It's time for the inaugural year-end version of "Newport-Mesa Jeopardy!" And here's your host, Alex Trebek!
Alex: Let's get right to it. The categories are: All's Fair, Schooled, Newport Traditions, Politics As Usual, What's in a Name? and Headaches. Remember, your response has to be in the form of a question.
Contestant No. 1: I'll take All's Fair for $100, Alex.
Alex: And the answer is: They will be the only real winners in the ongoing battle to take control of the 150-acre Orange County Fairgrounds.
Contestant No. 1: Who are the attorneys?
Alex: Correct. Remember, the $100 questions are usually very easy.
Contestant No. 1: All's Fair for $200.
Alex: This is scheduled to happen for the first time on New Year's Day and promises to be more entertaining — and perhaps draw more blood — than the Gator, Fiesta and Rose bowls combined.
Contestant No. 1: What is a mixed martial arts cage match between Fair Board chair David Ellis and the tag-team duo of Orange County Market Place owner Jeff Teller and former Costa Mesa Mayor Sandy Genis?
Alex shakes his head.
Contestant No. 2: What is an Orange County Fair Board meeting designed to get the fairgrounds property into the hands of the states winning bidder — Facilities Management West — before Jerry Brown becomes governor or the courts rule otherwise?
Alex: A little wordy, but you got it and now have control of the board.
Contestant No. 2: Let's take Schooled for $100.
Alex: And the answer is: Before 2011 ends, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and New Orleans will have this in common.
Contestant No. 2: What is Hurricane Katrina?
Alex: Yes. For Newport-Mesa, the hurricane refers to newly elected board member Katrina Foley, who promises to bring winds of change to the way the school district operates and create something of a ruckus along the way.
Contestant No. 2: Lets skip to What's in a Name for $100.
Alex: The best two nicknames ever given to local politicians, these were bestowed on Costa Mesa Planning Commissioners Steve Mensinger and Jim Fitzpatrick by local blogger Geoff West.
Contestant No. 2: What are Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, respectively?
Contestant No. 2: Hmm, how about Newport Traditions for $100?
Alex: These people have no sense of humor when you poke fun of something they love.
Contestant No. 2: Who are USC football fans?
Alex: We've gone to the judges for a ruling, and while that's technically correct, it's not the answer we are looking for. Anyone else?
Contestant No. 3: Who are Christmas Boat Parade lovers?
Alex: "Correct. In fact, one of them offered to buy Pilot columnist William Lobdell a one-way ticket out of town after he admitted — tongue mostly in cheek — that he didn't care much for the parade. Behind the lines, several Balboa Island and peninsula residents — held captive by the parade for years — were able to secret out communications in which they confessed similar thoughts."
Contestant No. 3: OK, Politics as Usual for $100, please.
Alex: And the answer is: One.
Contestant No. 3: What is the number of times, in the council chamber or on blogs, that newly elected Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer will be referred to next year as either a carpetbagger, Darth Vader or cop hater?
Alex: You must not be from around here.
Contestant No. 1: What is the number of votes Costa Mesa Councilwoman Wendy Leece will get on many of her motions in the New Year?
Alex: Correct. We also would have accepted the number of months many observers believe Costa Mesa Police Chief Chris Shawkey — now on administrative leave for undisclosed reasons — has left on the job.
Contestant No. 1: Ah, Schooled for $200.
Alex: The answer is: Two.
Contestant No. 2: What is the number of felonies Newport-Mesa schools chief Jeffrey Hubbard can be charged with and still remain on the job?
Alex: That's correct, and the fact that Hubbard is still at work may indicate the weakness of the case against him. It's alleged that he misappropriated public funds when he was superintendent of the Beverly Hills district about a half-decade ago. He denied the charges.
Contestant No. 2: I'll take Headaches for $100, Alex.
Alex: In 2011, a year that promises tough cutbacks in city government, this large municipal project will likely become an easy target for critics and a major headache for Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff.
Contestant No. 2: What is the new Newport Beach Civic Center in Newport Center?
Contestant No. 2: Headaches for $200.
Alex: Aside from budget cuts, this promises to be Costa Mesa's biggest headache next year, particularly because of the entrenched nature of the problem and moral and political issues surrounding it.
Contestant No. 2: Who are the illegal immigrants?
Alex: That issue was so two years ago. You also must not be from around here.
Contestant No. 1: Who are the homeless in Lions Park?
[Cut to end of Final Jeopardy.]
Alex: The Final Jeopardy category is Write On, and the answer is: A ridiculously good-looking Pilot columnist who is Newport-Mesa's most interesting man, whose tears could cure cancer (if he only ever cried), and whose written words are praised from Newport Coast to Mesa Verde and from the peninsula to South Coast Metro.
Annoyingly catchy theme music plays for 30 seconds.
Alex: Now let's see how our players did. Contestant No. 1, you wrote —
Contestant No. 1: — Who is Joseph Bell?
Alex: Ah, good guess, but wrong. Contestant No. 2, you answered —
Contestant No. 2: — Who is Peter Buffa?
Alex: Sorry. No. You apparently forgot to factor in the ridiculously good-looking part of the clue. Contestant No. 3, if you answered correctly, you're tonight's winner.
Contestant No. 3: Who is William Lobdell?
Alex: You're kidding, right? I'm sorry, but you are all losers. The correct response was: Who Is Someone Who Doesnt Exist? We originally constructed the answer with columnist Frank Mickadeit in mind, but then our fact checkers found out he worked for the Register.
Tune in next year for another edition of "Newport-Mesa Jeopardy!" Good night, everybody!
WILLIAM LOBDELL is former editor of the Daily Pilot, former Los Angeles Times reporter and editor, and a Costa Mesa resident. The column runs Tuesday and Friday. His e-mail is email@example.com.