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

  • Just when you thought publishing was dead comes word of a bold new literary effort. The Alameda County Water District, giddy over its upcoming 100th birthday, will spend $280,000 to produce two books congratulating itself on its history. (Yes, books usually are published to make money, not spend it. That's what makes this project so innovative.)

    The challenge for author Paul Piraino will be capturing the excitement of the district's milestones within 450 pages -- the purchase of the Gallegos Water System in 1940; the $4.95 million system improvements bond in 1964; the Aquifer Reclamation Program in 1974; the completion of the Hidden Valley tank in 1979; the first phase of the telemetry system in 1988. Talk about a page-turner.

    If the district -- which just raised its water rates for the 12th consecutive year -- needs help with a title, here's one: "100 Years of Soaking Alameda County."

  • There sure are a lot of politicians who want to see state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier settle into the 11th District congressional seat when Rep. George Miller steps down. I have to keep refreshing my browser to follow all the new endorsements.

    A partial list includes U.S. Reps. Jared Huffman (San Rafael), and Alan Lowenthal (Long Beach); state Sens. Darrell Steinberg (Sacramento), Ellen Corbett (San Leandro), Loni Hancock (Berkeley) and Lois Wolk (Davis); Assembly members Susan Bonilla (Concord) and Joan Buchanan (Alamo); state Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson (Pittsburg); county Supervisors John Gioia (Richmond) and Federal Glover (Pittsburg); and a dozen current or former local city council members.

    If you knew nothing before of DeSaulnier, you now know he has a lot of well-positioned friends.

  • Helpful readers have sent me several solutions for fixing the Contra Costa Fire District's financial mess. Among those are (a) changing the retirement age for legacy firefighters from 55 to 60; (b) reducing the rate at which pensions are calculated; and (c) lowering firefighters' salary levels. One tiny problem with these proposals is they all violate the collective bargaining agreement firefighters negotiated with the district.

  • Whatever you think of the Richmond City Council -- I admire members' intentions but often question their judgment -- there's no underestimating their lofty ambitions. The problems arise when intentions collide with reality.

    A proposed soda tax designed to curtail obesity lost at the ballot box because it was wildly unpopular with voters. An eminent domain proposal to help homeowners escape underwater mortgages is in limbo because no other cities want to share liability for what may be an illegal plan.

    Now comes the notion of a minimum-wage hike -- jumping from the current $8 an hour to $11, $12.30 or $15 -- that Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles describes as "an economic recovery strategy." If the biggest economic woe facing Richmond is unemployment (11.9 percent in August), what's the likelihood more jobs will be created if the cost of labor goes up?

  • Affordable Care Act advocates are fond of pointing out that important preventive measures such as flu shots are now free for anyone with health care coverage. An insurance broker friend says to put quote marks around the word "free;" one reason premiums have increased is to pay for all those measures that now are "free."

    Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com.