State Report Hits Museum of Science and Industry

Times Staff Writer

The Legislature’s auditor general Monday criticized the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry, accusing officials of overstating attendance and allowing excessive parking fees, and charging that the museum’s executive director receives extra compensation for performing his normal duties.

The highly critical report of Auditor General Thomas W. Hayes was a follow-up to an investigation that he performed in 1983 when he examined many of the same issues at the museum, which is near the Coliseum in South-Central Los Angeles. Corrective action had been taken in some cases but not in others, he said.

Additionally, Hayes charged that in accepting private contributions to sponsor displays, the museum has failed to require donors to pay for maintaining the exhibits--a cost that in the future could fall on California taxpayers, who help support the facility.

Action Promised

Shirley Chilton, secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency, which has state jurisdiction over the museum’s program and policies, generally concurred with Hayes’ criticism and gave assurance that remedial action has been or would be taken.

The report said that during the 1984-85 National Basketball Assn. season, the Los Angeles Clippers overcharged fans at least $140,000 for 1,200 parking spaces at a lot in the museum’s Exposition Park. This violated an agreement between the Clippers and the museum, which held that the basketball organization would not charge more for parking than it paid to the museum.


The Clippers organization “charged more for the parking spaces than it paid the museum for these parking spaces because museum officials did not enforce the permit provision that prohibited the Clippers from doing so,” the report said.

Talks With Clippers

Chilton acknowledged that the parking contract “was deficient in some details” but said talks were under way for the Clippers to pay additional fees for the 1985-86 season and a contract for the current season had been held up “until this matter and other parking-related issues are resolved.”

The report also asserted that the museum overstated its attendance and therefore “may be misrepresenting its popularity to the Legislature and private donors.” It noted that the museum executive director, Donald Muchmore, figured attendance at the facility at 953,100 for a six-week period preceding, during and after the 1984 Olympics.

Hayes’ auditors calculated that the actual attendance was 20,585 less.

“The museum will develop more accurate methods of estimating attendance and validate it on a regular basis,” Chilton said.

Hayes charged that Muchmore has violated a state law that forbids a state employee from receiving outside compensation for tasks performed within his official duties. He also said a former chief deputy to Muchmore, Jeffrey Rudolph, violated a conflict-of-interest law.

In each case, Muchmore and Rudolph, as top museum administrators, wore second hats as the executive vice president and administrative vice president, respectively, of the California Museum Foundation of Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization that functions chiefly as a fund-raiser for the Museum of Science and Industry.

The auditor general said both the state attorney general and the state Personnel Administration Department issued a legal opinion in 1984 saying state law prohibited the dual-compensation arrangement of Muchmore and Rudolph. Serving on the museum foundation came within the scope of their employment as museum officials, the report said.

Rudolph’s Role

Rudolph, the report said, was the museum’s officer in charge, among other things, of assuring that the “foundation complied with its contracts with the museum.” At the foundation, Rudolph’s duties included “negotiating contracts for exhibit development” and this constituted a conflict of interest, the auditor general said.

The Personnel Administration Department said Muchmore receives a state employee salary of about $61,800 a year. Until last May, when his duties were changed, Rudolph was paid about $56,000 as chief deputy.

The auditor general said until October, 1984, Muchmore received a salary of $35,216 a year from the foundation besides his state salary. The foundation also provided him with a $20,000 expense account.

Although he hasn’t received a foundation salary since September, 1984, the report said, he has received expense reimbursements from the foundation “for country club and health club membership dues, charges on credit cards, meals and secretarial services” totaling more than $15,000.

Recently, Muchmore signed a contract to continue as the foundation’s executive vice president. The auditor general said although he has not collected a salary from the foundation, the sum is accruing on the foundation’s books.