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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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Yolo County's Homepage

Direct your browser to https://yolo.californialocal.com/ to catch up on the latest news in California and Yolo 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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Team Giving logo Team Giving

A regional resource, Team Giving contributes to the community by connecting individuals, businesses and service groups to projects that fulfill the specific needs of local nonprofit groups.

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From Our Media Allies

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The Dirt logo Charge Your Electric Vehicle for Free in Davis With New Solar-Powered Station

The City of Davis has installed a free, solar mobile electric vehicle charger—the first of it's kind in the region, according to City officials.

West Sacramento News Ledger logo Decades-Long Development Continues

The Grand Gateway Master Plan is a walkable, mixed-use destination that ties together the Bridge District, Washington District and West Capitol Avenue, the central business corridor.

The Dirt logo Breaking Grounds: UC Davis Brews Up a Brand-New Center Dedicated to Coffee Research

“It’s actually more challenging to make a good cup of coffee than it is to make a good bottle of wine.”

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Recent Local News

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• Yolo County Fair Coming Soon

The Opening Night Gala for the Yolo County Fair will take place on August 14.

(07/07/2024) → Daily Democrat

• Yolo County Property Assessments Up

Yolo County released data showing the assessed value of real and business property in the county at a record $37.99 billion as of January 1 2024.

(07/05/2024) → Daily Democrat

• 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 City of Woodland seal. City of Woodland   (07/04/2024)

Tonight’s Fireworks Show Canceled

Celebration will be rescheduled
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (07/03/2024)

Bill Dodd CA Senate 03:
Sen. Dodd’s Generative AI Accountability Act Bill Clears Hurdle

Wednesday, July 3, 2024SACRAMENTO Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, today announced his legislation has advanced that would build upon recent directives from President Joe Biden and Gov. Gavin Newsom addressing the unprecedented growth of artificial intelligence technology by encouraging continued innovation while ensuring the rights and opportunities of all Californians are protected. Artificial intelligence has tremendous potential to improve our lives …
Image of City of Woodland seal. City of Woodland   (07/02/2024)

Celebrate the Completion of the Crawford Park Pickleball Courts

Celebration scheduled for July 9 at 9 AM
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (07/02/2024)

Bill Dodd CA Senate 03:
Committee OKs Sen. Dodd’s Utilities Infrastructure Savings Bill

Tuesday, July 2, 2024SACRAMENTO Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, announced today his legislation has advanced that would help ensure electrical utilities are pursuing the fastest and most cost-effective infrastructure improvements, safeguarding the public from future wildfires and saving money for ratepayers forced to cover the cost of more expensive repairs. Our utilities are taking necessary steps to safeguard our communities and …
Image of City of Woodland seal. City of Woodland   (07/02/2024)

Beat the Heat & Stay Safe

High Temperatures Expected
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   (06/29/2024)

Bill Dodd CA Senate 03:
Governor Signs Sen. Dodd’s Restaurant Fees Bill

Saturday, June 29, 2024 SACRAMENTO Gov. Gavin Newsom today signed legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to protect California restaurant patrons from hidden fees, by tailoring upfront disclosure requirements to the food services industry. With todays signing we can uphold the principle of providing consumers with up-front price transparency without inadvertently harming food service workers or small businesses, Sen. Dodd …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/28/2024)

Bill Dodd CA Senate 03:
Sen. Dodd Issues Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Homeless Decision

Friday, June 28, 2024SACRAMENTO Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, issued the following statement today on the U.S. Supreme Courts decision in the case of City of Grants Pass v. Johnson: California has worked hard to provide opportunities for shelter and housing but weve lacked the authority to clear unsafe encampments, said Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa. This decision will allow our state …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/28/2024)

Bill Dodd CA Senate 03:
Legislature Approves Sen. Dodd’s Restaurant Fees Bill

Thursday, June 27, 2024SACRAMENTO The California Legislature today approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to protect California restaurant patrons from hidden fees, by tailoring upfront disclosure requirements to the food services industry. Senate Bill 1524 now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom for a signature. Today we take an important step toward providing consumers with up-front price transparency without inadvertently …