LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spent most of his remaining hours as the city’s chief executive on a bus, touring areas where he campaigned in his quest for the job in the first place. KCRW’s Avishay Artsy rode along with the mayor, asking him to remember the places he’s seen and people he’s talked to over the years.
So we asked this week’s Mixer guests, Gene Maddaus of the LA Weekly and Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times, to evaluate this, the mayor’s last ride.
The mayor was mostly reminiscent of his place in the places he visited, leading Maddaus to say there was
relative all-out narcissism in what the mayor was saying to Avishay.
Asked how people will remember Villaraigosa as mayor, Maddaus and Mehta were of mixed minds (how appropriate).
Gene says the mayor had a hand in getting more stable funding available for mass transit (Measure R). But he thinks even with more money and expanded transit, LA traffic still is insufferable.
He says the worst part of his term was the 2007 pay raises he gave city workers — 25 percent for 5 years. It meant the city had to reduce hundreds of positions in the city workforce and is leaving his successor, Eric Garcetti, a big budget nightmare.
Seema says voters – toward the end of the mayor’s term – became disgruntled with him for displaying a flyboy attitude away from LA. He served as head of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and lobbied
hard only slightly for a position in President Barack Obama’s cabinet.
Mehta thinks the mayor became a little too enamored with his future, and not so interested in his present.
On Sunday, at 6 o’clock, the nameplate on the Mayor’s door at City Hall will change, as Eric Garcetti takes the reigns. A new city council is sworn in on Monday.
Despite those new names and faces downtown, our panel will continue to report on the city’s business. Good and bad. As they’ve invaluably done for so long.
By the way, our congratulations to Gene Maddaus for the L-A Press Club’s award for the city’s best print journalist. And, of course, to our own staff as well with Which Way L.A.?, To the Point, Unfictional and The Business… and KCRW’s very own Warren Olney who took home L.A. radio journalist of the year.