Parks Dept. corruption not isolated

July 27, 2012

By Katy Grimes

The recent scandal inside of the State Parks and Recreation Department is no surprise to anyone, but the levels of corruption, schemes and deceit, is.

The agency director, Ruth Coleman, resigned. But as she resigned, she tried to distance herself from the vacation buyout scheme, and the $54 million surplus hidden away in two accounts. As the parks department was making cuts, threatening to close 70 state parks, and claiming to need to make $22 million in cuts, Coleman was accepting private donations.

I wrote about my sources at the state who say that Coleman’s fingerprints are all over the evidence, and now we see that the agency attorney, Ann Malcolm, resigned, as did Colemen’s special assistant, Jay Walsh.

But these people are resigning–they weren’t fired. They will keep their taxpayer paid benefits, and taxpayer-paid pensions, and probably get hired elsewhere by the state at some point.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown is publicly playing down the scandal, glibly saying that it was the first time the government is in trouble for saving money. “When somebody comes and says, ‘Hey, guess what, we have some money over here,’ that’s better than saying ‘Whoops we don’t have the money.'”

Arrogance in high places

Former Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, had a few run-ins of his own with Parks Director Ruth Coleman.

During his time in the Assembly, DeVore found that there were Parks Department employees and Fish and Game employees and volunteers living on state property, paying no rent or nominal rent, far below fair market value.

The Bureau of State Audits was already investigating the Fish and Game employees in 2003, when DeVore presented evidence of Parks employees doing the same.

DeVore said that he was a freshman Assemblyman when his office discovered this. He contacted Coleman and invited her to meet with him. But DeVore said that Coleman appeared unconcerned, which DeVore attributed to term limits. “She knew I’d be gone at some point,” DeVore explained, “and that this would probably blow over.”

But during the investigation, the state auditor found that there were 13 state departments which own property and had employees living rent-free and not reporting, or were underreporting this. “Additionally, because departments charged employees rent at rates far below market value, the State may have failed to capture as much as $8.3 million in potential rental revenue in 2003,” the report stated.

According to the state auditor’s report, the Parks and Recreation department was the biggest offender with 487 housing units available for state employees.

If rented at fair market value, the income to the state should have been more than $4.7 million.

But the Parks and Recreation agency took in only $763,488 of actual rent charged to state employees or volunteers, losing the state more than $4 million in revenue.

The taxable fringe benefit should have been $373,198. The unreported taxable fringe benefit amounted to $3,641,810.

And Coleman was unconcerned with these findings, according to DeVore.

Legislating a resolution with AB 1708

Undeterred, DeVore authored a bill to address this specific problem. Democratic Assemblyman Alberto Torrico signed on as a co-author, and AB 1708 passed through the Legislature and was signed into law.

Under AB 1708, the state would be required to charge state employees renting housing on state property on a sliding scale, depending on location. Prior to AB 1708, departments only charged $148 a month per unit, and did not differentiate between prime beachfront locations or inland locations. DeVore said that, at the time of his bill, approximately 443 parks employees lived in park housing, but that the number fluctuates based on season.

AB 1708 requires the Director of the Department of Personnel Administration to determine, by rule, the fair and reasonable value of maintenance, living quarters, housing, lodging, board, meals, food, household supplies, fuel, laundry, and other services furnished by the state as an employer of its employees.

But DeVore said that he is concerned that the law is not being enforced.

Investigations

There have been several calls for additional audits of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, R-Rocklin, called for a special audit of the agency. As members of the Budget Committee, Gaines and Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, appear to be pursuing this corruption.

The California State Parks Foundation submitted a letter to the governor and Legislature asking for an investigation, as well. The non-profit foundation has been a partner with the state, and surely must be feeling the sting of Director Coleman’s and the agency’s deceit.

“On behalf of the California State Parks Foundation, our 130,000 members statewide, and our 43 year history of enhancing, protecting and advocating for California’s state parks, I cannot convey  enough how deeply shocked and dismayed we have been to learn of the irregularities that have surfaced from the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) in the last several days,” Parks Foundation President Elizabeth Goldstein wrote.

“The news of the unauthorized vacation buyout program, coupled with the discovery of more than $50 million in 12 year fund balances that should have been disclosed and directed to parks and recreation operations, has affected our members, our partners, and the public’s trust in our state park system.”

The foundation was working with Coleman to get volunteers to help work at the parks, and asking for donations.

HERE is the letter from the Parks foundation.

37 comments

Write a comment
  1. Prattle On, Boyo
    Prattle On, Boyo 27 July, 2012, 14:22

    This is standard operating procedure for government agency employees at the top. They’re so corrupt, they actually make Goldman Sachs blush. Meanwhile, California parks are being auctioned off to corporate entities who all but own them since they donated a chunk of change to help keep open the list of parks the governor has threatened to close due to budget shortfalls.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 27 July, 2012, 15:02

    LOL— There was NO corruption in that last accounting mess— if there were corruption the funds would have ben used for the personal gain of the parks employees——what a bunch of classic alarmist nonsense.

    This website and the whole teabaggy notion that gov is bad is why we are soooooooo screwed—- this polarization produces deadlock—– zzzzzzzzzzzz

    Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 27 July, 2012, 15:37

    Can you see Poodle and Donkey in responsible government jobs like GED cops and FF whiners?

    Reply this comment
  4. I'm just sayin'...
    I'm just sayin'... 27 July, 2012, 15:55

    A million here, a million there, here some cash there’s some more cash, hidden cash everywhere…do you think the Governor can hear the pitter-patter of a November tax initiative defeat? Nah — he’s too busy listening for the choo-choo from the new tunnel.

    Reply this comment
  5. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 27 July, 2012, 16:17

    Gov is one big outhouse 😉

    Reply this comment
  6. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 27 July, 2012, 16:18

    Can you see Poodle and Donkey in responsible government jobs like GED cops and FF whiners?

    Teddy, if YOU can be a GED cop ANYONE CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉

    Reply this comment
  7. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 27 July, 2012, 16:56

    I WISH I was a cop or fireman!

    Sounds fun!

    If not dangerous…

    No– The Poodle and the Duncey could not qualify or hold either of those positions. Sorry……

    The Ted ™

    God those 2 morons keep the comments out here stuck on dull…..here they go again….

    Reply this comment
  8. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 July, 2012, 18:30

    Teddy, what was the ROI on CalTURDS last year????

    Hhahahahahahaaha…………….. 😉

    Reply this comment
  9. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 27 July, 2012, 19:52

    Adelanto sun is mind altering!

    Reply this comment
  10. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 27 July, 2012, 20:33

    and dull……….

    Reply this comment
  11. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 July, 2012, 20:36

    1%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% BABY 🙂

    Reply this comment
  12. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 27 July, 2012, 21:57

    Have the last word…..please troll !

    Reply this comment
  13. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 July, 2012, 22:57

    1%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% BABY!!!!!!

    Teddy, do you have abrain????

    PS, I KNOW your sock puppets, Uhaul or Queeg, will have the final word, alwasy do…… OK type troll teddy 😉

    Reply this comment
  14. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 28 July, 2012, 09:25

    “alwasy do”

    What’s that? Is it a Ragwes?

    Please– have the last word– I know you like it. Please.

    Reply this comment
  15. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 28 July, 2012, 11:05

    1%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  16. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 28 July, 2012, 11:32

    Go ahead little buddy— have it !

    Reply this comment
  17. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 28 July, 2012, 20:17

    1%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
    BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    🙂

    Now go back to http://www.Calpensions.com (with your gimmick accounts too) and stink their site up for a few hours instead of CWD, thank you. The Readership 🙂

    Reply this comment
  18. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 28 July, 2012, 20:43

    LOL

    Please little troll– have the last word…

    7.75 over 20 ! LOL

    LOL ™

    Reply this comment
  19. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 July, 2012, 21:46

    0.10 over 5 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  20. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 29 July, 2012, 01:47

    Teddy Steals, tucked tail and ran off, and that ROI is not going to get any better.

    Reply this comment
  21. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 29 July, 2012, 07:56

    Sunday is a day of rest, reflection and doing good deeds!

    Reply this comment
  22. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 29 July, 2012, 08:50

    Good Point U haul !!!! Cheers !

    Reply this comment
  23. BobA in San Diego
    BobA in San Diego 29 July, 2012, 11:21

    Uhaul:

    Who says Sunday is a day of rest? The world doesn’t stop turning on Sundays and people have jobs to do. I can guarantee that the politicians don’t take a day of rest from spending our money. Spending other people’s money 24/7 is hard work and provides no rest for the weary soul. Some on has to do it!!

    Reply this comment
  24. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 29 July, 2012, 12:51

    When sill the bitterness end. Please relax today. You need a bresk from beating on trolls!

    Reply this comment
  25. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 29 July, 2012, 12:53

    Being mean shortens your life.

    Reply this comment
  26. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 29 July, 2012, 12:54

    Even Poodle and Donkey rest on Sunday

    Reply this comment
  27. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 29 July, 2012, 12:59

    Teddy and Queeg went to a medevil eco fair today.

    Jane Fonda and Susie Sarandon might give a moonight talk on the true mezning of life for sdnior hippies!

    Reply this comment
  28. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 29 July, 2012, 15:04

    I start evry Sunday the same— 2 mile ocean swim at 0600– then 1 hour of meditation– then off to church where I pray for the trolls— then straight home.

    Ted

    Reply this comment
  29. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 July, 2012, 19:24

    Teddy you could not even float by yourself ……in the kiddie pool 😉

    Reply this comment
  30. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 29 July, 2012, 21:18

    Open ocean baby!!!!!

    hurry post now !!!

    lol

    Reply this comment
  31. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 29 July, 2012, 22:21

    Teddy, you sit in one of those 1 foot kiddie polls you buy at rite aid….in fact someone sent me a pic of you recently 🙂

    http://www.willandkris.com/images/kids-pool.jpg

    Reply this comment
  32. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 07:52

    Poodle– Would you like the last word?

    OK go ahead !

    7.75 over 20!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  33. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 July, 2012, 19:21

    1%%%%%%%%%%%%%% BABY!

    Reply this comment
  34. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 20:39

    Please….have the last word……..

    Reply this comment
  35. Lowell Landowski
    Lowell Landowski 5 August, 2012, 19:34

    RRM, the Preservationist orgs in cabal with both BROWN AND Schwarzenegger firgured out a way to close rural land uses such as timber and still make money with a crony inside company to run the good parks that MUST BE CLOSED. Can you say RICO Fed. investigation after the election of a criminal constipacy to defraud the public and break all sorts of other laws by the California Goverment?

    Reply this comment
  36. Eagle
    Eagle 6 October, 2016, 13:57

    So if you buy a fishing or hunting license does your spouse give up his/her right to unreasonable search and seizure? Even when neither of you are home. Or should they be able to just kick your door down when your not home or force their way in, if your spouse refuses them entry? One group is presently fighting this nonsense. American Falconry Conservancy. Please watch this 30 second video.
    The commission is accepting public comment for the next month or two, and we need a lot of people to let them know that this is not OK. You can email your disagreement or opinion to [email protected]
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QgWHKEMQcs

    Also more info on the facebook “falconers rights” page
    I support law enforcement but this is an overreach

    Reply this comment

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