Ruth Coleman

On Friday, State Parks director Ruth Coleman resigned in the wake of revelations that her department failed to report a $54 million surplus. Donors and advocates — who have helped save 70 state parks from closure in recent months — say they feel shocked and betrayed. We discuss the revelations. What will the unexpected money and the scandal mean for the future of California’s state parks?

State Parks Chief Resigns Amid Scandal 23 July,2012forum

Matt Weiser, environment reporter for the Sacramento Bee
Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation
Bob Berman, vice president of the Benicia State Parks Association

  • Rhet

    This concealment scheme sounds like something cooked up at the Bohemian Grove festival, which is a little-known event where the world’s leaders secretly convene in Northern California in order to make shady deals followed by everyone partaking of a pagan ritual called the Cremation of Care that literally includes a mock child sacrifice and praising of the god Moloch. Perhaps this year they changed it to involve sacrificing the state parks.

    • Ned

      You are sadly misinformed or willfully ignorant about the Bohemian Grove meetings. Just because you may not have been invited does not mean sinister things happen there.

      • stillnotregistering

        rhet’s comment is irrelevant to the discussion, but it is you who are sadly misinformed about the Grove

  • Kenoli

    Does this mean all our parks will remain open?

  • Mike

    How could this not affect people’s votes for the upcoming tax measures? And it should… Personally, I can’t vote for higher taxes until I feel that the state handles money responsibly. The two most-recent stories to come out of the legislature – a high-speed train between two relatively low-population areas and now this – make me wonder if anyone in Sacramento cares about how our public funds are spent.

    • Bart

      But thats just it, government does not handle money responsibly.

  • Cullen Frandsen

    The announcement of state park closures reeks.  Follow the money trails.  This is a classic setup for someone to come in and scoop up public lands and facilities and ‘privatize’  what should continue to be ‘public parks.’  Closing the parks punishes all taxpayers and creates the possibility of an income stream for big business.  I raised my five children with a lot of camping and outdoor exploration.  Now I see the potential for limiting the access to public lands for the average family.
    When meeting minutes are destroyed, SOMEBODY had something to hide!!!

  • Laurie

    By what definition of “accountable” is Ruth Coleman operating?  Isn’t accountability in a leadership position precisely about staying and answering for what looks like boggling incompetence on the part of her staff — and by extension herself? Her plea of ignorance is absurd. But I’ll reference her next time I get pulled over by a cop for speeding. “Oh, officer. I didn’t notice. Nobody told me. You know, like Ruth Coleman?” 

    It does seem like a criminal  investigation is called for. The good will and pockets of well-meaning citizens were grossly exploited. 

  • Landofkuksu7488

    I personally volunteer at a state park.
    It a shane that the state cannot control what they have.
    If  someone gave you money to take care of something,
    I think most people could do that.
    I feel sorry for all the people who donated for a cause only to get dupe.
    Raising money for the non-profit sides of these state just being impossible to do.
    The parks mission statement that they said for years was to take care of the one sole thing.  The parks and to have them for generation to come not themselves!

  • Rob C

    the balance sheets of these state departments need to be easily accessible. The only way for this surplus to show up is if expences were less than the income. The two should match up. Clearly more accountability and transparenty needs to be in place not just in parks but in all of our State Govt. No way could I hide budget in my department at work.

    Also, EVERYONE needs to subscribe to the Sac Bee. The ONLY way we find out about this stuff is via expensive support of reporters in the field. This craft is quickly fading away in the wake of USA Today, Fox and MSNBC “opinion and comment” style “news”. No way to run a country. I think I am going to subscribe right now (and I don’t even live in Sacramento) 

  • Christina Tworek

    Thank you very much for the discussion this morning about the hidden $54 million surplus in State Parks funds just discovered. This is a very disturbing..what to call it…lack of transparency, incompetent auditing system,  embarrassing blight on our California state government, etc., etc. I just hope these funds, which ARE State Parks funds, are kept for the State Parks to help with the $1.3 billion in deferred maintenance, to employ more rangers and staff, to lower fees, etc., etc. Thanks to all the individuals and organizations which have worked so hard the past year to keep the 70 State Parks open which were slated for closure! I just had the extreme pleasure of visiting Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park this past Saturday. All of us visitors were amazed by these tall, ancient treasures!

  • CalRanger

    I think this is strictly a political scandal to embarrass the Governor.  There is no embezzlement, theft or crime of moral turpitude involved.  The problem stems from what appears to be a failure to report the funds to the Legislature, but I think that time will show that not to be the case.  My understanding is that the two funds are trust funds that are legally restricted and held in trust for specific purposes and the only misstep may be that they were not pointed out to the Legislature as funds the Legislature could raid for purposes other than for what they are intended.  Trust funds are funds set aside for a specific purpose and in this case most, if not all, did not come from the General Fund.  But the true story?  Only time will tell, and it appears to me right now that the Director is the “fall guy” so that the Governor can still get the voting public to pass his tax initiative by believing that he is taking the initiative to punish those responsible.

  • Srstanley

    are these people totally nuts!!!!!!  I have been giving money for the last 3 yrs.  I am Over IT!!!!!!!!!

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor