About Next Year, It’s Predictable

All the kids appearing in TV commercials with their dads, including Grace “What’s the Bottom Line?” Dance, form a union.

Last December in this space I gave out “gifts” to various public figures. But I can’t do it this year. You know, times are tough and all. Sorry.
Instead, I’m giving out predictions for 2010, and they are for everyone to enjoy. Or not. Unfortunately, you can’t exchange them for something nicer. All predictions are final, regardless of how wrong they are.
Next year is so full of possibilities.  For example:

Rioting breaks out at “Tea Party” rallies protesting socialized health care. Most of the rioters hospitalized or treated for injuries do not have health insurance.

FSU football coach Bobby Bowden resigns under pressure but says he still feels he has a few more good years left. UCF dumps George O’Leary and hires Bowden.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist watches his approval ratings and Senate campaign sink as the state’s jobless rate continues to rise.  Still, he manages to fail forward and win the race.

Bailed out investment institutions continue to sell derivatives and pay record bonuses. Meanwhile, Congress backs off legislation that would have reformed risky banking practices and broken up institutions considered “too big to fail.” Lawmakers deny that intense lobbying by AIG, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, along with a flood of campaign contributions from those companies, had anything to do with the legislation’s failure.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney gets a talk show on FOX, the fair and balanced news network. The show’s sponsors are Halliburton and Blackwater.

The White House stages a photo-op of President Obama playing basketball with women on his staff. The PR move backfires, however, when Obama won’t pass the ball to female teammates.

Facing another budget crisis, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer threatens firefighters and police officers with job reductions unless they agree to wage and benefit concessions. They refuse. After some posturing, he caves and gives them (as well as all other city employees) raises to “keep up with market conditions.” He raises property taxes to fund the pay increases. 

The financially ailing New York Times agrees to be bought out by Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, who had lent the media giant $250 million in 2008.  Calculating the growth of the Hispanic population in America, Slim turns the Gray Lady into a Spanish-language daily, Los Tiempos de Nueva York.  Circulation and advertising begin to improve.

Term-limited Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty leaves office early to take a better-paying job with the city of Orlando. Gov. Crist appoints former county chairman and retired Sen. Mel Martinez interim mayor. Only a month into his new job, Crotty is laid off as the Dyer administration looks for costs to cut at City Hall. The only position eliminated is Crotty’s. Martinez decides to run for county mayor.

FOX 35 news sees a dramatic improvement in viewership among males 16 to 56, a target audience for advertisers of energy drinks, trucks and ED treatments. Meanwhile, FOX 35 revamps its news program to begin and end with meteorologist Sabrina Fein’s weather forecast.

SunRail finally clears the Florida Senate, which heeded U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s warning to get its “act together” on the commuter rail project or the state had no chance of getting $2.5 billion in federal aid for a high-speed rail line. (At press time, SunRail backers were calling for a special session this month, so the commuter rail project could get the go-ahead before 2010 arrives.)  The approval of SunRail, however, doesn’t bring in HSR funds. The federal government rejects the proposed Tampa-Orlando HSR line as too short.

Casey Anthony goes on trial for the murder of her daughter. Then again, maybe she doesn’t. (This one’s impossible to predict, really.)

Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau launches “5½ Days of Fighting, Crying and Texting,” a take-off of its 2009 “67 Days of Smiles” marketing campaign, which no one cared about after the third day.  The new concept features a “typical American family of four on vacation in the vacation capital of the world.”   Bravo airs “5½ Days” as a reality show. “It’s like the Real Housewives of Atlanta but with more fighting and crying,” says the promo for the program.      

Unable to raise enough money to fund a full-scale overhaul of the Lake Eola Fountain, the city seeks a corporate sponsor for the landmark. The Lake Eola Fountain For the People is dedicated on the one-year anniversary of the lightning strike that knocked it inoperable.   

All the kids appearing in TV commercials with their dads, including  Grace “What’s the Bottom Line?” Dance, form a union. Among their demands are appearance fees, residuals, iPhones and later bedtimes.

With the year coming to a close, Walt Disney World raises ticket and parking prices. Universal Orlando and SeaWorld follow suit.

Less than a month after being elected to the Senate, Crist announces that, after talking  with his wife, Carole, in a conversation that must have been over the phone because the two are seldom together, he is running for president in 2012.

CLARIFICATION: An alert reader pointed out that BART and MARTA are not commuter rail systems, as I implied a reference in my November column (“A Desperate Ploy to Rescue SunRail”). They are light rail systems. And they, too, are in dire straits, as are commuter rail operators MARC in Maryland, LIRR in New York and Caltrain in California, which would have been more fitting examples to have used. 

Categories: Column