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Usual Suspects

The Race Is On

In what is expected to be one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country, Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Windsor, swept through the North Coast last Thursday on his first campaign swing since the March 26 primary election. The conservative incumbent eased his re-election into cruising speed with a visit to the Potter Valley volunteer center that was handling the search for then-missing Mendocino County teen Raina Bo Shirley (Riggs supports tough bipartisan federal laws to stamp out the kind of illegal meth labs that may have contributed to the girl's disappearance, though he didn't discuss the bill at that stop). He then addressed the Santa Rosa Kiwanis Club, telling the crowd that he is not lockstep with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and pointing out that he had voted in favor of raising the minimum wage in defiance of the Republican majority. Later that afternoon, Riggs got a chance to unwind at a low-key $30-a-head fundraiser at the beautiful Villa Pompeii Winery. Riggs, dressed in a gray business suit and keeping tabs on business over a cellular phone, sipped white wine and charmed a small gathering with a genuinely touching story about his young daughter's recent encounter with Sen. Bob Dole and President Bill Clinton in the hallway just before Clinton delivered his most recent State of the Union speech. . . . In coming months, Riggs will need all the charm he can muster when he crosses paths with challenger Michela Alioto, 27. Riggs already has tried to make her youth and relative inexperience a factor, but Alioto has promised to make her youthfulness a positive factor. . . . Meanwhile, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, may have a fairly easy go of holding off a challenge by Marin Republican businessman Duane Hughes in the 6th Congressional District race. And Democratic Party insiders say that Riggs has angered folks by "raiding" that district for campaign contributions and promising to get federal highway funds to add lanes to Highway 101--an unpopular notion among most voters in Marin and Sonoma counties. As a result, some Marin Democrats are planning to work in Riggs' district to help Alioto.


Agree to Disagree

Measure A passed last month, giving Santa Rosa police officers and firefighters binding arbitration in future contract negotiations, but the two opposing sides from the election continue to disagree on most aspects of the measure. City Manager Ken Blackman says he believes the initiative applies to all employees of the police and fire departments, while union representatives say clerical and support staff are not covered. Blackman also fears that arbitration will be used to resolve disputes over technical contract details, such as "how certain fringe benefits are calculated, or how overtime or premium pay is determined. You could have half a dozen items," he said. Not likely, says John Noble, head of the bargaining unit for the Police Officers Association, noting that the union would have to pay its own costs for attorneys and auditors should a dispute go to arbitration, a cost that Blackman estimates at $100,000 on the city's side. Firefighters are currently in the middle of a three-year contract, but the police officers' five-year pact runs out this summer. Their new agreement will be the first to be negotiated under the terms of Measure A, but the officers don't expect to have to use their new tool. After the strong show of support they got from voters March 26, Noble says, "I don't believe we're going to go into arbitration with this contract." The ballot measure--which passed by 53 percent--was initiated by public safety personnel. It gives them the right to bring in a third party to resolve differences over wages, benefits, and grievance procedures.

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From the April 11-17, 1996 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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