For the past eleven 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. This year, as last, we will be joined by Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, long time journalist for NBC in Los Angeles and former professor at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. We then collectively—and not always in agreement–name the final selection the winner of the Black Bart Award. 

I expect we’ll find some extraordinary nominees in this extraordinary year. 

There are no specific criteria to follow in making the selection. Each author will explain his or her 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 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, the 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)?

This week we will publish an article on a different nominee or nominees. Sherry Jeffe and John Wildermuth start us off tomorrow; Joe Mathews and my nominations are published on Wednesday and Thursday will bring our consensus opinion and name the Black Bart Award winner for 2020. 

On Friday, we’ll have some news about Fox and Hounds Daily. 

Past F&H Daily Black Bart Award winners: