BARTH: Wait is over! Another year of predictions!

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ACCORDING to Merriam-Webster, here's the definition of clueless: "Completely or hopelessly bewildered, unaware, ignorant, or foolish."

As another year closed and a new one began, perhaps the bumbleheads heretofore known collectively as "Forecasters Anonymous" should consider adopting a new moniker, along the order of "Clueless Anonymous."

Just saying.

Based on a decades-long record of idiotic predictions for matters large and small, members surely have earned a name that matches their customary level of futility.

FOR THOSE who are newcomers to reading these annual forecasts, the group is comprised of individuals whose names are readily recognizable in the Stateline Area. There are leaders in industry, commerce, finance and more. Truth be told, many of us are getting kind of long in the tooth. Maybe that suggests the members don't know when to let go, or perhaps many younger people are smart enough not to join a group best known for its failures.

The workload is notably mild. Members gather once a year for lunch at an undisclosed downtown location, where they stuff their faces and congratulate each other on their great appetites if not their collective intellect. They review predictions made at the previous year's luncheon - always a humbling exercise - and then are asked to look out at the coming year and forecast what will happen. Questions range from politics to sports to business, looking at local, regional and national matters.

For some time, it has been my role to record and report these predictions. Not that I asked for the job. My longtime colleague Bill Behling filled the post for many years until he'd had all he could stand and died. I'm hoping to avoid that outcome awhile longer.

Besides, in this era of Fake News, having my name associated with this bunch surely does not burnish my reputation, and vice versa. There's no pay, either. And I have to buy my own lunch.

But the revenge tastes sweet, so without further delay ... predictions so cock-eyed wrong it explains why the group insists on anonymity.

AT THE end of December 2017, here are some of the things Anonymous believed would happen during 2018:

• All but unanimously, the group thought Scott Walker would be re-elected governor of Wisconsin. Tony Evers didn't get the memo.

• Will the School District of Beloit hire a superintendent from inside or outside? Uh, still working on that one.

• Will the Chicago Bears have a winning record? The strong consensus: Of course not. Lots of Green Bay fans in the room are discovering the view from the bottom, looking up at the Bears.

• Where will the Dow Jones average be at year-end? Maybe over 30,000! If only ...

• How much will a gallon of gas cost? Let's put it this way. If the Forecasters were right, you'd be spending over a dollar more per gallon at the pump.

• And we would have hailed the Patriots (not the Eagles) as Super Bowl champs, and the Cubs (not the Red Sox) as World Series champs.

• South Beloit would be building a new library and city hall complex. The voters felt otherwise.

• Donald Trump would rest easy as Republicans retained control of the House and Senate. Can the president say, "Speaker Pelosi" while dodging subpoenas?

• Just to prove the old blind squirrel finds an acorn theory, the group did predict Beloit Turner's facilities referendum would pass.

YES, I know, inquiring readers are quivering with anticipation to get the group's take on 2019. Here goes:

• The Ho-Chunk casino-resort plan will be approved by the feds and land on Governor Evers' desk.

• The city and Town of Beloit will not conclude a boundary agreement.

• The "Greek Freak" - Giannis Antetokounmpo - will be named MVP of the National Basketball Association.

• Trump will not be impeached, and he will not fire Mueller.

• Pam Charles will be re-elected school board president after April elections.

• Illinois will raise income taxes.

• New Orleans will win the Super Bowl; the Cubs will win the World Series.

• Gas will cost $2.45 a gallon next December.

• Rounds played will be up this year at Krueger-Haskell Golf Course.

• Republican senators will reject at least one Evers Cabinet nominee.

• At least one new firm bringing a minimum 100 jobs will pick Greater Beloit.

• And yes, Virginia, December 25 will arrive with a white Christmas.

THE LATE great Beloit jurist, Judge Edwin Dahlberg, was fond of saying, "The court may be in error, but never in doubt."

And so it is with Forecasters Anonymous, undaunted by past failures and ever optimistic about a new year filled with promise.

To all our friends and neighbors across the wonderful Stateline Area, on behalf of the aforementioned Forecasters, may your year be filled with good health, loving family ties and all of life's best things.

William Barth is the Editor of the Beloit Daily News.

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