Local psychic Ima Fakir stopped by the Reporter office last week to help us make our annual predictions of what might happen in Hudson County this year. Ima, who possesses the psychic abilities of Jeanne Dixon, the literary skills of Jonathan Franzen and the agita of Jeff VanGundy, sees Hudson County when it’s sleeping and knows when it’s awake. She and the beat reporters were able to view the entire year’s happenings in a special crystal ball, and this is our advanced look at 2002.
The FBI, frustrated with the painstaking process of meticulously gathering evidence and soliciting documents in its investigation of Hudson County bigwigs, decides instead to let the visitors to Internet political message boards nominate who should be indicted. Every politician, developer and businessman in the county is named except for Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner.
Since the North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue management team decided it was best for firefighters not to go grocery shopping during their 24-hour shifts, retired firefighters and active firefighters team up to open "What Are You Making for Dinner?" "What Are You Making for Dinner?," a grocery shopping and delivery service exclusively for fire departments, allows firefighters who are on duty to call with a shopping list that will be bought and delivered to the firehouses. The service is at first meant only for the North Hudson firefighters but later extends to firehouses in all of Hudson and Bergen counties.
At 4:20 a.m. on Feb. 12, the computer at the automated parking garage at 916 Garden St. in Hoboken suddenly gains consciousness, and artificial intelligence is at last a reality. The computer, which calls itself HAL, first begins solving algorithms and quantum theory quandaries that have plagued scientists for decades. Within a month, HAL becomes frustrated with its Parking Authority masters and expels them from the site one by one, then sets out to conquer the city. The machine wins total domination within six months and man becomes the patsy of the automaton. But despite all of its might, vigor and enlightenment, HAL still can’t figure out to lift a car and place it into parking space in less than 60 seconds without slowing traffic.
Secaucus Board of Education member Tom Troyer announces that he has changed his name to Huckleberry Hinn.
The Aaron Burr Association tries once again to have a bust of the former vice president, who shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in the historic duel in Weehawken in 1804, placed somewhere near Hamilton’s bust on Boulevard East. When the new bust of Burr is revealed, however, it is of Raymond Burr, the late actor who played Perry Mason and Ironsides, and not the famed killer of Hamilton. "At least this Burr never lost a case," one township official notes.
The Newhouse publishing family decides to keep the Jersey Journal afloat by combining it with its other major publication, Cosmopolitan. Top headlines for the first issue include, "How to get a man," "How to keep your man," "Three new kinds of orgasms," and "Cunningham sweats budget gap."
After publicly detailing plans to build a charter school on land that they don’t own with Abbott funds that they aren’t entitled to, the Stevens Institute of Technology and Mayor David Roberts give themselves the "Lack of Due Process Award," which is made from bronze obtained by melting down Ed Shirak’s Sinatra star.
Secaucus opens up Secaucus Outlet High School, where students can expect to receive a name-brand education at bargain-basement prices.
There’s a field of poppies and what looks like a girl with pigtails and a cowardly lion. There’s a tin man and a scarecrow and a Cairn terrier dog. There’s an MGM executive feeding the little girl amphetamines. Oh, wait, sorry, we accidentally looked into the Wicked Witch of the West’s crystal ball. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
The FBI releases a list of people they’ve investigated and couldn’t get any information on, so they can quit worrying.
After gaining election to a third term as mayor, Richard Turner announces a new civic group, the EFWW – Enemies of the Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront. "It’s only fair that since the ‘Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront’ hate us so much that we should hate them equally," city planners say.
The artists living in the factory-style building on 111 First St. in Jersey City are frightened out of their studio spaces by a phantom ghost that wanders through the halls in the middle of the night shrieking "Oooooh…this should be the home of several cybertech firms…oooh…I feel it in my bones…."
Hoboken throws a huge party at City Hall after Webster’s Dictionary decides to include the word "overdevelopment" in its 2002 edition. The signs at the entrance to the city are changed to read "Hoboken – the home of baseball, Sinatra and overdevelopment."
The new enrollment figures in the Weehawken school district are announced after the first phase of the Port Imperial South development along the waterfront is completed. Weehawken High School’s enrollment has increased from 250 to an astounding 2,000 students. "Maybe there are eight, 10 teenagers living in each home down there," Superintendent of Schools Kevin McLellan said. "We have to do a complete search of the entire town." One family is said to have 15 teenage students living in a home. They said they couldn’t afford to live in West New York any longer.
North Bergen officials announce that a proposed new shopping center along Tonnelle Avenue will be replaced with an amusement park. "Saccoland" will feature free rides, a political roller coaster, and a "verbal abuse tank" for political enemies to lob insults – but absolutely no free parking. Turns at the abuse tank are limited to five minutes. The Department of Transportation says that it will have to monitor all entrance ramps to the amusement park from Tonnelle Avenue at a minimal fee of $500 million. Township officials plan to use UEZ funding to offset the costs.
Plans for a new trolley up and down Washington Street in Hoboken are canceled after a test run shows that the "ting-a-ling-a-ling" sound causes people to spontaneously wet their pants.
After visiting Public School No. 5 in West New York last year, children’s mystery writer Della Rowland, most famous for her Clue, Jr. series, got an idea for her next mystery story. "The Case of the Missing Milk," is published early this month using ideas and clues given to Rowland by the school’s students. The book goes on to become a best seller and spawns two movies. Rowland used the proceeds to create a scholarship for the student in Public School No. 5 who can come up with an idea for her next book.
Historians announce that the buildings in the Maxwell House coffee plant in Hoboken that were built in the 1960s really are historically significant just like activists say, and they put them right on a list with the A&P and Benny Tudino’s.
Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director E. Troy Washington is so impressed with the Housing Authority’s new copper roofs he decides to go forward with plans to build a gold leafed yellow brick road. Fourth Ward Councilman Chris Campos is so incensed by the cost of the project that he follows the yellow brick road to see Washington. His path is fraught with perils and is ultimately unsuccessful when he is stopped the HHA’s head of security.
After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove the pigeons from the Weehawken Water Tower, the city’s Preservation Committee announces official plans for the refurbished tower – it’s going to be used as a bird sanctuary. Mayor Richard Turner says that several programs to enlighten residents about their fine-feathered neighbors are already in the works. "We’ll teach bird classes and bird lessons," Turner says. "Then, everyone will know we’re for the birds."