It’s time once again to dust off the old crystal ball, seeking some clear predictions for 2017 and beyond. Truth is some of these thoughts are less prediction than comment on our state of affairs. Here’s hoping you can discern one from the other.  

• A bipartisan group of state lawmakers will rebel against their parties’ leadership and be punished, but their action will help nudge state government toward adoption of a budget — maybe even a spending plan that covers two years — but not before the state suffers even more. Taxing retirement income over a certain level will be on the table.

• Images of Bloomington-Normal residents visiting Champaign-Urbana’s Portillo’s when it opens this spring will be found on Instagram and Facebook, the words “awesome” and “can’t wait” accompanying them.

• When alternatives to the “Mitsubishi Motorway” name are suggested, “Rivian Parkway” will not be among them.

• Speaking of new names, U.S. Cellular Coliseum will have one early in the new year.

• The Cubs will win the National League pennant — but not the World Series.

• There will be an unprecedented number of news leaks from within the Trump administration.

• Someone will suggest Bloomington and Normal follow some other cities with a special tax on sweetened beverages. Glad I like my iced tea unsweetened.

• Normal’s town council will liberalize its public comment rules.

• Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock will reach a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on corruption charges.

• The concept of Bloomington and Normal sharing (rather than competing for) sales tax revenue will be discussed in the upcoming city election campaigns. Nothing will be done and sales tax suspicions will start.

• I’ll be slow to comment on the Bloomington mayoral race since my daughter is active in the incumbent’s re-election campaign. However, I will predict candidate Ian Bayne, the provocateur who washed out of two local radio talk show gigs, will find minimal success in using the Trumpilian blueprint to garner media attention. He will instead rely on social media to coarsen the campaign (and survive the primary).

• Citizens will celebrate a reduction in federal income tax rates. Then some will realize they’ve lost important tax credits, exemptions and deductions.

• There will be an overflow of used cars on the market, vehicles originally sold to people with poor credit scores and recently repossessed — similar to, but not as damaging to, the economy as the housing bust that led to the Great Recession nine years ago. Auto loan delinquency for people with low credit scores has gone up for 10 straight quarters.

• The Keystone XL pipeline, running from Canada’s tar sands to Nebraska, will be approved.

• McLean County’s two current congressmen, Republicans Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood, will have to play a little defense, finding repeal of “Obamacare” more complicated and politically menacing than they thought. They’ll also feel pressure from state government leaders to ensure the state isn’t handed the task of taking care of the uninsured and under-insured.

• I’ll continue to be jealous of Peoria’s riverfront skyline, especially after dark.

• Donald Trump will provide a couple pleasant surprises for his adversaries and a couple deep disappointments for his supporters. In the end, he will not complete his four-year term as president.

• Americans will become more wary of fake news sites. Still, there will be far too many who search out sites to affirm themselves, rather than inform themselves.

• We’ll find our way through 2017, but it won’t always be easy.

Happy new year to you.

Vogel, of rural Bloomington, can be reached at


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