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When you wish upon an elf 

I had the strangest thing happen to me early Christmas morning. I woke up from an eggnogged slumber to the sound of bells and clunks, so I grabbed my 3-iron, stumbled into the den, and, seeing a bunch of folks in tights ransacking the place, started swinging. The guy in red was fast for a fat guy and he was gone before I knew what for, but I managed to connect with an elvish guy in green. Now that I've had to time to think about it, it may have been SLO City Mayor Dave Romero, but I can't be sure. Anyway, I only dazed him, but it was enough for me to get him in a chicken wing and make him cry uncle. He said he'd grant me wishes if I'd let him go. Might not have been the mayor after all.

Anyway, here's what I wished for, for some of the folks who've been in the news, or in this column, for 2008.

To SLO City Councilman Paul Brown, who in 2007 got way more of the public spotlight than even he wanted, I wish self-knowledge. From what I heard about the restraining order issued against him, he and his estranged wife had troubles that weren't one side's making alone. There were nasty arguments and a few times they turned violent. In court, Brown cast the battles--in one case his wife ended up in the emergency room--in the best possible light. But here's the thing: No light makes it all okay. You don't get to touch or shake or grab or restrain your wife in anger, no matter what she says or does. Ever. That's my take, anyway. Here's to a more peaceful new year--and less of a spotlight--for everyone involved.

To the medical marijuana crowd, buyers and sellers alike, I wish restraint. Yes, state voters decided that marijuana can be legally prescribed as a medicine. But those votes were earned with stories of helping cancer patients and maintaining people wasting away from AIDS. I don't think folks would have voted the same way if they knew it would launch a money train for doctors and pot shops who cater to people who got their marijuana scrips for carpal tunnel syndrome. I got mine after telling the doctor I had uncontrollable munchies.

To Sheriff Pat Hedges, facing multiple investigations over eavesdropping, I wish honesty. Come clean. Your explanations of why you eavesdropped on your chief deputy ring false. It doesn't sound like there was a criminal investigation going on, and if there was, why the hell would you be the one who was leading it? Eavesdropping on a fellow cop is not the worst thing an officer, or an elected official, has ever done around these parts. Own up to it, take the rap, so to speak, and move on. Your voters and your employees will respect you more for it.

To Flossie, the doomed floss silk tree that has grown too close to the mission, I wish absolution. Assuming Flossie's not content with the idea of being chopped down, even if some cuttings are taken and her clones continue around the city, here's my advice: See what you can do about generating an apparition of Mary. Let 'em try and cut you down once your trunk is bleeding her tears.

To the leaders of Atascadero, I wish transparency. Even with a reformed City Council this year, the entrenched power there seems to rely on the tools of obfuscation, obstruction, and public humiliation to get their way. Look what they did to Kelly Gearhart, one of the big-time developers up there, dragging his name through the front pages with allegations that he wasn't paying his bills for permits. Only it turns out he was paying, and they just hadn't done the paperwork. And that's how they treat guys like Kelly, who they should like.

To Ernie Dalidio, who won the right to build his shopping mall but lost so much momentum that planned stores have found other homes, I wish successful vengeance. There are a lot of folks around SLO's downtown who are plenty nervous about the lawsuit he's filed that could reveal the names of those who secretly funded the cowardly covert campaigns against him.

To the county bureaucrats who are hounding Dan De Vaul, I urge patience. I'm sure he's a banana in the ass to deal with, both a throwback and a grump, but he's also caring for a couple dozen people who might well otherwise be in our jails or hospitals or killing themselves through their addictions in the creek ravines. And he's doing it with his own peculiar brand of integrity. Plus, it looks to me like he's been making progress with all the cars and stuff on his land. Honestly, all his junk doesn't offend me half as much as those fake-Tuscan-style homes squatting on the hillsides on the other side of Los Osos Valley Road. Do you really think that $500-a-day for selling Christmas trees is the fair way to go after Dan De Vaul?

Finally, here are some more wishes:

To New Times, bravery.

To The Tribune, prosperity.

To the Blues, longevity.

To Aragorn, swiftness.

To the rest of my loyal readers, I wish the comfort of regular bowel movements. Happy New Year.

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