Antonio Villaraigosa keeps proving that he owes nothing to the voters of Los Angeles—not even to those in Eagle Rock whom he promised to represent for a full term in the City Council before running for L.A.’s highest office.
In his position as lame duck mayor—thank god for term limits—he has done nothing to improve quality of life issues for voters. And so it is that the New Year brings with it some of the same old shenanigans for which our second-term mayor has perhaps gained more notoriety than any of his predecessors in living memory.
The L.A. Weekly puts a finer point on David Zahnheiser’s story in Tuesday's L.A. Times about the damn near-criminal $100 million dollar credit bubble Villaraigosa is planning to stick L.A. with once he leaves office. The Times story does offer one glimmer of hope for L.A.’s potential future, which comes as an observation cloaked in an anecdote—wrapped in the candidature of one 2013 mayoral aspirant:
Investment banker Austin Beutner, a mayoral hopeful who previously served as Villaraigosa's "jobs czar," said putting off personnel costs today will leave the city with fewer dollars for services in coming years. He was more blunt three months ago, telling a room full of real estate executives that City Hall's budget practices resemble an infamous case of corporate financial abuse.
"That's Enron," he told the audience. "That's actually fraud, right?"
On a related note: On January 1, California awoke to a law arising from legislation proposed by, City Council candidate and soon-to-be termed out California Assembly member Gil Cedillo. The law is Cedillo’s version of the : i.e., not punishing unlicensed drivers discovered at sobriety checkpoints. Not to be out done, Villaraigosa had LAPD Chief of Complacency Charlie Beck “change protocol” and ignore other State vehicle statutes by not punishing unlicensed drivers—regardless of whether they are discovered at sobriety checkpoints or not.
Surely the only way for anyone to stymie public outcry in what’s arguably a public policy outrage is to ignore the fact that unlicensed drivers are more likely to kill people, tie the issue to the larger and more complex immigration conversation, make the change while the City Council is in holiday recess—and then call anyone against the current changes a racist.
And on top of all that, here’s how Villaraigosa summed up what’s driving his policy initiatives in a recent interview with the Daily News: "The way I see it, and I tell my staff, is that we are making decisions as if I will never run for public office again.”
Rest assured, this native of Boyle Heights, who will turn 59 years old on January 23, will be bucking for a Cabinet post in a presumed second Obama Administration.
But for the time being, he’s taking the “sing as if no one is listening” cliché to epic heights.
Some of us hear him loudly and clearly.