Wednesday, July 6, 2016

[Butte County] Letter: Grand Jury helps keep county residents informed

The editorial regarding the 2015-2016 Grand Jury report only told part of the story.

You are correct that the Butte County Grand Jury is “a panel of 19 volunteer citizens.” These 19, out of the thousands that received a grand jury summons, answered the call to serve for a year, and worked hundreds of hours to meet their charge. These jurors come from various backgrounds and have no formal education in investigative reporting or staffers to assist them in the investigation, research or writing of the report. And yes, the Grand Jury does have subpoena power to use judiciously when a government official refuses to be transparent.
Finally, the jury’s power to effect change is limited and may not go beyond informing citizens of these issues. This is because, although the report makes recommendations which, by legislation, require a response by the elected officials, a legally acceptable response can be “we don’t agree with the report” and an acceptable action can be “no action will be taken.”
The only true power is in the hands of the people and their action at the ballot box. If no one does the work to inform the public then there will be no watchdog to hold the governmental officials accountable.
So, although you may have found the 2015-2016 Grand Jury report to be “a shame,” for you do recommend that the public not waste their “summer reading” time is irresponsible.
July 3, 2016
Oroville Mercury Register
Letter to the editor by Debra Henley, Paradise

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