Saturday, June 28, 2014
Butte County Grand Jury officially publishes 2013-14 report
June 27, 2014
By Ryan Olson
OROVILLE >> Eighteen members of the 2013-14 Butte County Grand Jury completed their service Friday with the official publication of reports reviewing local governments and county agencies.
During the impanelment ceremony in Butte County Superior Court, outgoing foreman Charles Nelson, of Chico, noted the panel's report (http://goo.gl/GCiwPL) made headlines when it was mistakenly published online two days early. While there has been considerable attention on reports about the city of Chico's finances and the Feather River Recreation and Parks District, he encouraged the public and media to look at the Grand Jury's other reports.
"It's worth reading. It's worth noting," he said.
Presiding Judge Kristen Lucena ordered the official release of the report and it was republished on the Butte County website.
The Butte County administration apologized in a press release Thursday for posting the report Wednesday afternoon. Due to the early release, affected agencies didn't have enough time to review the report before being contacted by the media and the public.
The administration said it would put in procedures so future reports wouldn't be released early.
This year's Grand Jury published reports covering nine areas. Nelson highlighted the reports covering the Butte County Jail and Juvenile Hall as well as small rural school districts. He also said the review of the county's technology and information services showed the Grand Jury felt there were some possible challenges.
The Grand Jury also reported on the Public Defenders Consortium, the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility and the Butte County audit.
Nelson thanked his fellow jurors for their contributions.
"If it wasn't for them, I'd be down at Mental Health," he joked.
In his letter to Judge Lucena, Nelson noted some of the challenges this year's Grand Jury faced. He suggested shifting to a Grand Jury selected from volunteers — currently, prospective jurors are summoned at random before choosing a pool of 30 finalists.
Nelson said some jurors were unaware of the time commitment or had little knowledge to prepare.
Four jurors resigned over the year and they were replaced by alternates.
The final 2013-14 Grand Jury included Nelson, Gary Tuttle, Nancy Negri, Katherine (Kit) Oldham, Richard Dumas, Dennis Anderson, Donald Bean, Shawn Brown, Jane Danielsen, Donna Dow, Vernon Englund, Michael Gilchrist, William Lewis, Sally Mitchell, Scott Quade, Kathleen Schovajsa, Dennis Swaney and Nancy Wirtz Lunde.
Before releasing the former Grand Jury, Judge Lucena noted our democracy depends on citizens coming forward to serve in numerous roles, including the Grand Jury.
"This Grand Jury has worked very hard and produced a very important report," she said.
Next year's Grand Jury was selected and the new jurors were sworn in.
The 2014-15 Grand Jury includes Helen Bartolomei, Hilary Dalton, Darlene Davidson, James Davis, William Douglas, Curtis Gaines, Dale Gorman, Daniel Hutfless, Robert Jackson, Starla Knight, Edmund Mannion, Philip Midling, Colleen Power, Douglas Smyth, Michael Swenson, Warren Whitmore, Brian Scott Windlinx, Leon York and Kimberly Young.
Reach reporter Ryan Olson at facebook.com/NorCalJustice and 896-7763.