Our Top 20 Stories of the Miserable Year 2020!




Clockwise from upper … uh … forget it, it’s a huge mess — just like the year itself.  One thing to note is that the purple bar graph in the middle marks the rise of Covid-19 cases in the spring — or, as we now know it, “The Good Old Days.”

Barrels of ink, and blizzards of pixels, have been squandered on marveling over what a fucked-up year this has been.  Consider the bill of particulars:  Trump, Covid and its Discontents, Trump, continued endemic racism and police brutality, TRUMP, devastating and corrupt Anaheim elections, and TRUMP.  And, not surprisingly, all of these terrible things are reflected in this humble blog’s TOP TWENTY STORIES OF 2020:

1.  All of the Orange Juice’s Picks for November 2020!  [Greg]

OJB endorses pretty much wherever it can, offering readers a chance to see what they would likely find if they did the work of analyzing information about the candidates.  It seems to be appreciated; our effort this year got over 21,000 views.

2.  Complete List of November 2020 Candidates & Measures  —  [Greg]

Sometimes our contribution is simpler: providing – as early as possible – a list of what’s on the ballot everywhere in OC, so the public doesn’t need to painstakingly scrape that information off of the OC Registrar of Voters site and the many mostly lousy city sites.  This got over 17,500 views, most just before Election Day.

3.  Anaheim SWAT Officer Nick Bennalack’s FOURTH Killing – Daniel Ramirez, 2019  [Vern]

Over 14,300 people read Vern’s account and saw his video of Bennalack’s 4th killing as an APD officer.  A few months ago DA Spitzer’s office cleared Bennalack of any culpability, and Vern will look at that report soon (January.)  Whatever excuses are made in each of these killings, the fact remains that Nick has killed at least three people who were unarmed because he (allegedly) thought he saw a gun on them.  It’s good that he’s no longer at the APD, but what is he doing now?  Can he still carry a gun?  Just make sure you don’t get near him with a cell phone in your pocket!

4.  Judicial Races Won’t Get Extended  [Greg]

The title doesn’t tell this judicial story’s story.  A vacancy for OC Superior Court judge opened up with just days left for applicants to fill it.  Only one person (former Rackauckas assistant DA Tony Ferrentino, below, who clearly knew it was coming) applied.  So OJB tried to drum up an opponent, because people should not just waltz into a judgeship because nobody else noticed it was open.  Judge Ferrentino waltzed in anyway, hindered only by our coverage of the race — and we wish him well.  This got over 5,500 views. (Our reports on OC judicial races generally do well, as we’re usually the only outlet to write about them.)

5.  Emmanuel Killed by Anaheim Police Two Weeks Before Christmas  [Vern]

OJB’s fatal use of force by police beat continues to be unfortunately eventful.  Vern’s account of this late 2019 killing got over 4,600 views. 

6.  2020 Democratic Party Central Committee Endorsements   [Greg]

Political party organizations are often a big impediment to reform.  So it’s important to get a sense of which candidates would facilitate reform and which ones would block it, and to communicate that sense.  This is another perennial service of ours, which this time got over 4,250 views.

7.  Meet Orange County’s New Terrorists   [Vern]

A bastard offspring, nationally, of the unholy coitus of Trump and Covid-19 is the legions of right-wingers who believe religiously that this year’s “plandemic” is some kinda blown-outta-proportion big-government liberal plot to make their dear leader Trump look bad, and that masks are bad for you – and in this day and age, they could find any handy pseudo-science to prove their point.  There were plenty of these “anti-maskers” in the OC, and as elsewhere they were not beyond threats and violence, as they harassed our health director Dr. Nichole Quick out of her job. Vern’s June look at this phenomenon received almost 3750 views.  (Hey there’s that pudgy pugilist Kim Sorgente, who also figures in our Trump Dead-Enders story later!)

8.  Filings for Water Boards   [Greg]

The three big contests that seem to prevent people from filling in their ballots early enough not to strain the ballot counting system are water boards, judicial retention  elections, and state and local propositions, so we focus disproportionately on them.  That starts with getting honest and reformist people to file to run against those who aren’t.  We also, as activist journalists, do our share of recruiting, which the DPOC — in thrall as they are to the contra-progressive Building Trades — does poorly in these races.  Over 3500 views. (BTW our choices for MWDOC prevailed!)

9.  Governor Newsom Gives OC What Its Worst People Want Most  [Greg]

A CoVid-19 regulation story written after Gov. Newsom let LA’s tough regulations stand while letting OC’s lax ones slide.  The expected effects followed.  Over 3,000 views.

10.  Trump Dead-enders Assault three Santa Ana locals; SAPD detains the victims. [Vern]

We THOUGHT we knew what our top 20 stories were, but a couple of late December pieces quickly elbowed their way into the list – such as Vern’s account of the Dec. 6 Bristol Melee and its unjust (so far) aftermath.  Almost 2300 hits and climbing!  Hey!  As I (Vern) write this commentary, MSNBC just stole my phrase “Trump Dead-Enders!”  

11.  Trump Out of OC Rally on Lido Isle    [Greg/Admin]

Greg republished a press release for a rally against a Trump fundraiser on Lido Isle and … told people where to park and how much time to allot for it. The counter-protest went well. Over 2,250 views, and lotsa comments, hostile and funny both.

12.  A Farewell to Fullerton   [Sean Cocca]

Sean Cocca, frustrated by Fullerton’s “Broken Windows,” tragically leaves for … well, read it.  2,250 good people already have!  Sean also gets an honorable mention with his What Exactly is the Message of These Quarantine Protesters?

13.  Tito Tries a Council Meeting!  [Tito Watch] 

A brand-new feature in which our anonymous HB commentator commentates on that town’s notorious new Mayor Pro Tem, the Trump-loving, mask-eschewing, verbally challenged, mixed martial arts champion Tito Ortiz.  Published two days before Xmas, this account of Tito’s first meeting has already been read by over 1900 baffled and awestruck souls.  (And climbing!)

14.  Greg’s Republican Underground OC Central Committee Recommendations  

This site has long honored “Good Republicans” — that means both anti-corruption AND anti-Trump.  Some conversations with people intimately familiar with local GOP figures led to an effort that was half-serious and half pot-stirring.  Over 1,900 views. 

(Vern disagreed on most of these, as most anti-corruption Republicans in the OC are pro-Trump, and some are even CORRUPT TRUMPIES!  There are a few good ones out there, but they’re pretty hard to find.) 

[PS Also, Zenger and Vern were skeptical that any OC Republicans cared about this blog’s opinions on this matter, BUT… 1,917 views does speak for itself.]

15.  Hungry, or Able to Help?  OC Covid Food Resource Guide!  [Vern]

Just a little public service such as we are occasionally prone to.  Vern especially enjoyed sharing the featured photo of Julietta, one of his favorite little Anna Drive neighbor girls.  Over 1,850 views, and many full stomachs.

16.  Anaheim Eviction Moratorium – Act NOW if your April rent is endangered!   [Vern]

Anaheim was the second OC town this year to make the necessary move of an eviction moratorium (after Santa Ana.)  Typically it was first suggested by Councilman Jose Moreno, who was ignored; and then brought back at the next (March 24) meeting by a klepto council acting like it was their idea… still, it was a decent moratorium.  Vern announced and critiqued the move as it happened, and over 1700 readers found it useful.  (Later that week the council convened an “emergency” meeting to give away $6.5 million to “Visit Anaheim” to advertise a closed-down resort district… but that’s another story.)

17.  1464833 Gone Wild:  APD Car Rams Peaceful Protester and Speeds Away!  [Vern] 

You wanna hear something frustrating?  Vern KNOWS which Anaheim cop rammed his car carelessly into BLM protester Tyerae Bailey, but is unable to prove it properly, as Tyerae seems to have agreed not to officially confirm that the two gentlemen pictured below are one and the same, the greedy police union chief Edgar Hampton!  Since this wasn’t a fatality or sexual assault, SB 1421 don’t help; the Police Review Board was stonewalled; and Vern (as we speak) has just received a rejection letter from the City Attorney for his PRA request.  But we think it IS of public interest for us to know what an angry, reckless, dangerous driver our police union head is (who’s also the only cop union boss in OC to be directly paid – $400K – by us taxpayers) and what if any discipline he received!  At least the 1700 readers of this post would like to know!

18.  Vern’s March 3 Primary Choices:  Friends Don’t Let Friends Not Vote Downballot! 

1663 people checked out Vern’s choices for the Primary.  One thing Vern was wrong about was his enthusiasm for GG councilwoman Kim Berniece Nguyen, who was running for First District Supervisor against Andrew Do, Sergio Contreras, and Miguel Pulido.  She came across as the most intelligent, energetic and progressive candidate by a mile – at the big VOC debate.  But we found out later that, at the urging of her patron Lou Correa, she was only (and unsuccessfully) trying to drain votes from Sergio to help Pulido make the primary… and she’s really shown her colors since then.  Is nothing as it seems any more?  And nobody good was running for that seat in retrospect … just as well Andrew Do won, he’s not so bad for a Republican. 

19. George Floyd Open Thread: Protest All the Police Killings at Kelly’s Corner!  [Vern]

This was also the year that JUST A FEW more high-profile police killings finally pushed “Black Lives Matter” and police killings in general into the public consciousness – even the DPOC started to sit up and take notice!  This was our FIRST post about the rash of protests/rallies this year – regarding the first of those protests, fittingly held at the place in Fullerton where Kelly Thomas was killed nine years ago.  Over 1550 people clicked on it; Vern followed up with a “Scenes from OC’s Uprising” series, and eventually a constantly-updated “Get Your Weekend Protest On!”

20.    Anaheim Has Been Issuing Fraudulent Street-Sweeping Tickets. (Igmar Rodas)

Over 1500 readers checked out this February report from our muckraking friend Igmar, rounding up our Top 20 and just barely edging out Greg’s Comprehensive March 2020 OC Primary Endorsements and Vern’s angryWagner & the Anti-Maskers Get Their Way: Dr. Quick Gives Up on OC.


Each year. a number of stories from previous years that continue to get a lot of hits.  Here’s the top five of those for 2020.  The first two were actually from late 2019 so are really kinda new; whereas #4 and 5 were old stories that gained new interest because they were relevant to the 2020 elections…

#1: Catching Up With the Crazy Case of Hadley Vs. Diaz  [Vern, from 2019] 

Fitzgerald told Vern all about this bizarre case as soon as Vern returned from his vacation, and insisted that he write about it.  (I think he may have even doled out 50 bucks to encourage the writing!)  It’s been going viral off and on ever since, apparently because an outside site picked up on it – it’s gotten over 5,800 views this year, and we have no idea what’s going on with all the continuing litigation, cuz we don’t care THAT much…

#2:  Death by Shopping Cart: the True Anaheim Stories of Jennifer and Lisa. [Vern, from 2019] 

Two very similar cases from a couple years apart, in which a homeless, alcohol-addicted woman was arrested and jailed for shopping cart infractions and died days later in OC Jail apparently from withdrawals.  Vern knew one of these women – she was his wife’s cousin and longtime close friend – and Mark Daniels knew the other one.  It was written at the very end of 2019, and has been read by over 2400 people this year.

#3: You Will REGRET IT if you don’t come see Man Hee Lee  [Vern, 2012]

Ah  – an old chestnut!  The public never seems to tire of Vern’s 2012 takedown of the Korean cult leader – who doesn’t like making fun of cult leaders and their followers!  Almost 1,550 Man Hee Lee Story Fans This Year Can’t Be Wrong!

#4: Lying Lying Chang  [Greg, 2016]

Folks this year faced with the choice between Democrat Josh Newman and Republican Ling Ling Chang – 1,525 of ’em anyhow – found Greg’s 4-year-old exposé of the latter’s habit of fabrication interesting, and troubling … and the people chose Josh!  In fact, “Lying Lying Chang” campaign signs were ubiquitous this year – did Greg get credit?  No, the satisfaction of Josh’s victory is enough!

#5:  Where the Heart is: Michelle Steel Just Can’t Quit Palos Verdes [Vern, 2014]

Unfortunately, 969 readers perusing Vern’s six-year-old story of Steel’s carpetbagging was not enough to turn the tide in Harley Rouda’s favor this year.  Nothing was enough to do that – not even Michelle opening her ignorant mouth.  Hey, now, as a Congressperson, she doesn’t even have to PRETEND to live in the district!  (But we CAN, and certainly will, get a better OC Supervisor, whether Foley or Moorlach.)

(Hey, you know what, look at the waistlines of Arnold above and Tony Rackauckas below – these short but macho politicians STAND ON SOMETHING when they get photographed with fans!  THAT is fucking funny.)


Vern here. Greg suggested I list my own “honorable mentions” of my own stories that SHOULDA got more readers.  And I assume he’ll do the same with his stories.  Is this self-indulgent?  Well, to paraphrase Walt Whitman, “Very well then, I am self-indulgent, I contain multitudes.”  Anyway more of you-all should have read these.  It’s never too late:


And I guess my other great ones from this year are all about Anaheim, sorry about that.  Can you believe that in 2012 Lorri Galloway told me we were not a good OC blog because we had nothing about Anaheim (except for the occasional Gabriel San Roman piece), and then she sat me down and told me about everything happening here.  So even though we famously had a falling out, and she has gone irreversibly to the dark side, it’s Galloway’s fault I’m an Anaheim writer now!

What Every Anaheim Voter Should Know About the Stadium Heist (a response to Lucy Dunn)

Reasons Jordan Brandman Must be Recalled in 2021 (ignore the couple of Ada references)

Then there’s my series of stories on the 2020 Covid Heist ($6.5 million to Visit Anaheim plus the Zapata firing):

[Greg here.  When did Vern get modest?  These 2020 stories of his are also honorable and quite worthy of mention:


Greg here, making a pitch for some lost darlings, some chronicles of the past year and some posts that have held up really well.

This was the year that I figured out that we needed to report seven-day moving averages on Covid before anyone else I noticed did so.  (Unfortunately, one needs better graphing programs than I have to keep this form being too much trouble.)

I’m proud of the “service” diaries I’ve done this year, not only the ones up at the top of the list — though those exclude the more specific posts I’ve done on various races.   I’ve continued to report on (1) daily developments on who has filed in various races, while there’s still time to do something about it (which I know has affected some races for the better); (2) following the results of races in depth and until the bitter end; and (3) following the actions of my friends in the Berniecrat factions, including endorsing local candidates.  But I’m most pleased with the work I’ve did this year on the national election. Readers got what would become the “collective wisdom” about what might happen sometimes a week, or even several weeks, early.

I’m honorably mentioning a bunch of mine, mostly for posterity, but in some cases to remind us of important 2020 stories.


Now John Oliver will blow the year up, and let’s look forward to 2021.

(To which Greg adds: if you have Netflix, also watch Death to 2020 — mostly for Lisa Kudrow!)

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.