We'll elect a president. We'll have troops returning from overseas. And we'll
hold our breath as we await news from American Airlines.
The stage is set for an interesting 2012.
Will President Barack Obama win four more years? We'll find out in November, but there's a big day fast approaching. March 6 is Super Tuesday, and Oklahoma will be among the states with primaries that could winnow a wide-open Republican race to a clear frontrunner.
Will Tulsa's economy endure a devastating blow? American Airlines is going through the restructuring process of its bankruptcy and employs nearly 7,000 in Tulsa. It makes an estimated $6 billion economic impact on the region. Most analysts believe there will be some job losses, but no one is certain yet.
When will the troops return? That's in spring, when the 45th Infantry Brigade brings home about 3,000 Oklahomans deployed in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
There are people to watch, this year, too: A pair of local baseball phenoms embark on million-dollar pro careers. A Miami, Okla., country music, hit-making duo is up for a major award. There is also a new chairman -- make that chairwoman -- of the Tulsa Metro Chamber.
Today we look ahead at 12 issues and people to watch in Tulsa and the state in 2012. We also give you some of the year's notable dates (Is the end of the world coming?) and take a quick look back at 2011.
American Airlines mechanic Jay Potter poses for a potrait as the Transport Workers Union of America Local 514 MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
American Airlines: Bankruptcy ripples could hurt many
It's a stretch, but maybe not too much of one, to see Tulsa's future in the fate of a little diner on Pine Street just west of Mingo Road.
Just about everyone who works or eats at Christy's Good Food is connected to the American Airlines maintenance facility at Tulsa International Airport. They work there now, or did, or are related to someone who has.
All of them are worried.
"My father worked 43 years for American," said waitress Rebecca Bailey. "Now he's wondering about his pension."
Jay Potter, an American mechanic for almost 24 years, wonders whether he'll have to make a choice between a job and his adopted hometown.
"I don't want to leave," he said as he sipped coffee, "but if it comes down to leaving or going into another line of work, I'd probably leave."
The regulars at Christy's are not the only ones put in jeopardy by American Airlines' November bankruptcy filing. With nearly 7,000 jobs on the line at American's Tulsa maintenance facility, the entire area could be facing one of its greatest single employment losses since the Great Depression.
Certainly it's the largest since Williams' financial crisis of a decade ago. Williams eliminated more than 5,000 jobs then.
Coincidentally or not, the number of jobs in Tulsa has never fully recovered. From a high of 442,000 in July 2001, the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area's employment stood at 406,500 in October -- an improvement, it should be noted, from 399,000 in January.
No one knows how the bankruptcy will ultimately affect American's Tulsa employees. Most observers say jobs or wages and benefits, or both, will be lost.
American's current employees aren't the only ones in immediate danger.
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