6/11/14

Grand Jury Report: Deferred Maintenance

The Contra Costa Grand Jury has released a report (available here) concerning the backlog of deferred maintenance in the County. The report's summary follows:

This report on deferred maintenance is a follow-up to Grand Jury Report #1203, issued in June 2012. 

For many years the County has struggled to chip away at the backlog of deferred maintenance on county-owned facilities.   To better understand the magnitude of the situation and tackle the problem, the County’s Facilities Life-Cycle Program (FLIP) report in 2007 evaluated deferred maintenance for a portion of county-owned buildings.  Although progress has been made in some areas, the County still lacks an adequate deferred maintenance budget.   A comprehensive review of deferred maintenance needs and a coordinated effort to address the problem is required.

6/10/14

Grand Jury Report: The Public Records Act In Contra Costa County

The Contra Costa Grand Jury has released a report (available here) which makes recommendations for expanding the right of the public to access public records. The report's summary follows:

The California Public Records Act (the “CPRA” or “Act”) is the law that ensures the public has access to records generated by public agencies.   The Act, however is complex and flawed.  Employees responsible for fulfilling CPRA requests do not always respond in the manner required by the law.   Contra Costa County has adopted a Better Government Ordinance; it allows the public even greater access to government records and information and clarifies some of the uncertainties of the ACT.    The practice of making public records available on a governmental entity’s website is an economical and practical means of complying with the Act.

5/21/14

Grand Jury Report: County Employee Evaluations

The Contra Costa Grand Jury has released a report (available here) which recommends that all cities develop five-year technology plans.    The report's summary starts with:

The use of technology by cities has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, from simply playing a support role in providing desktop computers and network servers to being a catalyst for productivity and touching virtually every department operation.  As demand for technology applications has expanded, the need for cities to develop integrated plans has become critical.    

5/17/14

Grand Jury Report: Planning For Technology

The Contra Costa Grand Jury has released a report (available here) which recommends that all cities develop five-year technology plans.    The report's summary starts with:

The use of technology by cities has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, from simply playing a support role in providing desktop computers and network servers to being a catalyst for productivity and touching virtually every department operation.  As demand for technology applications has expanded, the need for cities to develop integrated plans has become critical.    

5/16/14

Contra Costa Times: Contra Costa grand jury recommends employees that are mandated reporters be trained to report child sex abuse

Full text of the news article follows: 

Before last fall, there were virtually no Contra Costa County cities with policies guiding training employees to report suspected child abuse to authorities, and even now few cities have implemented such training, according to a new report released by the county's civil grand jury.


5/14/14

Grand Jury Report: Training City Personnel In Reporting Child Abuse

The Contra Costa Grand Jury has released a report (available here) which recommends that all public entity employees and volunteers be trained to recognize and report suspected child abuse.    The report's summary states:

Multiple lawsuits alleging child abuse, and the failure to report suspected instances of the same, have revealed that many employees of the public entities, including those of the cities, do not understand their duties to identify and report suspected or known instances of child abuse.   This failure is due, in large part, to inadequate training of employees, and other personnel, in their legal obligations as “mandated reporters”.

4/1/14

Contra Costa Times Article: Should Contra Costa school volunteers be trained to report child abuse?

The Contra Costa Times has published this article about the Contra Costa Grand Jury Report: Training School District Employees In Reporting Child Abuse.    The full article follows.

Should Contra Costa school volunteers be trained to report child abuse?


By Matthias Gafni Contra Costa Times

Contra Costa school employees and possibly even volunteers who deal with students should be trained annually to report child abuse, according to recommendations by the Contra Costa Civil Grand Jury.

The recently released report -- which cited investigations by this newspaper that have led to $20 million in settlements in Moraga, Brentwood and Antioch school districts, terminations, a federal report and state legislation -- said districts have "scrambled" the past two years to implement training in light of media scrutiny.

Grand Jury Report: Training School District Employees in Reporting Child Abuse

The Contra Costa Grand Jury has released a report (available here) which recommends that all school district employees and volunteers be trained to recognize and report suspected child abuse.    The report's summary states:

The explosion of cases against school districts in the County alleging child abuse, and the accompanying payouts of millions of dollars to settle those cases, has revealed a disturbing fact: most districts have failed for years to adequately train their employees about their legal obligations to recognize and report suspected, or known, instances of child abuse.  Some districts have now made a good, but belated, start to put in place training programs. However, it is essential that all districts immediately implement training programs that educate all school employees, and volunteers who interact with children; that such training be conducted on an annual basis; and that all districts have a system in place to verify that each employee has completed the training program.    

3/5/14

Barnidge: Civil grand jury is the citizen watchdog for Contra Costa County

Tom Barnridge, columnist for The Contra Costa Times, published this article about the importance of the County's Grand Jury.   An excerpt follows:

The hours are long and the work intense. The pay is minimal and the recognition nonexistent. Duties require interviewing bureaucrats, conducting investigations and writing in-depth reports. If this is the way you'd like to spend your free time, July through June, you may want to volunteer for the Contra Costa Grand Jury. Applications close at 5 p.m. on March 28.

Oh, you'd like to know what it is?


The civil grand jury is a largely overlooked and rarely understood citizen tool that helps ensure local government operates efficiently and ethically. It's a watchdog group of 19 carefully selected Contra Costa residents -- a Superior Court judge interviews the finalists -- who probe the nooks and crannies of government agencies to see that they're functioning properly.

If you're interested in becoming a Grand Juror, applications are available here.