The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

November 14, 2012
Steinberg has no regrets about walking Raley's picket line
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says he has "absolutely" no regrets about walking a picket line during the Raley's strike.

Steinberg told The Bee's editorial board Wednesday afternoon that he was happy to stand with striking workers at the Raley's on Freeport Boulevard in Sacramento last week because the employees had legitimate grievances.

He has been taken to task for taking sides in a labor dispute by, among others, the board chairman of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce. In a letter to The Bee, John Frisch tut-tutted, "Seeing our local officials in the picket line is particularly disappointing given Raley's long history of positive employee relations and significant philanthropic contributions."

While Steinberg made no apology for being a friend of labor and said that protecting workers is one of his core principles, he also said that he's looking out for businesses as well.

He pointed out that he helped Vision Service Plan of Rancho Cordova, which had delayed adding jobs because the state's health reform regulators had initially declined to let stand-alone vision insurers sell coverage to individuals. After the California Health Benefit Exchange relented last month, VSP said it would add 400 jobs.

Steinberg also cited his work last session on reforming workers compensation insurance and limiting unfair lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
November 7, 2012
Live chat: Election 2012: California voters have spoken

November 2, 2012
'Claw' backers try to dump Sacramento's yard waste measure

You can't blame them for trying.

But the last-ditch effort by opponents of the city of Sacramento's yard waste measure isn't going anywhere.

They want Measure T taken off Tuesday's ballot because, they argue, its wording is "vague, uncertain and confusing" to voters.

The measure would repeal Measure A, which bans the city from requiring residents to use containers for yard waste. The city wants that prohibition lifted so it can put in place a series of changes in garbage collection that it says will be more efficient and would allow overall residential rates to stay the same through at least June 2015.

The language rather clearly lays out the choice for voters: "Shall the ordinance enacted by voter approval of Measure A at the City of Sacramento municipal election on September 27, 1977 be repealed, which would then allow the Sacramento City Council to require yard and garden refuse to be placed into containers for collection?"

However, the opponents say the ballot should quote the full text of Measure A. It passed with 75 percent of the vote, but it's a mouthful, citing a specific part of the City Code.

They made their case in a letter this week to Mayor Kevin Johnson and the rest of the City Council. They apparently aren't going to get an official response.

But I was told today that the letter has been reviewed by the City Clerk's office and City Attorney's office, and both say it has no merit.

While there's a requirement to repeat verbatim state propositions that a ballot measure would repeal, there's no such mandate for local measures, the city says.

Besides, the city says, the ballots have already been printed, voters have already sent in mail ballots and it's just too late.

Of course, nothing would stop the opponents -- Annette Deglow of College Greens, J. Bolton Phillips of McKinley Park and Dennis Neufeld of Land Park -- from going to court with their complaint on the ballot language if the measure passes.

To read their argument against Measure T and an argument in favor from Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, go to The Bee's op-ed page on Saturday, in print and online.

As a reminder, The Bee's editorial board recommended a vote in favor of the measure, saying that "voters have the chance to replace a costly and confusing yard waste collection system with one that is more efficient and better for the environment."
November 1, 2012
Sacramento sheriff pledges openness on shootings by deputies

One of the major unknowns about new reviews of shootings involving Sacramento County sheriff's deputies is how much the public will be told about the findings.

Sheriff Scott Jones says he intends to disclose as much as possible, including general information about the suspects and the deputies and the basic facts of each case. He said his goal is greater awareness and scrutiny.

"Whatever the final report does look like, it will be in keeping with my commitment to transparency and accountability, while still maintaining legal protections and encouraging candid discourse in our debriefings," Jones said in an email this morning.

So far this year, sheriff's deputies have shot 11 suspects, killing eight of them. As The Bee's Kim Minugh reported Sunday, that's double the recent annual average and already more than the previous high of nine of 2006.

The final details are being worked out on the reviews, which would be in addition to internal investigations to determine whether deputies violated any laws or department policies

The more intensive reviews were proposed by county Inspector General Lee Dean. The primary goal is to flag any flaws in training or equipment or any other issues so that the right lessons are learned to avoid future shootings.

On Wednesday, The Bee's editorial board urged officials to make as much information as public as possible. The board also said that while the new review is welcome, it's still no substitute for investigations by District Attorney Jan Scully's office, which she chose to curtail last year after her budget was cut by county supervisors.

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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