After issuing several scathing reports aimed directly at county supervisors, Orange County’s grand jury saw its proposed $20,000 midyear budget increase rejected Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
“Apparently they cannot live within their means,” said Supervisor Todd Spitzer.
Spitzer added that the grand jury reports seem to be more about “grabbing headlines” than helping supervisors improve services.
County Supervisor John Moorlach seconded Spitzer’s sentiment and motion.
The panel has issued reports critical of supervisors this year, including one titled “CalOptima Burns While Majority of Supervisors Fiddle” and “A Call for Ethical Standards: Corruption in Orange County.”
Grand jury foreman Ray Garcia didn’t return a message seeking comment.
Asked about Spitzer’s criticisms and the importance of the funds, Orange County Superior Court spokeswoman Gwen Vieau referred questions back to county supervisors.
“Your questions would best be addressed to the Board of Supervisors,” said Vieau.
In an interview Wednesday, Spitzer said the grand jury also didn’t explain to him why they were making the request.
“They didn’t come to me and explain why they needed more money,” said Spitzer. “There was no rationale for why they needed more money.”
He noted that relations with the panel have reached a sour point.
“I don’t think this board has any love lost for this year’s grand jury,” said Spitzer, adding that the panel didn’t consider any of the suggestions he made for their report on political corruption.
“I think they’re very concerned, and they’re trying to have an impact on the county. I just think the way they’re going about it is long on dramatics and short on substance,” said Spitzer.
County documents said the grand jury’s $20,000 request was “for administrative support to the grand jurors, and court reporter services.”
The grand jury is expected to issue two more reports on CalOptima this session, and the health plan’s CEO Michael Schrader reminded its board members of that just last week.
Superior Court budgeted $209,000 for the grand jury this year, with $180,000 of that going to salaries and benefits and $29,000 spent on services and supplies.
Spending is down about 20 percent from fiscal year 2011’s actual expenses of $259,000.
Orange County’s grand jury has produced five reports so far this year, including examinations of bus service for the disabled and challenges in collecting child support.
You can reach Nick Gerda at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.
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