Ed Burke will be sentenced to prison

Last month, Burke was convicted of 13 of 14 counts of racketeering, bribery, and extortion, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. His sentencing is scheduled for June 19. Burke, who is 80, won’t do much time: 18 months, max. Where will he serve it? At the Oxford Federal Correctional Institution in Wisconsin, where Dan Rostenkowski spent 17 months; at FCI Terre Haute, where George Ryan spent five years; FCI Englewood, where Rod Blagojevich spent eight years; or some other federal prison where no crooked Illinois politician has gone before.

Bring Chicago Home will pass

Business and real estate interests are going to spend a lot of money to defeat Bring Chicago Home, which will appear on the March 19 ballot. The proposal, one of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s campaign promises, would institute progressive taxation for real estate sales. Sales of homes under $1 million would be taxed at 0.6 percent, lower than the current 0.75 percent rate. Sellers of homes between $1 and $1.5 million would pay a 2 percent real estate transfer tax, while those selling homes for more than $1.5 million would pay 3 percent. Business and real estate interests also spent a lot of money to defeat Johnson, but the door-knocking army mobilized by United Working Families overcame Paul Vallas’s 2-1 spending advantage. Emma Tai was executive director of UWF during the mayoral campaign. This winter, Tai will lead the effort to pass Bring Chicago Home. She knows how to win these things.

Michael Madigan will be convicted of corruption

The U.S. Attorney’s office is running out of 80-year-old Irish Machine politicians to prosecute. Madigan’s trial for bribery, racketeering, wire fraud and attempted extortion is scheduled to begin April 1. He’s charged with accepting jobs, contracts, and payoffs from ComEd in exchange for supporting rate increases. Will Madigan be convicted? Yes. Will his example end corruption in Illinois? No.

Pedro Grifol will be fired

In his first year as the replacement for the elderly Tony LaRussa, Grifol led the White Sox to a 61-101 record. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf called the season “a nightmare. It’s embarrassing. It’s disgusting. All the bad words you can think of is the way I feel about the 2023 season. It absolutely was just awful.” Las Vegas has the O/U on Sox wins at 64.5. Grifol’s replacement won’t do anything to improve a team that’s playing out its lease on Guaranteed Rate Field and just waiting to move to Nashville.

The Cubs will make the playoffs

Last year, the Cubs finished 83-79 — only one game worse than the Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the pennant. The Cubs rebuild was not supposed to be complete until 2025, so they’re ahead of schedule. Six teams from each league go to the playoffs now, so it’s not that hard. Related: Pete Crow-Armstrong will finally get a hit.

The Republican Party will use the Democratic National Convention to troll Chicago

When Chicago was announced as the site of the 2024 DNC, National Republican Congressional Committee Will Reinert had this to say: “What’s the bigger concern: sirens drowning out nominating speeches or what items attendees must leave at home to make room for their bulletproof vest in their suitcase?” During the convention, expect Republicans to point out that Chicago has more murders than any city in the nation (even though we’re not close to the highest murder rate), and present it as a blueprint for the mayhem that will spread to every small town in America if Joe Biden wins a second term. Also expect Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to increase shipments of migrants to Chicago so national media can film Venezuelans sleeping in police stations, tents, or out in the open — an illustration of Biden’s weak border policies.

J.B. Pritzker will use the Democratic National Convention to launch his 2028 presidential campaign

When you’ve been governor of a major state, and still have billions of dollars to spend, what do you do next? Run for president. As governor of the state hosting the convention, Pritzker will get a chance to meet every delegation, and he’ll get to make a prime time speech — which he hopes will make him The Next President of the United States, just as Barack Obama’s speech in Boston did 20 years ago. 

Donald Trump will win the presidency again, and it will be Chicago’s fault

Donald Trump is leading Joe Biden by five points in Michigan, a state he won in 2016 but lost in 2020. Might you know a Democratic-leaning college graduate who moved to Chicago from Michigan? According to a recent article in The New York Times, “data gleaned from LinkedIn showed how states with dynamic economic centers are luring college graduates from more rural states. Iowa loses 34.2 percent of its college graduates, worse than 40 of the 50 states, just below North Dakota, which loses 31.6 percent. Illinois, by contrast, gains 20 percent more college graduates than it produces. Minnesota has about 8 percent more than it produces.” The brain drain turned Iowa “into a beacon of Donald J. Trump’s populism” while “Illinois and Minnesota [moved] dramatically leftward.” If those college grads had found opportunities at home, they might tilt their states to Biden, rather than running up the score for him in Illinois.

University of Michigan flags, bumper stickers and sweatshirts will outnumber those of every other college in Lake View and Lincoln Park

Hail to the victors.

WGN’s ratings will take a dive without Tom Skilling

Skilling will deliver the final forecast of his 45-year career on Feb. 28. Chicago is a big weather town, and Skilling is the only weatherman who’s bigger than the weather. Viewers in other cities tune in to WGN to watch Skilling, even though he’s not forecasting their weather. WGN is searching for a replacement, but the station can no more replace Tom Freakin’ Skilling than the Bulls could replace Michael Freakin’ Jordan.

Something will be named after a Pritzker

It could be a park, a museum, a scholarship, an award, but the first family of Illinois will keep spreading its name around.

Violence will go down, suburbanites will still be afraid to come into the city

Shootings and homicides decreased 13 percent in 2023, as violence returned to pre-pandemic levels. Expect that trend to continue, and expect to hear, “I never go to the city anymore; it’s too dangerous.”

The Bears will lose twice to the Packers

The Bears have not beaten the Packers since 2018, so this is the easiest prediction of all.