Grand jury quiet but mighty

The Butte County Grand Jury isn’t a well-known entity. It’s one of those working-behind-the-scenes checks and balances that people tend to forget—unless, of course, they’re affected by it.

One of the grand jury’s main functions is to investigate claims against public agencies within the county. Nineteen people sit on its panel and conduct interviews, wade through documents and do more interviews to get to the bottom of whatever is wrong. The panel can choose which complaints to follow through on and which aren’t worth much. After the investigative process is finished, the jury puts together a list of findings and a list of recommendations. It then gives the respective public agencies 90 days to respond.

The 2005-06 report, which came out at the end of June, identified numerous problem areas within the city of Oroville.

Oroville is no stranger to grand juries. The 1999-2000 report recommended to the city that “employment requirements not be arbitrarily changed and re-changed to meet the qualifications of those seeking to fill the vacancies” and “personnel … policies be followed consistently.” Those charges were echoed in the current report.

The City Council, city administrator, fire chief and select others are required to respond to the 2005-06 findings and recommendations by the end of September.

“At this point we’re obligated to answer back and have no comment until that formal reply goes back to the grand jury,” Oroville Mayor Gordon Andoe said, regarding many of the allegations. He added: “The city of Oroville is growing in leaps and bounds. There’s more going on, and people have had to produce.”

To read the report in its entirety, log on to Butte County’s Web site at