Tuesday, July 24, 2012

California parks director resigns amid scandal-Closes 70 parks while hiding a $54 million surplus

State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned this morning and her second in command has been fired after officials learned the department has been sitting on nearly $54 million in surplus money for as long as 12 years. John Laird, secretary of the state Natural Resources Agency, which oversees State Parks, told The Bee that investigations have been launched by both the Attorney General's office and the Department of Finance to figure out how -- and why -- the Department of Parks and Recreation squirreled away so much money for so long. The surplus money consists of $20.3 million in the Parks and Recreation Fund, and $33.5 million in the Off Highway Vehicle Fund, which are the two primary operating funds at the agency. This money was not reported to the state Finance Department, in contrast to normal budgeting procedures. The department sat on the money for unknown reasons even as it carried out, over the past year, the unprecedented closure of 70 parks to satisfy state budget cuts...more

They sat on it for "unknown reasons"? I don't think so.

The moves come in the wake of a scandal, revealed by The Bee on Sunday, in which a deputy director at State Parks carried out a secret vacation buyout program for employees at department headquarters last year. That buyout cost the state more than $271,000.

They'll spend the money...if it benefits them. Spending to benefit the general public is another story.

HT: The Outdoor Pressroom

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