George Boardman: California’s still the Golden State despite a year of ups and downs |

George Boardman: California’s still the Golden State despite a year of ups and downs

The past year wasn’t the best of times for some residents of the Golden State, but that doesn’t mean we stopped doing the things that annoy many other Americans, including the current occupant of the White House.

If your house didn’t get destroyed in the floods and landslides last winter, it may have burned down during the fall fire season. If you escaped both of those calamities, you may have learned you can’t insure it anymore — assuming the notice didn’t arrive in the mail during one of the PG&E power blackouts.

But at least you own a house — something that is just a dream for many lower income Californians, including our growing homeless population. The unsanitary habits of our homeless attracted the attention of President Donald Trump, who claimed they are polluting the Pacific Ocean. This is a man who appointed a coal industry lobbyist to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

Aw, but you can’t keep us down for long. The state’s economy — now the fifth largest in the world — continued to boom, and high tech entrepreneurs, and the money that supports them, continue to flock here. We are still home to three of five top technology centers in the country.

The state is still a magnet for creative types eager to break new ground in the arts or invent the next big thing while the camper shell crowd departs the state for some place that isn’t California. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t find time for our usual zaniness, as this review of little reported events shows. We really haven’t changed at all. May it ever be so.

SHOP LOCALLY: The Fremont Police Department outfitted a 2014 Tesla Model S, which was made in Fremont, for police work at a cost of $65,000. They figure to save $30,000 in gas over a 5-year period, but didn’t estimate the cost of the electricity to charge it.

LIMITED POSSIBILITIES: The Tesla ran out of power during a high-speed chase in September.

THANKS FOR NOTHING: Tesla announced it would lay off 3,000 employees, most of them at the Fremont plant.

GET YOUR KICKS: Caltrans shutdown the rest stops at Gold Run on Highway 80 to repair the plumbing system damaged by people flushing syringes down the toilets. Some motorists apparently want to get sky high before arriving at Donner Summit.

GET IT ON: The musicians weren’t the only people getting down at this year’s Coachella Music Festival. reported a spike in genital herpes — 250 new cases a day — over the run of the festival.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Wursthall, a German restaurant in solidly Democratic San Mateo, announced it would refuse service to anybody wearing a MAGA hat, “same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or other symbol of intolerance or hate.” Then the owners changed their minds, stating they would serve anybody “so long as they leave hate, anger and violence outside the doors of our restaurant.”

MORE MAGA NEWS: A Palo Alto woman told a 74-year-old man wearing a MAGA cap to “Get the f**k out of my town and never come back,” and a man in San Francisco was arrested for allegedly using a sword to slash a man who knocked off his MAGA hat.

CULTURE WARS, PART I: A Southern California man threatened to call immigration officials when he didn’t understand a Spanish word on the wall of a Mexican restaurant.

CULTURE WARS, PART II: The restaurant critic of the San Francisco Chronicle panned a restaurant because it evoked the French colonial period in Southeast Asia. She didn’t like the food either.

HOP TO IT: Cangaroo, a Swedish company, announced it will deploy several hundred pogo sticks around San Francisco as an alternative to e-scooters.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO POGO, LOOK OUT BELOW: Since 2011, San Francisco has handled over 118,000 reports of human poop on the streets.

WHAT’S IN A WORD: Trustees of the Dixie School District in Marin County voted to change the name after residents complained the word is associated with the rebel side in the Civil War. Meanwhile in Alameda, officials decided to change the name of Haight Elementary School to Love.

MORE WORDS: Berkeley officials purged all gendered words from city ordinances and other documents, turning “man hole” into “maintenance hole.” Not to be outdone, San Francisco supervisors proposed new language guidelines for people involved in the criminal justice system. A convicted felon would be a “justice-involved” person and an offender released from jail or prison would become a “formerly incarcerated person.”

TRUE COLORS: The San Jose City Council voted to fly rainbow flags in support of the LGBTQ community and pink, blue and white flags in support of transgender rights when Chick-fil-A opened a restaurant at the airport. The fast food chain has since ended support for anti-LGBTQ causes.

BIG BANG: The California State Fair replaced its traditional fire works show with 80 LED-carrying drones, in part to accommodate “those who have sensitivities to loud explosions.” However, several drones fell out of the sky during performances and fire works were used on two nights when the drones were unable to perform.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Foodies in Berkeley want to rename the city’s Gourmet Ghetto, home to some of the priciest restaurants in the Bay Area. According to food maven Alice Waters, “gourmet” suggests you have to be a food sophisticate to enjoy it, and “ghetto” is off-putting because of the historic connotations.

NOT WORTH IT: After City College of San Francisco cut 10% of the classes to balance the budget, the chancellor included administrative raises of as much as 100% in the budget before trustees voted on them. They were not approved after local media broke the story.

FIRST AGAIN: Drag queen RuPaul has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

EXPOSE: Rep. Katie Hill resigned her congressional seat after nude pictures of her with her female lover were leaked by her ex-husband.

ONE CRIME DESERVES ANOTHER: While two men were holding up a Burger King in Stockton, an employee slipped out the back door and stole their getaway car.

BORDER SECURITY: A teenager was arrested in San Diego for allegedly transporting several pounds of meth in a model car through a hole in the border fence.

HOW BIG WAS IT: An accountant at a Rialto school district was arrested after security video caught her stuffing lunch money in her bra. Police estimate she stole $3 million over several years, but didn’t speculate on how much of it was transported in her bra.

BAD AD: When a San Diego man was arrested for pimping, he was wearing a T-shirt that said, “I make pimpin’ look easy.”

HOLD THE … : An Orange County deputy sheriff was arrested for allegedly pepper spraying a pizza during a traffic stop, which sickened six people when they ate the pie.

FINALLY: “It’s the most frustrating job I’ve ever had. Not the worst — I worked for a meat packer picking up dead cows once.” Michael Picker, announcing his resignation as chairman of the California Public Utilities Commission.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at

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