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Hidden California state parks funds spark outrage
The Sacramento Bee ^ | Juy 21, 2012 | Matt Weiser and Kevin Yamamura

Posted on 07/21/2012 5:46:46 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

California state parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned and her second-in-command was fired Friday after officials discovered the department has been sitting on "hidden assets" totalling nearly $54 million.

The money accumulated over 12 years in two special funds the department uses to collect revenue and pay for operations: $20.4 million in the Parks and Recreation Fund, and $33.5 million in the Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund.

The money accumulated, state officials said, because the parks department had a pattern of underreporting the actual size of the funds in its regular dealings with the state Department of Finance.

....Advocates for the state parks system reacted with alarm and dismay. The money would have been enough to cover – twice over – the $22 million in state budget cuts imposed on parks in 2011. In response to the cuts, the department moved to close 70 of the state's 278 parks, an unprecedented act. Virtually every other park has had its hours and services cut to save money.

.....One swift fallout was that Sonoma County park advocates on Friday canceled a local sales tax ballot measure planned as a long-term funding solution for parks in the region. The news of financial mismanagement at the state level, Hart said, was "just too much" to overcome in a campaign for the measure.

"We were on the brink of doing something transformative in Sonoma County when this happened," Hart said. "This has so many layers of destruction."...

(Excerpt) Read more at sacbee.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: government; suckers; taxation; taxes
A VERY interesting article....
1 posted on 07/21/2012 5:46:53 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Should be rewarded for saving money.


2 posted on 07/21/2012 5:53:23 AM PDT by TweetEBird007
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
"This has so many layers of destruction."...

Absolutely!

Next, after showing a surplus they may actually cut taxes too! (GASP)

3 posted on 07/21/2012 6:02:16 AM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: TweetEBird007
No good deed goes unpunished in government. Having a surplus is about the only quick way for a senior official to get fired in government service.

Deficits are A-OK though.

4 posted on 07/21/2012 6:05:08 AM PDT by Timber Rattler (Just say NO! to RINOS and the GOP-E)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
“The department has been going around telling people we had to close parks, and it comes to light we had been sitting on this kind of money,”

The secret money was far more than the budget cuts. It shows government officials either lied or were too incompetent to even understand what was going on in their department. There appears to have been no competent audit, which should have uncovered this.

How much other money is stolen and wasted by the California State Government?

5 posted on 07/21/2012 6:08:09 AM PDT by detective
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Sacramento Bee has good articles.


6 posted on 07/21/2012 6:14:00 AM PDT by Beowulf9
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To: detective

First, there needs to be a yearly independent audit done of every single department within the state. Publish it fully at the end....let the public know. Political folks can charm or weasel around all they want....but the public will let voting take care of the incompetence in the end.

Second, if you read into the story....from 2001, they added almost five hundred more positions to the state parks system. But it’s a funny thing, they just wouldn’t fill those positions. So the state paid them the money and they simply kept the funding in a pocket. They’d tell everyone they had 4k employees, but the truth was that 3,500 was doing the work of 4k. Those are 500 positions which could have helped the unemployed of the state.

Third, the amount of mismanagement....done continually...seems criminal to me. Any state attorney general willing to take the people in for court action? No....they wouldn’t dare do that. The people who were paid for their excess leave, which was a direct violation of California law after 2007? Well...they need a notice to repay the state for illegal actions. My humble guess is that this won’t happen.

Fourth, they kept going back to rich dimwits who cared about state parks in their local area....and literally begged them continually for more funding. Yet, $50 million sat there? I wouldn’t count on continued support in the future.

Fifth and final? The top ten people in California Parks and Services ought to be let go. I have this low opinion that they really aren’t working for the people of California, and they might be more of a mafia family than anything else.


7 posted on 07/21/2012 6:28:00 AM PDT by pepsionice
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

“Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund” If it’s a Trust Fund, should it be accumulating money, just like the Social Security Trust Funds ? Oh, wait...


8 posted on 07/21/2012 6:49:15 AM PDT by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

My feelings are that those in power there knew that should they reveal this money to the State, the State would have swooped down on them and scoffed up this little bit of money so fast it would have left them wondering where the money shot off to.

And they would have to, where is it now?


9 posted on 07/21/2012 6:49:44 AM PDT by Venturer
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

“Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund” If it’s a Trust Fund, *shouldn’t* it be accumulating money, just like the Social Security Trust Funds ? Oh, wait...


10 posted on 07/21/2012 6:50:33 AM PDT by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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To: Venturer

I’m sure there was some legal provision for the funds, not that a mere law would prevent the State from looting it.


11 posted on 07/21/2012 6:52:42 AM PDT by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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To: pepsionice

Yea, you’re on to something. If she could squirrel away a cool $50M, who else is squirreling away money, and who else is skimming it. I can’t believe that they had an account with at least $50M in it, and NO ONE helped themselves to it, at least to some extent.


12 posted on 07/21/2012 7:26:33 AM PDT by BobL
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To: TweetEBird007

“Most of those park closures were avoided because numerous nonprofits and local governments put up their own money to take over parks or subsidize state operations. This made the revelations of “hidden assets” even harder to stomach, because all the heartache and fundraising might not have been necessary.”


13 posted on 07/21/2012 7:32:07 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: pepsionice; BobL; All

“Friday’s revelation came in the wake of an investigation The Bee published Sunday into an unauthorized vacation buyout program at the parks department last year that cost the state more than $271,000.”


14 posted on 07/21/2012 7:33:17 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

The word is that there are a lit of these hidden accounts at all levels of government. People need to find them, and fire those who are hiding them.


15 posted on 07/21/2012 7:38:29 AM PDT by Uncle Chip
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To: Venturer

They were hiding the money, threatening to close state parks, holding California citizens hostage until after the November elections and the vote on Jerry Brown’s tax increases. Their mantra has been vote for the tax increases or college tuition will be raised, the school year shortened, fire fighters laid off, police laid off and state parks closes. Wonder how many other hidden bank accounts are waiting to be discovered?


16 posted on 07/21/2012 7:41:13 AM PDT by hedgetrimmer
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To: PLMerite

The state collects that off highway fee while never intending to use the money to acquire lands for OHV use. Another scam.


17 posted on 07/21/2012 8:47:35 AM PDT by Myrddin
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Sacramento the new Chicago and the west coast branch of D.C.


18 posted on 07/21/2012 9:00:10 AM PDT by Vaduz
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To: Myrddin
I'm sure teh CA parks dept is no fan of the use of recreational off-road vehicles on state land.

I'm sure it was restricting access all while taking licensing/usage fees.

19 posted on 07/21/2012 9:04:25 AM PDT by Trailerpark Badass
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

The California state government LIED to us.


20 posted on 07/21/2012 9:23:52 AM PDT by BAW (Focused like a laser on the November election.)
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To: hedgetrimmer
Their mantra has been vote for the tax increases or college tuition will be raised, the school year shortened, fire fighters laid off, police laid off and state parks closes.

Couldn't be truer, the CA politicians have always threatened to "punish" the populace if their tax increases weren't approved. There is never, ever any talk of cutting the bureaucracy.

BTW - CAMPING FEES IN CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS ARE $25~$35 per nights. WHAT ARE THE FEES IN YOUR STATE?

21 posted on 07/21/2012 10:01:07 AM PDT by GunsAndBibles (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

From the Article:

“Why and how this occurred remains a mystery and will be the subject of investigations launched Friday by the Department of Finance and the state attorney general’s office, said John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees the state Department of Parks and Recreation and who announced the discovery of the funds on Friday.”

You begin to see the layers of buraucracy. We have a California Natural Resources Agency, with a “secretary” who “oversees” The State Parks Department!” We went to Van Damme State Park in Mendocino last year just as the park closures were beginning to take place. Several minor day use places where one could actually go out on the coast were being closed. The restrooms at Van Damme were a disgrace, The only thing that the “rangers” did was collect the $35/day fee. Everything else was closed. This guy Laird needs to go too and be replaced with a couple dozen PLO’s*

(*Permanent Latrine Orderly’s”)


22 posted on 07/21/2012 12:23:10 PM PDT by vette6387
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Have a look at the passel of “RAT Turds” who are running this scam! The RAT Patronage System is alive and well in CA!

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/21/4646523/key-players-in-parks-scandal.html


23 posted on 07/21/2012 12:33:40 PM PDT by vette6387
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Nobody in state government audited their books in 12 years ?

Makes one wonder how much money is "hidden" by the thousands of other California depts.

Also makes one wonder if these were actual slush funds to skim off the top by politicians to fund various nefarious crapola...

One thing for sure....it wasn't an oversight....

Oops' we forgot we had 54 million dollars...Right...

24 posted on 07/21/2012 1:50:59 PM PDT by Popman (When you elect a clown: expect a circus...)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
“Most of those park closures were avoided because numerous nonprofits and local governments put up their own money to take over parks or subsidize state operations. This made the revelations of “hidden assets” even harder to stomach, because all the heartache and fundraising might not have been necessary.”

It's not a complete waste, it got some of those parks into the hands of local government, who can probably do a better job than the State of California.
25 posted on 07/21/2012 5:30:02 PM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: TweetEBird007

Indeed, instead in government they fire people for saving money. It seems their intention is to milk from the Taxpayer as much money as possibly for the sake of milking from the Tax payer that money.


26 posted on 07/21/2012 10:29:50 PM PDT by Monorprise
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To: BAW
The California state government LIED to us.

It's what corrupt, out of control government does.

27 posted on 07/21/2012 10:36:22 PM PDT by dragnet2 (Diversion and evasion are tools of deceit)
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To: vette6387

“This guy Laird needs to go too and be replaced with a couple dozen PLO’s*

(*Permanent Latrine Orderly’s”)

I’m very glad you clarified that!


28 posted on 07/22/2012 11:46:54 PM PDT by Attention Surplus Disorder (This stuff we're going through now, this is nothing compared to the middle ages.)
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