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By Eric Johnson
Published Jul 08, 2024

A commitment to justice and accountability is carved in stone, so to speak, in the California constitution, which gives every citizen the right to serve on their county's civil grand jury. A commitment to justice and accountability is carved in stone, so to speak, in the California constitution, which gives every citizen the right to serve on their county's civil grand jury. Image credit: Danylo Samiylenko, Shutterstock

Civil Grand Juries: Citizens Investigating Governments

As you can see above in the banner ad for our book, How California Works, by Jonathan Vankin, we believe that “Democracy Lives in California”—despite the very real threats it has faced for decades, which persist today. 

Obviously, this hopeful position is not fashionable in this era of hyper-partisan negativity. It is easy, these days, to fall into a trap of believing that politics is entirely corrupt. We have discovered that if you look closely, you will find that here in California, a lot of people—including elected leaders—are still working hard at the project that gives our book its subtitle: “Building Democracy in the Golden State.”

That said, this is not a time to be passive or naive. It is the first job of every journalistic enterprise—and every active citizen—to hold public officials accountable.  

In this week’s edition of The Newsletter, Chris Neklason writes about a uniquely Californian institution that allows ordinary citizens to exert significant power over their local governments.


A Uniquely Californian Democratic Institution

Over the past week, citizens empowered as members of civil grand juries issued reports of their investigations of local governments. It's an honorable institution, and these volunteer government watchdogs found some dishonorable stuff. Here's how the civil grand jury system works, and what this year's reports reveal.


How Civil Grand Juries Make Government Better

Participation on Civil Grand Juries is open to all Californians of voting age.
Civil Grand Juries are a powerful means by which ordinary citizens investigate local governments and provide recommendations for improvement.

2024 Civil Grand Jury Reports

In civil grand juries, citizens make sure the actions of California’s local governments add up.
We celebrate California's Civil Grand Jury session of 2023-2024 with a review of some findings and results from across the state.


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El Dorado County's Homepage

Direct your browser to https://eldorado.californialocal.com/ to catch up on the latest news in California and El Dorado County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!


Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Summer! cookbook.


Fresh summer veggies, marinated and grilled

Marinated and grilled, summer vegetables make a great accompaniment to grilled chicken or steak. Choose whatever's in season.
New! Pick your garden favorites for a quick side dish


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Team Giving logo Team Giving

A regional resource, Team Giving contributes to the community by connecting individuals, businesses and service groups to projects that fulfill the specific needs of local nonprofit groups.

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From Our Media Allies

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Folsom Times logo Fire Forces Evacuations Near Placerville Saturday Afternoon

Some residents in El Dorado County were being ordered to evacuate while others received evacuation orders Saturday afternoon after a vegetation fire broke out in Placerville that is threatening several homes.

Folsom Times logo Annual Hands4Hope School Supply Drive Underway

Hands4Hope and Youth Making A Difference is once again rallying the community to support local students in need through their annual school supply drive.

Folsom Times logo Folsom Firefighters Snuff Early Morning  Eagle Ridge Fire

Folsom firefighters swiftly contained a grass fire that broke out in the early morning of July 5 near a residential area in the city.

Folsom Times logo Folsom Firefighters Make Quick Work of Silberhorn Dr. Fire

A fast response by Folsom firefighters stopped the forward progress of a quickly moving vegetation fire that initially threatened structures in a Folsom neighborhood on the afternoon of July 4.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Bear Experts Offer Tips for Camping in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Headed to the Lake Tahoe Basin for a summer camping trip? Black bear biologists who work in the Tahoe Basin every day have some advice and thoughts to share to help keep Tahoe bears wild. 

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Your Guide to Tahoe Disc Golf

It's a sport for the casual recreator or the fierce competitor. Disc golf began its evolution in the seventies after Ed Headrick, nicknamed "Steady" Ed, designed the modern-day Frisbee.

Folsom Times logo Wildfire Evacuations Ordered in El Dorado County Tuesday

Residents in areas of El Dorado County have been given evacuation orders due to a growing wildfire Tuesday afternoon.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Lake Tahoe Summer Fire Restrictions, Red Flag Warnings & National Fire Danger Rating System

LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. – Summer is in full swing and so are fire restrictions in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Please "Know Before You Go" and check the fire restriction status in your area.

Sierra Sun logo U.S. Forest Service Scientists’ Work Featured in Netflix Documentary

A rusty brown bark beetle, the length of a grain of rice, lands on a ponderosa pine. Tiny insect legs make a clicking sound, as the beetle scales the tree. Twitching its antennae, the miniature assassin readies itself to bore …

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo City Council Confirms This Year’s Cannabis Revenue Grant Recipients

This year, 14 organizations are receiving funds from city cannabis sales revenue. This is the third year where up to 50% of prior year cannabis revenue goes towards the community benefit grant program.

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Recent Local News

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• CalFire Incident Page for Pay Fire

The official CalFire incident page with updated status information on the Pay Fire, burning southeast of Placerville.

(07/07/2024) → CalFire

• Less Trash on Tahoe Beaches This July 4th

Over 700 volunteers helped clean Lake Tahoe beaches following the July 4th celebrations and reported trash volume was significantly lower than the previous year.

(07/05/2024) → South Tahoe Now

• Irrigation District Approves Infrastructure Upgrades

In their June 24 meeting, the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors approved a 20-year plan of upgrades to infrastructure.

(07/03/2024) → Mountain Democrat

• Lake Tahoe Area Free Chipping Service Offered

A free curbside chipping service is being offered by South Lake Tahoe Fire and the Lake Valley Fire Protection District to help dispose of the small trees and limbs you've cleared as part of your defensible space strategy.

(07/02/2024) → South Tahoe Now

• Summer Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival Opens

This year the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is presents The Merry Wives of Windsor along with the musical Always…Patsy Cline through August 26.

(07/01/2024) → Edible Reno-Tahoe

• El Dorado County Prepares for Fire Season

Representatives from the El Dorado Sheriff's Office, Cal Fire, South Lake Tahoe Police and Fire, Lake Valley Fire, Fallen Leaf Lake Fire, CHP, USFS, and CERT met on June 29 to discuss evacuation planning and the county emergency alert system.

(07/01/2024) → South Tahoe Now
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Recent Statewide News

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• California’s ‘Weak’ Job Market Propped Up by Public Money as Private Sector Sheds Jobs

Private-sector jobs in California have declined since their post-pandemic peak, while public-sector employment has shown gains, the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office says.

(07/08/2024) → CalMatters

• California Boosts Spending to Help Students Earn Math and Science Degrees

A program for low-income, first-generation STEM students at community colleges is receiving millions of dollars to expand across the state.

(07/08/2024) → CalMatters

• CalMatters’ Digital Democracy Makes a Difference in the Legislature

CalMatters launched Digital Democracy in April, and its impact has rippled across the Legislature.

(07/08/2024) → CalMatters

• Hundreds of Deaths, Thousands of Injuries, Billions of Dollars: The Cost of Extreme Heat in California

Heat waves have killed hundreds of Californians and cost billions of dollars in the past decade, according to a new report from the state insurance department.

(07/07/2024) → CalMatters

• 6 Myths About Homelessness in California

There’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there about homelessness in California. We use data to dispel several common myths.

(07/07/2024) → CalMatters

• California Now Has Mandatory Water Conservation in Urban Areas: How Will the New Rules Affect Your Supplier?

The measures are substantially weaker than a previous proposal after an onslaught of criticism. But they will still save enough water through 2050 to supply the state’s entire population for a year, at a cost of $4.7 billion.

(07/03/2024) → CalMatters

• Gavin Newsom Says Never Mind on CA Crime Measure

Assemblymember James Gallagher speaks during the floor session at the state Capitol in Sacramento on June 13, 2024. Photo by Cristian Gonzalez for CalMatters

(07/03/2024) → CalMatters

• 2024 California Ballot Measures: What You Need to Know

Much is expected of the California voter.

(07/03/2024) → CalMatters

• ‘Nothing Will Be Protected’ — Why California Environmentalists Oppose a ‘Green’ Energy Bill

Nearly every major environmental group in California opposes a bill that would modify the state’s signature environmental law to speed up upgrades to power lines. Supporters say it would help free the state from fossil fuels and make the grid more reliable, but opponents fear it would damage state parks.

(07/02/2024) → CalMatters

• Does a Proposed $10 Billion Bond Favor Richer California School Districts?

Small and low-income school officials say the bond measure deal is unfair. The money is allocated through matching grants, so wealthier districts that can raise more local funds will get more money from the state.

(07/01/2024) → CalMatters
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (07/05/2024)

Al-Safa US LLC Recalls Frozen Ready-To-Eat Chicken Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

WASHINGTON, July 5, 2024 - Al-Safa US LLC, the importer of record located in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, is recalling approximately 2,010 pounds of imported frozen ready-to-eat chicken products that may...
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/30/2024)

Michael Foods Inc. Recalls Fair Meadow Foundations Liquid Egg Products Due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergens

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2024 - M.G. Waldbaum dba Michael Foods Inc., a Gaylord, Minn. establishment, is recalling approximately 4,620 pounds of liquid egg products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens...
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/24/2024)

Totally Cool, Inc., Recalls All Ice Cream Products Because of Possible Health Risk

Totally Cool, Inc. of Owings Mills, Maryland is recalling multiple brands of ice cream products, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others w
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/24/2024)

Wildly Beloved Foods is Recalling Orzo (Vegan) Dried and Campbell (Vegan) Dried Due to Potential Mold

June 24, 2024, Wildly Beloved Foods of Clinton, Washington is recalling approximately 30 packages of Orzo (vegan) Dried and 30 packages of Campanelle (vegan) Dried, 10 oz, due to potential mold growth contamination. The recalled Orzo (vegan) Dried, 10oz were distributed through Payless Foods, The
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/24/2024)

DSD Merchandisers, LLC Announces Voluntary Recall of Deluxe Roasted & Salted Mixed Nuts Due to Undeclared Peanut

DSD Merchandisers, LLC is voluntarily recalling UPC 6-51433-99651-6 Deluxe Roasted & Salted Mixed Nuts, Sell by: 10/09/24, due to the presence of undeclared peanut. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to specific type of allergen peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening aller
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/21/2024)

Vitakraft Sun Seed Recall of Sun Seed Vita Prima Hedgehog Food Due to Possible Salmonella Health Risk

Vitakraft Sun Seed Inc. of Weston, OH, is voluntarily recalling one lot of Sun Seed Vita Prima Hedgehog Food because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is also a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products,
Image of City of South Lake Tahoe seal. City of South Lake Tahoe   (06/20/2024)

New: Housing Community Office Hours

Image of City of South Lake Tahoe seal. City of South Lake Tahoe   (06/20/2024)

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: Barton Avenue and 2nd Street Drainage Project

Image of City of South Lake Tahoe seal. City of South Lake Tahoe   (06/19/2024)

City Expands 4th of July Celebration Over Two Days

Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/19/2024)

Joe Patterson CA Assembly 05:
Substance Abuse Treatment Center Response to County Supervisors