The voter-approved "First 5 LA Program" spends $200 million of taxpayers' money without oversight. I know. Shocking.
It isn't. But it should be.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, a recent independent audit of the First 5 LA Commission revealed massive problems with the agency, including lack of accountability, spending oversight or competitive bidding. Perhaps the members of the Commission should get more than a slap on the wrist. Again, PatriotWriter calls for the return of the public Tar and Feather.
It sounds like an evening news program, but First 5 LA is actually part of a statewide program created in 1998 by Prop 10, a measure which was supposed to use funds from a tobacco tax (boo!) to promote health and education of young children. I was living in California at the time of its passage--Propositions for tax increases always magically pass in California. Please refer to the title of this post to find out why.
According to the independent audit, the Commission is not exactly fulfilling its mission. From the Times: An audit by Harvey M. Rose of San Francisco found First 5 LA's Commission was unable to monitor money that was being spent "since monthly programmatic expenditures are not presented relative to a budget." Try using that kind of fuzzy math in your budget at home.
Auditors also concluded the agency was overstaffed while under-spending on programs for children. Note: if a new tax is sold as "for the children" you can translate that into "employment for adults at the expense of the children" virtually every time. So, First 5 LA is spending too much on public employees and not enough on kids? You don't say. I love the government...it's so consistent.
Furthermore, First 5 LA doles out $200 million without a competitive bidding process and operates with such a lack of oversight that there’s no way to determine if the agency has signed agreements "for inappropriate purposes or with unqualified vendors or grantees”. Cronyism? Probably. Tax fraud? You betcha--taxpayers getting hosed again. Sounds like standard operating procedure in California, which has seen similar accountability and oversight problems with other initiative-created agencies as well. Heck--it sounds like standard operating procedure for the government in general. I agree with Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation, "My idea of a perfect government is one guy who sits in a small room at a desk, and the only thing he's allowed to decide is who to nuke."
And yet Don Perata, a career politician, is pushing another measure – the so-called California Cancer Research Act – to create yet another unaccountable bureaucracy with six political appointees that can spend nearly a billion each year, including millions on staff salaries and pensions and overhead. With huge budget problems and public pension costs spiraling out of control, the last thing California needs is another big-spending bureaucracy with no oversight or accountability. The measure is slated for the June 2012 ballot in California.
You can stop government waste on the local level if you are doggedly persistent, on the state level if you pull the gloves off, and on the federal level if you protest and riot long enough. But then, perhaps I am overly optimistic. I am not entirely sure how any government waste, fraud and abuse has been stopped in the history of time. All I can say is, "Hey California--stop voting YES on every proposed tax on the ballot. You're never going to get what you pay for if you trust Gubmint to do it for you."
I am so glad I evacuated California six years ago. It's enough to make me go postal. Oh wait--they're bankrupt due to mismanagement and fuzzy accounting, too.
Partial commentary provided by Stephen Kruiser.