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Prosecutors should review ODNR spending

The idea that government officials should be good stewards of taxpayers’ money does not seem to have caught on. New evidence that some bureaucrats do not see that as important comes from a report by Ohio Inspector General Randall Meyer.

Meyer’s report details illegal, extravagant and unnecessary spending by the state Department of Natural Resources during former Gov. John Kasich’s administration.

After receiving tips in October 2018, Meyer looked into the state carpentry shop at Scioto Trail State Park near Chillicothe. One finding is that the shop did not follow purchasing rules in spending $38,000 on two laser engravers used to personalize items.

It gets worse. One employee said he made approximately 2,000 $27 walking sticks that were distributed free to legislators, Kasich, state employees and others.

Meanwhile, state park cabin shells, at $10,000 each, were so poorly made that they required costly alterations. One employee said pre-made kits would have been cheaper.

But here’s the big head-shaker. A retired state carpentry employee was asked to return to work in 2013 by now-retired deputy director and state forester Robert Boyles for a “little project” that took nearly a year. It was a handmade 15–24 foot walnut conference table, the cost of which has not been calculated. What we do know is that a crane had to be used to install the 1.2-ton table at DNR headquarters.

By the way, state law does not permit DNR to make items for use in administrative buildings.

Meyer’s report calls the abuse of taxpayer resources “extravagant and grandiose,” but he did not refer his report for review by prosecutors. Perhaps he should have done so.

Then again, it may be that Meyer, no doubt like many taxpayers, has given up hope of reforming the bureaucracy.

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