Monday, May 31, 2010

Grand Jury report details problems at First 5 Contra Costa

The Contra Costa Grand Jury has released its report of the First 5 Contra Costa a local commission created by Rob Reiner’s Prop 10 the California Children and Families Initiative, which created First 5 California, a program of early childhood development services, funded by a tax on tobacco products. The report concludes the investigation of numerous complaints of alleged Board of Commissioners’ self-dealing, conflicts of interest, misappropriation of funds in the awarding of contracts, general dereliction of fiduciary duties, and unethical conduct.

In addition, complaints alleged illegal or inappropriate employment practices, including discrimination, manager bias and favoritism, sexual harassment and the cover-up of such behavior. Due to the number and nature of the complaints, the Grand Jury conducted an investigation.

The Grand Jury recommendations include:

1. The Board of Supervisors shall appoint commissioners not affiliated with agencies most likely to be awarded significant funding, thereby minimizing perceptions of impropriety.

2. First 5 Commissioners having financial interests in contracts before the Board of Commissioners shall recuse and physically remove themselves from meetings while the contracts are being considered.

3. First 5 Commission shall select a new independent auditor through a competitive bid process.

4. First 5 Commission shall provide annual training to all employees on Employee Handbook procedures and provisions.

5. The Board of Supervisors shall pursue inclusion of the First 5 Commission as a unit of County government.

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