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University of California’s Secret Slush Funds

Thursday April 27th, 2017   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 8:22am PDT   •  

32556287 - negative human emotion facial expression feeling - hiding moneyUniversity of California President Janet Napolitano, the former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and also the former governor of the state of Arizona, appears to have been caught by California state auditors with her hand in the proverbial public tax dollar cookie jar.

Writing at Coyote Blog, Warren Meyer, who runs a business that manages campgrounds at publicly-owned parks and forests, remembers that another California state agency’s bureaucrats were also caught hiding state taxpayer funds from the state’s legislature, and even used the same excuses now being offered up by Napolitano and her fellow university administrators.

Pretty much the entire management team of California State Parks got fired for doing almost the exact same thing, with the exact same excuses.

California state parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned and her second-in-command was fired Friday after officials discovered the department has been sitting on “hidden assets” totalling [sic] nearly $54 million.

The money accumulated over 12 years in two special funds the department uses to collect revenue and pay for operations: $20.4 million in the Parks and Recreation Fund, and $33.5 million in the Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund.

The money accumulated, state officials said, because the parks department had a pattern of under-reporting the actual size of the funds in its regular dealings with the state Department of Finance.

Ms. Coleman (who I worked with a few times and liked) was frankly an easier “kill” because, while long tenured in the state parks job, she really did not have a lot of political muscle. Napolitano does. Relying on consistent standards would say Napolitano should go, but government has never been about applying consistent standards, only power. So we shall see.

With such a history, perhaps a good question to ask is how many other California state government agencies are similarly attempting to stash taxpayer funds out of the sight of the state’s taxpayers? If that unethical practice is likewise occurring at multiple state agencies, it might provide the leverage needed by responsible state officials to clean house and to oust the politically-entrenched administrators at the University of California.

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April 2017