In what has become an annual tradition, I venture the following predictions, some of local significance and some not so much, for the year ahead:
— Sen. Hillary Clinton will be elected president in a landslide general election victory over former New York Gov. Rudy Giuliani.
— Sixty percent of Marylanders heading to the polls will vote for slots coming to select state sites including Ocean Downs.
— After the slots referendum passes, talk will soon commence over how to help Route 589 better accommodate the new traffic. A stoplight will be erected in front of the racetrack, and a proposal to add lanes along a portion of the road will be on the table.
— Outrage will occur when a businessman’s plan to open a nude bar of sorts in an industrial zone in northern Worcester County is announced.
— To prove to the media it cannot dictate public policy, County Commission President Jim Purnell will remain in that post for most of the year.
— Although snow and freezing rain will keep crews from working a couple days, the Route 50 drawspan will re-open on Friday, Feb. 15 in time for the Presidents Day weekend crowds.
— At least one new face will be elected to the Berlin Mayor and Council after the fall election.
— It will be more of the same as far as tourism goes in the Ocean City area – in general, not great but not terrible either.
— The Maryland General Assembly will easily approve an historic amusement tax district in Ocean City, protecting Trimper’s Rides.
— After the County Commissioners refuse to adopt a similar measure, the Maryland General Assembly rejects legislation for a tax differential, one of Ocean City’s priorities for the year ahead.
— Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan will secure another term sometime in September when the filing deadline passes for the October election because he will be unopposed.
— The cost of anti-smoking measures, such as the gum and patch, will soar in anticipation of smokers looking to cut back as a result of packs now costing about $6 each and bars being forced to go non-smoking.
— In a sign of the times, a major metropolitan daily newspaper will announce it’s folding its hardcopy operation in favor of launching a revamped user fee website.
— Rumors will surface that Osama bin Laden has died, but yet another blurry video image will contradict once again.
— Florida’s Jeb Bush, following in the footsteps of his father and brother, announces his desire to run for president in 2012.
— An ordinance will pass in Annapolis officially making Smith Island cake the official Maryland dessert (my favorite is the chocolate and peanut butter).
— Hundreds of subway cars will be dumped off Maryland’s coast for an enormous artificial reef system, providing perhaps the photo op of the year.
— A formal proposal calling for hundreds of wind turbines will come before the Ocean City Mayor and Council. The council will again express its conceptual support, but the year will end without the company returning to answer questions about specifics.
— The old Ocean City library branch building will be transformed into city office space.
— In an effort to make up for millions of dollars lost in the latest round of property assessments, state legislators vote to increase the state’s tax on liquor.
— No action will be taken by the state to address the rash of accidents taking place at the intersection of Routes 113 and 12 (gateway to Snow Hill).
— Unleaded gasoline prices will exceed $3.50 per gallon around Memorial Day weekend, resulting in a major media blitz from Ocean City’s ad agency.
— Amateur photographer John Roycroft’s picture of the seal on today’s front page will be the most memorable photo of the year.
— The New England Patriots will roll over the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl next month.