Wednesday, November 7, 2018

[San Mateo County] Charles Stone and the civil grand jury report on pensions

Belmont Councilman Charles Stone disparages the Grand Jury’s Pension Report. The United States is a great democracy because its systems of federal and local government include checks and balances. For example, in San Mateo County, one primary check comes via our civil grand jury.
On July 17 this year the grand jury sent a report, entitled “Soaring City Pension Costs – Time for Hard Choices,” to 20 San Mateo County cities requiring each city to respond to 13 findings and four recommendations by Oct. 16.
On Aug. 25, Belmont approved its finance director’s draft response to the grand jury. The response contained some pushback. Further, one member of the Belmont City Council during deliberations, made what were, in my opinion, unjustified and uncalled for remarks about the competence of the grand jury. In particular, Stone stated (1hour 32 minutes into video of council meeting): “It is my understanding, and I could be wrong, it happens sometimes, all the times if you ask my wife, but the grand jury isn’t made up of financial experts, or pension experts. ... So, this isn’t a blue-ribbon commission of folks who have expert knowledge about the way governments, about pensions, about financing about accounting, or about best practices.”
On behalf of numerous Belmont residents, let me state that the comments made Stone were in poor taste and uncalled for. The grand jury operates in camera, but when it needs outside expertise it quietly obtains it. Contrary to Stone’s misapprehension, the grand jury is a blue-ribbon body.
November 5, 2018
The Daily Journal
Letter from Perry Kennan, Belmont

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