Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mendocino County Grand Jury Receives Excellence in Reporting Award for “The Library”

Sacramento, Calif., November 5, 2016. The California Grand Jurors’ Association has granted the Robert Geiss Excellence in Reporting Award to the 2014-15 Mendocino County Grand Jury for its report, “The Library.”
Two Mendocino County grand juries, 2013-14 and 2014-15, questioned the ways that county officials were interpreting state law and county accounting records with regard to the Mendocino County Library. These two reports resulted in major changes to library management and operations.
The juries particularly questioned library record keeping and fund disbursement. Charges for certain costs were claimed to be made from the general fund. However, those costs were paid from dedicated or donated funds.
The juries and the county disagreed as to whether or not the library is a special district. The juries expressed concern about the control being exercised by the county chief executive officer in managing the library as if it were a county department. The district librarian was paid out of the dedicated revenue rather than the county general fund, and the county charged the library for indirect support. This practice prevented the library from spending its dedicated revenue for its services, particularly with regard to information technology.
The tension between the library and county officials led to the district librarian resigning.
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, county administrative officers and elected officials negatively responded to the 2013-14 grand jury report. The 2014-15 grand jury report led to reconsideration of the issues by the Board of Supervisors, who decided to implement many of the report’s recommendations that largely mirrored those of the 2013-14 report.
Funds taken improperly from the library have been restored. The Board of Supervisors says that it will request clarification from the State Legislature on payment of librarians’ salaries. That action may result in a change in how tax-supported librarian salaries are paid across California.
The annual Robert Geiss Excellence in Reporting Award recognizes a grand jury report that is of high quality, has a positive impact on the community and increases awareness of the California grand jury system. The award was presented on November 5 at the association’s 35th annual conference held in Sacramento. Finley Williams accepted the award on behalf of the Mendocino County Grand Jury.
The California Grand Jurors’ Association is a statewide nonprofit organization of former grand jurors with the mission “to promote, preserve and support the grand jury system through training, education and outreach.”
Finley Williams accepted the award on behalf of the Mendocino County Grand Jury from Barbara Sommer, chair of the association's Awards Committee.

Press release, California Grand Jurors’ Association
Contact Jim Ragan at

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