Census, terrorism will be big stories in 2010

It’s finally over, nasty, bitter and rancorous 2009, and good riddance.

That’s the good news. The better news?

If you liked ‘09, you are going to positively swoon over 2010.

With that in mind, Here are tomorrow’s story lines today, the quickly forgotten skirmish over the census, sparked by the Obama administration’s plans to run the decennial headcount from the White House instead of the Commerce Department, will explode into a full-scale battle.

Last February, President Obama asked a Republican senator, Judd Gregg, to head the Commerce Department, apparently keeping from Gregg the news that he would do nothing of actual importance, other than head up efforts to make sure that nothing got too commercial.

When Gregg found out that he was getting a La-Z-Boy complete with electrodes designed to fry his political career, he demurred.

Obama opted for a lock in the form of a guy named Gary Locke and got his nomination through. Since then, no one has heard of Gary Locke. Then again, no one has heard of Judd Gregg, either, so it’s hard to say who came out on top.

Locke’s anonymity will change when Locke has to defend the census counting methods from critics, who will contend that the count will be skewed to enhance Democrats’ political fortunes at the expense of Republicans.

Last time around, the Clinton administration wanted to apply statistical massaging to the count so as to achieve the same thing. That also prompted a big fight. It will be nothing compared to the 2010 edition.

Expect Republicans to sue the Obama administration over its headcount methods — once, of course the transparent Commerce Department explains to Congress its plans. Expect that to happen about March 25, a full week before the April 1 census.

The national headlines over the census will have local political consequences, as well. Expect the 3rd Congressional District to be a flash point of the political shenanigans that follow the census. The 3rd CD includes most of western Colorado and much of the state’s south side, running eastward up to and including part of Pueblo County.

Republicans hold a slight voter-registration edge in the 3rd, something that won’t survive if Democrats still hold the Legislature after the November elections. We know that because Republicans will tell us that in their campaigns. If Republicans get hold of the Legislature, look for them to find ways to boot out Democrat John Salazar through the Legislature if they fail at the ballot box. We know that because Democrats will tell us that in their campaigns.

Either way, the partisan nature of Colorado politics in a redistricting frenzy will make the pon-farr mating ritual of Vulcan look like Sesame Street.

Speaking of Colorado politics — and why not? — expect Gov. Bill Ritter to take note of the Mesa County Commission declaring Mesa County “open for business” and declare, “Oh, yeah? Well Colorado’s even open-er.” That’s the kind of one-upmanship we’ve come to love from the Front Range.

Not to be forgotten, the Legislature will discover that, due to some misleading statements by former Democrat Kathleen Curry of Gunnison, it completely screwed up and never intended to charge so much to register vehicles. Send any mail to her at the state Capitol, no need to bother us. And no, we’re not sending out refunds.

The one storyline you won’t see, and will wish you would, is the appointment of Jasper Schuringa to head the Department of Homeland Security replacing the ill-fated and best-forgotten Janet “Napalm-atano” Napolitano. Shuringa is the Dutch citizen who was aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day. He attacked and subdued would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Schuringa might have no executive experience, no political aspirations and might not even want the job, but he at least knows that a guy trying to light his own crotch on fire in a jet at 30,000 feet is something to be taken seriously and dealt with.

There’s little evidence anyone in the Obama administration now feels the same. That, too, is a storyline you’ll see in the coming year.


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