After scaring us that State Parks might have to be closed due to budget constraints causing dozens of various organizations to raise money to support the park system, on July 19 Ruth Coleman, the director of California State Parks submitted her resignation upon the “discovery” that her department actually had nearly $54 million in surplus money for years. Michael Harris, the second in command was fired.
Following the exit of disgrace are former chief counsel Ann Malcolm, and Jay Walsh, former special assistant to the director.
Former deputy director of admin services Manuel Lopez was demoted last October and resigned last May due to a separate scandal involving an unauthorized vacation buyout program last year to the tune of almost a quarter million discovered by the Sacramento Bee which got officials looking into the entire affair of the state park finances.
Now groups that raised money to enable the park system to remain open want their money back as reported in the MercuryNews.com.
Yesterday examiner.com reported the Sacramento scandal has ballooned to over $2 billion, with a more detailed article from the MercuryNews.com discovering that there are over 500 “special” accounts such as the park system was using.
Much more sound and fury to come from Sacramento in the days ahead, however odds are still good that the “found” money will wind up paying interest on the state debt, or quietly vaporizing into the general fund.
In fact we learn this morning that state borrowing from special fund accounts has reached over $4 billion and that the number of special fund accounts has grown to 560 being audited by the Department of Finance, and should issue a report this week while the legislature will try and determine whether state departments kept more money than they reported in the weeks ahead.
Some comfort to all those that worked hard to keep parks open and people who were shut out of the state parks system.