Public Unions

California State Workers Acting Poorly

In new report, public employees accused of lying and theft, though face few penalties

|

State Auditor Elaine Howle's latest investigative report detailing whistleblower-prompted "allegations of improper governmental activities" could be easy to shrug off given the reality of the human condition. Some people behave badly, whether they work for state government or anywhere else.

But the report's "substantiated" allegations – involving the "theft of state funds, waste of public resources, improper … travel expenses" and the like – provide a window into the way California agencies deal with, or don't deal with, problem employees.

The first case involves a manager at the State Water Resources Control Board who the report said embezzled $3,500 in state funds and then proceeded to cover it up.

She directed "a moving company under contract with the state to take the surplus property to a local recycling center … instructing the movers to obtain payment in cash. … She then took the cash to her house," according to the report. After finding out about the investigation, the manager filed "a police report stating that someone had broken into her personal vehicle and stolen the funds."

Again, people do bad things. The department's bureaucratic response, however, is disturbing. After being caught, the manager repaid $2,518, but "still owes the water board $994 in recycling proceeds." Her punishment: "Prior to the completion of our investigation, the manager transferred to another state agency."

The auditor recommends "reasonable efforts to recover" the money and contacting the agency she now works for "to make certain the manager is not in a position to misuse or embezzle additional state funds." It also suggests a new recycling policy. The water board agreed to implement these ideas, including the no-duh suggestion of contacting the district attorney.

Had an employee in the private sector been suspected of embezzlement, that employee almost certainly would have been fired and probably arrested – not transferred to a different department. In the bureaucracy, it takes a time-consuming investigation to get officials even thinking about some obvious responses.

"For a misbehaving public employee, it's a win-win situation," said Richard Rider, chairman of the San Diego Taxfighters. "If you get caught, the downside is very little." Given the report, Rider's statement doesn't appear to be an exaggeration.

In another case, an Employment Development Department employee lived in Sacramento but had a job based in the Los Angeles area. Her supervisors inaccurately designated her work headquarters as Sacramento, according to the report, thus allowing her to improperly collect almost $27,000 in travel expenses. The result: She retired from the state and began collecting her pension. The auditor suggested training ideas to fix the problem. Seriously.

In yet another case in the report: "After lying to his manager about needing to telecommute so that he could care for his ailing mother, a full-time employee at the Department of Industrial Relations … took advantage of his manager's neglect of his supervisory duties … to work a second full-time job." He was paid more than $12,000 for hours he never worked. So the department placed a memorandum in his personnel file and gave his neglectful manager a "counseling memorandum … rather than an adverse action."

The latter would have been "too harsh," officials said, given the department lacked "an effective telecommuting policy."

These cases were investigated under the California Whistleblower Protection Act, but the situation it documents is common. In one case revealed last year, the auditor reported that Caltrans employees falsified data testing the safety of California bridges – something that could have had life-threatening consequences had any bridge been prone to failure.

One employee "linked to much of the falsified data" was allowed "to retire with full benefits," the Sacramento Bee reported, noting it will be hard to stop him from getting other state employment given "all references to (his) misconduct were removed from his personnel records."

The state needs more oversight, but Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, announced this month he is shutting down the Senate's Office of Oversight and Outcomes, which reported on the misuse of state funds at various agencies. Then again, what's the difference? Employees caught misbehaving don't seem to face serious consequences.

Advertisement

NEXT: Read the Full Reason January 2015 Issue Online

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “”allegations of improper governmental activities” could be easy to shrug off given the reality of the human condition. “

    “To sum it all up, I must say that I regret nothing. ”
    – Adolph Eichmann

    1. There really isn’t anything wrong with CA State employees lying to the public; its lying to them that will get you busted.

      http://youareproperty.blogspot…..ie-to.html

  2. You could add up the ‘fraudulent travel expenses in California’ into the millions, and they would still be ‘shrug worthy’ in the context of a system that has things like $250billion in CALPERS funds being structurally mismanaged for decades, while enriching the very people who ensured its continued under-performance… and providing do-nothing jobs for dozens of cronies as a side-benefit. I can imagine almost every investment fund that does business with the State of California has a few people whose sole job is to grease their public-servant contacts with free lunches and perks every day of their lives.

    1. Like $200,000 in cash bribes?
      http://www.latimes.com/busines…..story.html

      They were also into hedge funds that didn’t earn shit and had huge fees.

      If they had just let Vanguard manage the fund, they’d be solvent right now.

      1. Yea, but Profits = Bad …… mkay ???

        1. When the state loses, others profit.

          1. When the state loses, the people profit.

        2. That attitude really galls me. I sometimes think prices were the greatest invention ever, and profit (and loss) the most efficient motivator ever. Everything those damned statists want can be handled by markets with their prices and profits, yet they stomp all over markets, then go to such great lengths to create a simulation of markets run by Top.Men. The sheer inefficiency of it never ceases to amaze me.

  3. I’ve done contract work for several agencies in this state. Whatever the report says, I assure you that the problem is far, far worse.

    1. The problem is that if you did get an administration seriously try to combat the ‘waste and fraud’ they’d probably try to do so by…requiring much more paperwork, procurement regulations, etc., and hiring more government workers to police it! The only real solution is that the government should not be doing most of these functions in the first place.

      1. The only hope for CA is complete economic collapse, without bailouts. Scrap the entire state government and start over.

        So, IOW, there is NO hope for CA. The entire state will look like some Eastern Bloc Soviet shithole (or Detroit).

        1. They will drag us all down with them. I vaguely remember some talk of flyover taxpayers bailing out the blue states that are descending into hell. The closer they get to the drain the more serious that talk will get.

          1. And the more serious the talk of secession.

            1. Federal administration and a return to territory status.

        2. As bad as the State of CA is, some of the municipalities here are far worse. I was hoping that a few would go under, follow regular bankruptcy procedure, and serve as an example for the rest of the state.

          Not going to happen. See: Stockton, Vallejo.

        3. Also,
          The state of CA doesn’t provide me with any services anyway. It’s truly baffling how little they do. My police, fire, water, streets, and sewer are local, and the City of Manhattan Beach has a AAA bond rating.

          Let the state capital burn. You won’t find sweat on my balls.

          1. Now you’re just being difficult.

            1. How much sweat do you want?

          2. Let the state capital burn. You won’t find my balls.

            I don’t want to know the rest of the story….

            1. That is libel, sir! That’s not what I said at all.

        4. I think breaking it up into half a dozen states would do the trick too.

  4. There’s nothing left to cut, and look at the sacrifices our selfless and dedicated public servants make.

    1. The word “sacrifice” resonates interestingly……

      Can’t Crucify them; it would offend a lot of people, amd I mean REALLY offend, not make them squirm a little. Wouldn’t be “unusual” punishment; most cultures did it at one time or another.

      Maybe keelhauling? Under, say, an aircraft carrier?

  5. I once heard a joke. I will leave it here:

    “How many people work at the Post Office?”

    “About half.”

    1. It is funny if you think half of them work.

      1. Most of the postal workers I meet out in the sticks seem to work fairly hard. It’s the ones in the city cores that screw it up.

    2. So where is it in the world that I can get mail from 3000 miles away in two days for the price of a single first class stamp? I have more than a few times received mail that was badly misaddressed wrong street etc.

      I have worked in the back rooms at postal facilities as a Xerox CSA repairing their copiers and I can tell you they work their tails off. All of this and the tax payers don’t pay for it. The USPS is funded by charging for services rendered. There are plenty of badly run agencies of the government but you have picked the wrong whipping boy here.

      Everywhere I have ever lived including the top tier western nations has had worse postal service than the US. And none of those countries with the exception of Canada cover such a huge swath of territory.

      1. All of this and the tax payers don’t pay for it. The USPS is funded by charging for services rendered.

        Bzzt, wrong.

        Here’s the GAO report that says otherwise guy. It’s from 2010.

        In 2012 it lost 15.9 billion dollars. It lost more than 5 billion in 2011. It lost 4 billion in 2013 and 5.5 billion in 2014.

        1. And who makes up the losses?

          The taxpayers.

  6. OT is fair on weekends, right?

    OT: Global warming strikes again!

    http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/n…..8983491721

    Huh. I am not sure a percentage of stations reading over 90 degrees is a good way to measure, but it is significant.

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress…..on-record/

    1. Percentage of Active US HCN Stations

      Emphasis added.

      Also, what is “HCN”?

      1. Also, what is “HCN”?

        Prussic acid, of course.

      2. Historic Climatology Network

    2. OT is fair anytime.

      Throughout the early 2000’s I’d spend my vacations fishing in MT (Jul/Aug). Lived here 98-00. Hundred degree days were commonplace. They’d close rivers and streams because the fish were stressed, all the time.

      Since I moved back in 2010, I’ve seen about 2 100+ degree days in 4 years.

      Granted this is one area, the data is notional…

      But it is sure counter to Al’s hockey stick predictions, despite 350 ppm CO2 levels.

  7. So the department placed a memorandum in his personnel file and gave his neglectful manager a “counseling memorandum ? rather than an adverse action.” The latter would have been “too harsh,” officials said, given the department lacked “an effective telecommuting policy.”

    Well, then fire the head of the department for incompetHAHAHAHA!

    Sorry, couldn’t quite get it out.

  8. The state needs more oversight, but Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, announced this month he is shutting down the Senate’s Office of Oversight and Outcomes, which reported on the misuse of state funds at various agencies.

    Problem solved. If there is no O.O.O., then there can’t be any misuse of state funds.

    Double plus good, shutting down the O.O.O. saves the taxpayers munny proving that Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, is a good steward of other peoples munny, so Californians can safely re-elect him to office, thereby guaranteeing more good stewardship of their munny.

    1. California is a “bellwether state”. This is an idea whose time has come.

      1. I have an idea…[idea redacted by the NSA]

    1. The average years of experience either on the substantive matters for which they are responsible or in management generally for political leadership is much, much less than their counterparts in the private sector.

      This in itself “explains” a lot.

    2. Line workers count on #11 whenever Dipshits get appointed. (And that level tends to be mostly dipshit cronies not good enough for real posts). Waiting them out seems to be the prevalent strategm. Especially since it takes a while for stupid ideas to be implemented (and project abandonment is fairly common).

  9. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for 74 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail
    ———— http://www.paygazette.com

  10. Totally not racist.

    ATTN WHITE Man, I have no guilt disturbing your brunch. Its YOU that has no right to be here. #blackbrunchnyc

    I wish I were a brunch kind of guy. I’d love to see these idiots in action.

      1. She, or should I say “it”, seems well received:

        “I have a dream, that one day I can interrupt the Sunday Brunch of another race. MLK would be ashamed of you.”

        “I bet your pussy stinks.”

        1. I like that her response to a guy telling her not to get too excited is, “eat a jar of mayo.”*

          To which another person responds, “Michelle Obama says I can’t.”

          *remember, she’s a “writer!”

          1. That is comic gold !

        2. “Camila ibanez ?@QuePasaApaza

          …your people literally stole my peoples land. YOU ARE ACTIVELY SUPPORTING THE KILLING OF BROWN AND BLACK BODIES IN EVERY COUNTRY”

          We found a winner.

          1. “OMG. ALL THESE WHITE PEEPO COMING OUTTA THE FORREST TO TELL ME. IM RACIST?? your people literally Killed and raped my ancestors…”

            Remember. She’s a ‘writer’ and an ‘educator.’

            1. My ancestors that were illiterate shepherds in Italy in 1900. Got it.

          2. “There were over 450 homicides in Chicago last year but let’s go protest brunch in NYC. Solid plan there!”

            #BlackBruchRetards

            1. They can’t go into the bad neighborshoods, GILMORE, it’s dangerous there.

            2. Let’s get even with Whitey. Kill a Hispanic and Chinese cop.

          3. Jumping the Shark……seeing it live is wonderful.

      2. kat yang-stevens

        Queer 1stGen Asian Am* settler/ writer / educator / agitator / organizer / smashing colonialist imperialist capitalist white supremacist cis-hetero patriarchy

        Words fail me, but let me guess. Unemployed?

        1. It takes a lot of liberal arts privilege to get from 1st generation Asian to all of those other things.

          That thing hasn’t worked a day in its life.

          1. I’m just trying to imagine working with/around a person like that. Unbearable.

          2. That’s the funny thing. First generation Asian. How about she goes back to the shithole her parents fled from? She won’t have to deal with the white patriarchy anymore.

            1. Or capitalism either, depending on the country.

            2. “First generation” means she’s the immigrant.

      3. That was my thought too. It’s oh-so respectul to disturb people eating a meal, and totally disrespectful to stand up to such bullying.

        1. I’m having a blast with this champ:

          “Camila ibanez @QuePasaApaza ? 2h 2 hours ago

          Table of four white folks. Feeling awkward amidst our squad of black and brown bodies. #shiftyEyes #BlackBrunchNYC #whiteguilt”

          Right. They’re feeling uncomfortable in their white skin because they’re confronted with righteous protesting.

          Sure thing. Whatever you say champ.

          1. I’m trying to imagine wht athe response to a #WhiteBrunchNYC hashtag campaign would be.

            1. Or even what the response would be.

          2. So, when I was a state employee and we had a shift with only one black guy he was displaying black guilt by appearing uncomfortable?

          3. Like to see the dizzy twits try it at a Waffle House.

      4. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the fine product of having marxists/progressives/social democrats take over higher education.

        Well done. So well done.

        I wonder what the generation that she and her ilk educate is going to look like.

        1. Hippies became yuppies. What will these hams become?

    1. Wait, is that the “white guy” in the picture?

  11. There are far more employees than workers. When I worked a public sector job I shared an office with a employee. For the first two years I was there, he would ask me at least three times a week when I was coming into the office the next day/if I had field work the next morning. My estimate was that he was time theiving about two hours per week (an extra two plus weeks vaation per year). Just to fuck with him, I once said I think we should have a time clock. He went into an all caps rage.

    1. I could rant for hours about the failings of the attendance and leave system where I work before even getting into the ways people abuse it.

      If we had a timeclock, they’d tell me to stop using it because it’d so me consistantly arriving a half hour before my official shift and not taking lunch (the options within travel distance are lousy so I hold out until the end of shift).

      Though what finally made a co-worker retire after already being there so long they were losing money by staying (tax treatment of pension checks and 45+ years of service) was their new supervisor strictly enforcing the time and attendence rules and riding his case with regards to every minute he was away from his cube. (I don’t feel sorry for him, he deserved it).

      1. Part of the issue was that he choose to have a second job, which was in the private sector so he actually had to show up on time. Hence him leaving early from the govt job. He would show up late the next day because he was tired. The login system could have been used as a surrogate for a time clock…nothing would have been done had the issue been raised. I was in a meeting with about eight people where he threatened to shoot and slit the neck of a coworker. He had to write an apology e-mail and was given one day off. Shocker but he was a staunch supporter of the union.

        1. Sounds like he was a bit around the bend to begin with. I can see and understand the rot from the culture of apathy, but the symptoms there are non-violent in nature.

          As for supplemental income, most of us recognize that it’s a bad idea to let the second job endanger the one with a pension. (If you’re up front about the availability, it may take a few more tries to find a part time job, but you should still be able to find someplace that needs staff during the hours you can work).

  12. Sounds like some crzy smack dude.

    http://www.Way-Anon.tk

  13. CA collects a lot of money from the ultra wealthy.

    The state is a microcosm of America. They can kick the can down the road many times and neglect their poorer communities because they’re buttressed by the one percent.

    If the upper echelon ever collapsed here, we would be half way to Detroit.

  14. CA collects a lot of money from the ultra wealthy.

    The state is a microcosm of America. They can kick the can down the road many times and neglect their poorer communities because they’re buttressed by the one percent.

    If the upper echelon ever collapsed here, we would be half way to Detroit.

  15. It could be worse. At least we’re not Illinois.

    1. *narrows gaze, then sheds single tear*

  16. What Michelle said I cant believe that anybody able to get paid $4819 in four weeks on the internet .
    You could try here ~~~~~~~~ http://www.jobsfish.com

  17. “California State Workers Acting Poorly”
    That’s ok, what they really want to do is direct.

  18. What Michelle said I cant believe that anybody able to get paid $4819 in four weeks on the internet .
    You could try here ~~~~~~~ http://www.jobs700.com

  19. What Michelle said I cant believe that anybody able to get paid $4819 in four weeks on the internet .
    You could try here ~~~~~~~ http://www.jobs700.com

  20. The Lefties have just about removed personal responsibility from California…. I mean you now need to be trained that lying, stealing, and falsifying documents is WRONG….. What BS…

  21. my buddy’s mother makes $72 /hr on the internet . She has been without work for 5 months but last month her payment was $12076 just working on the internet for a few hours. read more…………
    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

  22. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for 74 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail
    ————- http://www.paygazette.com

  23. Thanks for the tips I am just making a strategy for fitness website and your points really add value in content marketing part Obat Sipilis

  24. Thank you for the report. I have read through it and find that it is written well and answers the question posed

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.