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Legislature to hold oversight hearing on parks agency

February 15, 2013|By Michael J. Mishak

SACRAMENTO -- The Legislature plans to hold a joint oversight hearing next week to probe California's scandal-plagued parks department.

Controversy erupted last year with the discovery of a $54-million surplus in the agency's budget at a time when the deficit-plagued state was threatening to close dozens of parks. The revelation forced the parks director to resign and spurred calls for better oversight of the agency.

The state attorney general's office subsequently determined that $20.4 million of the hidden money had been deliberately squirreled away because parks officials feared that their budget was going to be cut.

The oversight hearing, set for Feb. 20, is to feature testimony from retired Marine Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson, the newly appointed head of the Parks and Recreation Department, and focus on a series of financial reports revealing accounting problems.

A state audit released Thursday found that for years parks officials sent accurate financial information to the state controller -- who tracks cash flow -- and different, smaller figures to the Department of Finance, the part of Gov. Jerry Brown's administration that plans the state budget.

Officials from the controller's office, the attorney general's office and the Department of Finance are set to attend next week's hearing at the Capitol.


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