Friday, July 20, 2012

Another day, another breaking California government scandal- or why there really was no reason for the closing and subsequent break in at Providence Mountains State Recreation Area or other parks.

For months, concerned citizens and donors have been feverishly holding
bake sales and other fundraising activities all in a desperate attempt to halt
the shuttering of their favorite state parks. You will be able to read about an
elementary school class who raised about a hundred bucks or so recently doing the bake sale route. Wealthy individuals have been writing checks and leaning on their well heeled friends to do the same thing. Noblesse oblige and
all that.

Well now we know the truth finally. It turns out that the state parks system had
a secret “off the books account” with around 54 million dollars in it, enough
money to put off all the closures scheduled to occur soon, and enough to reopen the PMSRA, home of the recently vandalized Mitchell Caverns, or provide better security for them at least.
For their safety, either merge Mitchell Caverns State Park into the Mojave National Preserve or allow the Chemehuevi Indian Nation to provide the needed security, NOW!

But wait, there’s more as they say on the infomercials on late night television.
There is another egregious scandal that has occurred as well. It turns out that
one of the state parks department heads was in on a scheme which allowed
him and 55 other managers to pay themselves their accrued vacation time by
falsifying payroll codes and other forms, resulting in a payout to them of $271,000, enough money to have saved some of the parks from closure.

These revelations together have resulted in today’s resignation of the State Park’s Director Ruth Coleman today and the firing also of her second in command. A state investigation by the State Attorney General and Department of Finance have also been opened. Charges are expected and this blogger at
least hopes that someone will walk the plank for these crimes. Below is the text
of Director Ruth Coleman’s resignation letter:

Dear Governor Brown
It is with great sadness that I hereby tender my resignation.    I have been
honored to serve in your Administration these past 18 months, and to serve the
visitors to California State Parks for the past decade.
While I was unaware of the excessive balance in the State Park and Recreation
Fund, I must accept full responsibility as a Director of a department for the
veracity of budget documents issued by the department.  I have always taken the
public trust to heart and honored it and I am personally appalled to learn that
our documents were not accurate.   Once I leaned of these errors, our department
reached out to the Department of Finance to correct the record.      
The signature characteristic of a leader is to take responsibility and to be
held accountable for the organization they lead.
The vast majority of State Park employees are of the highest caliber of any
organization, public or private.    They should not be maligned by the actions
of a few.     I know they will continue to provide outstanding service to the
people of California.   It has been my highest honor to serve them and the
public.    
In particular I am proud of every member of this department that worked so hard
with community groups across the state to develop creative solutions that will
keep all but two of the target list parks open this year.  State parks are the
jewels of the state’s historic and natural resource legacy.  I urge you to
recognize the positive effort of this department in keeping the parks open to
the public and include these unequaled assets in future year budget priorities
for both operating funds and tackling the significant deferred maintenance
backlog.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve since you took office.
Sincerely,
Ruth Coleman”

Here are some links that were used by me in writing this post:
California parks donors furious over hidden surplus

Officials now say only one state park will close

California parks director resigns amid scandal

Jerry Brown appoints interim parks chief in wake of scandal

Editorial: Parks officials evaded rules, insulted public

Unauthorized vacation buyouts secretly pushed through at state parks department, audit says

This infuriates me on so many levels; so much so that I have been peeling
feelings away like layers of an onion to get down to what is really bugging me.
I think that the sense of entitlement and the arrogance of power is what really
frosts my bottom, and the suspicious feeling that they may in fact get away
with these crimes. That Joe Q Public just doesn’t really understand it nor do
they give a damn. They are just too busy trying to survive this down economy
and some may think that is all the state employees were trying to do, to just get
by.

Don’t think that this money grab exists in a vacuum either. I believe any
reasonable person can see the tie in to other abuses of power in the state
government system, such as the California Energy Commission which holds
jurisdiction and approval power over most of the renewable energy projects
going up in this state, and especially in the Mojave. This feeling of omnipotence
that these bureaucrats exhibit in their personal and official behavior is galling
to say the least, as in Governor Moonbeam Retread vowing to crush opposition
to the desert renewable power projects.

One way to start righting some of these wrongs that have been done to the citizen taxpayers, the owners of this state, might be to conduct a top to bottom
review of the various agencies of the Brown administration, not only looking for
missing money but signs of official hubris and arrogance as well.

I am sure a Blue Ribbon panel would have no problems finding many examples
to look into and may I suggest that they start with the two examples just mentioned.Angry smile

On a personal note, may I let the “old” Morongobill back into this conversation to say that I would like nothing better than to beat some of these bastards asses hard enough to make their noses bleed.

I apologize to my more delicate natured readers for that last. But it sure made
me feel a little better.

Morongobill

 

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