Since being elected to the State Senate in March 2015, I have tried to shine a light in California’s vast bureaucracy to see if we can get better services for the hard earned taxes the people of California are paying. Unfortunately, the California Department of Transportation – or Caltrans – has done everything it can to live up to its reputation as a less than stellar organization.
I have been consistently concerned with their poor performance, whether it’s the:
- Over 3,500 excessive architects and engineers that the Legislative Analyst’s Office said Caltrans didn’t need;
- Spending 3 times the national average on road repairs;
- Money spent on a pavement tracking system that was funded by the legislature for years but never actually used by Caltrans (while receiving assurances that it was);
- Audits suggesting that 62 percent of their projects were over budget; Reports that a Caltrans employee golfed more than 50 days in a year on state time;
- Recent story of Caltrans employees allegedly killing a homeless person when trying to clean out a camp.
And yesterday, we learn that Caltrans employees and contractors are electioneering with what appears to be state funds to stop the repeal of the gas tax in November. Who is running this department?
I am asking that the new Inspector General at Caltrans, Eraina Ortega, to look into this matter and see if the actions caught on tape are consistent with state law and internal department policies. If necessary, the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission may also provide some insight into the gravity of the alleged violations.
I expect more from Caltrans and from the elected leaders here in Sacramento to hold the department accountable and make sure that they are complying with the law, just as we expect of the citizens of California.