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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The County Grand Jury: Does Anyone Listen?

The San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury this week issued a new report criticizing a vote by two members of the Board of Supervisors that prevented an extension of Cal Fire services in San Carlos. The Grand Jury's analysis indicated that the action prevented significant savings for local taxpayers. You can bet that the revelations will be greeted by a collective yawn. The report has no teeth whatsoever. Every time the Grand Jury, with the best of intentions, comes out with a damning conclusion involving one of the county's multitude of public agencies the impact is more fleeting than a vote by the Greek Parliament. It's strictly a case of here-today-gone-tomorrow. It has the lifespan of a gnat. That's not to say the Grand Jury's work is utterly pointless. It's just that it has no enforcement mechanism; it's advisory only. Targets, whoever they are, can take it or leave it. They usually do the latter. One of the best examples occurred not all that long ago when the Grand Jury produced a report detailing how the county's public health care system featured some of the most generous benefits in California for illegal immigrants and their families. The result: Nothing. It was kissed off as barely more than an interesting set of data. Ho hum. Time to take another nap.

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