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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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San Benito County's Homepage

Direct your browser to https://sanbenito.californialocal.com/ to catch up on the latest news in California and San Benito 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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Get to Know a Group

Ecology Action logo Ecology Action

Ecology Action states its mission concisely: “Reduce emissions.” The nonprofit group advocates for innovative energy, water, and transportation solutions in communities across California.

→ Learn more

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From Our Media Allies

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Benito Link logo Project Makes Free Books for Youngsters Available Around San Benito County

Literacy 2 Love now has 11 locations and is currently seeking children and teen book donations.

Benito Link logo CASA of San Benito Says Farewell to Executive Director

Nonprofit says Rosy Segura’s contributions have been invaluable.

Benito Link logo U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grants County $900k

Funding will aid the conservation of 22 federally listed and at-risk species.

Gilroy Dispatch logo Country Music Fans Flock to Morgan Hill Festival

Thousands of country music fans attended the June 29 Boots and Brews Country Music Festival at the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center.

Benito Link logo Cal Fire Battling Blaze in Paicines

Fire is burning near Paicines Post Office and growing rapidly.

Benito Link logo Civil Grand Jury Says Lack of Funds Impairing Sheriff’s Department

The annual report on San Benito County agencies also looks at jail, a water district tax measure and a retiree fund.

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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 State of California seal. State of California   (07/05/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis, Chair of Central Coast Caucus, Applauds Climate Bond Act of 2024

Addis, Chair of Central Coast Caucus, Applauds Climate Bond Act of 2024 sanchema Fri, 07/05/2024 - 10:09 Wednesday, July 3, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay), Chair of the California Central Coast Legislative Caucus, issued the following statement on Senate Bill 867, the Climate Bond Act of 2024, which was passed and signed today. "After months of hard work …
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   (07/01/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Statement on 2024-2025 State Budget

Addis Statement on 2024-2025 State Budget sanchema Mon, 07/01/2024 - 10:35 Monday, July 1, 2024 SACRAMENTO Following the California Legislatures passage of the 2024-2025 Budget Act, Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) issued a statement highlighting the focus on protecting essential funding in critical areas such as education, healthcare, climate, housing and safety. "I thank my colleagues in the legislature, Assembly …
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 State of California seal. State of California   (06/28/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Supports Legislation Providing Youth a Safe Space in Education

Addis Supports Legislation Providing Youth a Safe Space in Education sanchema Fri, 06/28/2024 - 08:58 Friday, June 28, 2024
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/27/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis on SAFETY Act & Protecting LGBTQ+ Students

Addis on SAFETY Act & Protecting LGBTQ+ Students sanchema Thu, 06/27/2024 - 12:34 Thursday, June 27, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) released the followed statement on AB 1955 (Ward), the Support Academic Futures & Educators for Today's Youth Act (SAFETY Act): "I proudly support AB 1955, the SAFETY Act, a California LGBTQ Caucus Priority Bill. Let me clear- …
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,