Some impetuous predictions

This seems like a good time to go out on a limb

“Never make predictions, especially about the future,” the great Casey Stengel once advised, so it’s with some trepidation that the CN&R this week offers its annual Who to Watch issue, in which we spotlight local people who we think will be in the public eye in 2012.

In that spirit of recklessly going out on a limb, I’m going to venture some predictions of my own. I’ll revisit them in this space a year from now to fess up to my foolishness.

I’m writing on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the day of the Iowa caucuses and the official start of the 2012 presidential race, so I may as well begin at the top. Here I agree with that peerless pundit, Robert Reich, who has predicted that Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination, that he will select Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as his running mate, that Barack Obama will pick Hillary Clinton to be his vice-presidential candidate, and that Obama-Clinton will win “hands down.”

Why Rubio? Because, as Reich says, he’s a young, conservative evangelical Christian who will appeal to the Republican base but also happens to be Hispanic, which (supposedly) will make him attractive to Latinos. Why Clinton? Because she will re-energize the Democratic base that’s been disappointed by Obama’s centrism and conciliation toward Republicans. Why “hands down”? Because Romney wants to go backwards, and backwards won’t work.

In California politics, it’s going to be another gloomy year financially, with a budget shortfall of about $13 billion. The key question, then, is whether voters will approve some kind of tax hike in November. If Gov. Jerry Brown is able to scare off some competing tax measures and get his tax proposal on the ballot, I predict it will pass—though I may be thinking wishfully.

The new revenues would be targeted toward education, something voters support. And I think also that they are beginning to realize that all the painful spending cuts need to be balanced out by some new revenues or the state’s going to continue going down the tubes.

Locally, three seats will be up for grabs on the Chico City Council. My prediction is that Jim Walker will be re-elected easily and Bob Evans, who was appointed to fill an empty seat, will win his bid for a full term. The only question mark is Andy Holcombe—will he run again after two terms? My guess is no, but I hope I’m wrong.

New year, new look: Readers will notice some changes in our Newslines section this week. After more than 25 years of snaking the stories through the section, each one beginning where the last one ended, we’ve given each its own defined space.

Now, each story begins at the top of a page and ends at the bottom of one. We like that. It’s neater. Also, the new format enables us to use two-deck headlines, which offer more information than the old single-deck heads.

What do you think of the new design? I’d like to know.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.