Los Angeles Daily News, CA
Jan 1 2008


Our predictions for the new year

Article Last Updated: 12/31/2007 08:13:38 PM PST


The glass is half full

Tired of grappling with all of the turmoil and trouble in the world?
This year doesn't have to be so full of doom and gloom.

"As we leap into 2008 - a leap year - I believe people have a choice.
They can focus on the catastrophes, the down market, the
housing/mortgage crunch, the wind-driven fires that have marked
2007," said Westlake Village's Jackie Lapin, author of "The Art of
Conscious Creation, How You Can Transform the World."

"Or they can live in the belief that 2008 will bring abundance and
better times for themselves and our Valley community.

"If enough people choose to be optimistic and focus on the good that
will happen - and take action to contribute something positive to
2008 - I believe we'll have an incredible year."


The Sacramento squeeze

This year is expected to be an especially difficult one in
Sacramento, as state officials are facing a budget deficit of $14
billion that is expected to overshadow any new proposals.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he wants to work on education
reform, but analysts note that he still has several major lingering
issues remaining from 2007, including health-care reform and water
infrastructure.

"I think we are going to have a bad year," said Tim Hodson, executive
director of the Center for California Studies at California State
University, Sacramento. "This budget crisis is as daunting as we've
had in the last 20 years


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and the early signs are not positive.
"It will of course be resolved at some point, but at what price and
for how long will be the big question."


Turn off that TV

Get used to reruns and reality shows: The writers strike isn't likely
to end soon, and actors and directors may join them on the picket
lines.

"Jamie Lynn Spears may have had that baby and enrolled it in
preschool before she sees another script," said Robert Thompson,
founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular
Culture at Syracuse University.

Thompson also cautions that the current labor-management rift could
become a norm for the entertainment industry.

"We knew we had a state of anarchy and chaos, with technology
changing things so drastically and no one having a business plan. The
strike has forced everyone's hand - we have to make sense of all
this."


Little hope for housing

For the region's residential real estate market the outlook has been
almost as constant as the sales slide: There is a recovery on the
horizon, it's just the timing that's blurry.

Initially analysts expressed optimism a turnaround would blossom
around the middle of this year. Now that's been pushed back to 2009
and possibly 2010.

"We've read this story for most of 2007 and the economy has pretty
much lived up to our expectations, as bad as they were," said Ryan
Ratcliff, a UCLA Anderson economist.

"This slower job growth is still not enough to create a recession and
that's been an element of our forecast for two years now."


Can Torre turn it around?

As the Dodgers celebrate the 50th anniversary of their move to Los
Angeles, the move that could mean the most for them this year is
their addition of manager Joe Torre.

"Having grown up in Brooklyn, I have a great understanding of the
history of the Dodger organization," the 67-year-old Torre said, "and
I am committed to bringing a world championship back to Los Angeles."


Torre, who ranks eighth on the all-time list of managerial victories
with 2,067, takes over a team that stumbled to a fourth-place finish
last season in the National League West as a split developed in the
clubhouse between the veteran players and youngsters.

"He embodies all the values that define the Dodgers at their best,"
Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully said.


Los Angeles budget woes

At Los Angeles City Hall, the tone for the year will be set early as
voters will decide Feb. 5 on a measure to keep the city's
telephone-users tax in effect.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council are placing all their
plans for the coming year on the fate of the measure.

"It will be a disaster if it doesn't pass," Villaraigosa said in a
year-end interview.

And, it will be only the first budget issue. The city is facing a $75
million shortfall and the mayor has already threatened an 8 percent
cut in city spending.


Rising stars?

George Clooney as the vice presidential nominee on Barack Obama's
ticket? A Whitney Houston comeback?

Show-biz New Year's predictions are getting wackier and wackier.

Just ask LA.com celebrity columnist Joel Stratte-McClure, who
imagines 2008 will see Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears
and Kiefer Sutherland becoming biz partners in a chain of
alcohol/drug rehab centers, complete with drivers on call. Driver's
ed classes would be offered for an additional $10,000 a month.

Stratte-McClure also predicts Barry Bonds will be cleared and will
star in a remake of "Blow-Up."

And the Spears sisters will be ordered to give lectures on birth
control on PBS.


The real test at LAUSD

After years of jockeying for power and reforms at Los Angeles
Unified, Superintendent David Brewer III, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa,
the school board and teachers union will have to finally show whether
they can make their ideas work.

Raphael Sonenshein, a political science professor at California State
University, Fullerton, said this year will reveal whose vision is
going to shape the district and whether it's going to make a
difference in student achievement.

"This is the year where we're going to find out how well the mayor's
reform plan works, whether the superintendent can consolidate his
role as superintendent and find the allies he needs to do this in the
long-term and we're going to really find out who carries the mantle
of reform at LAUSD. That's the nut up for grabs," Sonnenshein said.

"You have to think 2008 is the year for real changes to happen."


And don't expect Congress to change

If you thought Congress didn't do much in 2007, just wait until this
year. With all eyes on the campaign trail, the presidential elections
in November are likely to overshadow just about everything in
Washington.

And bipartisanship? Completely out the window in an election year.

That's not to say the House and Senate don't have significant work
ahead of them. Lying in wait for both this year is completion of a
farm bill setting federal policies for dozens of crops; the renewal
of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, set to expire in
February; and a number of climate change bills that have been moving
through committees.

On the California front, the Senate is expected to pass and move to
President Bush's desk legislation expanding the Rim of the Valley.

Meanwhile, Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. Barbara Boxer have vowed to
investigate the EPA's decision to deny California a waiver for
enacting its landmark emissions law and Rep. Adam Schiff is likely to
again push his legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

But it also means that while Americans can expect to hear endlessly
from candidates about major issues like stem cell research and
immigration, they shouldn't expect much action.


Death Valley days

Following the driest weather season in history, Southern California
can expect a third less rainfall for 2008, weather forecasters say.

A cool La Ni a in the equatorial Pacific Ocean could portend less
than 10 inches of rain - and a greater chance of dry Santa Ana winds.


"La Ni a is the diva of drought, one of the most reliable
predictors," said Bill Patzert, climatologist at the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in La Ca ada Flintridge.

"You'll have more Santa Anas if you have less rain. The fire danger
is still high."


Political musical chairs

It will be a year of politics and positioning for a number of Los
Angeles officials.

For Councilman Bernard Parks, it is pursuing his effort to move up to
the Board of Supervisors, which will be a hotly contested race
against state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas to succeed Supervisor Yvonne B.
Burke.

Positioning themselves for future elections are Council members Wendy
Greuel and Jack Weiss.

Greuel wants to follow in the footsteps of Controller Laura Chick,
who is termed out of office, while Weiss is seeking to succeed City
Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who is also facing term limits.


A new PGA star?

Anthony Kim is brash. And he's bold.

And if you're looking for a golfer not named Tiger to keep on eye on
this year, then the 22-year-old out of Studio City just might be the
one.

Kim gave the golf world a bit of a jolt when he finished in a tie for
second in his first PGA Tour event, the 2006 Texas Open.

He followed that with a solid rookie campaign, finishing 60th on the
tour's money list in 2007 with earnings of more than $1.5 million.

Kim recently was named one of the top 20 players in their 20s by
PGATour.com.

"There's a guy out here that I really admire, Anthony Kim, who's got
great potential," Colin Montgomerie said during the Target World
Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in December. "I think that that
will be his year, 2008, to come through."


Terrorism still a threat

Although the last major terrorist attack in the United States
occurred more than six years ago, University of California, Los
Angeles, professor Michael Intriligator says he expects another
attack in the next several years.

"I'm still very pessimistic and I think people are in a state of
complacency because we haven't had a major attack in some years,"
said Intriligator, a terrorism expert.

"I think they are very patiently preparing for such an attack and I
think it's coming," Intriligator said. "... and I think Los Angeles
is a potential target because we have by the far the largest port in
the country."

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