December 31, 2003
The Honorable Terrance R. Duncan
Presiding Judge, Superior Court
County of Monterey
240 Church Street
Salinas, California 93901
Dear Judge Duncan:
Forwarded herewith is the Final Report of the 2003 Monterey County Civil Grand Jury. Pursuant to your charge to us on January 2, 2003, the Grand Jury has made the Penal Code mandated visits to prisons and to other law enforcement facilities within Monterey County. Also, we have investigated county and local governmental entities’ operations on a selective basis. We have made site visits to medical, housing, and other facilities, both within Monterey County and in some other Northern California counties. We have evaluated the citizen complaints received throughout the year and initiated various inquiries at our own behest.
This has been a year of unprecedented budgetary crisis at all levels of government. There has been political turmoil culminating in the “recall” of the Governor of California. Thus, we recognize that the response to some of our recommendations may be agreement in principal but declination of immediate implementation on fiscal grounds. This response pattern has been seen in the past, but it is not a satisfactory discharge of officials’ obligations to the public in the long term. For example, problems relating to Natividad Medical Center have been discussed in prior Grand Jury final reports and in the press during the past ten years without official adoption and implementation of an effective long-term plan to insure satisfactory resolution.
A major concern of the 2003 Grand Jury has been to reinforce official attentiveness to the accepted findings and recommendations of past Grand Juries by keeping the bright light of public disclosure focused on specific problems which have not yet been addressed effectively by public officials. Although we found that some serious efforts had been undertaken to correct problems revealed in prior Grand Jury reports, some issues reportedly were intractable. Thus, we have conducted aggressive follow-up investigations prompted by less than satisfactory responses to prior Grand Juries’ recommendations, and we noted some significant prompt changes in supervision and accountability during the course of some of our investigations.
On a more personal note, and for each citizen member of the 2003 Grand Jury, we extend our heartfelt thanks. We are very appreciative of your availability, counseling, and unfailing support throughout this year. Also, our thanks to Court Executive Officer Sherri Pederson and her staff who always made themselves immediately available to answer questions and offered infrastructure support which greatly facilitated our work. The availability and promptness of response exhibited by District Attorney Dean Flippo and his staff, and by County Counsel Charles McKee and his staff, were both reassuring to this citizen jury, and of course, extremely helpful.
The enthusiasm and practical knowledge which our “right arm,” Eileen Wright, the Court Administrative Aide to the Grand Jury, brought to the many tasks we asked of her made our work immeasurably easier and much more pleasant to perform.
We hope that the 2003 Final Report resulting from this collaboration of voluntary citizen effort and willing helpful government support will prove to be of practical value to the people of Monterey County.