COWnty Watch Dogs

February 9, 2009

We, of course, love cows, horses and watchdogs. Our COWnty has two watch dogs worth noting.

First, the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury is an independent investigative body created by the California Constitution. It is composed of nineteen citizens of the COWnty chosen by the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court. The COWtny web site states that the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury serves as a “watchdog for citizens of the county.” We especially want to honor the Grand Jury this month since Governor Schwarzenegger has declared the entire month of February as Grand Jury Awareness month.

The jury receives and investigates complaints by individuals regarding the actions or performances of local public officials. In July 2006, they investigated and reported on the Planning Process in Woodside. See our stories on their report here and here. The Civil Grand Jury is a volunteer, fact finding body with the potential to recommend constructive changes.

There are two important roles that you can play with the Civil Grand Jury. First, you can apply to serve on the Grand Jury if you are a citizen of the US, at least 18 years old who has lived in the COWnty for at least one year before being selected. Grand Jurors commit to attending a minimum of six daytime meetings or field trips and two general meetings per month. The next term will begin the first day of July. If you are interested check out the Civil Grand Jury on the COWnty web site here.

If you would like to serve on the Grand Jury write to:
Grand Jury Judge
c/o Court Executive Officer
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063-1655

Secondly and equally important, some of the areas chosen to be investigated are brought about by letters from citizens regarding complaints of alleged mistreatment by officials, suspicion of misconduct or governmental inefficiencies. Such complaints are kept confidential. If the if the Grand Jury is interested, after investigation, it makes appropriate recommendations for action. Responses are required within 90 days from any public agency, and 60 days from any elective county officer or agency head. So far this term, reports have been issues on San Mateo County Public School Fire Alarm Systems, A Water District Without Water , and Pilfering of Curbside Recyclables: Should We Be Concerned?
Proposals of topics for investigation must be submitted in writing, dated, signed by the proposer(s). Include as much information as possible. See here for a check list of what you might include in your submittal.

Send proposed subjects for investigation to:
San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063-1655

The second watch dog is a blog Watch Dog San Mateo which has excellent summaries and commentaries on recent Grand Jury reports. It comments on many aspects of life in our COWnty and is a good source of information.

One Comment on “COWnty Watch Dogs

  1. Anonymous

    Grassy-as for the COWnsideration! Our fll GJ convened yesterday, and we spotted the update on your page . There were many moos of approval!!!!.

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