What’s up, Grinches!?

Who made Sacramento a little more awful? In 2010, these hearts were two sizes too small.

illustration by Jason Crosby

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? No thanks to those corporations, bureaucrats and politicians that spent the year making life extra dreadful for the rest of us. The list is long, and certainly California’s governor and state legislators should top any list. Furloughs, plus cuts to schools, transit and welfare—it sure feels like those in power have hearts that are two sizes too small.

(Of course, we recognize that the California taxpayer is quick to say “bah, humbug” to any suggestion that citizens pay more for services.)

Here are some more Grinches we want to single out for special recognition.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig

Back in 2005, two West Sacramento police officers approached Fermin Galvan and his brother Ernesto. It was 3 in the morning, and the cops suspected the two of using drugs and just generally being up to no good.

We may never know if Ernesto really instigated the violence that went down by taking a swing at the officer—that’s the official version. But when it was over, Fermin was beaten up with a few missing teeth. Ernesto was in a coma. Today his head is permanently misshapen by the blows of West Sacramento’s police batons.

It turned out the Galvans weren’t on drugs, and they had not committed any crime before encountering the West Sac officers.

In an apparent attempt to dodge legal liability for excessive force, District Attorney Jeff Reisig is making an unprecedented fourth attempt—following three hung juries—to prosecute the Galvans for resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. Prosecutors have downplayed Ernesto’s injuries, saying the West Sac officers used “restraint.”

Good thing. Had the officers been even a little less restrained, we wouldn’t be talking about the case at all, because Ernesto Galvan would have been dead and buried five years ago.

illustration by Jason Crosby


This Swiss-owned biotech giant plowed $1.6 million into a campaign against California’s Proposition 24—a ballot measure that would have ended a couple of corporate tax breaks and generated about $1.3 billion in revenue for California’s general fund. The “no” side argued that Prop. 24 would cost California jobs. And voters agreed, defeating the measure at the polls. But right after the election, Genentech announced they were laying off more than 800 workers in San Francisco and Vacaville. Just their way of saying thanks, California!

illustration by Jason Crosby

The University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees

The UC Board of Regents raised fees 8 percent this year—from $11,000 a year to more than $12,000 a year. At the CSU schools, a 15 percent rise in fees is the latest in a string of increases that have bumped the basic tuition from $1,500 to nearly $5,000 a year in less than a decade.

No wonder students took to the streets in protest all over California this spring.

To be sure, the governor and state Legislature share responsibility for years of neglect to the system. But higher education actually got an 11 percent bump in the last state budget. And the CSU Board of Trustees approved dramatically higher enrollments earlier this year, only to turn around and demand still-higher fees from their already cash-strapped students. Smooth.

illustration by Jason Crosby

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly,R-Twin Peaks

Lawmaker and founder of his local Minutemen chapter, Tim Donnelly gets the nod for sponsoring unhelpful Arizona-style immigration legislation, which would require police to detain and check papers on anyone they suspect is undocumented. Sure, the bill has no chance in a Democratic state with a Democratic Legislature. But Donnelly deserves special recognition for his kooky, single-minded extremism and his timing.


Earlier this year, PG&E wrote its own California ballot measure, Proposition 16, which would have made it nearly impossible for public power agencies, such as SMUD, to start up or expand and compete with PG&E on service and rates. PG&E spent $45 million on the unsuccessful measure, but voters still said no.

In September, a 50-year-old PG&E gas pipeline in San Bruno exploded, killing eight people and destroying 37 homes.

illustration by Jason Crosby


Because of the San Bruno disaster, we learned that PG&E was way behind in upgrading its network of pipelines and had more safety violations from the state than all other California utilities combined.

The company insists that its political expenditures don’t come from “ratepayer money” and thus there’s no connection between money spent protecting their near-monopoly and money not spent on keeping their stuff from blowing up. Hope that makes you feel better.

Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board

As the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District point fingers at each other, Sacramento homeowners are getting Scrooged. The board this month decided that Sacramento has to make dramatic improvements to its sewer-treatment facilities, in order to stop pumping so much ammonia—and other crap—into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Sounds reasonable, but property owners in the county just found out their sewer rates may triple. Merry Christmas!

There’s been a lot of venting around these parts about the mean old state bureaucrats, but it seems the county sanitation district—which has spent quite a lot of time and money condemning the water board’s actions—could have seen this problem coming a long time ago. Isn’t it the district’s job to avoid these sorts of nasty rate shocks?

illustration by Jason Crosby

Sacramento City Hall

They don’t call them accidents for nothing. But under new rules being floated at City Hall, anyone found to be at fault in a traffic accident that requires help from firefighters, police or other emergency personnel will now have to pay a “crash tax.”

The rule would bring in about $1 million for the city’s general fund and hundreds of thousands of dollars for private bill collectors.

The city needs revenue, but is that really a good reason to start gouging people who have the misfortune to be in an accident? The city says the crash tax must be fair, because lots of other cities are doing it. But Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland has introduced a bill that will end the practice anywhere in the state.