Editorial: Who was naughty and who was nice in 2016?

California Governor Jerry Brown (left) was nice, while Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) was more than a bit naughty.
(David Horsey / Los Angeles Times)

Many Americans may feel as if Santa came a month and a half early to fill their stockings with a yuge lump of coal. The remarkably acrimonious campaign and Donald Trump’s surprising win continue to leave such a deep mark on the American psyche, it’s easy to forget the other notable people and events of 2016. To jog your memory, here’s The Times editorial board’s naughty and nice list for the past year.


Russian President Vladimir Putin, for meddling subversively in the U.S. election, tipping the military balance in the Syrian civil war to the despotic Assad regime, and staying his illegal course in occupying Crimea.

Donald Trump, for giving voice to so many ugly thoughts during the campaign, from calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” to pledging to seek a special prosecutor for Hillary Clinton if he defeated her.


The National Guard, for trying to recoup re-enlistment bonuses paid to soldiers who then redeployed in war zones — even if they had no idea the money had been paid improperly.

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Nonvoters, whose absence from the polls yielded the lowest turnout in a presidential election since Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996 with 26.3% of eligible votes — the same percentage Donald J. Trump received.

Mother Nature, for maintaining Southern California’s drought even while bringing rain and snow to the northern part of the state.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors, for feigning surprise at a labor deal that allows deputy probation officers to get promoted even after committing serious misconduct.

California voters, who rejected a ballot measure to end the death penalty in favor of speeding up executions in a constitutionally dubious way.

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, for refusing to drop the racial epithet of a team name, and the National Football League for not stepping in and forcing the issue.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, for jacking up the price of a package of lifesaving EpiPens yet again, bringing the total increase to 550% since 2007.

Nintendo, for unleashing the Pokeman Go craze that led people to trespass, fall off cliffs and generally annoy everyone else by blundering around with their face in their phone looking for imaginary creatures.

Felipe Fuentes, for bailing out on his L.A. City Council seat and his constituents 10 months before the end of his term to become a paid lobbyist in Sacramento.

Tesla, for refusing to put the brakes on its “Autopilot” technology even after a driver using it was killed in a crash. And Uber, for flouting California’s rules and testing self-driving cars in San Francisco without a permit.

Ryan Lochte, for living down to the Ugly American stereotype at the Rio Olympics.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for refusing even to give a hearing to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Although McConnell’s tactic paid off in the short term, it perpetuated a scorched-earth politicization of court appointments that could come back to haunt a future Republican president.

The voters of the United Kingdom, for approving a referendum to withdraw from the European Union in response to exaggerated concerns about immigration and centralized EU governance.

FBI Director James Comey, for bungled attempts at transparency that helped torpedo Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

Former Yosemite National Park concession operator Delaware North, whose demand for huge trademark fees led the National Park Service to change the names of five popular and historic attractions there.

The North Carolina legislature’s Republican majority, for rushing legislation through after the election to strip power from the incoming Democratic governor. Oh and yes, for passing a law requiring transgender people to use the public restroom that matched the gender on their birth certificate.

Wells Fargo’s (now ex-)CEO John Stumpf, for publicly making low-level employees the fall guys for a fraudulent-account scandal caused in large part by bank managers’ overly aggressive sales targets.

Bob Dylan, for not showing up in Stockholm to receive his Nobel Prize in Literature. Really? You can’t pick up a Nobel Prize?


Gov. Jerry Brown, for spending much of his accumulated political treasure chest to win approval for Proposition 57, a ballot measure to fix what he calls his biggest regret from his 1970s tenure as governor: signing a bill to remove flexibility in criminal sentencing. He gets props as well for forcefully defending California’s approach to climate change and immigration in the face of a potentially hostile new administration in Washington.

Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), for their leadership on SB 32, which will require the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below the 1990 level by 2030.

Los Angeles voters, who stopped ignoring homeless people on the streets and overwhelmingly approved Measure HHH, a $1.2-billion bond measure to build housing for them.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who abandoned his usual caution and stuck his neck out to help pass Measure M, the sales tax increase for transportation projects, and Measure HHH.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for opening two — two! — new light rail lines in 2016, one of which finally provides real public transportation to the beach.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke, for bringing professional football back to Los Angeles. If the team keeps losing, however, Kroenke could find himself on the Naughty list next year.

Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), for doggedly working for years to create a state program to help lower-income Californians save for retirement.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, for standing up — or rather, pointedly not standing — for his beliefs.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., for deciding to close Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear power plant, by 2025.

California voters, for seeing through the plastic bag industry’s disingenuous attempt to repeal a 2014 law that banned single-use plastic bags statewide.

Hillary Clinton, for breaking through the penultimate glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to receive a major American political party’s nomination for president.

The Chicago Cubs, for ending the most epic drought in U.S. sports. A hat tip to the Cleveland Cavaliers as well, for helping to turn their championship-starved hometown into Believeland.

Facebook, for (belatedly) applying its technical expertise to curbing the fake-news problem it allowed to spread with its see-no-evil approach.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, for refusing heavy government pressure to create software that would make it easier for the FBI — and, potentially, cyber criminals and hostile regimes — to hack into the iPhones seized by investigators.

The U.S. Supreme Court, for rulings that protected abortion clinics against onerous state regulations, reaffirmed that state universities may take an applicant’s race into account in an effort to assemble diverse student bodies, and established that states could count total population — including children and immigrants who lack U.S. citizenship — when apportioning seats in their legislature.

Vin Scully, for giving baseball lovers in Southern California one last season of his masterful observations from the announcer’s booth.