California lawmakers set hearing on hidden parks funds
State lawmakers plan to hold hearings starting next week on the controversy concerning $54 million in hidden parks funds, and one legislative leader predicted a move to reallocate much of the money to parks threatened with closure.
Gov. Jerry Brown said his office did not know of the money stashed in two special funds when he approved park closures earlier this year. The controversy has led to the resignation of Parks Director Ruth Coleman and the removal of her second-in-command.
Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) is planning the first special meeting of an Assembly budget subcommittee for Aug. 9, to review the management of all special funds, including the two parks accounts that hold the $54 million, a spokesman said.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said his chamber would also convene a hearing. "We have to ask the hard questions as to how it happened and why," he said.
As for the money itself, "we need to spend it on keeping parks open," Steinberg said. "I am certainly open to budget action on that particular issue. It is important, especially for those who relied on another set of facts to put forward their own private money to keep parks open, that we spend the money that has been found on parks."
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said newly discovered state parks money may be used to keep parks from closing. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press