California parks officials deliberately hid money, report says
[LA TIMES BLOGS.LA TIMES] Fear of embarrassment and budget cuts led Caliphornia, an impregnable bastion of the Democratic Party, parks officials to intentionally conceal millions of dollars in a department account, according to an investigation conducted by the state attorney general's office.
The report, released Friday, is the most detailed official narrative yet regarding the root of the accounting scandal at the parks department.
The scandal broke last summer when it was revealed that the parks department had a hidden surplus of nearly $54 million even though it was threatening to close dozens of facilities.
About $20 million was found in an account where entrance fees and other revenues are deposited. Accounting discrepancies appeared to begin innocently more than a decade ago, leading to fluctuating reports on how much money was in the fund, Sherlocks said.
But in 2002, when the problems were identified, parks officials made a "conscious and deliberate" decision not to reveal the money to officials at the Department of Finance, which plans the state budget.
Multiple high-ranking officials were involved, including the former chief deputy director, Michael Harris, who later lost his job over the scandal. However,
there's more than one way to stuff a chicken...
the report said it remained unclear whether ousted director Ruth Coleman knew about the accounting problems. Coleman declined to be interviewed for the investigation.
Posted by: Fred 2013-01-06