Walk this way

Sacramento’s central city is a flat, tree-shaded grid. You can walk from one end to the other in less than an hour. Restaurants abound, as do parks, bars and businesses. But according to a new report at www.walkscore.com, Sacramento is only the 20th most walkable city in America—garnering a lower ranking than the nearby and arguably less pedestrian-friendly cities of San Jose and even Fresno.

WalkScore.com grades cities’ walkability by whether one can accomplish basic errands, such as grocery shopping or grabbing a cup of coffee, primarily on foot. The No. 1 city in the United States, San Francisco, earned a score of 84. Sacramento tallied up a 54, with special nods to the neighborhoods of Midtown, downtown and Richmond Grove—that southwestern tip of Midtown where there aren’t any stores or shops—for their ambler affability.

Visit WalkScore.com to type in your home address and discover your immediate neighborhood’s score; the U.S. average is 49. (Nick Miller)

Magic poop bugs

Plastic and poop are two substances known to help, hurt and make you wrinkle your nose. And here in Sacramento, a company is undergoing a pilot project to make the most of each—by turning poop into plastic.

When liquids and solids are separated at wastewater treatment facilities, the heavy sludge that sinks to the bottom can be incinerated, sent to a landfill or used to grow inedible crops. Local company Micromidas is now working to turn upward of 70 percent of that sludge into plastic by feeding it to special microbes.

As Micromidas CEO John Bissell explained to Discovery News, the bugs eat the sludge, get nice and fat, and then their fat turns into a form of polyester. The bugs are then killed, and the polyester, which is part of a family of plastics, is extracted. And the plastic, unlike the kind made from fossil fuels, biodegrades nontoxically within a year and a half. (Kat Kerlin)

Union shake-up

The National Union of Healthcare Workers gained nearly 300 new Kaiser Permanente employees from its rival, Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, in the capital region last week after the National Labor Relations Board announced results of three employee-unit elections.

Between Sacramento, south Sacramento and Roseville facilities, 213 Kaiser workers in mental-health services and 72 optical employees voted for NUHW, while 61 medical social workers elected to stay with the SEIU-UHW.

SEIU-UHW spokesman Steve Trossman said the union has “no plans” to contest the November 10 election results.

Since this past January, the NUHW has gained a total of 4,300 new members in California. But NUHW lost by a 2-1 margin to SEIU-UHW in an NLRB representation election of 43,000 Kaiser service and technical workers statewide in October.

Later, NUHW filed a lawsuit alleging that SEIU-UHW colluded with Kaiser management illegally. “The NUHW’s contesting of the October election is completely unfounded,” Trossman said. (Seth Sandronsky)