In the New Year, I'd like to know why it's not outrageous to spend $100 million to clean the anthrax out of the Brentwood postal facility and a similar plant in New Jersey, rather than just cover them in Saran Wrap and call it public art.

I'd like to understand how it was possible for Nicholas Calio, who just quit his job as President Bush's congressional liaison, to utter the words, "I can't pay my bills," while raking in $145,000 a year from the U.S. government. Calio, who lives in a $1.5 million house in Chevy Chase that includes a wine cellar, formerly hauled in $947,000 a year as a K Street lobbyist, so it's fair to assume that he had a bit of savings to handle his three tuition bills. And his government pay still put him in the top 5 percent of U.S. households. Poor baby.

Now that it's January, and Major League Baseball is only a few weeks away from serious deliberations over the future home of the Montreal Expos, I'd like to know exactly when the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority is going to quit its coy game and divulge where it intends to build a ballpark. The District, which has conducted a much more open process, needs to pick its site pronto, too.

And why can't those good activists who fight for more affordable housing in the city see that a baseball stadium is no impediment to that essential goal but rather a powerful tool to rebuild the tax base Washington needs to create the good schools and safe streets that lure families of all income levels?

I want to know when the folks who spent the past few years whining about a drought will admit that over time, things generally balance out.

Now that the year-end movie hype is subsiding, maybe someone will explain why "Adaptation" is not a stunningly self-indulgent, if tightly directed, flick about nothing other than the utter detachment of Hollywood executives from the world outside their self-obsessed bubble.

In the New Year, I'd like to know why Washington's "education mayor," reelected with a 61 percent mandate, stands by while the opening of the city's new technology high school is postponed and the school system stumbles from crisis to crisis.

And just how dim does Maryland's smart new governor think voters are -- dim enough to buy the notion that a few thousand slot machines can avert the real pain of a mega-billion-dollar budget crisis?

For that matter, just how sharp does Virginia's politically isolated governor think voters are -- sharp enough to accept his startlingly adult approach to confronting his state's budget woes? (Sharp enough to join with him in ending Virginia's crippling one-term limit on its governors?)

Why can't road-happy politicians accept the unequivocal voice of the voters, who have made it clear that they do not want new highways to spread sprawl but will pay premium prices to live in more concentrated neighborhoods with well-planned urban amenities?

Wouldn't it be nice to see a movement or philosophy spawn a presidential candidacy rather than watch legions of Democratic senators and governors ping-pong across the land, racking up frequent-flier points in search of a message?

Why is it exactly that Iraq, which the Bush administration has failed to connect to attacks on this country, is a more important enemy than the Islamic terrorists who aim to kill every one of us?

I'd like to know whether this will be the year in which our president -- who has turned our town's monumental core into a World's Fair of Fear, who made only the slightest token gestures to this region's rattled residents during the sniper panic, and who has not lifted a finger to help us win a team from his friends among the lords of baseball -- will acknowledge in any way that he lives here. After all, Virginia is reliably Republican, Maryland is suddenly up for grabs, and even the District is a place where he can do business (it's the capital of the charter school movement and probably the only big city where public schools and city government routinely, flagrantly and happily violate any notion of separation of church and state).

And will this be the year in which Mayor Williams finally decides to buy a home in the city he governs? If his long-touted dream house in LeDroit Park is too big a stretch, how about celebrating his new, livable downtown by buying one of those new apartments?