CNS – The city of Los Angeles’ automated toilets and a museum on the history of water are among the most “egregious” examples of government waste, according to a report released Nov. 14 by two watchdog groups.
The 2007 California Piglet Book, put together by Citizens Against
Government Waste and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation, chronicles more than $3 billion in waste and fraud.
“The billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse mentioned in this year’s Piglet is simply further evidence of the continued need for additional transparency on all levels of government,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation.
“This scrutiny will be especially important this year as California deals with a potential $10 billion budget deficit and additional billions worth of unfunded pension liabilities.”
One of the worst examples of waste was the seven automated toilets installed by the city of Los Angeles in the downtown area. Six of the toilets, which each cost $300,000 to install, did not work.
“The result is a classic case of government impeding itself, rather than assisting citizens. Even if the city was flush with money, this would still be a waste,” according to the report.
The groups also cited the Department of Water and Power’s “Trees for a Green L.A.” program, which was expected to plant 100,000 trees a year at a cost of $40 a tree. Instead, the utility planted 36,000 trees over the course of three years. Each tree cost at least $63.
A DWP spokesman said the criticism is misplaced because those problems, which were cited in an internal audit more than two years ago, have since been corrected.
“We’ve improved the problems that were identified in the audit,” the DWP’s Joe Ramallo said.
The Metropolitan Water District’s Center for Water Education in Hemet was also cited for financial mismanagement. The museum cost ratepayers more than $16 million. The MWD Board of Directors then approved an additional $4.67 million to keep the museum from falling into bankruptcy.
A representative for the MWD was not immediately available to comment on the Piglet report.
The president of Citizens Against Government Waste said the state should adopt an accountability and transparency act.
It would be “legislation that would create a Google-like search engine and database to track state grants, contracts, and earmarks,” said Tom Schatz.
“With private sector expertise and the help of nonprofit organizations such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation, citizens could analyze every nook and cranny of the California budget to ensure that every tax dollar is accounted for and follow up to make sure the waste is eliminated.”