Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
Many metaphorical cans will be kicked down the road in 2012. This is typical in government, where delay and ambiguity, under the right conditions, can be the elected official's best friend.
But several suspenseful questions are sure to be answered in the new year, and here are a few:
Spinning the wheel: Veolia Transportation is on track for a New Year's takeover of bus service in Nassau County, where the Mangano administration chose to hire the company rather than continue payments to the MTA. Presuming that the county executive's prediction of cost savings proves true, the key public question is whether service will be the same, better, or worse.
County officials are promising that routes will be maintained, fares stabilized and the system held more accountable than is currently the case. The system will continue to use MetroCards under an agreement with the MTA. Will the system under the new acronym NICE really work? If so, how so -- and will Nassau officials remain vigilant?
New adventures of new Steve: On the cusp of taking over as the new Suffolk County executive, Democrat Steve Bellone, the outgoing Babylon supervisor, left a lot open when asked recently how he may approach labor concessions, carry out policing and health care changes, and maximize revenue without increasing taxes.
How will he and the Suffolk Legislature balance the county's budget? What will be the mix of pain and strategy?
Mitt, or Mitt out?: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich of Georgia labels rival Mitt Romney the "Massachusetts Moderate." This is meant as a negative. But in New York, Romney at the top of the ticket -- in a key year for state Senate candidates -- might be strategically better for the GOP than, say, a rural rightist. At least that's how some Long Island Republicans seem to feel, with the party's chairmen in Nassau and Suffolk behind Romney as he faces the Iowa caucuses next week. Will Romney make it to the general election against President Barack Obama?
He walks the line: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo promised in his 2010 campaign to "veto any redistricting plan in 2012 that reflects partisan gerrymandering and ensure that the state has set itself on a path to reforming the process itself." Does that mean Cuomo could accept some plan created under the old partisan task-force process, already under way, that he doesn't deem a "gerrymander"?
Senate swing: Both houses of the State Legislature will be elected under the new lines. A unique twist is the Senate's new four-member Independent Democratic Conference, which splintered from the minority conference led by John Sampson (D-Brooklyn). If the Republicans fall back into the minority by a vote or two, who might the independent bloc support for majority leader? Or will Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) increase his numbers?
"It's a long way until the next election," said Richard Azzopardi, conference spokesman. He said it is up to Sampson & Co. to "put forth a compelling vision as to why they need to be back in charge."