The California brain drain

Wondering what will happen when all the baby boomers in management pick up and retire at once? California’s top bureaucrats are. Two of the state’s biggest agencies, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, recently have partnered with California State University, Sacramento, to offer thousands of their employees leadership training that will prepare them to step up into these upper-level management positions.

“We need to start grooming the next generation,” said George Kostyrko of Corrections. Kostyrko estimated that within the 32-prison system, 70 percent of wardens and assistant wardens soon will be eligible for retirement. And another 1,500 corrections staff members will become eligible to retire each year for the next three years.

Corrections’ program, which launched its first class on January 11, is modeled on a Caltrans program that’s been up and running for five years.

Tamie McGowan, a spokeswoman for Caltrans, recently graduated from a program tailored for middle managers. CSUS instructors coached her one on one and guided her through an intensive self-assessment, for which she had to solicit evaluations from her co-workers.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” she said. “I’m a great advocate for the program.”

—Chrisanne Beckner

A V-dog is a Happidog

Good news for pet owners whose pups’ convictions are as strong as their own. V-dog, the stateside name for English dog food Happidog, is now available in the United States via a Sacramento-based online distributor.

President of V-dogfood David Middlesworth happened upon the original vegetarian dog food while attending a conference for vegetarians in Edinburgh, Scotland. After negotiating with Happidog, Middlesworth won the distributorship and has been offering V-dog online since November of last year.

While Middlesworth argues that two-and-a-half months has not been enough time to get V-dog into any American or Canadian stores, the fledgling company has managed to grab the 2005 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Proggy Award for “Best Cruelty-Free Companion Animal Food.”

Why choose V-dog over any number of other vegetarian dog foods? PETA Special Projects Manager Sarah King said, “V-dog is the pioneer of vegetarian dog food, and since it’s now available in the U.S., we wanted to give it some attention.”

“V-dog has had a marvelous reception in this country,” said Middlesworth, who hinted that V-dog is virtually flying off of its online shelves.

Animal-conscious dog owners most likely will see V-dog first at Whole Foods Markets, which coincidentally also won a PETA Proggy Award for “Company of the Year.” Middlesworth also is working on getting V-dog into Trader Joe’s and Wild Oats Markets as soon as possible. Until then, pooch lovers can score 5.5- and 33-pound bags with free shipping at http://v-dogfood.com.

—Amanda Dyer

Separation anxiety

Single-handedly keeping alive the local debate over Waldorf methods in public schools, People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools, or PLANS, refuses to give up. (See “Schooled in spirituality,” SN&R Cover, February 3, 2005; and “Change of PLANS,” SN&R News, September 22, 2005.) Claiming that “Judge [Frank] Damrell made erroneous and prejudicial rulings on witnesses and evidence,” PLANS is refusing to accept the most recent court decision against it. After nearly a decade of unsuccessful litigation against local public-school districts that base some of their curriculum on Waldorf methods, PLANS has appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals—again. The group hopes the 9th Circuit will finally agree that Waldorf education is inherently religious and violates the mandated separation of church and state.

—Chrisanne Beckner