Monday, August 7, 2017

[Lake County] Grand Jury apologizes for report

LAKEPORT >> Members of the Grand Jury apologized to the Board of Supervisors this week. The gesture came weeks after a hearing during which supervisors expressed disappointment at the tone of the annual Grand Jury report.
Rosemary Dontje, Foreperson for the Grand Jury last year presented the apology. Dontje said if she saw or heard about anyone behaving in an unprofessional manner she would pull them aside and confront them about it.
“I’m here to formally apologize to the members of the Board and any county members that were interviewed if and any time the Grand Jury behaved in a real or perceived unprofessional manner,” Dontje said.
Supervisors had pointed out that the Grand Jury report ignored issues that hampered county operations, such as short staffing, and set a tone that seemed to discount work put in by county staff toward department goals. The board complained that the report had a negative effect on morale and discouraged their efforts to fixing issues in the community.
Dontje recognized that some of the recommendations made in the report covered issues the county is already working on and making efforts to fix.
“This happens occasionally and, where possible, the Grand Jury tries to acknowledge that we understand this is happening,” Dontje said. “We saw that these were being taken care of and caused a changed in recommendations to the findings on the items to reflect that.”
The annual report is intended to be an assessment by an independent body of county goals, efforts to achieve those goals and which areas should receive priority. Dontje said the Grand Jury wants to follow up on projects that are in the process of completion.
“It proves to the Grand Jury that we are accomplishing something positive and constructive not just as sometimes where it skews throwing fickle matter at a page and seeing what sticks,” Dontje said.
Dontje said something she enjoyed to hear in regards to the feedback of the report were District 3 Supervisor Jim Steele’s comments on how the Grand Jury Report was an opportunity for the county to set the record straight.
“It’s supposed to raise awareness of what is happening in a community so that everyone who agrees or disagrees with what we have to say can comment and illustrate where both sides can do better. Both the Grand Jury and the county,” Dontje said.
For the future, Dontje said the Grand Jury, the community and the county should work together and find a way to make a conversation about the report and what should be worked on in the community to help prevent the report from being controversial.
“Unfortunately the responses to our reports are not as well disseminated as the reports themselves,” Dontje said. “Perhaps we need to work on a way to publish the responses and getting comments of the grand jury makes back to the responses that we get so that the whole county can see what is happening and have a better window to the county government.”
August 4, 2017
By Zack Jordan

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