Grapevine: Talk is cheap, unless it's with professionals

Department of Homeland Security conferences cost more than $20 million


And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine..

Money Talks

Talk is cheap --  unless you're talking with professionals.

The Department of Homeland Security ran up a bill of more than $20 million on conferences in just 14 months.

An Inspector General's audit found -- DHS attended or hosted almost 2,000 conferences -- averaging about four a day from October 2013 to December 2014.

And that counts weekends and holidays.

Only 15 percent of events costing over $20,000 each were reported to the IG.

All of them are supposed to be.

One government watchdog wants the department to focus on priorities -- quote --

"Amid security lapses at DHS agencies like the TSA -- the department should spend the money it already receives in a more cost effective way. Every dollar spent in a wasteful fashion is a dollar that isn't used to protect the nation."

A DHS spokesman concurs with all the IG recommendations -- and notes reporting has improved so far in 2015.

Good Idea, Bad Execution

Good -- giving to charity.

Bad -- the money getting stuck in red tape -- and never helping the intended beneficiary.

The Associated Press reviewed California's Voluntary Tax contribution Program -- and uncovered nearly $10 million -- sat unspent at the end of last year.

One example -- $278,000 to help asthma and lung disease research -- ended up in the state treasury.

Even charities that did get the money -- were frustrated by bureaucratic delays -- like the YMCA needing to take out a line of credit -- while waiting for a check.

The chairman of the California's Senate Governance and Finance Committee has demanded a review of all state accounts that handle charitable tax contributions.

Giving Mood

Finally -- speaking of giving -- that is what one San Francisco man just might do.

Hubert Tang is a $1 million richer -- before taxes -- after he bought a pair of lotto tickets with a $20 bill he found on the ground at the airport.

The stunned winner plans to save the money -- but may begin leaving $20 bills on the street to spread his good fortune.

But first -- a celebration dinner -- and buy a car for his mother.