Santa Rosa voters will have two more questions to answer at the ballot box this fall. One, should the city change the guidelines for the arbitration process used to settle public safety contract disputes? Two, should the city allow city projects to be designed and built by the same company? The Santa Rosa City Council voted Tuesday to let voters decide these issues, both of which were recommended by the Charter Review Committee.
Santa Rosa’s police and firefighters deserve to have contract disputes settled by a third party, as long as the city can truly afford it. That was the determination Thursday of the panel exploring changes to the city’s by laws, which since 1996 have required public safety contract disputes to be settled by a panel of three arbitrators. The 21-member Charter Review Committee felt tweaking the arbitration process would be better than scrapping it altogether.
For anyone with ideas about how to improve the way Santa Rosa is governed, it’s time to step up to the microphone. Santa Rosa’s charter review process — a once-a-decade mini-Constitutional Convention — hosts a special public forum Saturday.
In 1996, Santa Rosa voters approved binding arbitration to resolve disputes in contract negotiations with police officers and firefighters. Now, the city’s Charter Review Committee is trying to decide whether to leave the system unchanged, modify the rules or eliminate binding arbitration completely. What do you think the city should do?
Police and fire union leaders say that binding arbitration has made labor negotiations more collaborative in Santa Rosa. But several members of the city’s Charter Review Committee say it has taken away the city’s bargaining power and driven up public safety compensation costs. Do you think it should be changed or left alone?
Among the smattering of ballot measures going to voters on Tuesday, keep an eye on Measure D in Palo Alto. Santa Rosa could be voting on something similar next year.
There are two worlds out there. In one, people can retire in their 50s with a pension equal to 100 percent or more of their final salaries. In the other, many have little hope of retiring at all. Those two worlds are about to collide – at the ballot box.
Tensions rose during a review of pension reform options Thursday when two proposals that would impact police and firefighters sparked heated debate between the public and private sector members of the Santa Rosa task force studying the issue. See what started the sparring.