"You’ve just had the residents of the state of California informed about how your over-staffed engineers have plenty of time to golf while on the clock — What are you going to do next?"
The traditional answer should be, "I’m going to Disneyland!"
In the case of executives from Caltrans, the answer was, "I’m going golfing!" The irony is incredulous! See MOORLACH UPDATE — Caltrans Fairways — August 28, 2015.
Just one day after the State Auditor released findings of a Caltrans engineer golfing 55 days while "on the clock,” my office discovered that Caltrans executives were also scheduled to golf on a workday – this coming Monday. Consequently, my office let the media know how tone deaf and out of touch this bloated department is (see below). The responses from Caltrans were telling and "par for the course."
First, there was no response from Caltrans. Then, in mid afternoon, there was an abrupt decision to pull out of the tournament. Later, Caltrans execs claimed they had done nothing wrong and that they were going to golf on their own personal time. Finally, the Caltrans execs turned their angst on me, taking to Twitter to levy attacks on me personally.
NBC Channel 4 provides a great story on yesterday’s activities in the first piece below. When the fun went viral, with Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty going after me with tweets, this caught the attention of the OC Register and the details are provided in the second piece below.
The California Transportation Foundation (see http://transportationfoundation.org/) may be doing good and honorable work. But, imposing on construction companies that do business with Caltrans to underwrite golf tournaments is a topic of interest all onto its own. I was asked to make a contribution, but I could not find an audited financial statement on their website. Guidestar.org was down for maintenance.
Perception is reality. The optics of promoting and participating in a golf tournament within hours of the release of a disturbing state auditor’s report is very disappointing. And Caltrans’ episodic response to news of their own execs scheduled to tee off together on a workday has every indication of a hastily devised coverup. Caltrans is not making it easy for the taxpayers of this state to swallow another tax increase.
Caltrans Officials Pull Out of Golf Tournament After Audit
By Vikki Vargas
Three high-ranking Caltrans executives said Friday they will pull out of a charity golf tournament scheduled for next week in Orange County, just a day after a state audit found a Caltrans engineer had been golfing when he should have been at work.
The engineer’s use of paid time was something state officials began looking into after another agency employee initially blew the whistle.
That engineer was playing golf for several hours rather than working on 55 of his scheduled days over a year and a half period, the audit found.
State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Irvine) criticized the agency after the report was released.
“If you have 3,500 employees too many what else is there to do? Why not play golf?” he asked.
The tournament scheduled for Monday will be held at the private Dove Canyon Country Club. It is a charity event for the California Transportation Foundation, a group that raises money for children of fallen Caltrans workers.
But Moorlach also questioned the timing of the executives playing in the tournament after the release of the state audit.
“You know, I don’t mind that state employees participate in a golf tournament. I just think it’s inappropriate they do it on a work day,” he said.
Caltrans sent NBC4 a flier about the golf tournament which says "participation is voluntary on personal time."
The agency also said in a statement that all employees must fill out timesheets and activity logs, that "we expect a days work for a day’s pay."
But Moorlach said what the audit uncovered is a reflection of Caltrans’ inability to cut costs and overhead.
“It’s costing us three times the national average to build roads,” he said. “We’ve got $77,000 per mile in administrative costs and we have the fourth highest gas tax, but we have the worst roads in the country.”
Among those planning to attend golf tournament were Malcolm Dougherty, the director of Caltrans, and two of his executives. All three had planned to use vacation time.
Late Friday afternoon they announced they were pulling out completely.
“I say, ‘thank you,’ Moorlach said. “The right move.”
CALTRANS AUDIT SPARKS ONLINE FEUD
State Sen. John Moorlach fires off barbs.
BY MARTIN WISCKOL
An online feud between an Orange County lawmaker and the head of Caltrans erupted Friday after the legislator issued a news release criticizing several Caltrans executives’ participation in a benefit golf tournament scheduled Monday at Dove Canyon Country Club near Rancho Santa Margarita.
The brouhaha comes during legislative wrangling over Caltrans’ budget and on the heels of a state audit released Thursday that found a Caltrans engineer played golf 55 times over a 19-month period while he was on the clock.
The engineer retired last month and his supervisor, who signed his time sheet, was scheduled to retire this month, according to Caltrans .
“Is Caltrans management that arrogant and tone-deaf?” state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said in the release. “The state auditor just revealed that they have employees golfing 55 days on-the-clock, so in response top management at Caltrans is taking a golf trip?”
Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty fired back on Twitter, “It’s a shame @SenatorMoorlach would call me out for using my time and $ to help @CTFCharity which supports families of fallen trans workers.”
CTF, the California Transportation Foundation, is a private, nonprofit organization.
Moorlach and Dougherty exchanged several more tweets.
“How can we ask Californians to pay more for #CARoads when @CaltransHQ spends their days golfing on taxpayers’ dime?” Moorlach wrote.
Dougherty responded by questioning Moorlach’s sensitivity and said there was no taxpayer money involved with the tournament participation.
Dougherty then said he had decided not to participate in the tournament. He would, however, make his planned donation to CTF, he said – and challenged Moorlach to do the same.
Asked by phone if he would be matching Dougherty’s contribution, Moorlach said, “I don’t know.”
CONTACT THE WRITER: mwisckol; @MartinWisckol
This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.
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