California Office Pool 2010

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

The late, great New York Times columnist William Safire made a habit of writing a year-end column he called Office Pool. In it, Safire offered, multiple-choice style, a series of possible news events that could take place in the year ahead. At the column’s end, he let you know which ones he thought actually would occur.

Safire’s focus was Washington, though he delved into culture and sports too. Reviving this tradition, here’s the California Office Pool. My picks are at the end. Be sure to make your predictions, and clip n’ save (or bookmark and save) so we can see how we did at the end of 2010.

1. The big, surprise California political controversy of 2010 will erupt over:
A. The California Supreme Court, when Chief Justice Ronald M. George unexpectedly retires, sparking a fight over his successor, and Associate Justice Carlos Moreno becomes a target of the Yes on Prop 8 crowd in the retention election.
B. The Board of Regents, who decide to raise UC tuition another 30 percent.
C. Jerry Brown, who loses liberals when he says, in a gubernatorial debate, that Prop 13 has been good for the state.
D. The late entrance into the governor’s race of an independent gubernatorial candidate, backed by the tea party people, who gains in the polls after raising millions on line.

2. The expected initiative war between business and labor…
A. will end in conservative triumph with the passage of “paycheck protection” and a stricter spending limit.
B. will end with liberal rejoicing at the weakening of the 2/3 rules for budget and taxation.
C. will end with only the political consultants celebrating (big commissions) after both sides spend tens of millions only to see all measures go down to defeat.
D. will fail to materialize, as both labor and business drop their initiatives for lack of cash.

3. The biggest upset at the Academy Awards will be:
A. Best picture going to Jane Campion’s “Bright Star”
B. The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner beating out George Clooney for best actor.
C. Mariah Carey’s nomination for her turn in “Precious.”
D. Bad boy Quentin Tarantino earning a best director nom for “Inglorious Basterds”
E. A new narrative – “Is Obama losing Hollywood?” – after the telecast features an unexpected run of jokes at the president’s expense.

4. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will shake up the race for his successor by…
A. enjoying a resurgence in popularity as economy recovers, forcing candidates to court him.
B. suggesting publicly it doesn’t matter who is governor since no human being on earth could work with the foreheads in the legislature.
C. helping his former finance director Tom Campbell raise millions for TV ads
D. quitting next summer to take a position in the Obama administration, leaving Abel Maldonado in charge.
E. crossing party lines to endorse Jerry Brown over AB-32 critic Meg Whitman in the general election.

5. The California professional football team to announce in 2010 that it’s moving:
A. The San Francisco 49ers, to Santa Clara
B. The San Diego Chargers, who head north to the City of Industry
C. The Oakland Raiders, who announce they’ll relocate to a soon-to-be-built Nevada stadium next to a prison so they’ll be closer to their fan base.

6. The happy surprise of the year in the state Capitol will happen when:
A. an unexpected surge in spring revenues eases some of the budget pain
B. Starbucks agrees to put a store in the basement
C. an unusually wet and snowy winter and spring dries up talk of drought (though it may undermine support for the water bond).
D. A measure to extend term limits, coupled with a few California Forward-advanced reforms, is approved by voters.

7. The California pro sports team to win a championship in 2010 will be:
A. The LA/Anaheim Angels, who rely on young pitching to knock off the Yankees.
B. The San Diego Chargers, who catch fire, upset New Orleans, and win the Super Bowl.
C. The Lakers, who surprise no one by beating the Celtics to repeat.
D. Hockey’s San Jose Sharks, who topple the Pittsburgh Penguins and bring the Stanley Cup home to the Silicon Valley.

8. By the end of 2010, the California unemployment rate will have
A. surged to 14 percent, as a double-dip national recession and more cuts take hold.
B. held steady around 12, as Northern California roars back to life but the Central Valley and Southern California continue to struggle.
C. declined to 10 percent, driven by a resurgence in world trade and real estate prices.

9. The California cultural figure who makes the biggest move in 2010 will be:
A. The writer Dave Eggers, who leaves McSweeney’s to take over the editorship of the New Yorker.
B. Film director Roman Polanski, who is extradited to LA to stand trial, only to cop a plea, pay a fine, and stay in town to star in a reality series on AMC.
C. Singer and conductor Placido Domingo, who leaves the financially troubled Los Angeles opera for greener pastures.
D. Sci-fi god Ray Bradbury, who talks his way onto that Branson spaceship.

10. The bid to call a California constitutional convention will…
A. fail to qualify for the ballot.
B. be delayed until 2012, while organizers declare 2010 and 2011 are for “more conversation.”
C. be successful, with a convention called for 2011.
D. result in the passage of an initiative constitutional amendment permitting the people to call a convention – and in the failure of a second initiative actually calling the convention, after the left and right team up to defeat it.

11. The number of budget deals the legislature and governor will reach in 2010?
A. 1
B. 2
C. 3 or more
D. Zero

My answers: 1 – A (Ca Supreme Court). 2- D (dropping for lack of cash). 3-C (Mariah Carey, though I’m rooting for Tarantino). 4-E (Arnold endorsing Brown). 5-B (Chargers to Industry). 6-A (spring surge in revenues). 7-D (Sharks win Cup). 8-B (unemployment steady). 9-A (Eggers to New Yorker). 10-D (split decision on convention initiatives). 11-B.

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