Naples Daily News Predicts Top Stories of 2009
Naples (local), Florida (state) and US (federal) People Predictions from the editors of the Naples Daily News
What's YOUR predictions? --Ken
NAPLES — Like the rest of the world, Southwest Florida will have both eyes on the economy in 2009. With that in mind, the Daily News has its focus on these dozen people to shape the news in the new year:
BARACK OBAMA: With the country desperately seeking an answer to the slumping economy, the president-elect has been pitching an economic stimulus deal that could trickle down locally. Government officials in both counties have started identifying construction projects that might fit into the promised $800-billion plan.
GEORGE WASHINGTON: (The Dollar Bill) Is it just a recession or are we on the verge of a depression? The stock market most likely will not be able to survive another wild ride like ‘08. And old George might not ever be able to rebound to respectability. In the meantime, spending will come with tremendous trepidation.
JAMES BROWDER and DENNIS THOMPSON: The Lee and Collier school superintendents are in charge of local education’s future. But their ability to juggle finances will be put to the test in the coming year. The school districts are losing money from every revenue source. They also are losing students. This could result in the closing of schools and the elimination of any program that isn’t tied down to a state regulation or involves a football.
HOME BUYERS: Will they return in 2009? The prices are certainly becoming more attractive but will buyers wait for the onslaught of foreclosures to clear, hoping to get even better bargains? Either way, Realtors wait with great anticipation with shovels in hand, hoping to dig those “For Sale” signs off of front lawns.
BANKERS: They got billions in a government bailout. Now, will they be giving out loans? With foreclosures commonplace for struggling homeowners, bankers’ lending habits will be closely scrutinized.
TOURISTS: Local businesses cannot survive without them. Yet, with the disappointing dollar, will they be coming to experience Florida’s sunshine? The local economy depends on them, so the future of many businesses, especially the restaurants, will hinge on whether the tourists stay home or take flight this season.
KEVIN RAMBOSK: After 20 years with Don Hunter at the helm of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Rambosk will have big shoes to fill. Crime has decreased almost every year under Hunter. For Rambosk, dealing with a budget crunch may be a tougher task than catching bad guys.
On election night at her watch party at The Club House next to the Vineyards in Naples, Collier County School Board seat winner Julie Sprague makes her acceptance speech before a crowd of excited supporters. Jennifer Whitney/ staff
JULIE SPRAGUE: Collier School Board’s newest member will hope to bridge the disconnect from the classroom and the district’s administration. With 30-plus years as a teacher, most recently at Gulf Coast High School, she will bring some much-needed education experience to a board polarized by politics. Can one make a difference though?
JIM MUDD: Collier County’s manager already has warned that there may be more staffing cuts in the coming year. The county saved $2.5 million in 2008 with 51 employees accepting volunteer separation. But with a projected revenue loss of 6 percent to 10 percent, Mudd may have to handle the axe himself.
A portrait of House Representative elect Tom Grady in his office in downtown Naples Thursday, September 25.
TOM GRADY: He didn’t face any opposition in replacing now-Florida Sen. Garrett Richter in a Florida House seat. He will get his first taste of the Legislature with a special session this coming week, dealing with the state’s $2.3 billion budget shortfall. He said his top three priorities are the economy.
BLOGGERS: The world gets its news from the Internet and they are the voice of the Web. They post comments. They send videos and photographs. They report the news. The New York Post says bloggers are out in 2009 but the Daily News says they will become an even greater force in journalism.