Such wonderful toys

No dogs allowed.

No dogs allowed.

Sacramento may soon have its own Batmobile.

With its existing model considered outdated, the city is expected to approve this week the purchase of a new ballistic armored tactical vehicle. The cost would not impact the city’s general fund and instead would be paid for by California Emergency Management grants designed to boost Sacramento’s Homeland Security operations.

According to the city of Sacramento, the current 30-year-old armored vehicle is “outdated and unsafe.” Even so, it responds to 120 incidents annually. The new $316,000 armor-plated vehicle would be able to respond to a range of contemporary threats, including biological, nuclear, radiological and explosive incidents—any one of which is enough to make one want to bunker in a bat cave, or a BAT vehicle. (Hugh Biggar)

Rite Aid wrong?

Sacramento boasts dozens of Rite Aid locations, including five within Sacramento’s central-city grid, but employees are saying that the company is anything but right. And so Rite Aid workers across the country held a “Day of Action” this past Wednesday, December 15, to protest the company’s “corporate greed,” according to International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Craig Merrilees.

Specifically, employees noted that although Rite Aid Corporation is struggling and its stock is down to less than a dollar per share, its CEO, John Standley, earned a pay bump to $4.5 million this year. What’s more, Rite Aid is increasing employee health-care contributions, in some cases upward of 300 percent, and also converting living-wage warehouse and retail jobs into lower-wage positions.

“The hypocrisy comes in when [CEOs and executives] enrich themselves, then turn around and demand sacrifices and for everyone else to tighten their belts,” Merrilees argued. Local Rite Aid workers protested at the W. Capitol Avenue location in West Sacramento; additionally, workers took action at more than 40 other Rite Aid locations throughout the country, including at a Southern California distribution center, where 500 workers have been trying to negotiate a union contract with Rite Aid going on five years. (Nick Miller)

Go with the flow

Here is some welcome news in these chilly economic times. The city of Sacramento has 16,000 fire hydrants—and none are broken. Malfunctioning hydrants have caused problems in some cities, with emergency crews responding to fires unable to get water. But not in Sacramento.

According to Jessica Hess, spokeswoman for the city’s Utilities Department, the city inspects 4,000 fire hydrants annually for needed repairs and painting. Ideally, any fixes are made within three working days.

Even so, the department of utilities has also had to go with the flow as it confronts new economic realities.

“There have been challenges,” Hess said, citing people failing to pay their bills, aging infrastructure and increasing regulatory requirements. “[And] limited staffing means longer repair times, i.e., a hydrant that might have been repaired within 24 hours might now take longer—still within the three-working-day timeframe.” (Hugh Biggar)