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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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Sacramento County's Homepage

Direct your browser to to catch up on the latest news in California and Sacramento 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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From Our Media Allies

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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 Telegraph logo Fireworks Booth Lottery Win a 'Golden Ticket' for Local Organizations

Winning a spot in the Folsom Fire Department’s lottery to run a fireworks booth isn’t as big a deal as finding a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory … but then again, maybe it is.

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.

Sacramento News and Review logo Mobile Shower Program Offers Hope, Dignity for Sacramento’s Unhoused Community

Seven days a week, Mark Lytal starts his day before dawn cleaning shower stalls at the Sacramento Pipeworks property in the River District north of downtown.

Carmichael Times logo Citrus Heights Grocery Outlet Kicks Off 14th Annual 'Independence From Hunger’ Food Drive

From now through July 31, Citrus Heights Grocery Outlet at 6059 Greenback Lane is teaming up with Sunrise Christian Food Ministry to collect food and cash donations

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Recent Local News

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• Fundraiser for Solving Sacramento in September

Join the folks participating in the Solving Sacramento journalism collaborative on September 5.

(07/06/2024) → Solving Sacramento

• Sacramento Police Military Gear Report Released

The Sacramento Police released a draft military equipment use report for comment at an upcoming public feedback session on July 22.

(07/04/2024) → The Sacramento Bee

• Local Cities Consider SCOTUS Homeless Ruling

A roundup of how local area cities will adapt to the new Grants Pass v. Johnson ruling by the US Supreme Curt.

(07/03/2024) → The Sacramento Bee

• Sacramento Stops Homeless Water Deliveries

The reason the City of Sacramento stopped water deliveries to local homeless during a dangerous heatwave.

(07/03/2024) → The Sacramento Bee

• Elk Grove Approves Balanced Budget

The Elk Grove City Council approved a $374 million balanced budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year.

(07/02/2024) → The Sacramento Bee

• Area Community Colleges See Enrollment Uptick

Community Colleges in the Sacramento area are reporting an increase in student enrollments following COVID shutdown declines.

(07/02/2024) → The Sacramento Bee

• Sacramento State and Sierra College Plan Joint Campus

Sacramento State and Sierra College signed an agreement on June 28 to codevelop a joint Placer County campus in Roseville.

(07/02/2024) → The Sacramento Bee

• California Adds Reparations Funds to Budget

California advanced reparations efforts with an initial $12 million in funding included in the 2024-2025 state budget.

(07/01/2024) → CapPublicRadio
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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 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 City of Sacramento seal. City of Sacramento   (07/03/2024)

City extends cooling center operations to July 10

Due to the continuing high temperatures, the City of Sacramento is extending cooling center operations at the Outreach and Engagement Center and the Sam & Bonnie Pannell Community Center. The OEC (3615 Auburn Blvd.) now will provide weather respite through 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 10. The center can accommodate up to 50 guests at a [...] The post City extends …
Image of City of Citrus Heights seal. City of Citrus Heights   (07/03/2024)

City Council Candidate Filing Appointments Available

Interested in running for City Council? Schedule an appointment with the City Clerk between July 15, 2024 and August 9, 2024.
Image of City of Sacramento seal. City of Sacramento   (07/03/2024)

Data Report: How the City responded to homelessness June 24-30

The City of Sacramento has released its weekly progress report for the Citys Incident Management Team responding to homelessness. From June 24-30, the City of Sacramento received 861 calls to 311 customer service related to unsheltered individuals. Through the work of the IMT, 749 calls were closed, meaning that either the issue was remedied, compliance was achieved, [...] The post …
Image of City of Sacramento seal. City of Sacramento   (07/03/2024)

SPD seeks community input on its annual military equipment use report and policy with this online survey

The Sacramento Police Department is seeking input from the public on its annual military equipment use report and policy via this online survey. The survey takes only a few minutes to complete and asks people to share their thoughts on the annual report and policy, which is reviewed and approved by the Sacramento City Council. [...] The post SPD seeks …
Image of City of Sacramento seal. City of Sacramento   (07/03/2024)

Sacramento Community Police Review Commission, SPD host community meeting to discuss annual military equipment use report and policy

The Sacramento Community Police Review Commission, in collaboration with the Sacramento Police Department, is hosting a community meeting to discuss SPDs annual military equipment use report and policy. The meeting will be held 6-9 p.m. on Monday, July 22, at the Oak Park Community Center (3425 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.) The public is invited [...] The post Sacramento Community …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (07/03/2024)

Lori Wilson CA Assembly 11:
Assemblywoman Lori Wilson speaking on AB 1955 Safety Act on the Assembly Floor

Thursday, June 27, 2024
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (07/03/2024)

Lori Wilson CA Assembly 11:
Assemblywoman Lori Wilson's Climate Bond Hearing at Assembly Natural Resources Committee Meeting

Tuesday, July 2, 2024
Image of City of Sacramento seal. City of Sacramento   (07/02/2024)

Here are places to go and tips to ‘beat the heat’ this summer

Sacramento is set to experience high temperatures in the coming days, and residents are encouraged to visit City spray parks, pools, and community centers to beat the heat. Pool and spray parks Pools: North Natomas Aquatics Complex and 11 other lifeguarded pools are open for recreational swim and aquatics programming. Free play/wading pools: Four pools [...] The post Here are …