What makes something a dick move? Oxford English Dictionaries defines it as "vulgar slang" (fair enough) for "a contemptibly cruel or selfish action." It could be as small an action as stealing a parking space or as big as killing Net Neutrality (I see you, Ajit). Ultimately, it's when someone ignores or dramatically flips off the available option to do right, choosing instead an act of narcissistic/petty/wantonly destructive dickishness. And unlike the c-word that was so enthusiastically suggested to me by a few dudes who seemed really eager to say it after last year's list, it's equally applicable to men, women and non-binary individuals — even organizations and institutions. (Sorry, aforementioned dudes; you'll just have to keep shouting at your screen.)
The competition was fierce in 2017. Roll your eyes with us as we count down this year's list.
10. Awash in a deluge of cannabis grow permit applications, the Humboldt County Planning Division hired Humboldt Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Board President and co-founder Allison Edrington to help review them. It was a clear conflict of interest, given that Edrington was still working on behalf of farmers and pot-related business owners. But the department argued that nearly everyone in Humboldt had some connection to the industry and stood by her. For a minute. The day after the Journal published a column questioning Edrington's hiring, planning fired her. Making an iffy hire only to yank her chain was a dick move.
9. School board meetings are always hotbeds of small town drama and petty vendettas, but Northern Humboldt Union School District board trustee Jennifer Knight took it way too far, based on the board's decision to censure her in November. The censure came after "years of unacceptable behavior" that culminated with Knight using her position on the board to try to block the rehiring of two basketball coaches who had cut her nephew from the team, as well as bullying a parent volunteer to near tears in a public forum. Move over, Harper Valley PTA.
8. Like a dog with, well, a bone, Humboldt County First District Supervisor Rex Bohn was unwilling to concede the tattered, meatless, marrowless reputation of Public Defender David Marcus, even after the department began hemorrhaging employees (most of whom wrote letters of objection to the board over Marcus' hiring) and public criticism rained down. Instead, Bohn insisted the controversy had all been drummed up by a weekly "advertising magazine" to sell papers (they're free, Rex) and said everything was "great." Even as the board gathered in a last-minute Thanksgiving Eve meeting to discuss Marcus' looming resignation in closed session, Bohn petulantly refused to sit down with his fellow supervisors, grumbling with county counsel through the Pledge of Allegiance. Bow wow, Bohn.
7. Back in September, when the kids were heading back to school, we took a trip down awkward memory lane by sharing vintage school photos of NCJ staff and contributors. And while we all blushed at our gap teeth and bangs, recently retired Setlist writer Andy Powell catfished us with a stock photo of a child. Thing is, the kid was charmingly dorky enough that we bought it. In repayment for this dick move, please enjoy a vintage image of Andy Powell on a Vespa like he's the shit. You brought this on yourself, Vespa-boy.
6. Decades-long slumlord Floyd Squires has had a banner year, even for him. Here's a summary: successful lawsuit from neighbors for operating "nuisance properties," an appeal to that award, leaving tenants without water in his graffitied, dirty, drug- and pusher-infested Third Street property because he didn't pay the bill (that property was condemned and boarded up by the city, leaving many without shelter), thwarting a public auction of his condemned, tax-delinquent, falling-apart buildings by filing bankruptcy ... he could take up the whole list, but we think he has enough real estate already. And in the midst of all this, the city of Eureka — apparently believing all's fair in dick-on-dick warfare — sent out a salacious press release accusing Squires of being a letch based on an unsubstantiated third-hand account. Dick moves all around.
5. It was bad enough that the county of Humboldt's Adult Protective Services stepped on the wishes of the dying Dick Magney, prolonged his agony and forced his grieving widow to fight a lengthy court battle, but county counsel then doubled down by spending taxpayer dollars to ask the California Supreme Court to depublish the appellate opinion that referred to the debacle as "profoundly disturbing." Sorry, county counsel, you made the bed on this one, and you're going to have to lie in it.
4. In September, a jury handed down a $2.5 million ruling against the county of Humboldt stemming from the death of Daren Borges, a 42-year-old man who was homeless and schizophrenic, and died of a methamphetamine overdose in jail without proper care. After the ruling, a host of people (including some connected to the case) with evidently little or no understanding of addiction and/or mental health problems, went after Borges and his mother on social media and in comments sections. Maybe you and your loved ones live in a blissful rainbow cloud, untouched by homelessness, alcoholism, drugs, depression or schizophrenia. Congratulations, unicorns! Maybe to you those issues are a matter of morality or weakness rather than disease. Hey, what does the American Medical Association know? But maybe work on your sense of decency regarding a human life lost and a family in mourning. The Internet is forever and so are your ugly, dick move comments.
3. What kind of person throws a puppy off a bridge? Well, evidently the kind who fails at things because the little pooch survived the drop off the Samoa Bridge in March, plucked from the chilly waters by fishermen. One of them even arranged to adopt the pup. But just because it had a happy ending doesn't mean we're done being pissed.
2. In May, someone went all Trump Jr. on safari and shot Randy the zebra dead in Petrolia. What the hell, man? Those zebras were just minding their own damn business, grazing and whatnot, and you roll up with a rifle and kill one? What kind of bullshit, dick move dare was that for? We hope Randy haunts your ass forever.
1. Just when the apology-challenged city of Eureka was ready to transfer Tuluwat (aka Indian Island) back to the Wiyot people whose ancestors were brutally murdered there by Eurekans in 1860 — who pops up like an entitled whack-a-mole? Rob Arkley, with an offer to buy the land and his khakis in a twist about the right "to simply walk on the island at our whim." In his email to city officials about whether the handover is legal, he not only calls it "Gunther Island" after the guy who dickishly "bought" it just before the slaughter, but also spells Wiyot three different ways. Ugh. Can we just make this small bit of healing happen after the systematic abuse and slaughter of so many Native people without you conscience blocking everybody? Of course not. Congratulations on a real dick move, Rob. You're No. 1.
Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the Journal's arts and features editor. Berate her at 442-1400, extension 320, or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.