State parks officials have a mountain of explaining to do -- as the park system reportedly had $54 million hidden in its coffers at the same time it was threatening to close down 70 parks due to lack of funds.
California parks director Ruth Coleman resigned this morning when news broke that the parks department had been under-reporting tens of millions of dollars over the course of more than a decade. Following Coleman's departure, acting Deputy Director Michael Harris was fired.
Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered the state Department of Finance to conduct an investigation, and Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird says he has been told to conduct "a sweeping review" of Parks' management; the Attorney General's Office will be conducting an investigation, as well, he said.
Coleman reportedly has denied knowing anything about the shadow funds until, she says, it was revealed a few days ago via an internal investigation by her staff.
Gov. Brown's belt-tightening plan to close 70 parks was said to save the state an estimated $22 million. The majority of those parks were spared closure as of the July 1 deadline, thanks to community volunteers and private donations.