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Civil Grand Jury Issues Reports On North County

Audio

Aired 3/28/11

The first two reports from this year’s San Diego Civil Grand Jury focus on North County. The first report received a prompt response from the North County Transit District, but the recommendations in the second report are aimed at the voters.

The first two reports from this year’s San Diego civil Grand Jury focus on North County. The first report received a prompt response from the North County Transit District, but the recommendations in the second report are aimed at the voters.

The grand jury pointed out that passengers on the Coaster have no way to contact a conductor in the case of an emergency. The Federal Railway Administration requires emergency intercoms on rail cars built after 2008.

Grand jury foreman Richard Carlson said the North County Transit District did not dispute the recommendations.

“They have responded to us already both verbally and in writing,” Carlson said. “They agreed with our findings and said that they were going to get busy doing it.”

NCTD said the Coaster cars were built in 2005, before the new law went into effect. However the agency is already working on a wireless emergency intercom system for the Coaster and plans to have that installed by the end of this year.

The Grand Jury’s second report focuses on Tri City Hospital’s elected governing board, which it called chaotic and dysfunctional. The hospital serves most of coastal North County and has a budget of more than $300 million.

One board member, Kathleen Stirling, has been censured repeatedly by her colleagues for disruptive behavior. A Superior Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order to force Stirling to stay 100 yards away from hospital staff and participate in board meetings only by phone. Stirling, a self proclaimed watchdog, is in her third term on the board.

Carlson said the grand jury recommends more training for board members to help them work together. But he said voters also need more education about the qualifications required to run a health care district.

“Basically, the citizens have to take charge and keep an eye on what’s going on,” he said.

Tri City’s board chair, Rosemary Reno said the board is taking the blame for the actions of one “bad apple.”

A previous grand jury report in 2009 recommended an independent review of the way the health care district is governed. The board rejected the recommendation. It has 60 days to respond to the current report.

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