The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 4, 2012
The parks investigation: Covert leave cashouts put manager in 'awkward position'

Person interviewed: Sedrick Mitchell
Job: deputy director of external affairs, Parks and Recreation
Interviewed by: Corrine Murphy, Justice Department deputy attorney general, and Angela Nowicki, Superintendent II, State Parks Law Enforcement Emergency Services
Date of interview: Feb. 16, 2012
Notable quote: "I expressed my disappointment that, one, we would be going down a path at this time, it puts us in an awkward position ... I've been telling my teams all along that we were going to be ... coming in under budget, that we had to make sacrifices, that the department was taking severe cuts and why are we doing this. And I said this is just another example of policies that are being put in place and ... I find out about it later ..." - Mitchell's reaction to learning about the parks' covert leave buyback program after he had been told -- and told a subordinate -- that no such program existed.

The California Natural Resources Agency recently 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 accessible to the public.
Mitchell Interview 2012-2-16

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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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