Grand Jury recommends city council select Measure N Oversight Committee through random drawings

April 10, 2019 /

The Kern County Grand Jury released a report Wednesday recommending the Bakersfield City Council hold random drawings to choose Measure N Oversight Committee members.

The report goes over a detailed investigation on how members of the committee were selected.

“To ensure fairness and transparency in the selection process, the Grand Jury recommends the Bakersfield City Council hold random drawings from applicants to select future Citizen Oversight Committee members,” the report says. “In the event Citizens Oversight Committee vacancies occur, the Grand Jury recommends the vacant position be filled by a random drawing from the remaining pool of applicants.”

There is currently one vacancy on the committee.

This Citizen Oversight Committee was appointed to review how tax funds are spent and to make expenditure recommendations to the City Council.

After Measure N passed by a margin of 97 votes in November, residents applied for a position on the committee. Of the applicants, 82 were considered. After a coalition made recommendations for who should be considered, the Bakersfield City Council used a “unique” voting method to select committee members in February.

Council members voted for nine applicants on the first ballot. Applicants who received four or more votes were automatically given a position on the committee, the report says.

Applicants who did not receive any votes were eliminated.

The remaining applicants were voted on again in a second and third round of voting until all nine positions were filled.

This voting process was used in hopes that only the “best of the best were selected.”

Of the nine seated positions, seven were recommended by the coalition, the report says.

Community members argued the committee is not representative of Bakersfield and lacked diversity.

“The consensus of the complainants is that the selection process was not fair because the Council relied heavily on Coalition recommendations and did not provide transparency,” the report says.

The Grand Jury also recommends the members of the committee have staggered four-year terms — instead of three — to avoid having all new members enroll every three years.

The Grand Jury, lasly, recommends the “Bakersfield City Council initiate steps to ensure full disclosure on future tax measures by providing detailed information on how funds are to be spent.”

Community members also said Measure N failed to mention some the funds would be used to make California Public Employees Retirement System payments.

The investigation included interviews with City Council members, internet resources and media, such as newspaper articles and TV/radio newscasts.