Secret weapon: Madame Hook and her 2006 predictions

A little known fact about the Hook: We keep a clairboyant on staff. Though we ask Madam Hook's opinion just once a year, her annual advice has proved invaluable (certainly well worth her six-figure salary!).

By donning her satin turban and gazing deep into her balls of crystal, she is able to ascertain facts that hard-nosed journalists would never in a million years unearth. Why, just last year, she predicted Coran Capshaw would move Fridays After Five to his Crozet Con-Agra plant and rename it "The Crozet Holler Hoedown," and that global warming would turn the Charlottesville Ice Park into the Charlottesville Wading Pool.

Clearly, she rarely misses the mark. Let's see how she scored with her other 2005 predictions.

Madame Hook's prediction: After assaulting at least eight women over as many years, the Charlottesville serial rapist will be brought to justice thanks to continued efforts by Charlottesville and Albemarle Police.

Outcome: No such luck. Though there was some buzz that an October sexual assault near UVA would be the break in the case, that lead disintegrated as the victim identified an innocent man, Christopher Matthew, who has since sued his accuser for defamation. In fact, the case of the serial rapist– who has not reared his ugly head since January 11, 2005– seems no closer to closure than it was this time last year. We'll keep our fingers crossed that 2006 will be the year he's brought to justice.

Madame Hook's prediction: As construction and road closures around Downtown drag on, and parking spaces disappear, cases of road rage near the Downtown Mall will increase.

Outcome: As predicted, projects like the Charlottesville Pavilion, the Transit Center, and the Holsinger condos have snarled traffic on Water Street and led to lengthier travel times on all the streets surrounding the Downtown Mall. Despite silly devices such as the portable traffic signal dubbed (we're not making this up) the Twaffic Tweety, Charlottesvillians have remained remarkably Zen about the whole thing. Strangely Zen, in fact, with nary a roadside dust-up in recent memory. Could it be that the city's public works folks have laced our water supply with Prozac? We'll check into it...

Madame Hook's prediction: The city will go to new extremes to force the removal of razor wire from Shirley Presley's Bland Circle backyard.

Outcome: It's a stand-off. Though Presley was victorious in Charlottesville District Court in 2004, with Judge Robert Downer ruling that her wire could stay, she wasn't satisfied. Following years of what she considers harassment by the City of Charlottesville, Presley sued the city for $1.5 million, alleging that she had been deprived of due process and that both the city and the Rivanna Trail Foundation conspired to cause people to trespass on her land. A federal judge threw out that case in October, and city officials have not announced any plans to rewrite the ordinance in another attempt to force Presley to remove her 30-foot stretches of razor wire.

An off-year for Madame Hook? Perhaps. But she was 100 percent right-on that there would be more traffic and less parking around Downtown, allowing our faith in her abilities to remain unshaken. So, without further ado, here are Madame Hook's predictions for 2006:

 *Republican City Councilor Rob Schilling and the NAACP continue to push for a ward system of electing the school board. Heated Council meetings ensue.

* Though Lee Danielson has abandoned his plans for the Hotel Charlottesville in the former Wachovia building on the Downtown Mall, a new developer steps forth to bring the property back to life with a national retailer on the ground floor.

*New UVA hoops coach Dave Leitao justifies his million-dollar salary by taking the Cavs to the "Sweet Sixteen." Sweet!

Just when we thought she was finished channeling the future, Madame Hook's eyes took on a strange glow and the balls of crystal seemed to throb. "Wait," she gasped. "There's more. I can hardly believe what I'm seeing!"


 *Following his triumphant October concert in Scott Stadium, Mick Jagger admits he felt like he'd come home. Not only will he move to Charlottesville in 2006, he'll ask David Brown to step down so he can run for mayor, à la Clint Eastwood. City Council meetings will never be the same.

*After the acclaim from his kid-friendly 2005 film debut, Because of Winn-Dixie, Dave Matthews bags his band and joins those loveable Aussie musical men, the Wiggles!

*Not content with getting busted for campaigning/trespassing at Shopper's World, eco-friendly candidate Rich Collins decides to chain himself to a North Anna nuclear reactor. But he does it from the inside and becomes a true Charlottesville "luminary."

*Eager to get in on the condo craze, UVA requires students to purchase their dorm rooms. Charlottesville's 25,000 real estate agents go wild.

*Charlottesville becomes so dog-friendly that in 2006, a canine-crazed cook opens The Barker Lounge, Charlottesville's first restaurant for dogs (and the people who love them). Reservations are required, and long lines form. Reclining while eating is optional.

*Brainstorming ways to bring attention– and money– to a "light rail" system, former mayor Maurice Cox invites Rice-a-Roni to relocate its headquarters to West Main Street and change its slogan to "the Charlottesville treat."

* To show their appreciation for the work done by Coran Capshaw on various projects in Charlottesville (okay, every project), City Councilors present him with the key to the city. But there's a problem: He uses it, and then locks the door behind him. Oops!

* The acrimony has clearly ended between public defender Jim Hingeley, Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Camblos, and Judge Paul Peatross, as the three are spotted braiding colorful "friendship bracelets" to exchange on the courthouse steps.

*Richard Spurzem snares Bloomingdale's for his new shopping center on Pantops. Take that, Belk!

*Faulconer Construction throws in the towel on its controversial Ivy storage yard, and instead builds a massive pig facility. To the property's neighbors, they smirk, "You reap what you sow. Oink Oink."