For the past two years frequent contributors to this page Joe Mathews, John Wildermuth and I have nominated candidates for Californian of the Year in the world of politics. We name the final selection the winner of the Black Bart Award.

There is no specific criteria to follow in making the selection. Each author will explain his reason for making his choice. Perhaps, the nominee took one courageous act, or a dastardly deed that had great repercussions, or performed heroically in difficult circumstances. The nominee may be a person or even an institution or an issue that had great impact on California politics and policy over the year.

Past Black Bart Award winners were Sen. Abel Maldonado in 2009, and Governor-elect Jerry Brown in 2010.

The first contribution this year is from Joe Mathews and follows this introduction.

For those who do not know, Black Bart was a notorious outlaw from California’s frontier days. However, he was known as a gentleman outlaw. While robbing 26 California stagecoaches from 1875 to 1883, he never shot a gun (although he was shot in the course of a robbery), never cussed, and was polite to his victims. Another thing: he believed himself a bit of an artist leaving poetry at the scene of some of his holdups, signing at least one poem: Black Bart the po8.

We thought, since those of us who practice in the political world are considered scoundrels, that Black Bart would make a good symbol for saluting the Californian of the Year. After all, the winner could be a gentle soul but still involved in the dark arts of political give and take. And, all of us Californians are artists in our own way.

Joe’s piece is published today, John’s Tuesday, mine Wednesday. On Thursday we’ll offer our consensus opinion and name the Black Bart Award winner—then Fox and Hounds Daily will be off until January 3, 2012.

Happy Holiday Season to All.