Many columnists want to do a year-end thumbsucker this week, with a choice of two potential formats. One is to ponder the year that has passed and draw lessons from its triumphs and disasters.

The other is to look ahead and predict what might (or could, or even should) occur as the calendar flips over.

You’d think that would be the more courageous option, except that by the time the end of 2011 rolls around, everyone will have forgotten 2010’s predictions and the supposedly fearless columnist can commit the same folly all over again. That’s enough to swing the balance to a list of what could possibly happen in the year to come:

Sometime in the next few weeks, after Paul LePage is inaugurated as governor and moves into the Blaine House, he will be crossing the street to the State House for a meeting and, to save time, will not go to the corner crosswalk but dash across the middle of the block.

Horrified witnesses will call the media, and the front pages and TV news shows will devote a week to the “LePage Scofflaw Jaywalking Scandal,” with outraged liberals writing tons of letters to the editor wondering how such a lawless person could possibly have been elected to lead our great state.

After all the participants have had their quota of fun, the fuss will die down, but it will be reignited a couple of weeks later when LePage is spotted carelessly dropping a gum wrapper on the sidewalk, producing bulletins saying, “Governor Destroys State’s Environmental Quality of Life.”

In response, the governor will propose a law to adopt the language standards of Quebec, calling it his “Good Neighbor” policy (“De bon voisinage”).

After it passes, all business and municipal signage must be in French, as must be all school classes and all commercial and governmental transactions.

Oh, and all news reports, too.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center, which may have lost most of its referendum campaigns but it only had to win one gubernatorial race to prevail, will become the state’s newest franchise operation.

It will open storefront offices all over the state where representatives can influence local officials to govern in a fiscally responsible manner.

The officials will be counseled that requests for more money from Augusta to balance their municipal budgets will henceforth be rated on a three-point scale: 1) No; 2) Hell No; and 3) Are You Guys Out of Your Potato-Pickin’ Minds?

The Maine Municipal Association will respond by issuing guidance to its members on converting road-paving budgets to cost-saving regionalized purchases of tar and feathers.

Wind power will get a new boost when every former governor, legislator and state employee acquires a franchise to build turbines in any corner of the state and its coastal waters, with state and federal subsidies capped at a mere 200 percent of the cost.

After every square inch of available land and ocean is developed, more turbines will be attached to huge balloons and carried aloft to take advantage of higher-altitude breezes.

To assuage doubts that the turbines’ intermittent operation is actually providing “green” energy, the turbines will be painted a fine shade of chartreuse with an decorative overlay of hundred-dollar bills.

Legislators will arrive in Augusta with their party affiliations discernible from their initial reactions.

Democrats will at first automatically sit in the chairman’s seat at committee hearings and have to be reminded that their party is no longer in the majority. Crowbars will be made available in each chamber for the removal of recalcitrant members from those chairs.

Republicans, on the other hand, will stop staring at the floor and mumbling when asked for their views. They will slowly come to realize they no longer have to raise their hands to ask permission to use the rest rooms, and find they have to stifle chuckles when using (or merely hearing) the words “majority” and “minority” in a legislative context.

The first hint of the state’s new “business-friendly” attitude is provided when the fee for all the necessary permits to open or expand a commercial operation is reduced to $1.98 and applications are actually considered for approval the first time they are submitted, not the 392nd time.

Pressed for revenue, the state decides to enter the casino business itself, and installs slot machines in every corner convenience store currently offering lottery tickets, while changing its tourism slogan from “Maine, the way life should be” to “Three bars or three cherries!”

The state police are issued green eyeshades to replace their uniform caps and start giving out “scratch tickets” where offending drivers pick their fines by scraping the covering from one of a number of boxes. The practice gives the phrase, “You won the Megabucks,” a whole new meaning.

Funtown opens a new ride, the “Sugarloaf Chairlift Thriller,” with optional parachutes.

The residents of Portland unanimously pass a secession bill to separate themselves from Peaks Island after newly elected mayor Joe Bornstein makes it his top agenda item during his campaign.

Actor Robert Vaughn in fact receives more votes for mayor than Bornstein, but is disqualified when officials discover, to everyone’s surprise, that he is not a resident of the city.

Finally, readers of The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram actually will have a Happy New Year in 2011.

M.D. Harmon is an editorial writer. He can be contacted at 791-6482 or at:

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