Monday, February 8, 2010
Taft: Kern County Grand Jury to Release Taft City Council Report Tuesday Morning
Investigative Body Looking Into Real Estate Investment, Employee Raise Issue in Taft City Government
February 7, 2010
The Kern County Grand Jury will release a report on Taft City Government on Tuesday morning, February 9th.
The Grand Jury has been looking into several issues in Taft City government since September 2009, but the proceedings are secret and no issues that the government body has been looking into have been publically disclosed.
But city hall has been plagued with several internal problems such as accuations of employee harrassment by a city councilmen, alledged illegal employee pay raises by staff, and a real estate investment by City Manager Bob Gorson with Councilman Cliff Thompson.
At about the same time the Grand Jury began its investigation into city hall, which was dislcosed at the Taft Council meeting by Councilman Cliff Thompson last Fall, the council hired an outside attorney at a cost if $15,000 to look into the pay raise isssue, and a $200,000 real estate investment that city Manager Bob Gorson made with Councilman Cliff Thomspon.
The law firm issued an opinion that the investment was not a violation of the law, and that the pay raises were within the authority of City Manager Gorson.
The opinion differed with an earlier opinion issued by the city attorney that said that the pay raises were not authorized without council approval and were inviolation of the law.
The city has since hired another law firm, at a reported cost of $29,000 to look further into the two issues, and allegations of employee work place harassment against Councilman Thompson. Thompson has refused to meet with law firm investigators.
Taft City Council members received an advance copy of the report late Friday.
The Kern County Grand Jury is an independent body of 19 citizens, that investigates all aspects of county government, special districts and cities to ensure effective government and that public monies are being judiciously handled.
The Grand Jury may issue an accusation against public officials that may result in removal from office if upheld by the Court. The Grand Jury may also subpoena persons and/or records to obtain information on subjects under investigation.
The Grand Jury is sworn to complete confidentiality as it pertains to complaints, witnesses or content of investigative matters. Grand Jury members may not disclose any information they receive in their capacity as a Grand Juror unless permission is given.
At the end of its term, the Grand Jury issues a Final Report to the presiding Judge. These reports include recommendations and findings of each committee and are available to the general public and media.