Why look back? Here’s what’s coming

The glut of retrospectives this time of year is unnecessary. With so many info sources these days, it is impossible to avoid knowing what has happened. Recounting the past is like organizing your closet.

Looking forward is more fun. From my top shelf, some 2012 month-by-month news notes:

January: Illinois tollway rates jumped Sunday to $1 for IPass-holders and $2 for cash-paying drivers. At least that is what an untold number of motorists believed was to happen after the state toll highway authority mistakenly put inflated rate hikes on electronic message boards at several suburban toll plazas.#147;Either these nuts are the most incompetent goofs yet or there is a major conspiracy,#148; said West suburban commuter-attorney Ken Unterberg, who pointed out the gaffe.It was neither, according to tollway official Wendy Abrams, who promises it was caused by a signage snafu.#147;Each of them has to be programmed individually and an error was made that caused the wrong rates to run on four of the signs for 18 hours#148; just before Thanksgiving.The increases at those formerly 40-cent toll booths rose to 75 cents for IPass users and $1.50 for cash payments.February: The big 2011 blizzard that resulted in hundreds of motorists being stranded on Lake Shore Drive and Mayor Richard M. Daley#146;s cabinet members being hung out to dry will be forgotten a year later.At the first sign of steady snowflakes in Oak Brook, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will activate the city#146;s emergency command center and phone books will be placed in his chair in anticipation of his arrival. When it starts snowing in Berwyn, the barriers will go up on Lake Shore Drive to prevent motorists from becoming castaways. By the time the ground is covered downtown, the mayor will pronounce #147;another disaster averted.#148; March: Former Illinois Gov. Milorad #147;Rod#148; Blagojevich will report to federal prison, no doubt with bloodshot eyes and scotch-scented breath from the substance-abuse problem he#146;s citing as a way into a special prison program.Shunning those who urged him to surrender at midnight #8212; away from the glare of TV lights #8212; Blagojevich will opt for a teachable moment.#147;I exposed people to magic, I exposed them to something they#146;re never otherwise gonna see in their boring, normal lives,#148; Blagojevich will say, ditching Kipling and instead quoting philosopher and comeback king Charlie Sheen. #147;I#146;m tired of pretending like I#146;m not special ... People can#146;t figure me out, they can#146;t process me. I don#146;t expect them to. You can#146;t process me with a normal brain.#148;April: As Chicago-area families get away for Easter and spring break trips, many will head to Midway Airport to avoid the congestion of O#146;Hare.Throngs of passengers will question that wisdom shortly after arriving at Midway. They will find themselves waiting in the security chute on the bridge over Cicero Avenue. And waiting. And waiting. During the Christmas holidays, some passengers reported standing more than an hour in security lines and barely making flights. The bridge, which acts like a funnel to security screening positions, seems able to handle moderate crowds. But the flow runs like a disposal on Thanksgiving when peak times hit. Perhaps the most infuriating part of the equation is the response from both public agencies that regulate Midway. Asked about the chronic Christmastime logjam, officials at the Chicago Aviation Department and federal Transportation Safety Administration maintain there were no irregularities in passenger screening efforts ... and that only normal waiting times were reported. May: The whole world will be watching when the leaders of the G8 nations huddle in Chicago followed by the NATO annual meeting. The world won#146;t care about the substance of the sessions as much as about the tantrums on the streets by anarchists and others who treat these political meetings as their own personal protest sites. The months of planning and training that were described, explained and repeated by Mayor Emanuel and his staff will be suddenly meaningless when the first images are broadcast of police lines clashing with columns of demonstrators. Police union leaders will decry the city#146;s preparation as woefully worthless, officers#146; protective equipment as inadequate and the department as outmanned by rioters. Unfortunately, when the tear gas clears, they will have been correct.June: The annual pilgrimage to Springfield amid a looming fiscal collapse will commence. Before the month is out, there will be threats of service cuts, threats of tax increases, threats of more service cuts and more tax increases. It will end with a short-term, last-minute agreement that will allow lawmakers to return to their homes to march in parades on July 4. This ritual is just one reason why we love Illinois. Next week: What to expect in July through December. May your best day of 2011 be your worst day of 2012.Ÿ Chuck Goudie, whose column appears each Monday, is the chief investigative reporter at ABC 7 News in Chicago. The views in this column are his own and not those of WLS-TV. He can be reached by email at and followed at and

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