Byline: R.L. Parker
Your newspaper’s roundup of all the year’s top stories in the Jan. 4-17 issue was quite interesting, but the one that stands out is the “reorganization” of the Department of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating) as a new “division” of the Department of Parks and Recreation, under our governor’s plan to streamline state government.
Since the official change in status from department to division doesn’t actually take place until later this year, I think I’m not alone in wondering what changes we can expect.
Cal Boating has been a stand-alone department for more than 50 years, and it has quite an enviable track record in managing its boater-provided funds. The Department of Parks and Recreation, which has been claiming poverty and a need to close a long list of state parks for several years, does not have such a good track record.
At least Parks and Rec has more money than we were led to believe, thanks to that secret fund they found — the fund that led to the ouster of the department’s former director. Depending on which reports are accurate, they either intentionally diverted or unintentionally misplaced anywhere from $20 million to $50 million that ended up essentially becoming a “rainy day fund” for some kind of natural disaster that might occur.
At least that was the story. And if you can make that much money “disappear” out of the public coffers, no telling what else you can do.
I hope our harbor and watercraft fund dollars will continue to go toward improving and maintaining boating facilities and boating programs statewide, and will not be diverted for some other non-boating use in Parks and Rec. At least there have been plenty of public assurances to that effect.
And I hope that, by now, there will be so many watchdogs looking at Parks and Rec that we can be confident our boating funds won’t get poured into some other secret slush fund.