For the past five 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 are no specific criteria to follow in making the selection. Each author will explain his reason for selecting a nominee. Perhaps, the nominee took one courageous act, or committed a dastardly deed that had great repercussions, or performed heroically in difficult circumstances. The nominee may be a person, or more than one, or even an institution or an issue that had great impact on California politics and policy over the year.
For those who do not know, Black Bart (real name: Charles Bolles) was known as a gentleman outlaw from California’s frontier days. 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.
His most famous ditty left at the scene of his first holdup:
I’ve labored long and hard for bread,
For honor, and for riches,
But on my corns too long you’ve tread,
You fine-haired sons of bitches.
We thought, since those of us who practice in the political world are considered scoundrels, yet many Californians think themselves artists in one way or another, 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 (everyone has a screenplay in mind, right?).
Joe’s piece will appear first, followed by mine then John’s. On Friday we’ll offer our consensus opinion and name the Black Bart Award winner for 2014 —then Fox and Hounds Daily will be off until January 5, 2015.
Past F&H Daily Black Bart Award winners:
2009 Sen. Abel Maldonado
2010 Governor-elect Jerry Brown
2011 Controller John Chiang
2012 Molly Munger and Charles Munger Jr.
2013 California’s Mayors