Number cruncher

Aug 9, 2012

The two-house committee that supervises the state's top auditor unanimously called for a review of the state parks department, following the disclosure that officials there sat on a $54 million pot of money even as parks were threatened with closure for lack of funding.


From the Bee's Kevin Yamamura: "The Joint Legislative Audit Committee asked State Auditor Elaine Howle to prioritize the investigation into how the Department of Parks and Recreation hid funds and underreported account balances to the Department of Finance and lawmakers. Howle said she could fast-track the audit to the Legislature by January, the start of the next budget season."


"The committee also asked Howle to investigate how parks officials secretly paid out more than $271,000 to 56 employees in exchange for stored vacation time, transactions first reported by The Bee last month. The audit panel initially voted 7-0 on a bipartisan basis for an expedited parks audit, though the tally was not yet final because some members were expected to add their votes later."

Lawyers for a lawmaker accused of drunken driving lost a round in court, when a judge turned down their effort to keep some material out of the case.
From the LAT's Patrick McGreevy: "Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) appeared in court Wednesday to face charges of drunken driving, and a judge rejected a defense request to exclude evidence based on the claim that it was  collected without just cause."

"With the motion denied by Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Mary Ann O'Malley, jury selection began and is expected to resume Thursday morning at the Martinez courthouse, according to Bobbi Spinola, a spokeswoman for the Contra Costa County district attorney’s office."

"Hernandez was arrested at 2 a.m. on March 27 by Concord police officers who saw his state car weaving between lanes. The officer said that Hernandez’s eyes were bloodshot and that he smelled alcohol in the car when it was pulled into the parking lot of the Crowne Plaza Hotel."


Meanwhile, the head of the Fish and Game Commission was ousted from his leadership role, the culmination of a trip he took to Idaho in February in which he killed a cougar and came under fire from animal-rights groups.


From Jon Brooks at KQED: "The California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously for Jim Kellogg as president, thus ousting previous commission head and controversial cougar-hunter Dan Richards. Richards was gracious after the vote, expressing his appreciation to the commission and immediately turning over his gavel. Richards had said previously that if he was removed as president, he'd stay on the commission until his term ends in January. At that point it would be up to Jerry Brown to reappoint him, which Richards himself said is unlikely."


"At (Wednesday's) meeting, just one citizen spoke in favor of Richards, who caused a stir in February when he shot and killed a cougar in Idaho. The small turnout is in marked contrast to a Fish and Game Commission meeting in March, when 60 people expressed their support for Richards during the two-and-a-half hour public comment period."


"Richards became notorious to some after posing with the mountain lion's dead carcass for an outdoors magazine. That caused an uproar as animal-rights organizations and a slew of Democrats in the legislature sought to remove him from office, though the effort petered out. Cougar hunting is legal in Idaho but not in California."


Pete Stark, 80, the volatile and voluble East Bay congressman facing a tough reelection fight, says he got emotional when he exploded at a former lawmaker who had called him out of courtesy to say he was supporting Stark's opponent.


From the Chronicle's Carla Marinucci: "The 20-term East Bay Congressman and dean of the California delegation said he “got a little heated,” but didn’t apologize or dispute a conversation with Torrico which we reported Tuesday. The former California State Assembly Majority leader told The Chronicle that Stark, 80, erupted in an furious tirade — questioning his sanity, threatening his livelihood and even vowing to call social workers to check on his kids — after he informed Stark he would endorse his opponent in the November general election."


"Torrico – a Democratic former Vice Mayor of Newark who currently serves on the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board — said the Congressman’s angry response occured after Torrico said he had decided to endorse Alameda county deputy district attorney and Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell, 31, Stark’s Democratic challenger in the CD-15 East Bay Congressional race."


Speaking of words, for Roundup readers who wondered what all the fuss was about the other day in Consumer Watchdog's response to veteran Democratic consultant Steve Maviglio, here's a snippet from the latter's commentary that touched off the latest clash. We earlier linked to the group's response, so we thought we'd do some equal time here.


"Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is smart, thoughtful and ambitious. During his time in the Legislature, he racked up an impressive record of passing legislation, leading the progressive wing of the Democratic Caucus, and building a platform to move up the political ladder. Most political observers think Jones has a bright future, perhaps as Attorney General, in Congress, or even in the Governor's office -- if the stars align the right way."


"Which makes many wonder why Jones has attached himself to the hip of, the faux "consumer" group that does dirty work for special interests, grandstands instead of contributes to public policy, opposed President Obama's Affordable Care Act, supported the recall of Governor Gray Davis, and has little credibility among real consumer groups, lawmakers, and the press. Read more at"



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