Sunday, July 29, 2012

Donors who bailed out Ca. parks want their money back

Saying they feel betrayed by the discovery of $54 million hidden in two state parks accounts, a growing number of groups that donated money to keep California state parks from closing this year now say they want a refund -- or at least a binding promise from lawmakers to spend the extra money on parks. "They sort of came to us under false pretenses. They cried wolf, and we responded," said Reed Holderman, executive director of the Sempervirens Fund, a nonprofit conservation group in Los Altos. "An elegant solution would be for them to refund the nonprofits, and put whatever is left into parks." Holderman's group announced in March that it would donate $250,000 in private donations to the state parks department to keep Castle Rock State Park off the closure list. Known for its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Castle Rock is located along the Santa Cruz-Santa Clara County line. State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned Friday and her top deputy was fired after Gov. Jerry Brown's administration announced the state parks department had kept $54 million in two accounts without reporting it to the state Department of Finance.There has been no evidence that any of the money was embezzled or stolen, and Coleman says she did not know of it. Still, the discovery came at a politically difficult time for the governor. Brown announced last year that the state was so short of cash that 70 state parks -- one-quarter of the entire system -- had to be closed by July 1 to save $22 million. Critics called the threat a political gimmick to convince middle-class voters to support Brown's tax increase measure on the upcoming November ballot...more

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

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