The latest Humboldt County Grand Jury report, released Tuesday night, recommends among other things that the role of the Humboldt County Community Development Department Director as overseer of the Headwaters Fund staff be nixed, and that the Headwaters Fund Coordinator take over the role under supervision of the County Treasurer.
Such a move, indicates the report, would eliminate a perception of conflict of interest:
The perceived conflict arises when the Director applies for a grant, screens the grant, prepares a staff report and signs the grant contract as Grantee.
The report adds a chapter to the GJ's investigation, begun in 2009, into management of the Headwaters Fund -- a fund begun in 2002 to offset the loss of timber-related revenue from the Headwaters Forest went from private ownership to public. And it begins nicely enough, praising the HWF for its efforts to improve its checks and balances for awarding loans and tracking them, as well as for developing a 10-year plan to better educate the workforce, among other things.
Then it counters all that with admonishments, including most notably:
Grant funds have not always been used in a manner designed to increase the number of sustainable jobs that pay at or above median wages...
New jobs at median or higher wages rarely have been created, while the main achievement has been to retain existing jobs.
Granted funds do not always appear to "enhance the quality of life through social and environmental projects that promote healthy communities and protect the natural environment."
The GJ report also says the HWF's charter itself is supposed to be reviewed and amended periodically, and hasn't been.