Sunday, July 1, 2012

San Bernardino County grand jury report released

BY IMRAN GHORI - The Press-Enterprise

The San Bernardino County grand jury released its annual report this afternoon, which included reviews of the county’s human services department, sheriff’s crime lab, the Devore animal shelter and the city ofVictorville’s finances.

Those were among some of the agencies looked at by the grand jury – a panel of private citizens which produces a nonbinding annual review of city and county government. A total of 16 agencies were reviewed by the panel.

In its report on the human services department, the grand jury looked into a program in which cash assistance and food stamps are provided on electronic cards, similar to debit cards.

The report raises concerns about card fraud and states that “we have learned from the District Attorney’s office, they are not able to prosecute cases, as they have in the past, because they do not get cooperation from the Human Services Department who can provide the evidence needed in these matters.”

But county spokesman David Wert said the facts do not support the grand jury’s findings.

In its section on the sheriff’s crime lab, the grand jury called the facility “poorly maintained and not clean” and urged that the county “renovate, repair and clean the facility.”

The report on the Devore animal shelter looked into complaints of potential animal cruelty raised by animal rights activists but found that it was “unable to verify the allegations.”

The report is complimentary of the facility, stating “Devore is clean and the animals are well cared for and receive regular veterinarian care.”

The largest section of the report dealt with Victorville and included an audit of its finances. The audit raises concerns about the city’s solvency, finding that its general fund balance has been depleted over the years.

The report also states that the Southern California Logistics Airport Authority, which the city is part of, and the city’s utility are threatened by “excessive debt.”

In a statement on the Victorville web site, the city called some of the findings “factually inaccurate” while also acknowledging that some of them are “cause for concern.” The city also noted that the report found no evidence “that corruption, fraud or other crimes have occurred.”

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