View in Browser Our Journalism Needs Your Support Please Donate Today

California Local Logo
Graphic which spells out The Newsletter.


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.

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


Impact Report Image for decorative use


  California Local Pin Marker  

Recent Statewide News

→ View All

• 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
  California Local Pin Marker  

Government Announcements

→ View All
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 United States seal. United States   (06/18/2024)

Hudson Harvest Issues Voluntary Recall of Tomato Basil Sauce Due to Potential Under-Processing

Hudson Harvest of Germantown, NY, is voluntarily recalling Hudson Harvest Tomato Basil Sauce because of reported swelling, leaking, or bursting jars. There is a possibility that the product has been under processed, which could lead to the potential for spoilage organisms or pathogens.
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/17/2024)

Snapchill LLC Recalls Canned Coffee Products Due to Potential Clostridium botulinum

Snapchill LLC (Snapchill) of Green Bay, WI is voluntarily recalling all canned coffee products manufactured by the company, within expiration date, because their current process could lead to the growth and production of the deadly toxin, botulinum toxin, in low acid canned foods. Botulism, a poten
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/12/2024)

FSIS Issues Public Health Alert For Not-Ready-To-Eat Pork And Beef Bacon Products Due to Sodium Nitrite Levels in Excess of Regulatory Limit

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2024 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert for not-ready-to-eat pork and beef bacon products due...
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/12/2024)

Bonneval Foods, LLC Recalls Barbecue Pork Skin Product Due To Misbranding And Undeclared Allergens

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2024 - Bonneval Foods, LLC, a Gonzales, La. establishment, is recalling all barbecue pork skin product that is currently available in commerce due to misbranding and undeclared...