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Where does all of the money go? :-)

Californians who have asked themselves,”Where does the money go?” from taxes and other state “revenue opportunities” now have a partial answer. It goes to BAD BOOKKEEPING! Donors who donated money to keep California state parks open and now feel cheated and betrayed by the discovery of $54 million in two state parks accounts are demanding a refund, or at least a promise from legislators (sure, they’ll PROMISE anything! :-) ) that the “extra” money will be spent on parks. Today the Sacramento Bee reported that:

A former state parks official said he repeatedly told his superiors about more than $53 million hidden in two accounts that could have been used to help California avoid the threat of closing 70 state parks, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Manuel Lopez, former deputy director of administrative services for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said he informed agency Director Ruth Coleman about a $20 million surplus in the Parks and Recreation Fund at least five times over a span of about five years, The Sacramento Bee reported.

A separate off-highway vehicle fund held another $33.5 million more than had been reported to the state Department of Finance.

Colman, who resigned on Friday, said in a telephone interview that she accepted overall responsibility, but had been unaware of the surplus. Last week, Lopez and his wife, who is a school teacher, filed for personal bankruptcy. Lopez lists himself as unemployed.

The attorney general and state finance officials are investigating the scandal. The attorney general’s office set up a tip line and email address Thursday for anyone with information that would help the investigation: 916-324-7561, or ParksInvestigation(at)

State lawmakers also are promising oversight hearings and plan to seek an independent audit of the department. The state Finance Department also is reviewing all the state’s 560 special funds to make sure the actual fund balances match what has been reported to the administration and the state controller.

State officials previously said the parks department had maintained the unreported money in its accounts for at least 12 years, including the entire time Coleman was director. She served under three governors and said in her resignation letter that she was “personally appalled” to learn of the hidden money.

Coleman, for her part, said today that it was the responsibility of Lopez to keep her informed about the surplus funds and that he did not. :-)

The unreported fund was discovered after “…after reports that Lopez also administered an unauthorized program to buy out unused vacation time for 56 employees, costing taxpayers more than $271,000. He was demoted in October and resigned in May. ”

A week after uncovering a hidden-funds scandal at the state parks department, finance officials are now trying to piece together why the balance sheets for similar “special funds” are off by $2.3 billion — money that appeared to be right under their noses amid California’s financial meltdown.

The details of these latter discrepancies, as reported a, make FASCINATING reading. As the quote misattributed to the late U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois goes, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.”

It is often said that Republicans don’t understand economics. While that is probably true, :-) it also seems that California Democrats don’t understand accounting.

Or maybe its just that politicians of BOTH flavors LOVE money…! :-)

Stay tuned….

-Bill at

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