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Tuolumne County Grand Jury Releases Findings

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Sonora, CA — Some of the heaviest criticism in this year’s Tuolumne County Grand Jury Report was aimed at the local airports, and the group also reviewed election protocols, correctional facilities, and school safety.

The 2022-23 Grand Jury Report was just released for public view. The group investigates complaints made against local government and makes recommendations.

The 19-member Grand Jury was led by foreperson, Robert Canavan. In the opening letter, delivered to Judge Laura Krieg, he notes that things like “illness, absences, and extreme weather,” created challenges for the group this year.

He also stressed, “Support from the Tuolumne County Administration Office has been disappointing. With all of the buildings and office space controlled by the County, they could not find one office for the Jury. We operated out of backpacks and met in whatever room we could find on any particular week.”

He said it is something that needs to be addressed before next year’s Grand Jury meets.

Some of the biggest criticism went to the Tuolumne County Airports.

The county oversees two locations, Columbia and Pine Mountain Lake. The Grand Jury states, “The Airports Department has lacked responsiveness from mid-level management. We found a consistent theme of poor management, poor customer service, and sub-par maintenance on the grounds and facility.”

The report also recommends the county explore methods of adding more hangars at the Columbia Airport. In addition, it calls for looking at ways to improve the appearance of the facility.

The Grand Jury also recommends there be more financial oversight of airports from the County Administrator and a better use of the Airport Advisory Committee, which the report notes was recently eliminated.

The group offered both praise and concerns about the operations of the Tuolumne County Election’s Office. A Grand Jury investigation was completed after there were allegations at the national level made about election security in 2020, notably from the campaign of former President Donald Trump.

The jury notes that the Tuolumne County Election’s Department has strong support staff that is well-trained. Physical access to the election area is a concern, especially during Election Night, as the area could not be completely monitored by staff. Observers and visitors could walk into areas that they should not have access to.

Related to the Tuolumne County Jail, the Grand Jury pointed out that not all programs are functioning, due to staffing issues. There are no longer inmate work crews, a successful program that reduces recidivism.

The Grand Jury offered only praise to the Juvenile Hall, noting that it is staffed by competent personnel and helping youth build needed skills for successful lives outside of the system.

There was also an investigation into all of the schools about what is being done to protect classrooms and campuses from potential shootings. It features input from all of the schools.

You can view the entire 156-page Grand Jury report, detailing all of the findings and recommendations, by clicking here.

The report also recaps last year’s report and some of the actions taken by government agencies in response.