The California State Auditor's Office is out with its new report on "improper activities by state agencies and employees" and it's a goldmine. A few of the nuggets:
-- A chief psychologist misused state time and equipment by performing work for his private practice, costing the State an estimated $212,261.
-- For nearly three years, a transportation planning supervisor for the Department of Transportation neglected his duty to supervise the work of a subordinate transportation planner, resulting in the transportation planner receiving compensation, including overtime pay, for which the State lacked assurance that the transportation planner performed adequate work to justify the compensation
But best of all is this tidbit, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:
An auditor's report revealed the latest ways California public employees have squandered thousands of taxpayer dollars - starting with the state Mental Health Department executive who contended that attending the Golden Globe Awards and a Julio Iglesias concert was essential to his job.
It wasn't, State Auditor Elaine Howle said, and the cost to taxpayers for the executive's celebrity schmoozing and other activities in 2009, the year she examined, was $51,244.
Of course, these anecdotes represent small change for a state that routinely faces 11-digit budget deficits. But they also reveal the attitude -- blithe disregard for stewardship of taxpayer money -- that leads to those deficits.