It's not a big story, but an interesting one: the annual report from state auditors of government workers who have done wrong.
And this year doesn't disappoint: improper travel expenses, inappropriate email, unnecessary consultants, and more.
San Quentin, may you rot and burn in hell.
May your walls fall and may I live to tell.
May all the world forget you ever stood.
And may all the world regret you did no good.
Those are Johnny Cash's words in his 1969 classic about California's most infamous prison.
And for now, it's going to stay a prison.
After a brief debate this morning, legislation to close San Quentin State Prison and sell its Marin coastline property was shelved, and it appears the proposal could ultimately be rejected later this year in the state Senate.
Not that you needed a formal audit of California government to know it, but today's detailed report gives some final clarity to how much the state took in last year... and how much more it spent.
You can say one thing about those pesky state auditors: they sure are picky about how taxpayer dollars are spent.
The report obviously isn't an indictment of the vast majority of state workers (no emails, please) or of most government agencies. Nonetheless, it always provides some insight into how a handful of folks think they've gotten away with something... for a little while, at least.
Without any further ado...
Two Jobs Are Better Than One: The audit found a full-time employee at the California Department of Housing and Community Development was holding down a job on the outside at the same time she drew a state paycheck. And if that wasn't enough, the outside job was with a non-profit organization that was receiving grants from the department. Total cost to the state: $34,687. Ummm, didn't anyone notice? Apparently not. From the auditors' report: "The employee's managers at HCD did not sufficiently supervise her attendance and failed to respond appropriately to numerous indications that the employee was working simultaneously at the nonprofit."
There's No Business Like... No Business: Over at the state Environmental Protection Agency, auditors found an employee who was apparently taking time off but being paid as though she was on the job. The employee (all persons are unnamed in the audit, by the way) was away from work a total of 768 hours over a 22 month period. That's 19.2 weeks of vacation... assuming a standard workweek... in less than two years. Cost to the state: $23,320. Again, the audit raps the knuckles of supervisors who failed to stay on top of the situation.
On the Job Drinking: At the California Employment Development Department, auditors discovered an employee who was drinking alcoholic beverages while working, which (shockingly) "impeded his ability to perform his duties safely." But it gets better. "Moreover," says the report, "his supervisors had been aware of the situation for years." In the time since the auditors filed their report, supervisors at the agency decided to suspend the worker, without pay, for two days.
The list goes on with other small, but interesting, snippets of folks not necessarily walking the straight and narrow. The incidents came to light through California's Whistleblower Protection Act, and the report was officially submitted to the governor and Legislature today by State Auditor Elaine Howle.
The entire report, in all its glory, can be found here.