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RIP 2020 

Remember the good old pre-pandemic days when all we had to shred was dudes like Lannen Bowers, a 58-year-old SLO transient with a weird romantic fixation on Mayor Heidi Harmon, who on Jan. 6 charged past the front desk demanding to see her and had to be subdued by City Manager Derek "The Other Rock" Johnson? We were so innocent then, amirite?

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In January we were shredding the SLO Police Department for not releasing the body cam footage of Officer Joshua Walsh who shot Bubbers, a 7-year-old pit bull/boxer mix, while responding to false burglary call. Remember Paso Robles wackadoodle Gabriel Canaday, who'd been harassing his neighbor Tobin James Cellars, whose owner Tobin James Shumrick shot the tires off Canaday's golf cart with a shotgun when Canaday was trespassing on winery property? Misty watercolor memories.

In February, shredding the faux kerfuffle over then 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold's Democratic challenger Ellen Beraud's supposed anti-veteran stance due to a ginned-up controversy over the Atascadero veterans memorial seemed like a big deal. So did Andy Caldwell's accusations of his opponent 24th District Congressman Salud Carbajal's supposed march toward socialism. Or Caldwell's absurd claim that the homeless population was bringing back bubonic plague. Classic Andy, eh? We had no idea what was waiting around the corner in March.

It started innocently enough. We discovered that muckmaker Kevin P. Rice was the man behind the "satiric" robocalls "Ku Klux Klan-endorsing" for reelection 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill, who—according to the call—would save SLO County from "lesbian," "homosexual," "sum-bitch perverts," and keep SLO "straight again." Rice's robocall was just the shenanigans calm before the COVID-19 storm.

Anybody want to chip in to print my T-shirt idea? "I survived 2020 and all I got was COVID-19 and this lousy T-shirt!" It's gonna be a yuge seller! We basically spent the next 9 1/2 months shredding all the stupidity related to the misinformation and mishandling of this pandemic, but to break up the COVID-19 coverage fatigue, we did find time for a couple of other shreddy throwdowns.

Remember when Eric Hofmann, president of the regional branch of the Utility Workers Union of America, sent an email to the SLO City Council threatening a "massive protest" if the city continued with its proposal to require new building construction be all-electric and ban natural gas? "If the city moves forward with another reading on a gas ban, I can assure you there will be no [social] distancing in place," Hofmann added menacingly.

How about in May when SLO Town officials decided it was time to drive out the homeless populations living along the Bob Jones Trail by Prado Road? That was a nice law enforcement move, but not nearly as "special" as their handling of their Black Lives Matter protests when the SLOPD shot pepper balls and tear gas at demonstrators. Overreact much?

It wasn't just law enforcement acting like thugs. Remember John "Pitmaster" Hackleman, owner of The Pit in Arroyo Grande, who dropped a 20-minute Facebook rant against protesters and later posted snipers on his business's roof during a peaceful march. He seems stable.

Of course, it didn't help when Sheriff Ian Parkinson suggested a tie between BLM protests and the shooting of Deputy Nick Dreyfus by a purportedly mentally disturbed gunman when there was no connection whatsoever. No wonder all these social media Save-your-town's-name-here groups sprung up to further vilify anti-racism protesters.

And who can forget District Attorney Dan Dow who suggested you're probably going to get raped or murdered because Gov. Gavin Newsom released 8,000 short-time state prisoners due to COVID-19 concerns.

"I am very troubled that victims of crime and other law-abiding citizens who are doing everything they can to follow state and local directives in order to stay safe and healthy will now have to wonder if they will become the next victim of a career criminal who was released early from serving their prison sentence," Dow wrote on the county website.

Sigh. They were all due to be released within a year anyway. Dow also really put his Christian, right wing ideals on display. While Parkinson argued systemic racism didn't exist in SLO County, Dow was busy saying he wouldn't enforce state health and safety guidelines, especially for churches, which can praise and worship and sing their respiratory droplets right into one another's ecstatic Jesusy faces.

Let's not forget the big fake story about BLM protesters extorting money from downtown SLO businesses. We're still waiting for the alleged letter a bunch of people claimed to have seen but that no one seems to be able to produce. Or how about all those patriotic MAGA sycophants who set up counterprotests to BLM protests? Gotta love free speech! Trump in 2024! Woo hoo!

Yep, it's been quite a year. Who could forget Maulks, the catnapped feline whose perp was protected by SLO City Council candidate James Papp. Not a winning strategy, Jimmy-boy. What about Pismo's accident-inducing beach slide? Winner-winner!

Sayonara, 2020! Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Δ

The Shredder can't wait for 2021. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

This column has been edited to correct a citation.

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