So, we slip outta 2002 by the skin of our collective teeth. Money's tight. War's on the horizon. We're under threat of a terrorist attack-or not. And we're fresh out of Beefeater's. What else to do then but take some guesses-wild and otherwise not-about the coming year, which, by the Chinese calendar, translates to the Year of the Goat.
Uh-oh, we're reading here that goat folks "are thought to be charming, elegant and artistic" but tend to "worry more than necessary and complain about things too much." Sounds like our kind of year! Let's kick it off.
Spin Cycle predictions:
* Mayor "10Goals" Murphy will consider renaming next week's "State of the City" address the "Minority Report," but copyright hassles with Steven Spielberg will put the cabash on the idea. Instead, he will demonstrate his personal budget-cutting ability by tearing out and tossing away the last three pages of his speech. Unfortunately, this leaves the lobbyist-packed audience puzzled, when he stops at Goal No. 9.
* Steve Peace will hire himself out as a professional budget slasher. This, in turn, will lead to a maniacal shift in his personality, considering all the bloodletting he's engaged in.... Wait. Nope, it's the same ol' Steve!
* Thanks to Congress finding recess more enticing than real work, hundreds and hundreds of San Diegans will be receiving belated lumps of coal instead of unemployment benefits, which they will burn for fuel after SDG&E tries to take all of California's money.
Predictions from other rabble-rousing San Diegans:
* From the imperturbable Mel Shapiro, the constant thorn in the side of rule-bending politicians: "Mike Madigan, former czar of East Village redevelopment, will be penalized by the Ethics Commission for not disclosing that his lobbyist wife received income from the Padres."
On a lighter note, Shapiro thinks Mayor Murphy's Goal No. 5-"Construct an Airport"-will come true. "A helipad will be built on the roof of City Hall."
* From our resident comedian, Councilman Michael Zucchet, presently on a tropical vacation with his wife, this prediction of a bumpy ride for Chargers-city relations: "The Chargers exercise their "trigger' option, with the city claiming "financial hardship' under their contract. Then a lot of lawyers get rich as the negotiations and litigation continue for years. Meanwhile, the city contemplates cuts in essential city services, like police and fire protection, due to significant budget shortfalls."
Slipping on the "Comedy Store" shark suit, Zucchet offers his lighter side in fortune-telling: "Mayor Murphy slips at a council meeting and says, "Damn,' when he meant to say, "Darn,' causing him to rethink his entire political future. He holds a press conference, condemning "the negative message sent to our children when adults lose control.' He also introduces Goal No. 11: "Make San Diego Swear-Free for our Children and our Families.' The political gamble pays off, and he's re-elected easily in 2004."
* From the activist duo of Al and Catherine Strohlein comes a prediction of greater financial oversight by the current City Council, particularly when it comes to sports teams, and a tougher negotiating stance on expenses. Catherine is hopeful "some councilmembers will actually read the documents that describe issues to be voted upon," and Al predicts that Mayor 10Goals will "modify his agenda to recognize social issues rather than business desires" and that the new Regional Airport Authority-now financially flush after settling with the Port District for $50 million in cash and a $75 million "balloon loan," which comes due in 2010-will fail in its efforts to relocate Lindbergh Field.
* From frequent council speaker and environmental activist Kathleen Blavatt: "I predict that La Jollans will soon think about "tar 'n' feathering' Scott Peters," that area's councilmember, who may be facing a recall attempt this year over some of his past land-use decisions. Blavatt also sees "major problems" for Naval Training Center developer Corky McMillin, who is rumored to have sent out letters to prospective homebuyers suggesting that problems with toxicity at the site will delay home construction there. Clean up on Aisle 4!
* And this from political activist Lee Crawford: "I predict that 2003 will be the year that voters begin to take back City Hall. The "Clean Elections Initiative' will build in intensity as more and more voters understand the benefits of publicly funded elections. Think about it! What if we owned City Hall, rather than developers, sports-team owners and other assorted fat-cat political contributors! How would San Diego change if the City Council were elected without any compromising "favors due' to their campaign contributors? Four states and two cities already have clean-election laws in place, and they're working!"
Well, we can always hope in this, the Year of the Goat-that is, after the sugar buzz of the holidays wears off. As for our plans for the coming year? We'll leave that to the political winds-and to those sage words of 18th century essayist Alexander Pope: "Satire's my weapon, but I'm too discreet / To rum amuck, and tilt at all I meet."