Everything on today's menu is low fat and high fiber. Consume as much as you wish:

  • BART train operators, station agents, mechanics and maintenance workers have every right to hold out for a better contract offer during negotiations, but they shouldn't expect much sympathy from the public if they go through with a threatened strike.

    Management's insistence that workers contribute something toward their retirement benefits doesn't seem so draconian to those in the private sector who don't know what a pension is. Nor does it seem unreasonable that employees ante up more than $92 per month for family health coverage. Folks on Medicare pay higher premiums than that.

  • Some people were surprised to learn that Assemblyman Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, wants to name the western span of the Bay Bridge after former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. That's the one part of the new bridge project that Brown didn't foul up with his foot-dragging over design and location.

  • One of the most amusing claims made by opponents of Plan Bay Area is that the decision-makers on the Association of Bay Area Governments and Metropolitan Transportation Commission are "unelected" bureaucrats.

    The ABAG president is Napa County Supervisor Mark Luce, the vice president is Clayton Mayor Julie Pierce, and the four standing committee chairpersons are supervisors from Napa, Sonoma, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties. East Bay reps among the 21 MTC commissioners include Supervisors Scott Haggerty (Alameda County) and Federal Glover (Contra Costa) and Mayors Tom Bates (Berkeley) and Amy Worth (Orinda).

    If those folks weren't elected, how did they get their jobs?

  • Wade deep enough into the sea of words that comprise the Contra Costa County Grand Jury reports, and you'll stumble upon a few interesting nuggets. Some findings regarding annual compensation levels (including benefits) for public officials when compared to peers at "reasonably comparable counties":

    According to Grand Jury figures, the five supervisors' average of $174,817 ranks in the 37th percentile, below the median of $187,113. District Attorney Mark Peterson, at $312,138, is in the 45th percentile, just behind the midpoint of $319,088. And Sheriff David Livingston, in the 17th percentile, is woefully behind his peers. But there's no need to pass the hat. At $335,376, the sheriff is the best-compensated elected official in county government.

  • When residents successfully lobbied last week against the installation of a cellphone tower in Pinole Valley Park, it was another gentle reminder of humans' remarkable capacity to feel so strongly about conflicting priorities. We love our cell phones; we need our cellphones; we are upset when we can't get a signal. But we don't want those stinking cellphone towers anywhere near us.

  • Richmond, the city that loves to be first -- remember the proposed "soda tax" that would have been the first in the nation if it wasn't thumped at the polls -- has become the first municipality in Contra Costa County to ban plastic bags in retail and grocery outlets. You can be sure residents' chests are swelling with civic pride that the City Council made this a priority.

    It's like a friend of mine was saying last week: Everything will be perfect in Richmond as soon as the city gets a handle on its plastic bag litter.

    Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com.