If ever there was a year that set the stage for a new era in Maine history, it was 2010. But as the New Year dawns, pray tell, where exactly are we headed?

Here, along with a hearty wish for a Happy New Year, is my month-by-month sneak preview:

JANUARY: Gov. Paul LePage’s inaugural reception descends into chaos when A.J. Higgins, State House reporter for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, enters the receiving line with a life-size cutout of President Obama.

A furious LePage, breaking free of his handlers, puts his fist through the presidential cutout and tells Higgins to “Go to hell!”

Two hours later, LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt issues a “clarification” stating that the governor “meant to do it the other way around.”

FEBRUARY: Three months after a Republican tide swept through Maine’s halls of power, the veil is lifted on the LePage administration’s “gimmick-free” two-year budget to take effect on July 1.

Among the changes: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families vouchers henceforth will be paid in “AugustaBucks,” worth 75 cents on the dollar at all retail outlets in Maine. Except for Marden’s Surplus Stores, where they’ll be worth $1.50.

MARCH: State Archivist David Cheever discovers a large cache of unused governmental red tape in the sub-basement of Maine’s Cultural Building. The Maine Business Association Roundtable calls for the immediate destruction of what it calls “the mother of all smoking guns.”

Cheever, State Historian Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., and members of the recently disbanded Board of Environmental Protection plead that at least a small portion of the red tape be preserved “for posterity.”

APRIL: To honor the second anniversary of the national tea party movement, members of Maine Refounders overwhelm a depleted Capitol Police force just before dawn on April 15 and raise the Australian flag over the State House.

When a member of the media gently reminds them that the tea party is rooted in Austrian rather than Australian economics, a Maine Refounders spokeswoman responds, “Wait which one has the kangaroo courts?”

MAY: Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Burt’s Bees and owner of much of northern Maine, prohibits black flies from trespassing on her thousands of acres of pristine forest. In retaliation, the Maine Blackfly Breeders Association declares an “entomological jihad” against the Quimby Colony, an urban artist-in-residence program in Portland.

“We’re out for blood,” warns an unsigned posting on the Blackfly Breeders’ website (www.maineblackfly.org).

JUNE: In the waning days of the 125th Maine Legislature’s first regular session, a coalition of progressive Democrats marches from the State House to the Maine Human Rights Commission, seeking whistleblower protection before releasing a lengthy list of alleged wrongdoings by Republicans.

Upon arriving, however, the Democrats find a sign on the commission’s door advising, “Closed. Tell It to the Judge.”

JULY: Proponents of a racino in Biddeford announce they have retained the services of political consultant Dennis Bailey to advance their project in the face of heavy opposition from, well, anyone who doesn’t live in Biddeford. Bailey, recently sacked as the head of CasinosNo!, is simultaneously named executive director of CasinosAwWhatTheHeck!

AUGUST: The Maine Windjammer Association threatens legal action after the Mighty Megawatt, a 120-foot vessel owned by former Gov. Angus King and powered by a large, state-of-the-art wind turbine, steals a 20-knot southwesterly wind from the schooner Victory Chimes off the coast of Rockland. Mighty Megawatt skipper Kurt Adams, formerly chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, breezily denies any impropriety.

SEPTEMBER: Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley tenders her resignation after the Republican-controlled Legislature passes an amendment to the Maine Constitution, subject to approval by voters, that would append the phrase “We’re just sayin’” to all court decisions involving social services, education and the environment.

In a rare Labor Day press conference, Gov. LePage nominates Pete “The Carpenter” Harring of Standish to fill the vacancy on the state’s highest court. Notes LePage, “Pete the Carpenter is awesome at framing issues.”

OCTOBER: Lauren LePage, special assistant to the governor’s chief of staff, is named honorary chairwoman of Hook-ME-Up, a public-private partnership campaign to keep young college graduates from fleeing Maine.

In addition to the first annual statewide “Bring Your Kids to Work (and Pay Them!) Day,” the younger LePage vows to replace the 73-year-old “Maine State Song” by Roger Vinton Snow with Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family!”

NOVEMBER: Rosa Scarcelli finishes a distant third in the hotly contested race to become Portland’s first popularly elected mayor, but ultimately wins the election after an overwhelming number of voters choose her “second” under the city’s new ranked-choice voting system.

Scarcelli steadfastly denies any involvement, by her or any member of her immediate family, in the creation of two anonymous websites that targeted her leading opponents: “The Leeman Letters” and “Mavodones Musings.”

DECEMBER: Fighting breaks out between true believers and shameless heathens in Portland’s Monument Square with the arrival of the Portland Downtown District’s “Tree That Means Whatever The Hell You Want It to Mean.”

Responding to an emergency request by newly installed City Manager Godfrey Wood, Maine Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Bill Libby deploys an infantry platoon to secure the square’s perimeter while soldiers from the 133rd Engineer Battalion hurriedly erect the stately blue spruce, donated by a half-Christian, half-agnostic family from Portland’s West End.

Libby, after telling the mob that his troops are “only on a peacekeeping mission,” later retreats under a fusillade of candy canes after refusing repeated demands that the Guard officially take a side in the “War on Christmas.”

And so it begins …

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

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