Bouquets and Brickbats: Welcome the new year sensibly

A night in jail — or the hospital — is no way to start the new year, so if you plan on welcoming in 2011 with a toast (or two or three), please make sure you’ve arranged in advance for a safe ride home.

In exchange, we’ll deliver boutonnieres and corsages to your party table, to go along with the sparkly hats and noisemakers. And if you’re a designated driver — good for you! — you’ll also score a bouquet of angel flowers.

Call Auto Club for a safe ride home

While we’re on the subject if the idea of risking life and limb (or someone else’s life and limb) isn’t enough to persuade you not to drink and drive on New Year’s Eve, think about what a conviction would do to your bank account. According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, a first-time DUI conviction can cost more than $12,000, when you add up fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs. You can also count on getting served a case of 86-proof brickbats.

If you do have a last-minute need for a safe ride home, the Auto Club is again offering a free “Tipsy Tow” service from 6 p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. Saturday. Call 1-800-4AAA to set it up, but keep in mind that there are certain restrictions. The Auto Club will cover a free tow home of up to seven miles — there’s a charge for longer distances — and the driver of the car is the only one eligible for a ride.

Hot air from Maldonado on exit

No one can accuse Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado of going out with a whimper. As one of its last official acts, his office issued a lengthy memo summing up the bar-raising impact of Maldo’s nine-month “reign” (their word, not ours) as lieutenant governor.

“No longer is this the office for the proverbial guy we all joke about who wakes up to read the paper and go back to sleep once he’s assured the Governor is alive,” says the memo from Maldo’s chief of staff, Amanda L. Fulkerson.

She also tells us that Maldo accomplished more in less than a year than previous lieutenant governors accomplished in their entire terms.

“He will be the first Lt. Governor who worked in partnership with the current administration to utilize his expertise and talents to bring tangible benefits to the people of California. He will have been the first to sign bills and use executive authority without having the sitting Governor return to the state and overturn his actions.”

We’re glad to see that Abel’s loss to Gavin Newsom didn’t harm his self-esteem but did we really need a seven-page memo to remind us that he signed some bills while the governor was out of town?

Sorry, Abel, you did a competent enough job — and we have no doubt that you’ll return to political life someday — but for now, we’re sending you home with a bombastic brickbat in your baggage.

Kudos to Brad’s for free feast

We’re dishing up a mouthwatering bouquet of edible greens with a side of good cheer for the folks at Brad’s restaurant. In case you missed the story, the owners of Brad’s put on a holiday feast — free of charge — for hundreds of people on Christmas Day. That was a wonderful gift not only for those struggling financially, but also for diners who might otherwise have spent Christmas alone.

That’s what Christmas is all about — and we commend the entire staff of Brad’s for its holiday spirit.