By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
The Sacramento County Grand Jury has issued its final report on its investigation into the County Board of Supervisors’ use of millions of dollars in 2020 meant for early coronavirus pandemic recovery.
As first reported by the Sacramento OBSERVER, the County Board of Supervisors allowed then County Executive Nav Gill to use $132.86 million of its federal pandemic response funds for payroll for public health and safety employees, with the Sheriff’s Department receiving 78%, $104.2 million, of that money. The OBSERVER obtained documents from a whistleblower that detailed the spending. The Grand Jury conducted a year-long investigation and found that the “maneuvering” of funds “had adverse consequences to the local community at a critical time in County history.”
The first jury report was released in February. A second was released in June, finding that the County Board of Supervisors “ignored” County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye for five months “before finally engaging in any sort of dialogue regarding the County’s COVID-19 activities and its impact on County residents.”
“For the first time, the Grand Jury has released its investigative reports to the public
upon completion, rather than holding all reports to the conclusion of the Jury’s term.
This has resulted in a more immediate awareness by the public to information
impacting their lives,” said outgoing Grand Jury Foreperson Deanna Hanson.
The initial report included 14 findings and five recommendations. In June, the County Board of Supervisors “largely disagreed” with the Grand Jury’s assessments and said it didn’t feel the need to adhere to its recommendations.
The Grand Jury’s new final report, titled, “A Call For Leadership” calls for change and questions the effectiveness and accountability of those serving in public positions. It restates its findings stating that: “The County Board of Supervisors and several other elected officials have been indifferent and neglectful in their role to protect the very people they represent,” and “County elected officials appeared uninterested and unresponsive to the critical problems facing their county and its residents.”
“The investigations represented in the final report point again and again to the absence of transparency and accountability among elected officials and their administrators,” Hanson said.
The reports, she adds, “reflect the belief that the County’s elected officials and leaders must be held responsible for their actions.”
The 2021-22 Grand Jury Final Report can be viewed on the Grand Jury website: www.sacgrandjury.org.