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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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Placer County's Homepage

Direct your browser to to catch up on the latest news in California and Placer 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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Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce logo Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce

Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce is a business organization that fosters local economic growth.

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From Our Media Allies

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Auburn Journal logo Auburn Budget Adoption Projects Smaller Structural Deficit

The Auburn City Council unanimously adopted its 2024-2025 fiscal-year budget last week, revealing the structural deficit has dropped slightly.

Auburn Journal logo Firefighters Contain 5-Acre Vegetation Fire in North Auburn

Firefighters extinguished a vegetation fire in the afternoon of July 2 on Sisson Lane, off Lone Star Road and Highway 49, in North Auburn.

Placer Herald logo Puzzle Exchange Comes to Twelve Bridges

Lincoln mother-daughter duo Stacey and Penny Hisey have created a puzzle exchange in the Twelve Bridges area.

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. 

Auburn Journal logo Greater Auburn Fire Safe Council Here to Help Serve Community

The council consists of eight community members and covers the area from Bowman to Penryn and including Auburn, Newcastle and Penryn. Our mission is to advocate for our community and provide resources for residents.

Loomis News logo Placer County 4-H Livestock Judging Team Claims Top Spot in California

The Placer County 4-H livestock judging team has emerged as the No. 1 team in California, earning the prestigious opportunity to represent the state at the national 4-H competition this year.

Sierra Sun logo Placer County Supervisors Discuss Parking and Transportation Issues

The Placer County Supervisors covered several items regarding transportation and parking during their Tuesday, June 25 meeting in Kings Beach.

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 …

Sierra Sun logo Placer Board of Supervisors Approves New Budget for Fiscal Year 2024-25

With an eye on balanced growth, the Placer County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution today to formally adopt the Fiscal Year 2024-25 Budget.

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Recent Local News

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• 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
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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

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

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• CalMatters’ Digital Democracy Makes a Difference in the Legislature

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

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• 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

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• 2024 California Ballot Measures: What You Need to Know

Much is expected of the California voter.

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• ‘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 County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (07/03/2024)

County turns to summer parking management in Kings Beach after winter programs reduce congestion

Placer County will step up efforts in Kings Beach this summer to address parking concerns, including a pilot program to charge for parking at the countys Christmas Tree parking lot.
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (07/03/2024)

Roger Niello CA Senate 06:
Senate Republicans deliver victories for Californians, democracy

Senate Republicans deliver victories for Californians, democracy dimmital Wed, 07/03/2024 - 16:15
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (07/03/2024)

Brian Dahle CA Senate 01:
Update from Senator Dahle - 07.03.2024

Update from Senator Dahle - 07.03.2024 SREPweb Wed, 07/03/2024 - 14:02
Image of Town of Loomis seal. Town of Loomis   (07/03/2024)

Town Hall Closure: July 4-5

Town Hall will be closed tomorrow, July 4th, as well as Friday, July 5th. Regular office hours will resume Monday, July 8. As a reminder, all fireworks are banned in Loomis including those deemed safe and sane. To report fireworks, please call the Placer County Sheriff non-emergency number at 530-886-5375. The post Town Hall Closure: July 4-5 appeared first on …
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (07/02/2024)

Fireworks are illegal in unincorporated Placer and alcohol is banned July 1-6 on the Truckee River

County officials are reminding visitors and residents during Fourth of July celebrations that all fireworks are illegal in unincorporated Placer County, including all of North Lake Tahoe, and alcohol is banned on the Truckee River from July 1-6.
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (07/02/2024)

Placer County libraries extend hours to provide relief from excessive heat

In response to the National Weather Services excessive heat warning, Placer County libraries are extending their hours at the Auburn, Colfax and Foresthill locations to provide residents with a cool and comfortable space to escape the heat.
Image of Town of Loomis seal. Town of Loomis   (07/02/2024)

Summer Swim Program Cancelled Today, 7/2

The scheduled Summer Swim program for today, Tuesday 7/2, has been cancelled due to excessive heat. Click here to view Placer County's heat warning and to locate resources/tips to staying cool. The post Summer Swim Program Cancelled Today, 7/2 appeared first on Loomis, CA.
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (07/01/2024)

Placer County supports regional effort to build new Truckee Library, enhance Tahoe services

Our board took recent action to sign a Letter of Support for the Truckee Library Joint Powers Authority and directed staff to discuss a multi-county voter boundary for a potential future bond measure to fund a regional library.
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (07/01/2024)

Roger Niello CA Senate 06:
California’s latest budget package full of tricks, traps and missed opportunities

Californias latest budget package full of tricks, traps and missed opportunities dimmital Mon, 07/01/2024 - 12:36