Saturday, January 3, 2009
Ten years ago, "Swami Sam'' dusted off his crystal ball for the first forecast while the world anxiously awaited the Y2K scare.
Was this the end?
Not by a long shot.
We didn't wake up to falling airplanes Jan. 1, 2000 - just embarrassed "experts'' who overcalculated our panic entering the next millennium.
A decade later, no one looks up during a down economy. Here's how I see the next 12 months (with subject foot-in-mouth quotes provided by me).
- January: If I hit just one pick, let it be college football. The "Sooner Schooner'' tramples the Gators as Oklahoma whips Florida for the mythical national championship. Florida fans are insufferable enough without their team adding a second BCS title in three years.
- February: Double-murder defendant Fred Cooper, facing a jury that isn't squeamish about applying the death penalty, is convicted in Pinellas County of killing Gateway couple Michelle and Steven Andrews. Judge Thomas Reese adds the final touch: "May God have mercy on your soul.''
- March: Boston owner John Henry rewards commissioners Ray Judah, Tammy Hall and Bob Janes for their new stadium votes with green Red Sox uniforms for a St. Patrick's Day game with the Twins. County manager Don Stilwell, inspecting the package for his uniform, finds a bill instead. "Imagine that,'' he mutters. "The Red Sox charged us for the uniforms.''
- April: Florida Gulf Coast University President Wilson Bradshaw, fresh from reversing his ban on Christmas decor, pulls out his shotgun and shoots a rabid rabbit on campus Easter morning. "Relax!'' says the prez. "It's not like I killed the Easter Bunny.''
- May: Talk about man bites dog, here is a news shocker: An FGCU female professor reverses a university trend by sexually harassing a male student. FGCU fired instructor Carl Wood on Dec. 15 after a female student/employee claimed Wood kissed her and repeatedly touched her thigh. Earlier, the school suspended instructor Jeffrie Jinian and associate professor David Lounsbury with pay after multiple female students filed allegations of sexual harassment against them.
- June: Lee schools superintendent James Browder says sayonara to the cash-strapped district, collects his $341,600 severance and drives his gold-plated golf cart into the sunset. "Dang right I'm outta here,'' says Jimbo. "Nothing I'd rather do than hit that little white ball.''
- July: Double-dipper Ken "Why Am I Working?'' Wilkinson decides six months on the job is plenty after being re-elected property appraiser. "You need my $142,239 salary more than I do,'' he tells the county. "My $9,037 pension and $588,081 accrued DROP payments will keep me in my river penthouse forever.''
- August: Lee commissioner Brian Bigelow and school board member Bob Chilmonik, both mavericks when it comes to voting, announce they are the same person. Think about it. Have you ever seen them together?
- September: Sheriff Mike Scott says moving prisoners to a new jail facility is like going from a Motel 6 to a Hilton. Inmates agree, yet aren't happy with their new digs. "What happened to all the rats and roaches?'' asks a chubby prisoner. "This joint kills our diet. I love rat under glass and barbecued roach legs.''
- October: County Manager Don "Don't You Know Who I Am?'' Stilwell, seeking a substance to rival his stubbornness, fills in a pond on his property with concrete. "It will last longer than water or dirt,'' says Stilwell, winking at a code enforcement officer.
- November: County spring training consultant John Yarbrough averts a total baseball boondoggle - building an $80 million Red Sox stadium in South Lee - by luring the Baltimore Orioles to play in Fort Myers' vacated City of Palms Park in 2012.
- December: It's midnight Dec. 31, and 2009 county firstborn Jaymes Kristofer Blaine Huston of Lehigh Acres is 13 minutes from his first birthday.