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  • SD01 (Northeast Cal.): Correction: The independent expenditure committee sponsored by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association was never sponsored by the Blythe Correctional Peace Officers. It was an ironic auto-correct at the Secretary of State's Office of "by the." The irony is that, like Susanville in SD01 (near the Nevada border), Blythe (SD28 next to the Arizona border) is home to two of the largest California State Prisons--Chuckawalla Valley and Ironwood. I've been to both for graduation ceremonies for some very serious criminals serving their time but working on themselves for when (if) they get out.
  • SD78 (Downtown San Diego): added midwife Sarah Davis (D)

Happy Saturday! After being up late last night after the Kings frustrating loss to the Clippers and playing "Song Quiz" on Alexa (da bomb!) and watching the Los Angeles car chase, I slept in a bit (for me). My coffee cup is full and I'm ready to write. King Hall sweatshirt, hoodie up. "Alexa, play best Nineties rap." First song: Notorious B.I.G. "Hypnotize." Game on.

I am long form today. Visit my friends at Rough & Tumble to get a full news roundup. But, there's some ish that we need to dive more deeply into and I, well, slept in until 6:30.

Thank you again to many of you who have responded to my discussion on Thursday's Rare Disease Day and my personal connection to cystic fibrosis. Many of you have been touched by that and other rare diseases and have taken the time to share your experiences. It makes the discussions of health care insurance/delivery and prescription drug and other therapeutic prices a lot more difficult than the talking points on both sides we often hear.

Anyway, thinking about it late last night, I remembered this picture that I found last year and shared on Facebook. It was taken probably around 1991, guessing by my parachute pants, "beeper," camera strap, and fanny pack. I had met Donalyn, to my left in the picture wearing a hat reflective of a similar era, the year before at National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine. For those who read Thursday, she's the 48-year-old with CF who has had double-lung transplant and kidney transplants. She thrives in St. Louis and lives a very happy life, although faces the continued struggles of CF and life after organ transplants.

The occasion of the photo was a trip to Disneyland when Donalyn came for visit. Donalyn and I had a cray-cray time for the weeklong trip around SoCal in my Toyota Prius with the license plate "FITE CF," including a night in Tijuana followed by a hungover splashing at Sea World.

Disneyland with friends

To my right in the photo is Rebecca and to Donalyn's left is Rebecca, sisters from San Francisco who we lost shortly after I transferred to UC Davis. Their parents were a firefighter and a teacher, fortunately had good health insurance, but their care destroyed the family--personally and financially. The trauma of childhood diseases destroy so much more beyond each day of a hospital visit. 

Again, thank you for the conversation and thoughts on these policy issues and for allowing me a rainy Saturday morning trip down memory lane.

On to the news!

OAKTOWN: The Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Education Association reached a tentative agreement yesterday afternoon. The structure of the deal has been around since Wednesday, but the union appeared committed to a weeklong streak with weekend time for terms review by its members. Members now are in a 24-hour period of review, with votes likely tomorrow. While UTLA's vote was mostly electronic, it sounds like OEA's will be in person. 

The non-compensation terms are very similar to those reached in Los Angeles. For example, the Oakland Unified board will take up a resolution on a moratorium on new charter schools. The agreement includes new non-teaching professionals such as nurses and psychologists, as well as provisions for class-size reduction. 

On compensation, the offer by the Oakland Unified School District when the strike began was an 8.5% increase over three years, 1.5% that would be paid as a one-time bonus for employees who worked in the 2017-18 school year (the previous contract expired June 30, 2017). 

The Oakland Education Association (union) was asking for an 12% increase.

The deal as I read it on my second cup of coffee:

  • Provision 1 (my reference for below): One-time bonus for employees who worked in 2017-18: 3%
  • Provision 2 (my reference for below): Effective January 1, 2019: 3% increase in the salary schedule (ongoing and retroactive)
  • Provision 3 (my reference for below): Effective January 1, 2020: 2% increase in the salary schedule (ongoing)
  • Provision 4 (my reference for below): Effective January 1, 2021: 3.5% increase in the salary schedule (ongoing)
  • Provision 5 (my reference for below): Effective June 30, 2021 at 11:59pm: a 2.5% increase in the salary schedule (ongoing)

In summary, a 3% one-time bonus and 11% ongoing increase over the three-year term of the new contract.

I've written in this space before about education salary schedules. Let's look at Oakland Unified's current salary schedule in the context of the tentative agreement. Here are the first five steps and six columns. We'll talk more about that below the image. You can click the image or the above link to see the entire schedule, which has these six columns for educational experience and 31 for longevity. The tentative agreement would add a 31st longevity step, with a 5% bump to the salaries specified in the 31st columns. 

OUSD salary schedule

Let's say that Sam is graduating with a bachelor's degree and teaching credential from Cal State East Bay this June. Oakland Unified is hiring. Sam applies and is hired for this fall. She starts in Step 01, Column 1. Under the tentative agreement, her annual salary schedule would be:

  • 01/01/19-12/31/19 (pro-rated for start date): $47,967 (increased for inflation on January 1, 2019 by Provision 2 above) 
  • 01/01/20-06/30/20: $48,926 (increased Provision 2 and 3 inflationary bumps above)
  • 07/01/20-12/31/20: $49,705 (Step 02 increased by Provision 2 and 3 inflationary bumps above)
  • 01/01/21-06/30/21: $51,445 (Step 02 increased by Provision 2, 3, and 4 inflationary bumps above)
  • July 1, 2021 at 12:00am: Contract expires
  • Let's make this a little more interesting...During the first year-and-a-half of teaching, Sam was still enrolled at Cal State East Bay and was taking night or weekend upper division or graduate school classes. By June 30, 2021, Sam accumulated 30 units of such additional education. Therefore, Sam gets to move over a column and a step beginning with the 2021-22 academic year. Assuming no new contract has been agreed to by the expiration of the current one (they often are not), Sam will start the 2021-22 academic year as follows:
  • 07/01/21-06/30/22: $54,593 (Step 03, Column 2 increased by Provision 2, 3, and 4 inflationary bumps above)
  • If there's no new contract and Sam doesn't move over a column, the salary would increase on July 1, 2021 to:
    • $56,593 (Step 04, Column 2, increased by Provision 2, 3, and 4 inflationary bumps above)

There is no way to talk about an educational bargaining agreement without considering steps and columns. We just went through the exercise that over 2,000 teachers are going through today before voting on the tentative agreement, so I figured you should have to as well. Teachers and families also are likely calculating what it means for their retirement under the California State Teachers Retirement System.

This is as simple as I can make it. Of course, there are other compensation elements beyond the normal classroom teaching day, but it's a Saturday for our Nooner community! 

But, after trying to explain it to my co-host of SacTown Talks by The Nooner Gibran Maciel twice on the pod using just my mouth and hands, I figured I needed to type it out. We recorded another "What a Week" episode last night that will drop as next week gets underway after Gibran's post-recording processing hamsters do their magic.

I don't want to get into commentary here as the vote occurs this weekend, but I'll just say that it is optimistic under the Legislative Analyst Office's Fiscal Outlook. The funding for the increases in Proposition 98 are largely driven by growth in local property taxes, which could become problematic for the state if the housing market cools or if there is a broad-based recession.

Even with OUSD's three existing parcel taxes (2008/2014/2016) that total $435, the agreement likely expects an additional parcel tax or funds above the LAO's Proposition 98 projections. Two of those parcel taxes are "temporary," expiring in 2024 and 2028, and the state's Fiscal Management Crisis Assessment Team finds that the funds are being used for ongoing expenditures even though they have expiration dates.

From the labor side, they point out that the "split roll" property tax to remove commercial and industrial property from the Proposition 13 assessed valuation increase protections has qualified for the November 2020 ballot and a plurality of voters support it. USC researchers estimate that the measure would raise $11.4 billion in additional property tax revenues for schools and local governments, with $4.5 billion going to K-12 schools and community colleges.

The PPIC poll on split roll found 49% support and 43% in opposition among likely voters as a straight question of taxing commercial and industrial properties at market value, without arguments in support or against. More detailed private polling by both sides of what could be a $100+ million ballot measure campaign find it performing much better or much worse, depending on how the questions are asked. However, with the numbers, let's just say that the big business interests that would spend big to oppose it have little reason to go to the negotiation table to get the measure withdrawn, as Governor Newsom has suggested.

The tentative agreement relies on huge budget and political uncertainties and sincere negotiators on both sides would privately say that it is very optimistic. But, OUSD has been losing $1 million per day in lost state average daily attendance funding as 94% of OUSD kids stay home. For many of these kids like in Los Angeles, a free or reduced-price meal is a major part of their nutrition. Both sides recognized that it was important to get back in the classroom, even if optimistic. 

WE'LL SEE YOU AND RAISE YOU: After the statewide "straw law" took effect on January 1, the Los Angeles City Council has adopted a stronger ordinance reflective of earlier iterations than the bill passed in Sacramento, reports Emily Alpert Reyes in LA Times.

The version of AB 1884 (Calderon) enacted provides that plastic straws cannot be given out to patrons at full-service restaurants unless requested. While included in earlier iterations, fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, such as those where you order at a counter and have your food delivered to you but beverages are often at a fountain station, are excluded from the new law.

The Los Angeles ordinance, which takes effect on April 22 (Earth Day) for restaurants with 25 or more employees and October 1 for all restaurants, does not exempt casual restaurants, including fast food. Under the LA ordinance, for drive-through, delivery, or food trucks, employees can ask "Would you like a straw with that?"

So, you pack up the kids into the SUV for a trip to Disneyland and hop on I-5. you cross from Boyle Heights in the City of Los Angeles, and they have to ask if you'd like BBQ sauce or ranch for your McNuggets and now whether you want a plastic straw, or provide you a biodegradable one.

When you're heading heading through LA and cross from the city to Calabasas on your way to Santa Barbara and go inside because the kiddo has to use the restroom, in Calabasas, your fountain station can have straws next to the napkins, but in LA can't.

I'm personally anti-straw and mostly only use them at the movie theatre or an horchata in the park or iced tea. I'm happy to see restaurants and cafes offering non-plastic straws, but the response from customers I have observed has been mixed. Some like them, while others find the "performance" less than desirable. And, frankly, those are usually restaurants and cafes catering to higher-spending patrons. 

I thought the statewide approach was an example of a good compromise as the alternatives to plastic straws continue to be developed. If you plant your derrière in a seat and take time to order than you have time to ask for a straw when you order or one after when the server comes back to check on your satisfaction with your food. That's not the same with you leave the drive-through heading north on I-5 to Sacramento and realize you now have a soda in your cupholder without a straw. Try driving over the Grapevine on one of the recent snowy days and drinking a soda sans straw. 

The strongest backer on the Los Angeles council is Mitch O'Farrell, who represents the northeast area of downtown, including the Dolby Theatre where the celebs arrived in limos and were dressed to the nines for the host-less Oscars last Sunday. The straw ban would probably be applauded by attendees, but I'm guessing that many don't carry reusable straws with them. And, we know that men and women who wear lipstick/balm will drink wine with a straw to avoid a make-up faux pas. At least that's what I've seen on Facebook. O'Farrell wants a complete ban on plastic straws and sees the ordinance approved yesterday as only a small step.

Restaurants continue to hand out straws with water and iced tea without request, at least to me, without request. Non-legislative people like to ask me about changes in state law and I am happy to discuss if I know the backgrounds or specifics. But should I really have to explain a server at a great bún bò Huế place in South Sacramento that they will be subject to a $25 fine if they are caught three times giving out a plastic straw without a request? Frankly, the servers don't speak much English and likely wouldn't understand what the hell I'm talking about. For English patrons without Vietnamese fellow eaters out the table, it's more a choose-and-point on the menu type of place. Like dim sum, but in a big hot, spicy bowl.

Again, I think the state law was a reasonable compromise, but will take time for restaurants and consumers to comply and adjust. Now, following many smaller cities, the state's largest city has a different set of regulations. In many areas, restaurants on different sides of the same street will have different controlling law. That's silly.

Yes, my friend who is a legal beagle did explain to the server in Vietnamese about the new law, or at least she said she did. I don't know how you say "WTF?" in Vietnamese, but the look on his face looked familiar. I don't want to name the restaurant because the last thing we need is the State Straw Police coming down on a small business in a super competitive but delectable food district, but it does appear on Stockton Blvd. on this Yelp list of best bún bò Huế restaurants in SacTown. 

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