Monday, June 30, 2008

Ain't it Grand?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 9:12 PM

It's here! Yes, the 2007-2008 Final Report from the Humboldt County Grand Jury is out. Not that you'll find it on their website. And no, you can't ask them for one until tomorrow morning when they present the 44 page document to the Supes. However, since it's on the Board agenda, the county posted it on their website .
What is it? Well, kind of like a report card for various county agencies, and about as exciting. Sorry, but we're mostly underwhelmed.

Highlights? Well, it starts with something tantalizing: "Board of Supervisors Settlement with Tamara Falor," and you're thinking, wow, that mystery is finally solved, but guess what, the Supes were as tight-lipped about the terms with the Grand Jury as they have been with everyone else, once again citing the old personnel issue dodge, so we learn zip from them. The grand conclusion? The Supes "may have settled with Falor to avoid more costly and time consuming litigation," um, then again maybe it was something else. With that they throw up their hands.

Next they tackle the pressing issue of County Dept. head evaluations. Turns out they're pretty much non-existent. Improvement needed.

Sewers are examined (who volunteered for that committee?) and it was found that shit happens, and escapes various systems. Again, improvement needed.

It's too bad Hank isn't around to read the scintillating GJ report on his beloved North Coast Railroad Authority. The grand conclusion: "The principal objection to the restoration of the rail line is the enormous cost likely to be incurred. Any benefits from such a project would be other than monetary and limited in scope in the foreseeable future." (Have they perhaps been following our Town Dandy?)

They took some time investigating a citizen complaint of wrongdoing by Big Lagoon School District regarding the Big Lagoon Charter School, but found no substantiation. Hmmm.

The GJ also looked into fencing at Murray Field Airport, which apparently is needed to keep out deer who get in the way of emergency medical flights. Pending environmental review, a $600,000 fence should be built in spring/summer of next year

The G. Jury looked at Public Transit and the Humboldt Transit Authority and offered a fairly detailed explanation of transit financing that we will not go into at this time. Overall the GJ commends the HTA and associated agencies for doing what they can, but with some provisos regarding a couple of points that turned up:
One is that a fair amount to the Transportation Development Act (TDA) funding we receive is not used for public transit at all -- in Rio Dell and Fortuna the money goes toward road maintenance.
The report noted something that might seem obvious: "Ridership is higher in the main transportation corridors and reduced on the periphery," especially those areas (Garberville for example) that no longer have bus service.
The county figures that 32 percent of those in incorporated areas live outside the reach of public transit and/or have no access to specialized services like Dial-a-Ride.
And, to sum up a bunch of findings, considering gas prices, insurance, and emissions standards, it's going to be increasingly expensive to move people around.
The GJ "encourages" improvement in meeting unmet needs and suggests using more TDA funds for public transit. However, no response is required.

The report includes a frequency chart showing how often the GJ investigates various subjects. Since the turn of the century (and perhaps earlier) they've looked at our jails and juvie every year. They did so again this time around. And they checked in on the police. We'll address those in Part 2.

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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

Freelance photographer and writer, Arts and Entertainment editor from 1997 to 2013.

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