When school was a walk away
Those of us with lots of gray hair remember black-and-white television, vinyl records and walking, or riding a bike, to school. When it comes to electronics, the younger set isn't missing anything. Not so with the walk to school. The long lines of cars outside local schools each morning and afternoon may reflect open enrollment, busy streets, busy lives or some combination. One day each year local schools encourage kids to walk or roll to school, a reminder of the value of exercise and a small break from autho exhaust. That day is Wednesday. If you have kids, encourage them to participate. If you're driving, look out for extra pedestrians.
New direction for SR contracts: savings
There are still some rocks that need to be overturned concerning Santa Rosa's tentative labor contract with firefighters. But the public can be encouraged by what's visible so far. The three-year labor agreement calls for all firefighters — not just new ones — to start paying their own share of their contributions toward retirement. A no-brainer? Maybe, but the fact is the city has been paying not only its 9 percent share of employee retirement costs, but it has been most of paying the employees' share — 12 percent — as well. It's one of the reasons that the city is so far behind in setting aside enough money to pay for retirement benefits.
But there's a trade-off. The deal calls for the city to give firefighters a 4.5 percent pay increase over the next three years. The net benefit to the city is a projected savings of $1.7 million for the city over the next three years. But stay tuned. On Oct. 15, the City Council will be talking about another aspect of the contract — the city's tentative agreement, according to Councilman Gary Wysocky, to pick up the 4 percent the firefighters pay for their health insurance. Overall, the city will still save a pile of cash. But in the long run, it may be more mole hill than mountain.