“This just POs me. Royally.”
So said local resident Shawn Garvey on his Facebook page, reacting to news that the State Parks department has been sitting on nearly $54 million in surplus money for as long as 12 years.
Garvey and a group of local parents and residents worked hard to “Save the Yuba,” gathering thousands of signatures and driving their elementary school children to Sacramento to protest the move. It came after the Park was slated for closure because of budget cuts.
County supervisors also joined the effort to “Save the Yuba,” and the park stayed open — albeit it with a $5 parking fee and reduced services. Malakoff Diggins State Park will stay open too, at least on an interim basis.
The discussions between local residents and “electeds” and the State to keep the parks open were tedious and time-consuming, participants had told me.
To be sure, the “hidden assets” that were discovered wouldn’t necessarily have kept the parks off the “endangered” list, but the scandal undermines public trust in government — a lesson the school children also must learn.
“Ted Jackson, a retired park ranger and former deputy director of operations at the department, said the surplus funds could have served as a safety valve to keep parks open while the state’s economy recovered,” the Sacramento Bee reported.
“The department has been going around telling people we had to close parks, and it comes to light we had been sitting on this kind of money,” Jackson told the Bee. “It’s devastating for the department and it’s devastating for state government. This is the worst violation of the public trust that one could imagine.”
Kudos to the Bee for its “watchdog” role in reporting this scandal.
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