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Grand Jury Critiques City Practices, Again

The annual citizen report came out late Wednesday. English Language Learners programs were also in the crosshairs.

For the second time in as many years, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury criticized Watsonville city government practices in its annual report.

The report was released late Wednesday and the Grand Jury, a group of county residents who volunteer to be empaneled on the committee, will present its findings at a press conference Thursday morning.

How city staff handle finances—particularly the Strawberry Festival funds—and the ongoing saga of were again investigated by the Grand Jury.

The Grand Jury recommended the city develop an across-the-board cash-handling policy to mitigate many of the problems identified. It also suggested city staff improve the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of information provided to the City Council and the public.

The in the county, including:

  • English language learner programs are losing information in translation, the Grand Jury found. The issues range from a lack of centralized statistics about the number of students involved to variations in the name of the programs on school district-produced literature and websites.
  • Special districts, such as the Lompico County Water District, need more oversight and LAFCO is not fulfilling its responsibilities on that front.
  • Building departments at the county and in each city should establish procedures to with Environmental Health Services to identify known soil contamination sites during the building permit application process, then create a database to store and share the information.

The Grand Jury explored what lessons the county could learn from the San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion in September 2010. To do so, the Grand Jury recommended Board of Supervisors should request periodic updates on the condition and safety of PG&E gas pipelines in the county.

The report also included a review of the county jail system, a review done the Grand Jury each year, and two responses from last year's Grand Jury investigations.

The full report is attached at the left, and Patch will have updates on these issues after the press conference.

randy June 28, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Well this should be very interesting. Too bad that the time change information wasn't in time. Don't see how the council can vote on something then have Mr. Carlos P. make his own decision on when the meetings will start at a time NOT voted on by the council. Will lhe call the early meeting the night before so that some members are not able to attend.
Steve Bankhead June 28, 2012 at 03:33 PM
To a great extent, the city manager took the criticisms of Watsonville city government in last year's report and threw them back in the face of the Grand Jury. I'll wait to see if he treats this year's findings with more respect, or simply spits on them again.
Jennifer Squires June 28, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The interesting part here is the recommendations are just that: suggestions. There's no requirement any group "investigated" actually make a change.
Cathy P. June 28, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I'm betting on the latter. The GJ's findings are all hunky-dory but they can only make recommendations. Until DA Bob Lee gets involved, it will be politics as usual in Watsonvlle.
randy June 29, 2012 at 06:14 AM
No requirement BUT the report can be given to the DAs office and they can do something. The business with petty cash is very fishy.
Quite Big Bill June 29, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Most of these local political problems have a common cause and suggest one simple solution. There are no checks and balances from the Collective Overall Electorate represented in this local government. Crony appointed council members appointing their good buddies to “occupied vacant” council seats is not legitimate Representation for local Voters. Watsonville needs a popularly elected Strong Mayor – to serve as the City Managers’ Boss and to occasionally wield the counterbalancing power to Veto the eccentric whims of the City Council.
randy June 29, 2012 at 05:51 PM
>>Watsonville needs a popularly elected Strong Mayor – to serve as the City Managers’ Boss and to occasionally wield the counterbalancing power to Veto the eccentric whims of the City Council.<< BRAVO, BILL.
Cathy P. June 29, 2012 at 06:09 PM
@Quite Big Bill: BINGO!

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