Thanks for the gaffes and laughs

Even in a year chock full of dubious achievements, it is never easy picking out those individuals, groups, corporations and trends that proved worthy of postseason honors.

But 2010 was a big election year, and sure enough a number of people jumped forth into the political arena and turned it into a memorable circus.

So just like we do every year, we are going to acknowledge these “standout” performances — those that managed to pull off the rare combination of hubris and shamelessness with straight-faced sincerity.

That is why these hard-working honorees who topped the lineup of regrettable actions and public gaffes are taking home a Yorkie this year, an award named for the owners of the San Francisco 49ers who assured themselves a place on the list by fielding a team so mismanaged, inept and unwatchable that they are close to obliterating the image of what was once one of the most respected organizations in sports.

They have now become predictable and laughable, to the point that while still threatening to bolt to a new stadium in Santa Clara, most fans do not even care.

So congratulations to our Yorkie winners. You have really outdone yourselves.


A utility company that equates shortcuts with public safety often becomes tangled in its own wires. Unfortunately for the general public, the company’s ignorance of its own natural-gas supply system resulted in a deadly explosion that destroyed an entire San Bruno neighborhood and will likely cost untold millions in litigation fees.

And to top its year of living dangerously, the head of the company’s much-criticized SmartMeter program was forced to resign after it was revealed that he spied on some of his activist opponents. We do not know what executive William Devereaux was thinking when he tried to infiltrate some opposing groups — we only know now how it is that he rose within this short-sighted company.

Ranked-choice voting

This confusing mess of electoral engineering resulted in the top first-place vote-getters being denied victory in at least three local races, including two supervisor districts in San Francisco and the mayor’s campaign in Oakland. Surprisingly, this system of lucky losers is gaining traction in cities, when what it should be receiving is the Jimmy Hoffa treatment.

Jean Quan

Thanks to ranked-choice voting, she came out of nowhere to win the Oakland mayor job, and her first official act was to bail out her car, which was “booted” by police outside City Hall for having too many unpaid parking tickets. As for the next four years … we are praying for you, Oakland.

Meg Whitman

Proving that money is no substitute for a good candidate, Whitman spent herself and the voters into submission. The GOP candidate for California governor shelled out $142 million of her own money on consultants and advertising. Yet when it was discovered that she had used an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper, Whitman did not even have the good sense to give, say, $25,000 to hire Nicky Diaz an immigration lawyer. Can anyone say chump change (in Spanish)?

Chris Daly

Ten years ago, the man-child on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors blurted out that he was not “feeling the love” after one of his lamebrain ideas was shot down by his colleagues. After a decade, the foul-mouth blurting is almost over, but we are not feeling any more love. Fairfield, you have been warned.

Eric Mar

The supervisor is boldly going where few before him have gone — making parental choices part of the government’s realm. San Francisco’s decision to ban kids’ meal toys unless they have reduced calories is “nanny legislation” supersized. The City is facing a $400 million budget deficit and this is how you decide to spend your time? Really?

Steve Poizner

The outgoing state insurance commissioner ended the year by saying he would have been a better GOP candidate than Whitman against Gov.-elect Jerry Brown. Gee, if only he had not lost the Republican primary against Whitman by 36 points.

Jed York

When the 49ers were the worst team in the worst division in football, the franchise’s president declared that they would make the playoffs. Hopefully, they will put us all out of our misery today, but if they win the division with a 7-9 record, maybe it will embarrass the team and the NFL enough to finally force the Yorks to sell. Frankly, Obi-Wan Kenobi, it is our only hope.

California Legislature

Our elected officials in Sacramento scored new lows this year, delivering a budget later than any in state history. So here is a thought: Let’s turn license plates into little digital billboards that can flash everything from McDonald’s ads to Amber Alerts as a way of raising revenue.

That was one of the ideas pushed last summer by state officials — the same ones who have gone to great lengths to ban texting and phone calls while driving as a way to reduce digital distractions that lead to accidents. Tell me, was that a tease for the new Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit video I saw before I slammed into you? Thought so.

High-speed rail

After years of planning, the California High-Speed Rail Authority decided to spend its first $4 billion or so on a connection between Borden and Corcoran, two cities that have a combined population of 25,000. Is it a real train or a Disney ride? At the last minute, it included a stop in Bakersfield. Operators are standing by to, well, stand by.

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