$54M CA state parks scandal may be tip of iceberg

July 27, 2012 12:43:38 PM PDT
A non-profit group that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to save a popular South Bay state park from the budget axe is making demands and it comes after a similar group in Sonoma County made the same demand Thursday. They want the state to make a promise or hand all that money back.

This is all fallout after the stunning discovery of $54 million just sitting there in a California state parks bank account that not a lot of people knew about. A blockbuster story in Friday's San Jose Mercury News may be just the tip of the ice berg. They say "billions" of dollars in state money has been found in "hundreds" of different accounts, all in addition the money found in the state parks account.

Representatives from the Coe Park Preservation fund held a news conference at the state building Friday morning in San Jose where they said that $54 million is a lot of money, but if they spent $20 million of it on state parks, the fund would continue to provide the state with $300,000 a year in private funding for the next two years, just as it did this year, to keep Santa Clara County's Coe State Park open. Although, if law makers don't do that, they say the deal is off.

"The CPPF will the three-year memorandum of understanding we issued in January of 2012, which we paid one year, and we will ask, we will demand the return of the $279,000 we presented them on May 25, 2012," Dan McCranie said Friday.

The $20 million the CPPF wants spent on state parks is entry and concession fees from park users. McCranie said he doesn't feel the park rangers and superintendents he negotiated with were being dishonest with him. He said everyone involved with the negotiations had been deceived by higher-ups. He said the people who hid the $54 million should pay the price.

The director of state parks resigned one week ago as a result of the controversy and with the Mercury News report of $2.3 billion in unaccounted money showing up in more than 500 different accounts, the state parks issue may be just a small part of a much larger situation.


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