Nevada officials have begun awarding contracts for "green jobs" training projects that will be funded by federal money – and one consulting contract for $48,000 or possibly more 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.
"I didn't have a part-time job before because I was always concerned about it," Weekly said. "I made sure I did as much due diligence as possible, and I was told there was no conflict of interest."
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 workforce 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 typically charge fees which could explain the difference.
Weekly said he was hired to conduct outreach and help develop curriculum for training programs. He added that the part-time job requires a minimum of 20 hours per week, but says he has been doing less than that.
"It's been real minimal," Weekly said. "With my schedule I don't have as much time as you might put in to this kind of position."
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.