Audit: First 5 Commission sitting on $1 billion intended for kids

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An audit of Los Angeles County’s First 5 Commission finds that the agency failed to spend almost a billion dollars set aside for children’s health and education programs.

L.A. County supervisors expressed dismay that hundreds of millions of dollars in cigarette taxes intended to help kids languishes in First 5 bank accounts.

“The current status of affairs at First Five is unacceptable — the lack of transparency, the lack of accountability," Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.

First 5 is an independent, voter-approved agency. In reaction to the audit, the supervisors voted to begin the process of taking control of the commission.

Supervisor Gloria Molina dissented. She said First 5’s problems don’t warrant that.

“I don’t see where one dollar was stolen, one dollar was misappropriated," Molina said.

Yaroslavksy said that may be true, but there are plenty of warning signs. The audit found First 5 L.A. lacks a competitive bidding process, is overstaffed and its executives fail to inform the commissioners of the most basic information about multi-million dollar contracts.