Is Mayor Eric Garcetti a lame duck in LA as he awaits Senate confirmation to be India ambassador?

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Bennet Purser

Mayor Eric Garcetti debuted the city’s Indigenous LAnd Initiative today in recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It includes a formal apology from the City of LA and plans to rename city landmarks, such as Father Serra Park in downtown. He also announced efforts to work with state and federal agencies to rename the “Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway” (known as the 10 freeway). 

Meanwhile, City Hall and the mayor’s office are stuck in political limbo. In July, President Joe Biden nominated Garcetti to be ambassador to India. And yet, there’s no timeline for his Senate confirmation hearing. 

According to LA Magazine city politics reporter Jon Regardie, Garcetti appears to be focusing on symbolic and procedural events, including the Tom LaBonge Day of Service, which centers around community cleanups around the city. He’s also working on climate change, water conservation, and transportation efforts. 

“But at the same time, he's really not the force that we saw him being … in the early parts of the pandemic, when he was up on TV screens six days a week really trying to help ease frazzled communities across Los Angeles,” Regardie tells KCRW. “I'm not sure if he's quite in lame duck category, but he's certainly not as active and as ever-present as he was a while ago.”

Regardie points out that it appears Garcetti might be looking forward to new ventures. That could be due to his overextended mayoral term, prompted by the shifting of election dates in LA. He’s also noticed Garcetti has done fewer media appearances. 

“I certainly do think that not surprisingly, there would be an expectation of limiting what he does, if for no other reason that every time he shows up anywhere, [it’s] going to be like, ‘So why are you leaving LA? So when are you going to be ambassador to India? Yeah, it'd be a lot of the sameness at every event pretty quickly.” 

Regardie notes that the holdup in Garcetti’s confirmation as ambassador to India might have to do with general gridlock in Washington D.C. and work by the Republican Party to make life for the Biden administration as difficult as possible.