Tom Clyde: Predictions for a better year
With the door firmly closed on 2020, I think we can safely say that 2021 will be a better year. It’s a very low bar. The high point of 2020 at my house was finding a replacement battery for the Roomba. 2021 ought to be able to match that. Because it’s the holidays, and nothing is happening around here, it’s a good chance to look forward and put a few predictions on the table for the coming year.
Despite a messy couple of weeks, Biden will be sworn in as president as scheduled. After a thorough fumigation, he will move into the White House to discover that Trump took all the silverware. The ceremonial vote by Congress to accept the Electoral College results next Wednesday will probably be a train wreck, but it will happen. The inauguration, which is already scaled back because of the plague (oh, yeah, that didn’t go away on New Year’s Eve), will probably be met with protests by Trump True Believers. But it will happen.
The Senate run-off election in Georgia is next Tuesday. No matter what happens, the results will surely be contested and the makeup of the Senate will remain unresolved for months by recounts and lawsuits. Nobody will care.
By February, Biden will have settled into a Twitter-free administration that will be incredibly boring. The nation won’t wake up each morning fearing that an overnight tweet has shocked the stock market into a thousand-point move, or have Canadian tanks poised at the border. Government offices will be staffed by competent people who are unlikely to steal the office supplies.
Rachel Maddow, who has chronicled the Trump administration nightly with steam blasting out both ears, breathlessly reading the Trump appointee indictment du jour, will have a difficult time filling her hour. The Biden administration will be that dull. “Federal Agency Performs Adequately” is not a headline you can turn into an hour-long cable news show. By March, Rachel will have changed the format of the show to include lengthy segments on cooking, pet grooming and fly-tying. Fox News will suffer a ratings plunge when they learn that nobody cares about Hunter Biden and Jared Kushner forming a nefarious business partnership. Sean Hannity will teach the nation to crochet.
Speaking of television, the most popular new show of the season will be “Maury Dornbush, CPA.” It’s sort of a spin off from the NCIS series, only it will be all about forensic accounting looking at Trump’s taxes.
The vaccine is being distributed, though not smoothly. Logistics is always the hard part. There are 118.5 million people in line ahead of me. In December, we vaccinated about 3 million people. At that rate, my turn will come up in early 2024. Even if they get it figured out, there are a lot more home haircuts ahead. I’m not getting any better at it.
The drought that left us withering last summer, and skiing on ribbons of man-made snow this winter, will continue. Water supplies will be tight, and city officials will be forced to do the unthinkable — ask people to conserve water. Owners of multi-million-dollar houses will be expected to let their lawns turn brown, and wear a mask while doing it. The resulting mood will be unpleasant.
City government will continue to push forward on the arts and culture district because, you know, there must be some good reason for it. The anchor occupants are the Kimball Art Center and Sundance Institute, neither of which is ready to put up the millions of dollars it will take to build their new buildings. The whole premise of it seems doubtful.
In the end, they will “reimagine” the district and build a frozen yogurt stand, pay somebody to paint a mural on the side of it, and between the two, we have both art and culture without spending another $90 million, on top of the nearly $20 million already invested.
Summit County just set up its own transit district. County officials have been shoveling cash into the Park City Transit system for years, and feeling like they aren’t getting what they are paying for. The city’s system is designed to move skiers between hotels and the ski resorts, with local commuter service kind of a side benefit. The county wants to address the commuter demands in hopes of reducing traffic on local roads. So they have parted ways in what may be a messy divorce as they quarrel over who owns which bus.
The good news is that we will now have a choice of two buses to not ride. The world would be a better place if we would all abandon our cars and do our traveling around on a bus with 50 of our infectious neighbors. But it’s not going to happen. We have about 150 years of development on the ground that was based on people traveling individually by horse and then by car. Putting Western Americans on a bus is a fundamental cultural change that won’t happen in a single generation.
Whatever happens in 2021, it has to be an improvement.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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