This was not a big political year in California, at least in the political realm. There were no big elections, no great ballot measures. The younger (though not that young) generation of political leaders made preparations for future races – in 2016, in 2018. But the conventional political realm didn’t produce anything worthy of a Black Bart award.

That said, there were several Californians worthy of consideration. Congressman Kevin McCarthy appeared on the path to being speaker of the house – then wisely bowed out. That was portrayed as a defeat, but McCarthy won, retaining his #2 post, and power, in the House of Representatives, while letting Paul Ryan emerge as speaker, and chief target of the party’s insufferable far-right. It’s better in these days to lead from behind.

Tom Steyer established himself as the most powerful Democrat in California, the go-to man on environmental and tax policy. The National Football League and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, got two communities in greater Los Angeles to back expensive stadium plans for failing teams –despite the fact that such stadiums make little sense as investments.

And I thought seriously of nominating the current and former leadership of The Matador, the student newspaper at San Gabriel High School in Southern California. The paper’s web site was shut down by the Alhambra Unified School District—but the paper’s young journalists kept publishing, and won a major national award. Censorship, sadly, is alive and well in our schools, but so is the beautiful and unruly spirit of democracy.

Speaking of unruly spirits, after much thought, my choice for the Black Bart award was obvious: Uber chief Travis Kalanick. The San Francisco-based company of this California native has grown relentlessly, even the face of legal and regulatory attacks, and its own missteps. Kalanick has the true Black Bart spirit: While it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission, it’s even better not to ask for either.

Cities have bowed down behind the force of Uber’s presence, and its lobbying. In the process, Kalanick demonstrated that in a dysfunctional state with so many laws and rules, there’s no better strategy than just ignoring the rules you don’t like – if you want to change how people work and live. Congrats, Travis.