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 would occur.

Safire’s focus was Washington, though he delved into culture and sports too. Here we do California Office Pool, for the third year. My picks are at the end. Last year I predicted the best picture Oscar and state unemployment figures, but got very little else right.

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 2012.

  1. At the end of 2012, the California legislature will…
    1. Be controlled by two-thirds supermajorities of Democrats in both houses.
    2. Have a two-thirds supermajority of Democrats in more than one house.
    3. Be constituted pretty much as it is today, with big majorities of Democrats, but no supermajority in either house.
    4. be a part-time body.

2. The biggest California political story of 2012 will be:

  1. A personal scandal that takes down one of the down-ticket executive officers.
  2. A massive earthquake or other natural disaster that temporarily ends partisan bickering.
  3. Bankruptcy filings by several California local governments.
  4. A string of high-profile crime by prisoners released on the order of the federal courts.
  5. The ballot fight over taxes


3. True or false: Controller John Chiang, with the power to cancel legislative pay if he deems a budget unbalanced, will be at the table during budget negotiations.


4. The Academy Award for best picture will go to:

  1. Martin Scorcese’s “Hugo” about mad movie love.
  2. Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants”, about mad Hawaii love.
  3. “Moneyball,” about mad basball love.
  4. The French silent film, “The Artist,” also about mad movie love.


5. In the November election, California voters will give the most votes to which tax-raising initiative:

A. Gov. Jerry Brown’s temporary income and sales tax increases.

B. Molly Munger’s income tax hike for local schools.

C. Tom Steyer’s corporate tax change to fund environmental programs.

D. The marijuana tax

E. A severance tax to fund higher education.

F. A Think Long initiative that cuts rates while establishing a sales tax on services.


6. The number of times Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters, who is brand new to Twitter, will tweet in 2012

A. 0

B 1-10

C. 10-50

D. 50-100

E. 100 or more


7. The California pro sports team to win a championship in 2012 will be:

A. The revitalized Los Angeles Clippers and Chris Paul, who beat back the Miami Heat for an improbable title

B. The San Francisco Giants, who bounce back from a disappointing 2011 to take the title from Boston Red Sox

C. Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers, who knock off the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl after a magical playoff run.

D. Hockey’s San Jose Sharks, who upset the defending champion Boston Bruins and bring the Stanley Cup home to the Silicon Valley

E. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and new free-agent star Albert Pujols, who hold off the Philadelphia Phillies for baseball supremacy.


8. By the end of 2011, the California unemployment rate will have

A. surged back above 12 percent, as the European Union’s troubles spark another national recession.

B. held steady around 11 percent, as housing foreclosures and the debt overhang keep the recovery slow.

C. declined below 10 percent, driven by growth in technology, trade and tourism.


9. In June, the new party Americans Elect will hold an online convention and choose as its nominees:

A. Hillary Clinton for president and David Petraus for vice president

B. Mike Bloomberg for president and Jon Huntsman for vice president

C. Ron Paul for president and Elizabeth Warren for vice president

D. Angelina Jolie for president and Jennifer Aniston for vice president


10. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein will win re-election with what percentage of the vote:

A. 50 percent or less

B. 51-55 percent

C. 55-60 percent

D. More than 60 percent


11. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will shock the political world by:

A. announcing he is Fabian Nunez’s real father.

B. casting Gov. Jerry Brown in one of his films.

C. endorsing President Obama for re-election over a Republican who runs against climate change regulation.

D. re-marrying.

MY ANSWERS: 1. C (legislature without supermajorities). 2. B (natural disaster). 3. True (Chiang will help negotiate the budget). 4. B (The Descendants wins the Oscar). 5. C (Tom Steyer’s corporate tax change) 6. E (Walters rocks Twitter) 7. C (The 49ers win Super Bowl). 8. B (unemployment holds steady). 9. B (Bloomberg-Huntsman ticket). 10. B (Feinstein, 51-55%). 11. C (Arnold endorses Obama).