Punxsutawney, PA - In a sign of the times, Punxsutawny Phil has been laid off due to budget cuts, and will miss this year's Groundhog Day festivities for the first time in over 40 years.
Last month, in an attempt to reduce the city's budget deficit, Punxsutawney council members reportedly eliminated Phil's permanent position, and made the position temporary moving forward. This year's prediction will be made by "Puerto Vallarta Pedro," a Mexican immigrant chinchilla, reportedly, making minimum wage.
Since the layoff, the prognosticating father of three, has had to find odd jobs here and there just to make ends meet. He works part time as a greeter at the local Wal-Mart, and he recently appeared as an extra in a television commercial for Geico. He briefly attempted to use his psychic powers to become a palm reader, but grew tired of people joking "if you're such a talented psychic, then how did you not know that you were getting laid off?"
When asked, by this reporter, to make a prediction for when this year's crazy winter weather will end Phil declared "I predict you better shut the hell up before you get your face bit off!" then muttered before storming off "If you want a weather prediction then why don't you go ask Pedro? I'm sure he knows exactly when his cousin el Nino will show up!"