As has become a West Side Spirit tradition at the cusp of a new year, we like to ask for predictions from various illuminating personalities populating our neighborhoods. There was no shortage of responses this December, with prophesies for 2009 covering everything from the much-debated replacement for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat to the new First Pet. We hope these forecasts are an enjoyable way to ring in the New Year, or at least a way to pass the time while nursing a hangover.
EAST SIDE ASSEMBLY MEMBER, MICAH KELLNER
• Thanks to an infusion of federal aid, the MTA will finally begin testing Bus Rapid Transit technologies on the M15 bus routes on First and Second avenues.
• The New York State Legislature will pass Marriage Equality and Gov. Paterson will sign it into law.
• The Legislature will mandate that all New York City livery and yellow cabs must be disabled accessible. This will lead to a MTA pilot program where livery cars and yellow cabs can compete with Access-A-Ride, creating better transportation alternatives for New Yorkers with disabilities, while reducing costs for the MTA.
• Bill Thompson will be elected mayor.
• Carlos Beltran will hit a walk-off homerun in game seven of the World Series to give the New York Mets their third World Championship.
• The York Grill will continue to have the best skirt steak in New York City.
JOAN RIVERS, ACTRESS AND COMEDIENNE
• Barack Obama is no longer called the “first black man to serve in the White House” after complaints from a 98-year-old butler working there since the ‘60s.
ALAN CHARTOCK, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF WAMC/NORTHEAST PUBLIC RADIO, EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER AT THE LEGISLATIVE GAZETTE
• Three controversial state senators will be indicted for something.
• Caroline Kennedy will be named United States Senator by Gov. Paterson.
• Rudolph Giuliani will once again chicken out and declare that he will not be a candidate for United States Senate.
• Sarah Palin will be featured in a racy men’s magazine.
• Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz will run for mayor.
• The Democrats will take control of the New York State Senate.
WEST SIDE COUNCIL MEMBER, GALE BREWER
• It will be another trying year for Met and Yankee fans.
• The Obama’s First Dog will be about the size of a breadbox.
• The new Riverside Park esplanade extension will be completed on time.
• Despite cutbacks, reading and math scores will continue to improve in West Side schools.
• Our next United States Senator will change their hair style less often than Hillary did.
ERNIE ANASTOS, FOX 5 NEWS ANCHOR
• Yankees franks will taste better than ever at the new stadium.
• Caroline Kennedy scores a big win for New York in the U.S. Senate.
• The Obamas set off a doggie frenzy with the selection of their new White House pooch.
• Pierce Brosnan makes a comeback as 007 singing a medley from Mama Mia.
• Still no cure for the common cold.
• A new generation is inspired by President Obama to serve America.
• Some schools begin a new trend: a four-day class week.
• Microsoft takes over Yahoo.
• Oil will drop to $20 a barrel, and the price of gas will remain high.
• The hot new color for 2009 will be yellow, and I’ll be wearing it!
SUSAN LERNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC INTEREST ADVOCACY GROUP COMMON CAUSE NEW YORK
• The State Senate will have a Democratic majority leader.
• There will be further changes in the State Senate with two to three special elections.
• This is the year when New York State hits a tipping point and passes real ethics reform.
EAST SIDE STATE SEN. LIZ KRUEGER
• A Democratic majority will be in control of the New York State Senate for the first time since 1964, through Republican retirements and special elections.
• Perennially failed Legislation such as Vacancy Decontrol, Rockefeller Drug Law Repeal and expanded access to health care will finally move through both houses of the Legislature and be signed by Gov. Paterson.
• President-elect Obama will help address New York State’s economic deficits through increased funding for health care, mass transit (MTA) and our infra-structure needs.
• A Community Board 8 meeting will actually end by 8:30…that is 8:30 a.m., the following morning.
• The Yankees will ask for more city and state subsidies, even though they have the highest payroll in baseball (or on the same day that they sign a player for $100 million).
JENNIFER RAAB, PRESIDENT OF HUNTER COLLEGE
• A Carolyn or a Caroline will be the next Senator from New York.
• In this dire economy, more students will realize that they can receive an outstanding education at a price they can still afford, and applications to Hunter College will soar.
• At least one Supreme Court justice will retire.
FRANK MCCOURT, AUTHOR
• When deciding what should be in his library, the former President George W. Bush will omit any mention of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
• Pope Benedict XVI will fall ill and linger and linger and linger, and the cardinals won’t know what the hell to do about it.
• Prince Harry of England will have a paternity suit on his hands with Amy Winehouse.
• Billy Graham will die.
• Cardinal Egan of New York will retire and be succeeded by a Hispanic bishop.
• This time next year Frank McCourt will be making more predictions.
FORMER MAYOR ED KOCH
• I foresee a turnabout in the economic situation of the United States in 2009. It will not take two years, but will take place in the middle of 2009.
• The car companies will be back asking for more handouts.
• We will start to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan at the end of the year.
• I believe Mayor Michael Bloomberg will have a huge win in November after suffering a run of attacks that are unfair.
JENNIFER JENNINGS AND AARON PALLAS, BLOGGERS AT EDUWONKETTE.COM
• New York City will be unable to sustain the 2008 gains on state tests, causing havoc for the A-F school grades.
• Shaken by these defeats, the Department of Education will mandate prenatal standardized testing for all NYC kids-in-the-making. Fisher-Price will be awarded a no-bid $80 million contract to conduct the periodic assessments.
• Traditional sources of private funds used to support district and school initiatives will dry up, placing even more pressure on slashed budgets.
• Chancellor Joel Klein will start an aggressive campaign to weed out ineffective novice teachers.
• The Department of Education’s press office will grow large enough to form a healthy intramural soccer league.
Predictions have been edited for style and clarity.
While looking forward to 2009, we also like to take a look back to see how some of last year’s soothsayers fared with their predictions.
In politics, East Side Council Member Jessica Lappin was right in predicting that the Democrats would take over the State Senate in 2008, though that prophecy was short-lived, as three rogue Democrats have refused to back State Sen. Malcolm Smith as majority leader.
West Side Council Member Gale Brewer, Fox 5 news anchor Ernie Anastos and Cristyne Nicholas, CEO of Nicholas and Lence Communications, foresaw President Hillary Clinton (or at least a New Yorker in the White House). After a contentious Democratic primary, Illinois Senator Barack Obama emerged the victor and trounced Republican John McCain.
New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro thought New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas could weather the bad season and bad press. But on April 18, after finishing the season 23-59, Thomas was fired.
Comptroller Bill Thompson was right on the mark when he said tourism will remain a bright spot in the city’s economy. Last week, it was reported that about 47 million people visited the Big Apple in 2008, surpassing last year’s record by about a million. —Dan Rivoli
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