[Tehama County] Grand Jury releases 2018-19 report

This year’s Tehama County Grand Jury annual report has been published. It includes a number of reports on county and city departments, however, this year not one of the seven official reports is directly related to Corning.
The grand jury issued reports on the Red Buff Economic Development Office, Tehama County Elections Department and Audit and Finance Department, Tehama County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Department and the Office of Emergency Services, Salt Creek Conservation Camp and the Ishi Conservation Camp.
Also included in the annual report are responses to grand jury recommendations from last year’s report.
The county’s civil grand jury is a body comprised of 19 resident members overseen by the Tehama County Superior Court and is impaneled only for civil purposes.
The grand jury is authorized to examine all aspects of county and city government and special districts to ensure that the best interests of Tehama County citizens are being served.
Each of this year’s reports start with a summary and are finalized with findings, recommendations and required responses.
The grand jury’s summary on the county elections office states the report dealt mainly with voter registration, ballot collection and processing, and the accuracy of the tabulation process.
“The Grand Jury concluded that the integrity in the tabulation of the ballot contests was above satisfactory, and that every effort was made by the Tehama County Elections staff to provide the checks and balances necessary to make sure every vote was correctly counted,” states the report.
However, in its findings and recommendations section, it recommends the elections department pursue “voter registration integrity, emphasizing the details of the affidavit during the registration process, by all means necessary and afforded by the department. This may include a recommendation to the Secretary of State of California to petition the Election Assistance Commission to alter the Federal Form for voter registration to require documentary proof of citizenship.”
As to the county’s audit and finance department report, the grand jury found what they described as “material weaknesses” in records sent to external auditors.
This problem appears to have been rectified according to the report, “This year they (external auditors) made it clear that they expect correct information to be produced by departments, and they also expect the Auditor-Controller Department to review the information before submitting it to the external auditors. Departments identified as having submitted incorrect information have committed to producing correct information for this fiscal year (2018-19).”
In addition, the grand jury recommends the auditor-controller send a copy of the single audit and financial statement documents to the grand jury annually by March 1 for review.
The Tehama County Coroner’s Office investigation resulted in a relatively clean bill of health, so to speak. According to the office of the coroner is administered by the Tehama County Sheriff’s Operations Division and holds tow full-time deputy coroner investigators. The officer is on call 24/7 every day of the year and responds to and investigates any sudden, violent or unusual deaths, or deaths that fall within the jurisdiction of the coroner.
In its findings and recommendations, the grand jury suggests the sheriff’s office update the current coroner’s vehicle for the transport of deceased persons, that the county board of supervisors provided budget funds for a sufficient supply of body bags for the office to conduct its required services, for the coroner’s office to start charging fees, purchase a rolling weight scale, procure a portable fingerprint identification scanner, and for the office to establish a procedural manual.
Several issues were found within the county’s Office of Emergency Services, which is a grant funded program currently suffering from a lack of funding, according to the grand jury. The office is an intra-agency collaboration which responds 24/7 to any emergency such as floods, fires, hazardous material spills, or other emergent needs.
Among the issues was a lack of personnel, funding, inadequate equipment storage, and inadequate county emergency stores.
In its recommendations, the grand jury asks that the board of supervisors approve a budget increase to the office next year, secure a storage area of equipment, establish a plan to store three days worth of supplies for county emergencies, and seek grant funding.
The Salt Creek and Ishi Conservation camps are both public prisons/jail within the county which house inmates jointly operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Cal Fire, with a primary mission to provide inmate fire crews for fire suppression in the Tehama-Glenn counties area, the Salk Creek Camp on the west side of the county and the Ishi Camp on the east side.
The grand jury report expressed commendations to both camps, noting their ongoing community service, fire fighting and ongoing humanitarian projects.
July 31, 2019
By Julie R. Johnson