Roundtable: Alpine Teachers Strike; More SDPD Troubles; Local Vets Get Help
Friday, February 21, 2014
Kyla Calvert, KPBS News
Sandhya Dirks, KPBS News
Tony Perry, LA Times
Teachers Strike In Alpine
On Thursday, Alpine teachers went on strike after negotiations with the Alpine Union School District — which had been going on for over a year — finally failed. The teachers' strike marked the first in San Diego County in about 18 years.
At issue are salary cuts for teachers and caps on district contributions toward teachers' health benefits.
The last offer the district made to the Alpine Teachers Association just days ago was for a 7.58 percent cut in salaries and a cap on the district’s contribution to teachers’ benefits of $8,000.
The offer rejected by the teachers in January was actually better: a cut of 6.58 percent and a cap of $9,000.
Pay for district administrative staff was cut by 4.47 percent for each of the last three years, and district staff pay nothing toward their health benefits.
The state fact-finder reported that given the districts' finances, the salary cut could be lower, and the cap could be higher. The fact-finder also noted that the district would probably have to lay off 10 teachers, an option neither side accepted. District leaders said layoffs would add about six students to each classroom and further contribute to declining enrollment.
3rd SDPD Cop Accused of Sex Crimes
On Wednesday, the day SDPD officer Christopher Hays resigned because of allegations that he demanded sexual favors from women in his custody, Police Chief William Lansdowne announced that a third officer was under investigation for similar offenses.
The officer has not been charged but has been placed on leave. This scrum of misconduct charges — which includes another officer already in prison — comes at a time when San Diego inaugurates a new mayor — a mayor with the power to fire the police chief.
The chief has been very public about the charges against his three officers and has announced plans to address the situation, including an outside audit and new protocols for transporting women prisoners. They will now be escorted to jail by two officers instead of one.
There are other issues besides sexual misconduct. Last month, KPBS and Voice of San Diego reported that the SDPD was no longer tracking data on racial profiling, assuming it was no longer a problem. Residents in neighborhoods such as City Heights spoke up to say it was indeed still a problem. Data collection has resumed.
Aspire Center Opens for Vets
Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have become homeless on their return now have a place to go for help.
On Monday, the Veterans Administration opened a 40-bed, 30,000 square foot facility called Aspire in Old Town, one of the first of several such centers planned by the VA to help returning vets facing difficulties. The center will offer counseling, medical treatment and help with addiction.
Mediation helped the VA overcome the objections of the K-8 charter school nearby and thus receive approval from the city.
Questions, however, are legion: Will grouping vets from these two wars in one facility actually help them? How will success be measured? Will taking only vets with honorable discharges defeat the purpose, because many vets with PTSD or other problems receive less-than-honorable discharges? Why this type of facility, which houses vets for 60 to 120 days, rather than permanent housing?
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