The Kern County Grand Jury has accused California City officials of harassing people interviewed by its investigative committee, which was looking into perceived deficiencies due to budget and safety issues concerning local first-responders, according to a report.
The report details alleged harassment against city employees interviewed by the jury’s Cities and Joint Powers Committee.
City officials allegedly demanded that interviewees share details of those interviews, explicitly against the terms outlined in the interview process by the Grand Jury, the report said.
The Grand Jury issued the report to the California City Council with the recommendation they “must cease and desist from harassing or retaliating against anyone who has shared information and/or concerns with the 2017-2018 Kern County Grand Jury, Kern County District Attorney, or the State Attorney General.”
Several other recommendations were made regarding prevention of unnecessary overtime for city employees, safer handling of hazardous materials – particularly related to the marijuana industry – and finding alternative ways to make up for a lack of funding for the city’s fire and police departments.
The city has been dealing with a budget shortfall that has led to overtime for city employees.
At one point, the fire department had to borrow an engine from Edwards Air Force Base because the only two it owned were both out of service, according to the report.
The city has repeatedly proposed a parcel tax to help alleviate the budget shortage, but it has been rejected by voters twice.