Image: falseStatement: The San Diego County Grand Jury “does the normal duties of recommending indictments as well as reporting on local governments and special districts,” Bloomberg News columnist Joe Mysak wrote June 15.

Determination: False

Analysis: Some grand juries across the country recommend criminal indictments and report on public affairs, but that’s not the case in San Diego County. It has two kinds of grand juries with separate purposes: one criminal and one civil.

The criminal grand juries are impaneled by the District Attorney’s Office each month using people from the normal trial jury pool. The juries either fill an investigative role with prosecutors or review evidence collected by prosecutors and decide whether to file criminal charges. (Federal prosecutors have their own criminal grand jury, too.)

Mysak’s column focused on the San Diego County Grand Jury, which serves the civil function and does not file charges. The civil grand jury can recommend criminal charges to the District Attorney’s Office, but those are rare, and prosecutors have the final say on whether they file charges. (We contacted Bloomberg about the statement and the article has since been corrected.)

Mysak used information provided from a recent civil Grand Jury report to suggest that the city of San Diego is considering filing for chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.

That frustrated Jay Goldstone, the city’s chief operating officer, who lambasted Mysak and the Grand Jury through this letter to the city’s investors Friday.

The commentary carelessly confuses the grand jury’s recommendations with City policy and, in uncritically restating many of the irresponsible conclusions and recommendations of the grand jury report, seeks to create the impression that the City is considering filing for bankruptcy.

The current management of the City has never considered filing for bankruptcy. Neither the Mayor of San Diego nor the City Attorney believes that filing for bankruptcy is necessary, appropriate or even desirable. I cannot state this more strongly.

Many may not be aware of the role and methods of civil grand juries in California. They are composed of average citizens offering opinions on matters they may or may not understand or have adequately researched. In this instance, the grand jury neither sought nor received input from senior City management, financial or legal officials and their report reflects that failure.

The Grand Jury’s report provided a long list of the city’s financial woes, compared San Diego’s financial health to insolvent governments that have filed for bankruptcy and then recommended the city discuss filing bankruptcy in a public forum.

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Summer Polacek was formerly the Development Manager at Voice of San Diego.

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