Record Searchlight Receives Statewide Best Media Reporting Award

Sacramento, Calif., November 3, 2019. The California Grand Jurors’ Association has granted the Grand Jury Media Coverage Award to the Record Searchlight for its reporting on the Shasta County Grand Jury report, “The Quarter Million Dollar Typo: Words Matter.”

Following the release of the 2015-16 grand jury report, the Record Searchlight published timely and supportive articles, editorials and letters to the editor, all of which agreed with the report’s findings and recommendations. The grand jury investigated a 2008 resolution with a typo, approved by the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, that burdened county taxpayers with more than $260,000 from 2009 through 2023. The resolution omitted the word “appointed” from the staff recommendation making appointed department heads eligible for a longevity stipend after completing twenty years of service. In early 2015 when the omission was discovered, a legal interpretation of the resolution extended the eligibility for longevity stipends to elected department heads. The longevity stipend was projected to be $263,089 by 2023. The grand jury found that awarding longevity stipends to elected officials is inconsistent with the purpose of the stipends and is an inappropriate use of public funds.

Although the grand jury report was released and available to the public online and at various locations throughout the county, public awareness of the issues raised within the report was greatly enhanced by the extensive coverage provide by the Record Searchlight. The Board of Supervisors passed a new ordinance correcting the 2008 mistake, although not retrieving all of the funds. Elected officials will continue receiving the 5 percent bonus until the end of their current terms in office and keep whatever bonuses they have already received. A member of the Board of Supervisors, the media and some citizens have suggested that a larger savings may result if the elected officials receiving the longevity stipend decline receipt of the stipend in the years remaining in their elected terms.

The Grand Jury Media Coverage Award program recognizes individuals and media that have created positive changes in their communities by increasing awareness of the California Grand Jury system. The award was presented on November 2 at the association’s 38th annual conference held in Sacramento. Jenny Espina, local news editor for the Record Searchlight, accepted the award.

The California Grand Jurors’ Association is a statewide nonprofit organization of former grand jurors with the mission “to promote, preserve and support the grand jury system through training, education and outreach.”

Jenny Espina of the Record Searchlight and Barbara Sommers, chair, CGJA Excellence in Reporting Subcommittee

 

CGJA Press Release

Contact:

Jim Ragan, public relations director, California Grand Jurors’ Association

(805) 927-2723, jimragan@charter.net

 

County: