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On wine, the union vote, Delta's president and the search for a new chief

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Posted: Friday, November 30, 2007 10:00 pm

The Lodi Chamber of Commerce is off to China on a trade mission.

Let's wish them luck as they toast the capitalist transformation of Red China with a glass of red wine.

On the transit union vote

The fact that GrapeLine drivers rejected a union organizing effort on a tie vote is certainly a relief to employer MV Transportation.

It is probably a good a thing for taxpayers and bus riders, too. For the Amalgamated Transit Union, it should be cause for reflection.

There was a time in American history when unions could sell employers on the idea that a union worker was the best worker available. They had first-class apprentice training and some unions even helped employers adapt to changing technology.

Today, private employers tend to fight unionization. A union contract - with typically restrictive work rules and aggressively higher compensation costs - is one of the rare contracts an employer signs with no clear economic benefits.

In the case of a bus operator competing for a city contract, higher costs can be fatal.

The ATU not only failed to sell MV Transportation on a contract, it couldn't even convince most of the drivers they would benefit by joining. Instead, the organizing drive caused an ugly split in the workforce.

Union leaders have to ask themselves: Why is that?

Delta's president: Getting a fair shake?

Delta College trustees voted 5-2 this week against extending the contract for President Raul Rodriguez.

The contract runs through July 2009 and the vote was in no way final. The contract could still be renewed later on.

We aren't here to suggest that Rodriguez is necessarily the Jack Welch of higher education.

Even so, we hope Delta's trustees are taking measured and constructive steps in gauging - and even guiding - the president's performance.

The man has an extraordinarily difficult job.

Frankly, extending his contract now would have been odd, considering the many challenges the district faces and apparent questions about the president's performance.

We wonder, though, whether Rodriguez is being set up to succeed - or set up to fail.

This board doesn't agree on much, as the 5-2 vote on his contract reflects. They represent widely divergent constituencies, from liberal/urban to rural/conservative.

The process of finding sites and building outlying campuses has become a political food fight. Trustees have been flinging with abandon.

It isn't any wonder Rodriguez has a few stains on his suit.

Union members would like to see Rodriguez more compliant; taxpayers would like to see him stand his ground.

Would someone else do better? Maybe. But Rodriguez now has the lay of the land, he is earnest and works diligently.

Here are two final thoughts:

One, if the board wants better performance, they need to spell that out and give the president a fair chance at improvement.

Two, if the board wants a change, they should be quite sure the problem is the chef, not the kitchen.

Fine internal candidates, but broad search for new chief makes sense

We're glad to see the city is going to do an outside search for a new police chief.

Not because we think captains Dave Main and Gary Benincasa aren't qualified. Quite the contrary. Main has shown mature judgment and real cop savvy over the years we've known him. Benincasa is an enthusiastic police officer with a demonstrated ethic of public service.

But an outside search completes an important circle.

It assures that taxpayers have the benefit of a look at a large pool of talent. In addition, a thorough, competitive search that ends up choosing one of the inside candidates legitimized their authority. It enhances their respect among the sworn officers, the other staff and the citizens.

If Main or Benincasa become the next police chief, we can be confident they deserve the job and will continue the high standards of the Lodi PD.

Where is the rain?

There's a drizzle in Tuesday's forecast, but nothing really wet until next weekend. Anybody around here know a good rain dance?

Lodi News-Sentinel

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