December 27, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Who’s been naughty and who’s been nice among this year’s headline makers? Our editorial staff has been making our list and checking it twice.
Here are our nominees for the naughtiest—and nicest—newsmakers of the year in 2014 who had an impact on our region. (Note: We don't include people charged with or convicted of felonies, as major crimes will be included in our "top news stories of 2014” that will be posted in a few days.)
Do you agree with our choices? Please post comments--and your own nominees--below!
- Michael Peevey: The Chairman of California’s Public Utilities Commission resigned in disgrace amid revelations that he engaged in unethical back-channel communications with his former employer, Pacific Gas & Electric. E-mails revealed that PG&E was calling the shots in the CPUC’s investigation of PG&E’s fatal gas pipeline explosion to minimize the company’s liabilities. He’s also been accused of overly cozy relationship with San Diego Gas & Electric and with Southern California Edison over San Onofre nuclear concerns. When San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre tried to question Peevey in a public forum about those ties, Peevey went ballistic, cursing at Aguirre and demanding that he “shut up.”
- Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity at SDSU: The fraternity’s national headquarters shut down the SDSU frat house for the next year and a half due to serious complaints of sexual harassment, assaults and hazing. In what sounded like a scene straight out of Animal House, the frat boys reportedly made lurid comments and waved sex toys at women participating in a “Take Back the Night” march to protest sexual harassment. To reopen, those party animals will have to undergo training and have an alcohol and drug free environment.
- Senator Ben Hueso: After a night of partying with Latino Caucus members at the state capitol, Democratic State Senator Ben Hueso was arrested for driving under the influence after turning the wrong way down a one-way street. He later pled guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving with alcohol involved, after testing revealed a .08 blood alcohol content just over the legal limit. The incident didn’t hurt his campaign, however; he was reelected handily while the charges were still pending.
- Republican central committees: “Oops, they did it again” could be the refrain for three Republican central committees in California facing proposed fines from the Fair Political Practices Commission for illegally funneling money into political campaigns over the legal limits. The scenario is similar to one that ensnared Republican Senator Joel Anderson, another Republican central committee and several major donors back in 2010.
- Brady Companies: What could be nicer than to donate $3 million to the Boys and Girls Clubs of East County? Mary Alice and Ron Brady, founders of the Brady construction business, did just that – prompting even more generous donations from the community.
- Bill Walton: The NBA Superstar and Hall of Famer from La Mesa is a hero with a heart. He’s championed a drive to build a new gym for underprivileged children at the Boys & Girls Club in his hometown. Click the link to hear his heart-warming speech.
- Bob Taylor: The founder of Taylor Guitars accepted a Corporate Award of Excellent from U.S. Secretary of State Bob Taylor. He was honored for his efforts to save endangered trees by buying an ebony mill in Cameroon, using shades of ebony wood previously left to rot on the forest floor. By making it trendy to have streaks, spots and hues other than black—Taylor’s actions have helped save ebony forests.
- Jimmie Johnson: The NASCAR champion from East County also remembers his roots. This year, he and his wife donated over half a million dollars to local schools through his foundation.
- Bobbi Brink: The founder of Lions, Tigers and Bears has had a busy year – rescuing several bears, a tiger, and building a brand new habitat for Albert, Cherry Bomb, Teddy and Baloo.
- Nathan Fletcher: The former legislator and ex-Marine lost cousins to combat and a third is a returning combat warrior. Fletcher has launched the Three Wise Men Foundation to help other returning veterans get the help they need to transition to civilian life.