Friday, July 4, 2014
(Glenn County) Grand jury report suggests finding more funds
July 2, 2014
Glenn County Transcript
By Susan Meeker
County officials say the Glenn County grand jury is a bit naive in suggesting there is additional money somewhere that will help solve the issues plaguing their departments.
The recommendation to "seek alternative funding sources" was echoed throughout the 45-page report released last week.
The 2013-14 grand jury investigated the jail, juvenile hall, several special districts and senior nutrition program, each time recommending officials look for additional sources of money.
With the Elk Creek Fire District, the grand jury's recommendation to find more funding was specific. It suggested the establishment of an assessment fee from the Grindstone Rancheria and the annexation of the northern boundary land gap between the Elk Creek and Orland districts.
The Grindstone Rancheria, due to its status, does not pay taxes into the county or fire district, but it could voluntarily assess a fire protection fee, which would increase funding to the fire department, the grand jury reported.
In its findings, the grand jury reported the Hamilton City Community District does apply for grants and alternative funding sources, but it still recommended the district should seek alternative funding to ensure water quality.
The grand jury offered no su gestions as to where the additional money might come from.
The grand jury also recommended the Hamilton City Community Service District, along with the Elk Creek and Hamilton City fire districts, seek the advice of the Glenn County Board of Supervisors, County Counsel and the Local Agency Formation Commission to help with unresolved issues.
The grand jury also looked into the impacts on the county as a result of Assembly Bill 109 — the cornerstone of California's solution to prison overcrowding, cost and recidivism.
AB 109 requires inmates with nonviolent crimes — normally housed in the state prison system — to remain in Glenn County and receive intensive probation supervision.
During an interview with senior Glenn County law enforcement officials, the grand jury found that the sheriff's office, jail and Probation Department have unique situations and impacts caused by the advent of the bill, the report states.
The grand jury found that while Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones and Probation Chief Brandon Thompson have made commendable effort to comply with the mandates of AB 109, the realignment funds provided by the state are inadequate.
The grand jury's recommendation is for county officials to seek funding beyond the mandated allotment.
"There are not other funding sources for AB 109 that we are aware of," Jones said. "We do look."
The Sheriff's Office did compete for SB 1022 funding last year to build the proposed new addition to the jail, which would have provided a day reporting center, classroom space for Success One Charter School, a new medical treatment and examination room and a first-ever dental treatment room.
Although the department did not receive the grant in the first funding cycle, Jones said the state budget includes an additional $500 million for projects this year, and he is taking the steps to reapply.
"With the knowledge gained with last year's process, and new rules for the competitive process, we may be successful," Jones said. "(Although) $500 million is still not enough money, at least there is still a funding stream by which we may have the opportunity to obtain a new facility. We have the need."
Jones said the jail population has increased since the bill was implemented, and 33 percent of those currently detained are AB 109 inmates.
Despite the funding difficulties, Jones said the education programs implemented in conjunction with the Glenn County Office of Education are underway.
The county had its first AB 109 inmate graduate this year from "Success One," the charter school established for adults to complete their high school education and receive a diploma.
"It is not about making a smarter criminal, it is about providing someone with the ability to gain career skills that will keep them out of the criminal justice system," Jones said.
Jones said he would also like to see an educational program to the community college level.
In fact, the inmate that obtained his high school diploma may become eligible to be released from physical custody and obtain employment while on electronic monitoring.
Jones said AB 109 is complicated, but solutions will continue to come from the legislators and from the collaboration between local agencies.
New grand jury members sworn in for 2014-15
Glenn County Superior Court judges Donald C. Byrd and Peter Twede welcomed the 2014-15 grand jury last Wednesday, and dismissed last year's members, whose report was released the same day.
Held over from the previous grand jury are Sylvia Hoenike, forewoman, Kathy Montero, Brian Wolcot, Edward Fairlee and Terry Barley.
New members are Maricela Rosas, Angel Urrutia, Asucena Guillen, William Yalow, Sarah Retzloff, John Brooks, Roy Martinez, Claire Hamiter, Lorraine Baird, Yuridia Gonzalez, Lillian Thomas, Glendon Boothe, Filemon Torres and Charles Lawler.
The alternates are Mark Carney, Kerri Warren, Amy Williams and Aubriel Wittsel.
The roll of the grand jury is to serve primarily an investigative body.
The grand jury's most important duties will be to examine all aspects of county government and special districts in order to assure that honest, efficient government serves the best interests of the people, court officials said.
The 19-member panel will meet with county and city officials, visit local government facilities and conduct research on matters of interest and concern.
The grand jury is charged with investigating both criminal and civil matters, and to make findings and recommendations on their investigations for a year period.