Monday, August 1, 2016
[Merced County] Grand jury reports on supes fund, concealed weapons
The newest annual report from the Merced County grand jury touches on a variety of local issues including homelessness, the county’s use of discretionary funding, and concealed weapons.
The report issued this week calls on the county Board of Supervisors to do a better job of tracking the members’ discretionary funds, a pool of $40,000 each supervisor gets every year.
The jury found that the board “has no consistent or standard request process” for the discretionary funding. There is no form that allows residents to apply for the dollars, it’s not tracked or audited by the county, and the county does not verify that the money is benefiting a nonprofit, the report says.
Residents submitted 14 complaints for this year’s report, according to the jury, and seven were held over for next year.
The report praised the Merced County Continuum of Care, a coalition of homeless advocates and service providers, for its efforts. The report noted the coalition has brought $1.2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for an array of homeless services since 2011.
The jury found that the board “has no consistent or standard request process” for the discretionary funding.
The county contracts with Pasadena-based nonprofit Urban Initiatives to work with the continuum. Regular attendance from group members has increased since the nonprofit came aboard, the report says.
The report says the city is working on two homeless housing projects, a 37-unit facility by Highway 99 and a southeast Merced project that could hold as many as 80 people.
“(The jury) commends the city of Merced and Merced County for their efforts in initiating a constructive program for dealing with the homeless issue,” the report says.
The 21-member jury of county citizens was made up of residents of Atwater, Los Banos and Merced, according to the report.
(The jury) commends the city of Merced and Merced County for their efforts in initiating a constructive program for dealing with the homeless issue.
Merced County grand jury report
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office and local police departments are properly following concealed carry laws and procedures, which govern who can carry a concealed gun, the report says. The Sheriff’s Office processes most of those requests, the jury found.
Some agencies require home visits and interview neighbors to determine if an applicant has shown anger management problems or displays hate paraphernalia, the jury found. The Sheriff’s Office does not allow .22-caliber handguns to be concealed, according to the report, because the bullets are unstable.
The jury also looked at Merced County sheriff’s deputy pay, water quality in Los Banos and the process used by the Los Banos Unified School District to build its newest junior high. Every year the jury also looks into the county’s prison, jails and juvenile facilities.
July 22, 2016
By Thaddeus Miller