-By Stephen Kruiser
Voter-Approved First 5 LA Program Spends $200 Million of Taxpayers Money without Oversight
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. First 5 LA is part of a statewide program created in 1998 by Prop 10, a measure which was supposed to use funds from a tobacco tax to promote health and education of young children. According to the audit, it’s 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." Auditors also concluded the agency was overstaffed while under-spending on programs for children.
So, First 5 LA is spending too much on public employees and not enough on kids. Not to mention doling out $200 million without a competitive bidding process and operating 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”. Sounds like standard operating procedure in California, which has seen similar accountability and oversight problems with other initiative-created agencies as well.
And yet, former pro Tem and career politician Don Perata 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.