The year 2016 left us aghast, agape and agog, and not just on the national front. Local politicians, gadflies and other folks said the most amazing things over the past year.

For your amusement and edification, we’ve put together a few of our favorites. Enjoy the following look back at a stogie-obsessed congressman, a councilwoman who screamed on stage, a pizza-prone president-elect and more.

The ‘Twit’ and the Pendulum

Who is letting this twit spam us all with the yoga postings?” — Carlsbad Councilman Mark Packard in a comment that sparked a brouhaha after a local yoga instructor mistakenly spammed thousands of local residents on the Nextdoor website.

 “In retrospect, I should have counted to 1,000, and probably wouldn’t have sent it, but I did … I believe we would all agree that spam is annoying, and believing it would improve sales is silly, therefore someone who sends spam is a silly, annoying person (the Webster definition of twit).” — Packard, to Coast News.

 “I am looking forward to the day we don’t have to see your smug face on the City Council anymore.” — the yoga instructor.

Maybe the yoga instructor should try to relax, take a yoga class.

Smoke ‘Em While You Got ‘Em for Free

 “These donations routinely improve morale and service to relieve stress.” — Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, who famously vaped in the halls of Congress, in a letter calling for the FDA to allow tobacco companies to donate cigars to the troops.

 “You, or anyone else there who doesn’t care to go fight, or wants me to do it for you, I get to smoke cigars. Tobacco helps service members calm their nerves, relax and function better in high-stress situations … Why put me under undue stress?” — Hunter, to the Union-Tribune.

 “I don’t care. When it comes to guys overseas fighting, I don’t care.” Hunter to the U-T, on potential health problems from cigars.

According to finance records, Hunter’s campaign spent $131 in 2015 on purchases from a cigar shop in Temecula. No word on whether campaign morale improved and undue stress was relieved but we’re betting everyone’s clothes needed to go to the dry cleaner.

A Treasure Trove of Trump Quotes

 “Papa John.” — Donald Trump’s reference at a San Diego rally to former Union-Tribune publisher and Trump supporter Doug “Papa Doug” Manchester. (Via the U-T)

That must be why my paper used to show up on the porch each morning with pepperoni and sausage.

 “Maybe Trump will get the message.” — a U-T editorial urging primary voters to write in former President Ronald Reagan.

Turned out Reagan wasn’t an official write-in candidate, so votes for him were never counted, and Trump got no such message, not that he’s really the message-getting type.

• Trump is not a think-tank guy.” — Hunter to Politico on Trump.

Go on.

• I’m not into politics … I have other stuff to do.” — Hunter, explaining why he wouldn’t serve as a Trump delegate despite supporting him. (Via L.A. Times)

That’s it. No more cigars for the congressman.

Mic Drop of the Year

 “We are teaching young people a terrible lesson. If I believe that I am a Russian princess, that doesn’t make me a Russian princess, even if my friends and acquaintances are willing to indulge my fantasy.” — USD professor Gail Heriot, testifying to Congress about transgender people during a hearing on bathroom access. (Via the L.A. Times)

 “You are an ignorant bigot.” — San Jose Rep. Zoe Lofgren to Heriot.

Non-ignorant bigots shook their heads knowingly.

Meet the Blame-the-Weather Defense

• “He was overwhelmed with the pretty girls, beautiful beaches, outstanding weather, and all that is associated with California.” — a statement to the court by the mother of convicted rapist Jonas Dick, accused of being part of a predatory ring of “pickup artists,” via a story in the Daily Beast.

The sun is calling a press conference to respond to this.

Yeah, But Who’s Getting Buried Now?

 “The possibility of bringing some artistic, airy fairy, consultant-based, planner-based plan to those blocks is impossible.” — downtown booster Fred Maas to the U-T on the possible site of a convadium downtown.

 Local leaders in recent years boosted downtown “because of their vision, their leadership and their willingness to take on the naysayers and small town undertakers that have inhabited our city since the days of John Spreckels. Small town undertakers like (Rob) Quigley.” — Maas in a VOSD commentary supporting a downtown convadium, ripping architect Rob Quigley and riffing on a long-ago undertaker jibe from San Diego builder and visionary John Spreckels.

 “Where was Quigley on any of those downtown victories? … No doubt he was hard at work building transit stations at Solana Beach or art centers in Fallbrook or a visitor center in Imperial Beach. Hardly the seminal work of Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas or Robert A.M. Stern.” — Maas, ripping Quigley again.

The Small-Town Undertaker Anti-Defamation League just added an extra staffer.

Obit of the Year. No, the Decade

“He left behind gallons of bourbon, vodka and gin that we have no idea what to do with as we are all sober … His good looks, joy de vivre, dancing skills and love of beautiful women led him on many romantic adventures and two more tries at marriage until he realized he was better off single and friendly.” — an awesome family-written obituary of former San Diegan George O’Donnell, who died in May.

Noted: “George’s ashes will remain with family until we figure out what to do with them.”

A Few More Quotes to Remember (or Forget)

 “The Padres are trash, but at least they know how to lose in funny ways.” — Deadspin, recalling a game in which “Christian Bethancourt started the game as catcher, and eventually got on the field as a left fielder and second baseman before Andy Green handed him the ball for the eighth and final inning. He did not disappoint.”

 “Gómez once toured California with a Spanish-punk band. She was the singer, but mostly screamed, she said.” — a CityBeat profile of successful City Council candidate Georgette Gómez.

 “I don’t have a problem voting against the interests of someone who is a friend or someone with whom I’ve had some past business relationship. If I did, the only people that could serve in public office would be introvert eunuchs.” — Port Commissioner Bob Nelson to the U-T on conflicts of interest.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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