Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Grand Jury

EDITOR:

Functions of the EDC Grand Jury:

Contrary to the May 1, 2013 article, “Grand Jury applications sought,” the primary function of each California County Grand Jury is defined by state law; a) To weigh allegations of misconduct against public officials and to determine whether to present formal acquisitions requesting their removal from office (California code 922), and b) To act as the public’s “watchdog” by investigating and reporting upon the affairs of local government (e.g. California Code 919, 925 et seq.). The Grand Jury is also empowered generally to investigate and report upon, among other things, housing, imprisonment of unindicted persons, prison conditions, certain land transfers, cities and joint powers agencies, salaries of county officials and the administrative needs of county offices.

The Grand Jury’s role as a vigilant “watchdog” has a long and well-respected heritage, which serves the people of other California counties well. But since the El Dorado County Grand Jury investigation of our former district attorney in 2002, the EDC Grand Jury has been subtly morphed into a management consulting group. The statement (Mountain Democrat May 1 issue) that “The jury has no enforcement authority; it can only make recommendations through publication of a final report” is an intrinsic conflict of interest. The people do not yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them and the Grand Jury’s duties are defined by the rule-of-law, not county officials. Not only can the Grand Jury recommend indictments, it can solicit the assistance of the California Attorney General and beyond if the local courts are uncooperative.

The 2013-2014 Grand Jury has an opportunity and a duty to focus on misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance by those who should become the subject of the Jury’s watchdog function. Jurors who focus on their primary functions will not likely make county counsel, the Board of Supervisors, or their presiding judge happy. Serving on the Jury is a reward unto itself. Every member of the Jury who understands that no one in America including the President can be left untethered from the rule-of-law will enjoy the satisfaction of a very important job well done. Hopefully the 2013-2014 Jury will do the right thing rather than the easy thing. Determining the real reasons for the resignations of the 2012-2013 Jury is a starting point.

KEN SCHONIGER
Pollock Pines

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 23 comments

  • AnonymousMay 06, 2013 - 1:19 pm

    So Much Local Corruption with Public Officials, so much for the GJ to investigate.

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  • readerMay 06, 2013 - 9:23 pm

    Well what “watchdog” watches a grand jury that you say is a “watchdog?” The last grand jury wasted our tax dollars by ending things and without doing anything for the money they got to show up. That sounds like corruption to me. A couple former jurors told me they didn't complete even one report before their big mouth foreman ended their work in some personal dispute with their judge. If true, that doesn't sound like principle, more like covering up incompetence by their foreman. Wouldn't want to be part of a group like that and don’t know any local people here who would either. So much corruption with local politicians to investigate, you say, but we know corrupt no-nothing jurors aren't able to do that.

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 16, 2013 - 7:25 pm

    Reader asks, " what 'watchdog' watches a grand jury that you say is a 'watchdog?'" In this county we are lucky to have a vigilante "watchdog", Melody Compass. Sleep tight.

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  • EvelynMay 16, 2013 - 8:14 pm

    Ken Schoniger underscores the importance of determining the real reasons for the resignations of the 2012-2013 Grand Jurors. Lots of people in this county hope & trust that will be starting point for the new Grand Jury. If so, this year may prove interesting indeed.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMay 16, 2013 - 8:55 pm

    this might be fun to volunteer for...

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  • EvelynMay 16, 2013 - 9:03 pm

    reader: Perhaps THIS article will serve as a refresher. You are calling 14 grand jurors corrupt? Let's find out.

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  • EvelynMay 16, 2013 - 9:05 pm

    P.S. At $15 per day for their time, it's unlikely grand jurors serve for the money.

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  • SparkyMay 17, 2013 - 5:55 am

    Evelyn is right - $15/day does not bring out the best, the brightest or potentially the most honest. Who has time to meet 2 or 3 days a week for more than 20 hours total? The answer is retirees, the unemployed, political junkies and maybe a small business owner all for the opportunity to serve the community. Hmm... Self anointed watchdog groups or state mandated watchdog groups both have the same problem, credibility is based upon transparency into the process, the people involved, their backgrounds, conflicts of interest, funding sources and the subject matter. The process restricts transparency over and over again. The system is broke so why would the outcomes be insightful or forthcoming?

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  • EvelynMay 17, 2013 - 8:03 am

    Sparky! The process and the pay are separate matters. My point about the $15/day was that fiscal corruption cannot be at the heart of the matter.

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  • Compass2TruthMay 17, 2013 - 9:08 am

    Hey Phil, if you were man enough to accept my invitation to meet eyeball to eyeball I just may be able to educate your warped mind with a few facts. For now this 2009 PR excerpt might assist: "COMPAS is comprised of concerned citizens, residents and dedicated volunteers. We believe that this statement and the hundreds of other legal requisites of the Ralph M. Brown Act and The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act pertain to the River Management Advisory Committee (RMAC), the State Department of Parks & Recreation, Marshall Gold Discovery Historic State Park, and other affiliated organizations in El Dorado County that work closely with government agencies. The mission of COMPAS is to sustain the high quality of life in El Dorado County, to educate residents and visitors while providing focused direction and assuring protection from the effects of unmonitored management and a general degradation of the wonders and benefits of this historic county."

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  • Compass2TruthMay 17, 2013 - 9:17 am

    Key word in the press release is UNMONITORED MANAGEMENT. Here's another excerpt: "In a CA non-profit benefits corporation the anonymity of group members is protected from intimidation or retaliation for exposing illegal operations and/or abusive manipulation by all agencies and their affiliates. A serious crisis of public safety and fiscal accountability lurks at the world wide renowned Marshall Gold Discovery Park. The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors and CA State Parks Director Ruth Coleman have continually turned blind eyes & deaf ears to concerned residents calls for action. COMPAS is calling for investigation and action into these violations, for which there are both Civil Remedies and Criminal Sanctions."

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 17, 2013 - 10:17 am

    Melody Compass asserts, "I just may be able to educate your warped mind", if I were just "man enough" to meet here eye to eye. Snookums, I reject the arrogance embodied within the premise that you, Melody Lane Compass2Truth are the educator and that enlightenment flows in only one direction. In a previous comment on a different thread I noted that there is no compass that points to the truth. I stand by that statement. The notion of a Compass2Truth is preposterous, arrogant and UNTRUE. You have a point of view. That's it. Zip, zero, nada more

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  • observerMay 17, 2013 - 10:47 am

    Lots of fun, but dont irritate phil Veerkamp regular guy with a point of view zip, zero, nada more cause he'll nail ya to the fence post with his tongue.

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  • SnookumsMay 17, 2013 - 12:37 pm

    So sorry Phil, I meant to say "warped sense of humor". But seriously, what kind of man would want to "nail a woman to the wall with his tongue" considering he won't accept an invitation to meet a confident, professional, strong, evangelical woman in a public place? As for a compass that points to truth, Pilate asked "What is truth?" Jesus' answer: "Everyone who is of the TRUTH hears My voice....I am the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE." Now if you've got a problem with that compass, then you've got a far bigger problem than you do with strong women. Looking forward to our rendezvous. I promise, I'll only kill you with kindness. Love & kisses, Melody

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  • Let the Light ShineMay 17, 2013 - 6:23 pm

    Thank you Ken! It will be refreshing if those that have a concern for the rule of law end up serving.

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  • R SmithMay 17, 2013 - 6:30 pm

    Schoniger is right. Citizens should be secure in the knowledge that their Grand Jury is truly one of their most important lines of defense against a government gone wrong and not just a manipulated joke. A strong Grand Jury is what gives or takes away the legitimacy of a government. As I reconstitute my three recent encounters with the Grand Jury the slag that comes to the top has possible internal manipulation with outside guidance written all over it..

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  • James E.May 17, 2013 - 6:41 pm

    I refuse to believe that Phil is nailing anyone with his tongue.

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  • James E.May 17, 2013 - 6:46 pm

    Phil, WARNING: Do not meet Melody in public. She may be wearing a wire. Or ear rings that transmit.

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 17, 2013 - 7:01 pm

    James, the tete-a-tete with Snookums is not likely to happen regardless what she is wearing or not.

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  • SnookumsMay 17, 2013 - 8:38 pm

    Awww Phil, you're no fun! Whatcha afraid of? I don't wear wires, except in my bra: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Nhr8kG6PEOc?feature=player_detailpage Hugs, Melody

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  • Compass2TruthMay 17, 2013 - 9:04 pm

    All kidding aside, Ken Schoniger wrote an excellent letter. The new Grand Jury will have its hands full... "The people do NOT yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them and the Grand Jury’s duties are defined by the rule-of-law, NOT county officials." (emphasis added) God bless those watchdogs who put their training to proper use!

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  • Hopefully the 2013-2014 Jury will do the right thing rather than the easy thing.May 18, 2013 - 7:59 am

    "Well Done" Ken. With the Sheriff distancing himself from his buddy Ray Nutting and the spotlight on the management of the Grand Jury, maybe there is hope after all. Also I wanted to thank you for all your years of behind the scenes hard work on the Counties Veterans Monument, without you it would have been just another County disaster.

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  • J. OthersideMay 18, 2013 - 8:43 pm

    Here I was thinking about applying. Now instead I'm going to whack myself in the head with large hammer, sounds much more fun....

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