We, The Jury
Newly installed county group has power to investigate
By Howard Schmidt
A new Sacramento County Grand Jury is on the job. The jury has the power and responsibility to investigate local government, improve efficiency and effectiveness, and promote accountability and transparency on the city and county level.
Approximately 120 residents applied for 19 grand jury seats. Interviews reduced the number to 34, and the final jurors were chosen by random drawing. There are also 11 alternates.
Unlike cases presented in a courtroom, grand jurors review and investigate the performance of county and city governments and special districts. They recommend changes to improve local public services.
Judge Steven Gevercer serves as adviser. He told applicants the grand jury exists “to make government accountable.”
Each member serves on three committees, ranging from health and human services to education, criminal justice, administration and environmental protection. Investigations can be initiated by the jury or suggested by residents.
The jury can respond to complaints of alleged mistreatment by officials and suspicion of misconduct.
Investigations result in reports that require responses from elected officials and agencies. Recent reports focused on the lack of coordination dealing with homelessness and the county’s failure to address mandated jail improvements.
To contact the jury, visit sacgrandjury.org.
OTHER WAYS TO VOLUNTEER
Being a grand juror isn’t the only way to improve your community. The county has an extensive volunteer program.
Since 2004, more than 75,000 people have volunteered or served as interns, donating more than 6 million hours in service.
“Sacramento County has many wonderful volunteer opportunities for individuals of all ages to support seniors, animals, first responders, veterans and more,” Supervisor Rich Desmond says. “Our volunteers are inspiring and invaluable because they improve the quality of life for all those who work and live here.”
Whether it’s directing customers at the airport, helping with events, assisting seniors, mentoring children, interviewing veterans, doing clerical tasks or helping with animals, Sacramento County has a project or service that can use help.
To volunteer, call 311 or visit the county’s website at saccounty.gov.
Howard Schmidt worked on the federal, state and local levels of government, including 16 years for Sacramento County. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.