Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The impact of the Napa County Grand Jury

By Edward Suden | Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 12:00 am | (0) Comments

In response to those who hold the opinion that the Napa Grand Jury does not accomplish anything by its reports, I respectfully offer the following. Recommendations made in a Grand Jury Final Report are meant, in part, to raise the awareness of the public and the media to the subject matter of those recommendations. However, this does not mean that any actions initiated by a governmental agency or body to the subject matter of those recommendations were necessarily only in response to those recommendations.

The 2008-2009 Grand Jury Response Report provided the following partial list of the positive actions taken by governmental agencies and bodies after the 2007-2008 Grand Jury issued their individual final reports.

1. A Browns Valley Fire Station Number Five is projected to be built and staffed in January 2013.

2. The city of Napa has improved its financial operation.

3. The Calistoga Joint Unified School District installed Columbine locks on all classroom doors, a telephone was placed in the art room and the district has purchased EpiPens and sharps boxes.

4. Community Emergency Response Team training will be implemented in Napa County high schools and middle schools.

5. Napa Valley College installed computers with wireless capabilities in campus police cars, has deployed a computer-based emergency notification system to communicate with college staff and uses the AlertU system to send emergency Short Message messages to students.

6. A training manual has been developed and ongoing training instituted for new members of any county agency and advisory group.

7. The Napa County Housing Authority has established a capital improvement fund for the farmworker housing centers.

8. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Napa County and the volunteer fire departments is being revised to give the county fire chief the full authority to manage and to be accountable for all aspects of the volunteer fire departments.

9. Funds paid to volunteer firefighters who are part of a County Deploy Strike Team are being made on a routine basis and in a timely manner.

10. A type IV engine that will fit into and be housed at Soda Canyon station has been ordered for delivery.

11. The Berryessa Peak public safety radio repeater will be equipped with a microwave relay system.

12. The Napa Central Dispatch Public Safety Access Point can “conference” the CalFire Emergency Command Center on fire and medical/fire dispatch calls.

13. The department of corrections created a new grievance procedure.

14. A thorough update of the Road and Street Standards is underway and changes will cover all aspects of the standards used for maintenance and new development conditions.

15. The Department of Public Works continues a comprehensive review of its safety manual.

The 2009-2010 Grand Jury Response Report provided the following partial list of positive actions taken by governmental agencies and departments since the release of the 2008-2009 Grand Jury’s individual final reports.

1. The County Counsel’s office now schedules regular bimonthly meetings of the entire staff rather than less frequently, as in the past, and is developing a formal conflict-of-interest policy to address the problem of two opposing county agencies or departments that both request representation from the office of the County Counsel.

2. The Adult Probation Department has increased the number of evidence-based programs available to probationers, increased officer safety with regard to holding arrested probationers awaiting transport, and along with the district attorney has developed a pre-sentencing report protocol that conveys to probationers information regarding California Penal Code 1203.4 concerning the possible dismissal of their cases.

3. The Napa City-County Library is planning a review of the library collection to ensure the library is meeting the needs of the entire community, and has increased training for its library commission members.

4. The library commission by-laws and long-range policy are being reviewed and updated.

5. St. Helena Unified School District is developing a site-specific associated student body manual and is working to establish detailed written internal controls for the relationship between school-connected organizations and the district.

6. The Howell Mountain Elementary School District has re-implemented the D.A.R.E. program.

7. Napa County, the city of Napa, and the city of American Canyon are meeting with the district attorney, Napa police chief, and the chief probation officer, along with national gang consultant experts, to develop a long-term master plan for youth and gang violence.

8. Calistoga Joint Unified School District is collaborating with community and governmental agencies to provide parent workshops whose focus is educating parents to help identify gang culture, attire and attitude, and has adopted a stricter dress code policy.

9. The city of American Canyon is revising municipal ordinance(s) with regard to Transient Occupancy Tax.

If you have the time, energy and desire to make positive changes for the benefit of the citizens of Napa County, consider volunteering for the Napa County Grand Jury.

(Suden lives in Napa.)

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