California Parks System Hid $54 Million Surplus, Even in Face of Possible Closures


They certainly weren't blowing the money on fancy logos.

Your Sacramento scandal du jour: California's State Parks Deparment has millions of dollars in surplus that they did not report to the state, even as budget cuts threatened park closures. Via The Sacramento Bee:

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.

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. …

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 either Finance or the State Controller's Office, 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.

Most of those closures did not occur because nonprofits and local governments found money to take over the parks. The money could also have prevented drastic cutbacks in hours, staffing and services that have stricken nearly every park in the state over the past two years.

Hat tip to the Twitter feed at FlashReport.Org, which just added "Ha, a legislator just said to me, 'Look on the bright side, finding $54m in hoarded money is better than finding $54m in unpaid bills.'"

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  1. In a state known for blowing money on trains, maybe the parks department was trying to protect its emergency cache.

  2. If they ran up giant deficits, they would have been promoted.

    1. Yeah, it’s saving money that gets people fired, it seems.

      1. It’s not really “saving” when you hide the money while your fellow employees are fired and your place of business closes down.*

        *Not that parks are a place of business.

        1. Parks *should* be businesses; experience has shown they are better places to visit and cheaper, and don’t bulk up the state pension requirements.

  3. If the surplus was publicly known about, legislators couldn’t threaten cuts to the state parks whenever voters didn’t approve a new tax.

    1. or steal the money to fund its new choo choo train.

      1. Dude, we’re dropping $8 billion to connect Fresno and Merced. $54 million is chump change.

        1. Beer money to be paid out at union scale!

        2. Hold the phone. We can’t get from one of those places to the other now?

          1. You can go from Fresno to Merced, or back again, it’s just – why would anyone ever want to? They are mistaking torpid indifference for lack of facility.

        3. yeah and every department needs to kick in their fair share…

  4. OT: CNN reporting that Holmes owned his four weapons legally. Let the banhammer hysteria commence.

    1. Obviously we need a 7 YEAR waiting list!

    2. Holy Flying Shit. My wife just called me after she got out of a meeting. she is a dept head at a large hospital.

      Since nicotine is a poison, anything that has come into contact with it must now be disposed of in a black box similar to the red ‘sharps’ box. This order has come from the Feds she said….I assume another thing we are finding out about maobamacare now that we voted for it. She gave more horrid details, but I have been drinking whiskey all afternoon and cant remember what she said.

      The trouble with guys like Holmes is that they always shoot the wrong people.

      1. WTF!

        Nicotine is no more a poison than pepper is!

        1. Yep. I am not sure but I think she said if a wrapper from a nicotine patch is accidentally put in the trashcan then something along the lines of a hazmat team has to deal with it. I shit you not.

          1. along the lines of a hazmat team has to deal with it

            Regulation disguised as stimulus? Or should I not give the statists any ideas?

          2. I think people should deliberately do this on a regular basis until the fucking feds fix it. DOS attack.

          3. Paging Earth Supply and Renewal!

        2. Well, I don’t know about black pepper, but purified Capsaicin and Nicotine have about the same LD50 dose, and about the same chance of incidental poisoning.

          1. As someone who has used nicotine patches and who wears contacts…

            …well you get the idea.

          2. *headsmack*

            That last fishing lure I bought was a little plastic fish with two treble hooks hanging under it. There is a warning printed on the back of the package that says DO NOT EAT!

            If people arent smart enough not to lick the inside of a nicotine patch package, or eat a fucking fishing lure bristling with hooks, then fuckem. We want those people gone.

            1. Suthenboy, I happen to know that the warning was put there by the group calling itself Fish Un Caught Keep Environmentalists Really Stoked who, via donations from wealthy environmentalists purchased a fishing lure manufacturer. The warning is actually intended to be ON the lure itself for the benefit of literate fish because these folks believe that there are intelligent fish down there somewhere and if the stupid ones can be caught, the intelligent, literate ones will take over. In fact they (FUCKERS) at this very moment, are financing a project to genetically implant a literate gene into other fish species. The project will take place in a secret lab hidden beneath an espresso drive-thru near the waterfront in Seattle. They seem to have obtained this so-called ‘literate’ gene from either a movie star or a national news reporter who loves fishies as much as she/he loves his/her kittens.

            2. They do look tasty, though. Especially the Mepps spinners and the Flatfish.

              1. That’s pretty much all I use when I’m fishing for eatin’ size rainbow trout. (And it’s a red Flatfish)

            3. Luckily, the fish can’t read.

        3. tarran, nicotine is indeed a poison; but not in the concentrations one is likely to encounter.

          1. Well, it is when used as a pesticide.

          2. Under that definition water is also a poison. Lakes and rivers are hazardous to your health.

            1. Drinking too much water will kill you too.

        4. Don’t forget Carbon Dioxide.

      2. The trouble with guys like Holmes is that they always shoot the wrong people.

        Shooting government officials, while I am sure momentarily satisfying, makes things worse;

        IT gives them a great excuse to terrify the population into supporting them more, hands them a propaganda coup on a platter, and since the sociopaths are legion, we’ll run out of bullets long before we run out of deserving government officials.

        Mockery is what we need. There’s a reason why tyrants shoot the people who mock them.

        1. You are 100% correct. I am drunk so that is my excuse, and I am sticking with it.

        2. Not your fault, dude, you’ve got a sub-lethal dose of poison in your system. I agree that the nicotine thing is government mandated hysteria of the first water.

    3. A banhammer is potentially a lethal weapon, and no helot should be allowed to possess one.

  5. I thought an interesting note in the story was how, after the threat to close the parks, people somehow found a way to keep them open…without state government aid. Maybe we’d be able to fall off that fiscal cliff at the end of the year I keep hearing about and (gasp!) survive?

    1. The biggest fear of government officials when faced with massive budget cuts, is that the public discovers it doesn’t need them. This is why essentials services like firefighters and cops, hot buttons like teachers and librarians, and warm fuzzies like parks, are ALWAYS the first to be cut. Start cutting the administrative fluff and the whole shell game is up.

  6. The department sat on the money for unknown reasons

    I can think of one. They were too stupid to figure out how to launder it properly.

    1. Maybe they forgot the password to the account.

    2. Maybe they put a decimal in the wrong place and freaked out when they saw how much was in the account.

    3. One of their programmers figured out how to divert fractions of pennies into another account using a computer virus.

      1. “Gus, thanks to you, every time a drunk sobers up he will drinking a cup of Webster Coffee!”

      2. How is that not stealing?

          1. Yeah, well, that may be. But at least I never slept with Lumbergh.

            1. Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and need you to come in this Saturday.

  7. This is common. Officials throw up their hands and say “We must close popular government service X [e.g., parks, libraries] due to revenue shortfalls.” They usually do this at the slightest downturn in revenues, all while blowing cash like usual in other areas. In this case, they got busted doing that.

    1. Just about everyone who has to work on an annual budget stashes money somewhere. They know lineitem X is only going to cost $50k, but no one will really raise an eyebrow if its $100k (assuming 8-9 figure budgets). Then when revenue targets don’t work out or you have to unexpectedly replace 3 servers, you know you’ve got a little margin. $54M seems a bit excessive, though. Most people might pad last year’s actual outlays by 1-1.5% and ask for the moon on next year’s changes, hoping to net 2% more than they know they will spend. That’s reasonable management to me.

  8. Say what you will about Chins, they know how to punish corrupt bureaucrats when they can’t let them getaway with it anymore.

    1. Should we cut their hand off too, asswipe?

      1. You work for the TSA?

        1. You don’t have to work for the TSA to be against barbaric punishments.

          1. What punishment for corrupt and thieving government employees then, early retirement? Paid administrative leave? Transfer and promotion?

            1. Yes. I’m against cutting their hand off or sending them to the chair, so I must be favor of coddling them.

              1. In China they dispatch them with a single bullet. Then send the bill to the family. That doesn’t seem so harsh to me. 9mm rounds can be had for less than $.25 each.


    2. Chins? Are we talking about Christie?

    3. I’m guessing Chins=China; “s” for “a” typo is common since they’re adjacent on the keyboard.

  9. Obama tells supporters to “Obama Tells Supporters To Press “Mute” When Ads Targeting Him Air”


    He has now gone full retard.

    1. “La, la, la, I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!!!!!!!!”

      1. So the World’s Greatest Orator needs an army of bullshit shovelers to help him communicate a banal truism like “Man is a social animal”?

        ? James Taranto (@jamestaranto) July 19, 2012

        1. Taranto’s been dead to me since he went full retard on Ron Paul. And while he does have his moments I don’t consider that quote to be one of them.

          1. Taranto is the most successful of former-Reason interns.

            1. Awesome. And when I consider popularity to be the most important thing in a columnist then his success will matter to me.

              Actually, I stopped reading Taranto three or four years ago, before I started really considering myself a libertarian or reading this place or Cato. He’s was already too much of a bitchy little partisan neocon for my tast.

    2. That’s funny; I hit mute whenever a political ad comes on. It’s done wonders to lower my blood-pressure.

      1. Leela: There’s a political debate on. Change the channel.

        Bender: That’s what Fry said when we turned on the debate.

        1. “They may have identical DNA, but they differ on some key issues.”

    3. Sooo his plan is to make his core supporters ignorant of and unprepared for arguments from his opposition.

      I am dumbfounded how this guy beat Hilary.

      1. Apparently, Hillary didn’t fully understand the Democratic Caucus system. I can’t believe that but that is what they say. Everything I have read said that Obama and his supporters gamed and bullied the caucus system to such a lead Hillary couldn’t over come it by winning the primaries.

        1. It’s virtuous when Obama does it, but wicked when Ron Paul does it.

      2. They are prepared. They’re going to use the argument Pro Lib outlined above.

    4. So, if we can control what we hear, does that mean Citizens United is not the end of democracy afterall?

  10. 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.

    I don’t know why they hide the money…but in all honesty not spending it and cutting government services makes these two the best bureaucrats on the planet.

    1. Not if that money was your off road vehicle fees and they closed the barren wasteland you used for recreation.

      1. So government should be in the off road recreational wasteland business?

        1. No, but since they are restricting you from going on that land unless you pay fees, it is kinda shitty for them to take your money and then close the land anyways under the fake auspices of “No more money”

          1. We would be better off if we payed government to not do most of what it does rather then paying it to do what it does.

        2. So government should be in the off road recreational wasteland business?

          They are in that business whether you like it or not. I’m assuming California parks collected all this dough by charging user fees for access to state lands.

  11. Most of those closures did not occur because nonprofits and local governments found money to take over the parks.

    They will never choose the libertarian option until they have no other choice.

    1. Worse than that, Ken, they’ll wait until well after a choice has been made and the parks have suffered from neglect and vandalism and whatever non-state entity takes them over will immediately be held responsible for the neglect and vandalism.

      1. er, “well after such a choice is necessary”

  12. 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

    There’s the outrage, peeps.

    1. So the low-wage guys who go out in the dirt and do the work to keep the parks up and running all get shafted, while the fancy bureaucrats sit in their office and take the money.

  13. Wake Up, We the people, for years, are asleep while socialist’s are giving our parks to the UN, under Agenda 21, under the cover of “Sustainable Green” programs. They want population centers between high speed rails and all the land in between populated by dangerous animals to keep people out. Thank you Sacramento Bee and the reporters for shining a light on these evil public servants. Beware, you will pay a price for being a whistle blower? We own the land and park fees alone can pay the rangers salaries. Time to clean house of the fat cat executives in socialist California. Let a business person run the parks and CA could be making money from the parks to pay the rangers more and hire thousands of seniors and high school kids to work part time every year. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope these people go to jail for their “intent” crimes against the people. Wake up, don’t go back to sleep. I am a real award winning “sustainable Green consultant” now helping another state solve environmental problems of drought and energy and working with 19 other countries as the CA state socialists cause problems and block conservative environmental cost effective solutions. I just left CA. after 61 years, I am to old old to fight the powers that be. The wealthy in CA. are fooled by the socialist lies to support their agendas. Do your homework CA. “My people perish for lack of “accurate” knowledge. Bless, GiHopkins

  14. They’re called comprehensive annual reports. State govts have tons of money invested with wall street in so called ‘rainy day’ accounts but they never actually touch the money as wall street wants to keep making the money off of them and they pick the people in charge.

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