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With the community colleges in San Diego County brushing aside the suggestions of last year’s county grand jury that they create a countywide ethics committee and make other changes to their boards and policies to avoid ethical conflicts, saying they already had procedures in place to address problems, the new grand jury has fired back with a letter of its own on Sept. 30.

New grand jury members are chosen each summer to serve for a year.

Here’s an excerpt:

Your responses also imply that the Grand Jury was simply unqualified to issue the report, and that all of the [Grand Jury] suggestions were unsupported and invalid. … Whether or not you saw value in the particular changes suggested by the [Grand Jury] and whether or not you thought particular issues involved your college, it seems to be a good idea for all of the community colleges to at least consider the desirability of making some changes. Where real problems have in fact arisen, it does not seem sufficient to simply assert that existing policies and procedures are already in place to cover such problems.

The grand jury has been criticized for several of its investigations, including reports on Centre City Development Corp. and the Mills Act. My colleague Kelly Bennett identified a key problem in the Mills Act report, which mentioned losses of over $1 million for San Diego Unified schools due to the problem. The problem? The schools don’t actually lose anything.

In its letter the grand jury identified one of its own weaknesses:

Essentially we can only identify problems, and suggest possible solutions. It is up to the parties involved to take actions to remedy problems and assure the public that their complaints are taken seriously.

EMILY ALPERT

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