last week.
“His contract was clearly listed by the agency as a consulting agreement,” Smith said. “Why are they using a temp agency? When you use a temp agency it costs us a lot more money.”
Smith also noted the contract was granted even before major legislation related to the “green jobs” initiative, SB152, was passed. That bill contains the language governing how those contracts should be awarded.
“I think we have to be really vigilant about the process of hiring consultants,” Smith said. “And considering that we hired this consultant and we haven’t even passed the bill about green jobs, that concerns me. Not because of the person but because of the process.”