We begin this year on a couple of sour notes.
First, our beloved 49ers lost no time in parting company with their head coach Jim Harbaugh, following the last game of the current regular season.
To review Harbaugh's career, in brief, his tenure with the team lasted from 2011 to 2014. During that four year span, his combined record (the team's) was 44-19. For rookie coaches in the NFL, this is almost without precedent. Only one other head coach I can think of--x-49ers head coach George Seifert, who went 98-31, taking over Bill Walsh's team at the end of the 1980's, bears comparison, but with a very large caveat--particularly when you remember that Seifert took over a powerhouse, while Harbaugh came to a team mired in a decade of mediocrity.
A little history tells a pertinent story. When Eddie DeBartolo lost control of the 49ers, in 2000, the reigns were passed to his sister Marie Denise York. She and her husband, John York, a research pathologist, knew nothing about running a professional football team, and proceeded to mismanage the franchise into a 12-year slide, without a winning season. In 2008, the Yorks appointed their son, Jed, President of the team. Jed York, a finance and history major graduate of Notre Dame, had had no experience in sports, as a player, or a coach, or a sports teams manager. Nevertheless, he made a lucky choice in his new head coach in 2011, hiring Harbaugh away from the Stanford University Cardinal--and thus began the current four year run of winning.
However, not long after beginning of the 2014 season, there were "leaked" reports from 49ers management, that there were severe disagreements between the team's management (York, and his assistant General Manager Trent Baalke), and Harbaugh. These began when the team's early season record was still very positive. The year before, Jed had "tweeted" a public apology for the team's failure to advance beyond the NFC championship game to the Super Bowl, "This performance wasn't acceptable."
By mid-year 2014, a series of crippling injuries to some major stars on the team, as well as some poor offensive coaching schemes (an apparent wrong-headed attempt to turn scrambling quarterback Colin Kaepernick into a "pocket passer"), led to a series of losses, which in retrospect seem to have been, at least in part, a response to the very obvious mid-season attempts by York and Baalke to undermine Harbaugh's authority and reputation. The reported issue was Harbaugh's "abrasive" interpersonal style, a quality which would seem to have nothing whatever to do with the team's potential, or with the head coach's abilities as a field commander. In retrospect, it almost seems as if Harbaugh, and the team in general, had been deliberately "cut loose"--so that management would have a public "pretext" for replacing him, and turning over personnel at season's end.
The Yorks have shown themselves to be rank amateurs in their management of the 49ers organization. Abandoning San Francisco, for a new stadium in San Jose, 30 miles south of their namesake city center, they've showed contempt and selfishness in all their dealings with the city, the media, and their own players. Ignoring the success their new head coach had brought to the team, they summarily dismissed him, in effect in mid-season, just to strut their power and hide their own incompetence--as far as anyone can surmise, simply because Harbaugh wouldn't kiss up.
At this point, no one knows what the Yorks have in store. With Harbaugh now gone (to Michigan), it's expected that several high-profile veteran players will either be let go, or will themselves simply retire. After three trips to the penultimate play-off contest, and one unfortunate season, the 49ers are right back where they started under Jed York. It's a sad denouement to a relationship which had brought glory and gratitude to a team longing for respectability after a decade of shame. Jed York has proven, once and for all, that he's just a spoiled rich kid playing with lead soldiers in the converted nursery room.
Second, yesterday marked the effective beginning of the year for California State legislative measures.
Right at the top of the list was a new law allowing "Undocumented [i.e., illegal] Immigrants" to acquire valid California Drivers' Licenses. As far as I know, there have been no legal challenges to this law, which is causing unprecedented backlogs and slowdowns in DMV offices around the state, clogged with Mexicans filing the new applications. But it is clear that this new provision conflicts directly with Federal immigration laws, which forbid illegals from maintaining legal presence in the U.S., without going through the legal process of obtaining visas, or applying for citizenship.
How can a person residing illegally in the U.S., acquire a legal identification and driving permission, without triggering a pursuit by the U.S. Federal Immigration and Naturalization Service, or Homeland Security? It's as if the State of California is setting itself up as a competing jurisdiction to our Federal Government, offering a kind of quasi-ersatz-American citizenship status, in direct violation of our nation's laws governing residence, citizenship and all the privileges pertaining thereto.
As an American citizen, I would regard it as my right and duty to inform about any illegal whom I encounter in my work or daily life. If citizenship is to mean anything, it must be at the grass roots level, where ordinary law-abiding citizens stand with authorized law enforcement to prevent crime and violation. Granting foreign nationals a "free pass" to claim the rights and privileges which rightfully belong only to American citizens, is neither fair, nor acceptable. If you are here in the U.S. without papers, don't show up on my doorstep, or try to conduct business with me, because I'll report you.