The year is, for all intents and purposes, over. And thank goodness for that. For most of you, it was a train wreck. And not the cool kind of wreck where no one gets hurt and there’s flaming wreckage for Harrison Ford to run away from. Instead, it was the kind of train wreck that could have been prevented if all the people operating the train weren’t grade A morons. Fortunately, I chose a calling that allows me to dance a jig, chant “na na na na na na,” and broadcast all the stupidity. By those standards, it’s been a great year. Stroll with me, if you will, down the urine-stained streets of memory lane.
• If I were bestowing a Shredder Person of the Year award for 2011—and I’ve stockpiled at least as much credibility as Time Magazine, so I think I will—the honor would go to SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill for being so outrageously Shreddable this year. From his early battles with COLAB—who collectively might make the winner’s circle for Biggest Boneheads—to his increasingly psychotic power grabs, including shutting off a microphone and bringing police to supervisor’s meetings in an attempt to intimidate his geriatric critics, Hill has proved a political cartoon character through and through. Given that his behavior has escalated from snort-worthy to downright scary in the space of just a year, he’s bound to provide enough fodder to keep me in Frappucinos for the coming year.
• But if anyone outshined Hill for out of touch behavior, it was the administrators at Cal Poly. Besides providing freshly inaugurated President Jeffrey Armstrong with a $380,000 salary while repeatedly raising students’ tuition and cutting their classes, they also gave the president’s on-campus digs a nice little remodel to the tune of $337,000, all the while telling the public they were only spending $146,000. I get that the president doesn’t want to live in a dump, and a house originally constructed in 1928 is going to require some updates, but why withhold the real cost? On top of that, the president’s box at the Performing Arts Center got a $31,884 upgrade to install a motorized velour acoustic curtain.
• And the Cal Poly PR shenanigans didn’t end there. In August, New Times confronted Athletic Director Don Oberhelman with accusations that head volleyball coach Jon Stevenson had harassed his players for years and that the university was aware of it. His response was a more refined version of an elongated “ummmmmmm.” Several days later, the university relieved Stevenson of his responsibilities and Oberhelman stated that he’d been investigating the situation for several weeks. Well played, Cal Poly. It’s nice to know that a coach has the luxury of traumatizing players for years as long as a newspaper doesn’t threaten an exposé. For failing to protect your students and for blatantly lying to the public, you receive the A-holes of 2011 crown. May it bring you as much joy as you brought your student athletes, which is to say, none.
• But 2011 wasn’t all bad. We got to watch PG&E squirm during the will-they-won’t-they re-licensing rollercoaster. And like any good rollercoaster, it was the type of ride that makes you feel like throwing up. All it took was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl to motivate PG&E into studying seismic threats at Diablo Canyon. Critics and people who, well, don’t like radiation in their morning cereal, have been asking PG&E to assess the threat for years while the company whined in response that it was planning those studies eventually and why was everyone so insistent on finishing before the plant gets another license? Which is about the same as a teenager complaining about being forced to take a driving test before being given his or her driver’s license.
• The happiest of cities got a little bit country this summer when authorities shot and killed a black bear that was stealing chickens from a family’s backyard chicken coop. I always thought that people moved into those houses out in the hills to be closer to nature, but one family, at least, wants the bear on the California state flag to be the closest they get to the furry hoodlums.
• French oil giant Total SA purchased majority shares in SunPower, proving that fairyland dreams of unicorns and clean energy generated by companies that have the public’s best interest at heart are as ludicrous as the idea that the people responsible for assisting the local homeless population put down their measuring sticks (you know, to determine whose is bigger) and actually focus on the people trying to survive this bitterly cold winter. I’ve always preferred vinegar to honey—who wants to catch flies anyway?—so I’m giving fair warning: Your antics are getting old and you’ve passed the age where your parents can legally give you the spanking you so richly deserve. I’ve always longed for children of my own, or at least, the right to reprimand obnoxious children who don’t behave in public. Those of you who can’t put your ego aside, and play nicely with the other homeless volunteers and advocates, don’t be surprised when you wind up in this column. You should be flattered: you’re getting more warning than most who wind up in these hallowed, disposable pages.
As is usually the case, the Hall of Stupid requires more space than I am allotted, so it looks like Christmas 2012 came early for former cop Jeffry Bromby and the Paso Robles Police Department, mousy Supervisor Paul Teixiera and his know-it-all assistant Deb Gleasen, the San Luis Obispo City Council, the holy rollers on the Pismo Beach City Council, and the now defunct Narcotics Task Force and its lapdog DA Gerry Shea. If I make it through another raucous year of New Year’s celebrations, I’ll see you on the other side. Because where there’s a politician turning off microphones and bullying advisory councils, I’ll be there. Where there’s a police department abusing its power, I’ll be there. Where there’s fried food and funnel cake, I’ll be there. ∆
Shredder’s a fan of looking backward, so long as there’s no mirror. Reminisce at email@example.com.