The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 12, 2012
The parks investigation: Administrator reprimanded for going along with leave buyouts

Person interviewed: Dave Saxby
Job: parks administrative services assistant deputy director
Interviewed by: Corrine Murphy, Justice Department deputy attorney general, and Angela Nowicki, Superintendent II, State Parks Law Enforcement Emergency Services
Dates of interviews: Feb. 15, 2012, and April 25, 2012
Notable quote No. 1: "I said I can understand that you can do buy back for excess hours but just to help somebody, (I) said what would be our logic if ... somebody comes and puts a microphone in our face, what do we say? ... I personally can't think of anything and I said you're crazy if we do that." -- Saxby's account of his advice to Manuel Lopez to resist requests to allow employees in financial hardship to participate in the parks leave buyback program even if their hours didn't exceed the state's 640-hour cap. (See February transcript page 22.)
Notable quote No. 2: Most people were scared of him, wouldn't tell him the truth. ... People don't like being yelled at." -- Saxby's description of Lopez's "dysfunctional" management style. (See April transcript page 28.)

Saxby, a long-time state employee, received a formal reprimand for neglect of duty, misuse of state property and other failure of good behavior. Parks officials said that he knew, or should have known, that the leave scheme needed state approval and shouldn't have assumed the program had received it. We've posted the Notice of Adverse Action along with Saxby's two interview transcripts.

The California Natural Resources Agency released more than 1,000 pages of interviews, adverse action notices and reports that detail a covert employee leave buyback program at the Department of Parks and Recreation during the summer of 2011.

Natural resources issued the documents online in response to media requests after The Bee broke the story of the leave cash-out program, which spurred the revelation that parks squirreled away millions of dollars while also threatening to close facilities due to extreme budget pressure.

This post is the next in a series intended to make the documents readily accessible to the public.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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