Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Tuesday -- but he wasn't the only one predicting six more weeks of gloom. Merced Mayor Stan Thurston peeked at Merced's financial skies last weekend and promised hard choices ahead. Thurston promised he'd make every attempt to protect firefighters and police officers in this year's budget, but the enigmatic executive refused to be pressed for details.
Don't get excited: More cuts could be coming, folks.
Like Bill Murray's character in the movie "Groundhog Day," we're gonna give you a budget prediction of our own: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be gray, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.
And with that dire forecast in mind, we thought we'd offer a few ideas about how Merced might make quick amends. Starting with couch cushions. The county's annual Spring Cleaning event is only months away, and we wonder how much loose change might be pulled out of all those discarded couches. Just think of all the nickels (and Cheetos!) that we might find wedged deep inside those scrapped sofas and lousy love seats.
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Or, consider Bear Creek. It's mostly dry right now, thanks to a nearly rainless winter, offering a rare opportunity to walk the creekbed with metal detectors and hope for the best.
If anything, Thurston & Co. could take a page from Merced's burgeoning scrap metal collection industry and haul all those discarded shopping carts dumped in the creek to a recycling yard in exchange for some quick cash.
And if none of those ideas work, we hear there's a Nigerian prince who's just waiting for someone to return his email.
Got ideas of your own? Post them in the comments section of this blog post.