Quality Takes Time
Recruitment/Hiring Process for Correctional Officers
In 2009, budget constraints imposed upon the Sheriff’s Office resulted in the layoff of 45 employees, of which seven were correctional officers. Due to these layoffs, the third floor of the County jail was closed.
Passage of Assembly Bill 109 (AB109) in April, 2011, resulted in the transfer of inmates from State prisons to county jails, making an increase in local jail capacity a matter of urgency. In October, 2011, funding under the terms of AB109 enabled the Sheriff’s Office to hire additional correctional officers which allowed for the reopening of the third floor of the jail.
Due to community concern over the increase of criminal activity following these transfers, the Shasta County Grand Jury investigated the length of time it took to re-open the third floor of the jail, specifically addressing the hiring process. Upon review of the steps necessary to ensure the hiring of the most qualified correctional officers we determined that while the application and interview process was appropriate, there was a short delay while a testing contract was being renegotiated. We also determined that some applicants withdrew themselves from consideration due to the length of the process.
F1. While the hiring process is lengthy and cumbersome, a revision of current procedures and/or the lowering of current standards could result in the hiring of less qualified correctional officers.
F2. Applicants were not fully informed of the length of time necessary to complete the recruitment/hiring process.
F3. The delay in opening the third floor of the jail was due to the lack of adequate correctional officer staffing and the extensive recruitment/hiring process.
R1. The Sheriff’s Office and SCSS should continue to adhere to the standards of the current recruitment/hiring process.
R2. In order to minimize the number of applicants who withdraw from the process.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
The [Shasta County] Sheriff:
Shasta County Chief Administrative Officer (invited):
Western Shasta Resource Conservation District
The Western Shasta Resource Conservation District (WSRCD), a special district formed in 1957, operates with the stated mission to “Collaborate with willing landowners, government agencies and other organizations to facilitate the conservation and restoration of Western Shasta County’s natural resources.” The district encompasses approximately 1.7 million acres bounded on the east by the watershed divide between eastern and western Shasta County; the north by the Siskiyou County line; the west by the Trinity County line; and the south by the Tehama County line.
Through its investigation the Grand Jury determined that while the WSRCD is now facing the same financial difficulties as most special districts, it is still effective in accomplishing its mission. We did find areas where the benefit to the citizens of Shasta County could be enhanced by (1) adding additional members to the Board of Directors, (2) selectively pursuing “fee for service” contract work, and (3) updating its website. We have made specific recommendations with regard to each of these issues.
F1. Additional members added to the Board of Directors would allow for a greater diversity of opinion in the operation of the district and would reduce difficulties in setting up subcommittees due to constraints imposed by the Brown Act.
F2. Marketing the availability of the resources of the WSRCD to the public on selected “fee for service” projects would both promote resource conservation and assist the District in meeting its financial obligations.
F3. Inmate labor from the Sugar Pine Conservation Camp is the most economical way for the WSRCD to obtain experienced and qualified labor at minimal cost while working on selected projects.
F4. The WSRCD website is out-of-date and fails to provide the public with necessary information.
R1. The Grand Jury recommends that the WSRCD seek out interested citizens in order to nominate them to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors for appointment to the board. This should be accomplished within the next three months.
R2. The Grand Jury recommends that the WSRCD review its practice of not marketing “fee for service” contracts with a view toward performing such services for private landowners who would not otherwise avail themselves of conservation work on their property. This review should be undertaken as soon as possible following the addition of new members to the Board.
R3. The Grand Jury recommends that the WSRCD continues to utilize (through Cal-Fire) inmate labor from the Sugar Pine Conservation Camp as a means of obtaining experienced and qualified labor while at the same time keeping down the cost of services provided.
R4. The Grand Jury recommends that the WSRCD review and update its website for the specific purpose of providing the public with accurate, relevant and timely information concerning its activities and the dates, times and agendas of the WSRCD Board meetings. The review and update of the website should be completed within three months (the committee feels that 3 months is adequate.).
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
The Board of the WSRCD:
F1 through F4
R1 through R4
California Departments Cooperating
Sugar Pine Conservation Camp
California Penal Code Section 919 mandates that the Shasta County Grand Jury “inquire into the condition and management of the public prisons within the county.” Sugar Pine Conservation Camp, also known as Sugar Pine, is a public prison. In the summer of 2012, there were many large wildfires in and around Shasta County. The Sugar Pine inmate crews played a large part in the suppression and mitigation of these fires, which resulted in significant monetary savings to the California Department of Forestry and Fire (Cal Fire) and the local community. The Grand Jury decided to inquire into the operations of Sugar Pine.
F1. Sugar Pine and other conservation camps in California provide significant monetary savings to the State in fire prevention and suppression.
F2. Sugar Pine provides significant monetary savings and community service to local public entities, many of whom would not otherwise be able to accomplish necessary maintenance.
F3. The cost of conservation camp bed space is substantially lower than inmate housing costs now incurred by Shasta County at other holding facilities.
F4. The recidivism rate from conservation camps is lower than that of the general prison population.
F5. Sugar Pine provides rehabilitation, education and training opportunities that can be beneficial to the inmates.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
What is a Permissible Gift?
City Of Redding Employee Conduct and Honesty Policy
The City of Redding currently has in place an Employee Conduct and Honesty Policy which has not been revised since 1987.While the policy addresses violations for accepting a gift, it does not define a gift, nor does it adequately detail the consequences of a violation. Interviews with city employees indicated a lack of understanding of what constitutes a gift and what is a violation of this policy. A well-defined gift policy would provide guidance for employees, and adherence would lessen the potential for a conflict of interest. Department heads or direct supervisors should review all reports of an employee receiving gifts.
F1. The City of Redding‘s Conduct and Honesty Policy disallows the acceptance of gifts. However, the policy does not define “gifts”; therefore, misinterpretation is possible.
F2. City employees lack an understanding of what constitutes a gift and what constitutes a violation of the policy.
F3. While city management reviews FPPC 700 Forms Schedule D & E only if reported gifts are over $440, there is no provision to alert management of city employees receiving lesser gifts
F4. Violations of the Honesty and Conduct Policy concerning acceptance of gifts are not enforced.
R1. The Grand Jury recommends the Redding City Council, working with city management, revise and adopt an Employee Honesty and Conduct Policy specific to accepting gifts.
R2. The Grand Jury recommends the Employee and Honesty and Conduct policy clearly defines what is a gift, what is an acceptable gift, and set a maximum value an employee may receive.
R3. The grand jury recommends the Redding City Council, working with management, develop a vehicle for employees not required to file FPPC 700 forms to report gifts received.
R4. The Redding City Council adopt a policy that requires department heads or immediate supervisors to review all FPPC 700 Forms to determine if employees are adhering to the adopted City Gift policy.
R5. The Grand Jury recommends the Redding City Council develop a plan to enforce the adopted city gift policy.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
The Redding City Council:
F1 through F4
R1 through R5
Diploma or Certificate of Completion?
Shasta Union High School District, Special Education Department Adult Transition Program
The Shasta Union High School District (SUHSD) Special Education Department’s Adult Transition Program provides services for a maximum of four years to students with significant disabilities who are between the ages of 18 and 22. The students in the program have a wide variety of physical and intellectual developmental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. The Adult Transition Program is designed to develop the students’ life skills and experiences necessary for their everyday living.
After a series of parental complaints to the SUHSD Board of Trustees, several of the parents/guardians expressed frustration at the response received, and submitted written complaints to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury focused on the following areas:
communication in general between parents/guardians and the district;
confusion as to whether the Special Education student would obtain a Diploma or a Certificate of Completion (students who have obtained a Diploma are ineligible for the Adult Transition Program);
staff to student ratio;
termination of the fund-raising recycling program;
parent club funding issues.
The Grand Jury determined through our investigation that, although there are a number of parents of Adult Transition students who have complaints regarding the program, it does meet the needs of the target population.
F1. There has been a lack of communication between SUHSD’s Special Education Department and the parents/guardians of special needs high school students regarding graduation options (Diploma vs. Certificate of Completion pathways).
F2. There is no adequate forum for groups of parents/guardians to communicate with the special education staff on a regular and ongoing basis.
F3. The Adult Transition Program Parents’ Club funds were not managed according to district policy; however, this has since been rectified.
F4. The SUHSD Board of Trustees was responsive to several of the parents’ concerns, for example reinstating the use of a van and resuming recycling.
F5. Based on the ratio of staff to students of 1:2, the SUHSD Adult Transition Program is staffed appropriately when compared to other local school districts.
R1. The Grand Jury recommends that by September 1, 2013 the SUHSD Board of Trustees finalize the Course of Study Decisions document. It should contain a clear explanation of the outcomes of choosing the educational pathway leading to a diploma versus the pathway leading to a certificate of completion. The district should provide it to parents/guardians in a timely fashion
R2. Jury recommends that SUHSD schedule regular meetings between parents/guardians and the special education staff to address and discuss general concerns beginning at the start of the next semester.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
The SUHSD Board of Trustees:
Director of Special Education, SUHSD (invited):
Audit and Finance Report
Penal Code Section 925 requires the Grand Jury to annually examine the accounts and records of the County. Government Code Section 25250 requires the Board of Supervisors to conduct an annual audit of all County accounts. The audit is conducted by a “contract auditor” pursuant to Government Code Section 31000.
Penal Code Section 926 allows the Grand Jury to enter into a joint contract with the Board of Supervisors to employ an auditor for both of these purposes. The members of the Grand Jury’s Audit and Finance Committee and County financial/audit staff comprise the Joint Audit Committee, which oversees the work of the contract auditor.
The Grand Jury reviewed the 2012 annual audit report; no exceptions were noted by the contract auditor. The Audit and Finance Committee also reviewed the 2012-2013 Grand Jury “budget to actual accounting” data and determined that the grand jurors’ mileage and per diem reports and charges were accurate and complete.
F1. The County’s outside audit firm, Gallina, LLP, issued the annual report for 2012 with an “unqualified opinion” and had no exceptions or management comment in the report. Gallina, LLP has reported that the County is performing its financial function in an acceptable manner.
F2. The Grand Jury budget to actual accounting information and charges to these accounts are correct and complete.
F3. All Grand Jury per diem and mileage reports and the associated charges we reviewed are accurate and complete.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
Let There Be Light - At A Discount
Big League Dreams
In August of 2004, the City of Redding built a sports park on land that it owns in the northeast area of Redding. The City of Redding leased the sports park to Big League Dreams Redding, LLC (BLD) for a period of 35 years. Included within the lease agreement was a provision that BLD would be billed for electricity used at the sports park at the lowest rate in effect for any other commercial or municipal user with comparable energy consumption. At the outset of the lease, BLD was also provided a reduced economic incentive rate for the electricity used at the sports park. That economic incentive rate eventually expired in March of 2011. For seven months following the expiration of the economic incentive rate, Redding Electric Utility (REU) billed BLD for electricity at a much higher Large Commercial Service rate. During that time, however, a lower Stadium Lighting Service rate was available to, but not being used by, eligible customers. In September of 2011, REU recommended, and the Redding City Council approved on the Consent Calendar, an item which authorized a new “blended” rate for BLD.
The Shasta County Grand Jury received a citizen complaint alleging that the electric rate reduction afforded BLD in September of 2011 was a gift of public money to a “private corporation” and was therefore improper. Upon investigating the matter, the Grand Jury determined that the complainant was not aware of the specific provision in the lease agreement that pertained to the rate that was to be charged for electricity at the sports park. The Grand Jury found that the electric rate being charged to BLD was, in fact, in substantial compliance with the terms of the original lease agreement and the directives of the City Council.
The Grand Jury also found that information contained within an REU staff report to the City Council dated September 8, 2011 was inaccurate. This inaccuracy led to misunderstanding by City Council members as to the amount of savings that BLD would realize under the proposed “blended” rate. Additionally, the Grand Jury found that the City Council approved the “blended” rate on the Consent Calendar of September 20, 2011. This action was taken despite objection being voiced to the proposal by a member of the City Council and a member of the public. Finally, the Grand Jury found that REU applied the “blended” rate retroactively, giving BLD a refund of nearly $50,000 for electricity already billed to BLD. The Grand Jury has made recommendations addressing each of these findings.
F1. the Redding Electric Utility staff report dated September 8, 2011 contained misleading and inaccurate information which led to misunderstanding as to the savings afforded Big League Dreams Redding, LLC under the recommended “blended” rate;
F2. the City Council failed to follow its established procedure concerning its Consent Calendar when it considered and approved a rate reduction for Big League Dreams Redding, LLC during its regular meeting on September 20, 2011;
F3. the City Council failed to respond to a request from a member of the public that the item related to the electric rate change for Big League Dreams Redding, LLC be taken off of the Consent Calendar and moved to the general agenda;
F4. Redding Electric utility adjusted the electrical billings for Big League Dreams Redding, LLC retroactive to June 2011 without specific City Council Approval;
F5. The rate reduction afforded Big League Dreams Redding, LLC was in substantial compliance with the terms of the Big League Dreams Redding, LLC lease agreement.
The Grand Jury recommends:
R1. Redding Electric Utility ensure that all staff reports provided to members of the City Council are complete and accurate;
R2. the City Council follow its established procedure and either remove an item from the Consent Calendar to allow for discussion or allow no spate discussion of that item;
R3. the city council respond to and verbally approve or disallow any request from the public that an item on the Consent Calendar be moved to the general agenda;
R4. Redding Electric Utility fully inform the City Council and the public whenever any significant retroactive rate reduction is afforded any large commercial customer.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
The [Redding] City Council:
F1 through F3
Redding Electric Utility Director (invited):