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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 Joaquin County's Homepage

Direct your browser to to catch up on the latest news in California and San Joaquin 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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Chest of Hope logo Chest of Hope

Created in 2005 by friends and volunteers, Chest of Hope raises funds to support women and orphans who are suffering from domestic violence.

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From Our Media Allies

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Local News Matters Stockton logo Lodi Lake Safety Hazard: Swimming a No-Go After Test Reveals Harmful Bacteria in Water

Health officials announced a temporary ban on swimming at Lodi Lake after tests Wednesday showed unsafe levels of bacteria, the Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department said.

  California Local Pin Marker  

Recent Local News

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• Park Rental Fees to Increase

In their June 24 meeting, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved a new fee schedule for rental of county park facilities.

(07/06/2024) → LodiNews

• Falling Bullet Causes July 4 Injury

Stockton Police reported a local woman was injured by a falling bullet fire on July 4.

(07/05/2024) → Stocktonia

• Mountain House is Officially a City

July 1 was celebrated as the first official day of business in California's newest city.

(07/05/2024) → Tracy Press

• Lodi Receives Senior Housing Project Funding

Officials announced $500,000 in federal funding has been received to go towards development of the Salas Senior Housing project to be constructed on South Stockton Street.

(07/04/2024) → LodiNews

• Tidewater Bikeway Celebrated

A recounting of the purchase of the Tidewater Southern Railway corridor by the City of Manteca and its transformation into a vital local amenity.

(07/03/2024) → Manteca Bulletin

• New Community Center Seeks Volunteers

The new Thomas Toy Community Center in Manteca is calling for volunteers as it prepares to open in September.

(07/02/2024) → Manteca Bulletin

• Fireworks Giant Donates to Lodi Nonprofits

TNT Fireworks donated $15,000 to six Lodi nonprofits who had been unable to operate firework stands because of a clerical error.

(07/02/2024) → LodiNews

• New Lodi Animal Shelter Advances

Funding for a new animal shelter is set to be approved by the Lodi City Council to be built on East Auto Center Drive.

(07/02/2024) → LodiNews

• 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   (07/04/2024)

Damon Connolly CA Assembly 12:
California Legislature Passes Generational Climate and Education Bonds

California Legislature Passes Generational Climate and Education Bonds myreme Thu, 07/04/2024 - 08:15 The Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparedness, and Clean Air Bond Act of 2024 and the California Public Education Facilities Bond Measure pass the California Legislature Thursday, July 4, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA The California State Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 867, a once-in-a-generation climate bond known …
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   (06/27/2024)

Damon Connolly CA Assembly 12:
Assemblymember Connolly Appointed to the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources

Assemblymember Connolly Appointed to the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources myreme Thu, 06/27/2024 - 15:11 Assemblymember Connolly will sit on the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, participating in informational hearings and voting on bills related to naturally occurring resources Thursday, June 27, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA Today Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael) was appointed to the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, whose …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/26/2024)

Damon Connolly CA Assembly 12:
Safer from Wildfires Program Improvements Pass through Senate Insurance Committee

Safer from Wildfires Program Improvements Pass through Senate Insurance Committee robbee Wed, 06/26/2024 - 14:16 AB 2416, which improves the Safer from Wildfires program, passed out of the Senate Insurance Committee with bipartisan support Title Press Contact Email Phone 916-319-2012 Wednesday, June 26, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA Today Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael) presented Assembly Bill (AB) 2416 before the …
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 City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (06/24/2024)

City Council Approves 2024-2025 Annual Budget

Decreased Revenues Will Not Impact Continued Investment in Parks and New Funding for Economic Development
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,