Leon Worden

Predictions for the coming year

By Leon Worden
Wednesday, December 30, 1998

t's that time of year again, when everybody at The Signal makes some really silly predictions for the coming year. Fine, I'll go first.

So far my track record isn't too shabby. Last year I gave myself an above-average 68.5 points on a 100-point scale. That's the beauty of it: It's my column, so I get to keep score.

Here are the 10 things I said would happen in 1998, each worth 10 points:

1. California's next governor will be a Democrat. Bonus points if it's Dianne Feinstein. I'll take the 10. No bonus points.

2. Sen. Barbara Boxer, on the other hand, will lose. She won by a 53-43 percent margin, so she gets the 10 points. I get 0.

3. California voters will approve the bilingual education reform initiative by a 70-30 percent margin, give or take 5 percent. When I'm good I'm damn good. California voters approved Prop. 227 by 70-30 in June. 10 points.

4. No new landfill and no new crosstown road in the SCV in 1998. 10 points.

5. The homeless shelter won't close on schedule. If it closes and reopens, it will be moved to a different location. Should have quit while I was ahead. It closed about a month after it was supposed to, but it reopened in the same location. Half credit: 5 points. (NEXT year it will reopen in a different location.)

6. Roberta Gillis will win a Signal Newsmaker award. 10 points. She won the "most controversial" Newsmaker award. And no, I had no inside knowledge when I wrote this.

7. Deputy D.A. Cynthia Ulfig will be appointed to fill the unexpired term of retiring Municipal Court Judge Keith Byram. This wasn't a slam-dunk by any stretch. 10 points.

8. The local Republicans will screw up again and run four people for three City Council seats. It won't matter: Three of the four (Darcy, Ferry, Weste and Smyth) will win anyway. Bonus points if Marsha McLean finishes fifth and the rest of the pack trails. Right on. Darcy, Ferry and Weste won, Smyth finished fourth, McLean was close behind in fifth and the rest of the pack was way back. 10 points plus the 5-point bonus.

9. The City Council election turnout will be a high 16.5 percent, plus or minus 1 percent. I was going out on a limb, predicting an above-average turnout in the face of a downward trend. Reality was weirder. We had an 18.6 percent turnout thanks to a good absentee drive from the city, Ferry and Weste. I'll take the goose egg.

10. John Boston will ride his horse naked in the Fourth of July Parade. J.B. let me down. He was supposed to ride his horse. It was supposed to be naked. Instead he drove The Signal's float, the bum. 0 points.

Wish I'd predicted a CIF championship for Hart like I did the year before, when it didn't happen. No matter. My record is intact at 70 points, factoring in the half-credit for the homeless shelter and the bonus points for Marsha McLean (thanks, Marsha).

As for the year ahead, I could say something about Y2K or the opening of Central Park and the Jan Heidt Metrolink Station (or whatever) in Newhall, but that would be too easy ...

1. The Senate will not remove Bill Clinton from office.

2. The Dow Jones industrial average will top 10,000 by June. Contrarily, high-flying Internet stocks will see a correction early in the year.

3. By this time next year, a Republican woman will be a real contender for president.

4. A Nordstrom deal will be signed. Bonus points if it's for less than $20 million.

5. Auto Row will capture a higher percentage of SCV car buyers. (Note to self: autos count for about 32 percent of current sales tax revenues, and only 53 percent of SCV car shoppers buy locally.)

6. Whittaker Corp., proponent of the Porta Bella project, will be bought out, probably in a hostile takeover.

7. No new landfills or crosstown roads again this year. (Copper Hill doesn't count and the Golden Valley extension might be in the works but it won't be started.)

8. Frank Ferry will be appointed to a seat on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.

9. At least one of the two 18-hole public golf courses in Sand Canyon will open in 1999.

10. The Santa Clarita Repertory Theatre will stage performances in downtown Newhall. The Canyon Theatre Guild will have a new home there, at least on paper. Bonus points if they're already performing in Newhall by year's end.

One bonus prediction that doesn't count against me if it's wrong:

11. SCOPE leaders Mike Kotch and Lynne Plambeck will announce their intent to marry.

    Leon Worden is The Signal's business editor.

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