Padilla to ditch Hahn *

This is a one-source item, but I believe a pretty good (if confidential) source. The source says that Council President Alex Padilla tomorrow will endorse Antonio Villaraigosa for mayor. Padilla, and his confidantes Tony Cardenas and James Acevedo, were significant backers of Jim Hahn over Villaraigosa in 2001. But Padilla is facing some unrest in the ranks about his presidency that Hahn can't help him with, and also I have to suspect that Padilla has seen some polling data that looks bad for the mayor's reelection chances twenty days from today. Padilla may also, of course, just believe that Villaraigosa would make a better mayor. The photo op is at 9:30 a.m. in Eagle Rock.

Flip side: The Times and Daily News on Thursday chase this morning's Daily Breeze scoop about $31,000 in possibly questionable $1,000-a-pop donations to Villaraigosa from executives and workers at two Florida firms that run hotel gift shops. "Although some employees said they supported Villaraigosa, others struggled to explain the donations, sounded confused when told of their donations or declined to answer questions," the Times reports. In the Daily News, Villaraigosa said he had no specific knowledge of the firm or its employees, but the Times noted that the firms' boss had a dinner meeting scheduled with Villaraigosa and City Hall lobbyist Art M. Gastelum on Sept. 27, 2004, and the next day the councilman's campaign received $8,000 in contributions from eight executives and employees. Hahn's side tried Wednesday to make hay of it, while Villaraigosa's basically dismissed the questions. A spokeswoman for DA Steve Cooley, who has investigations going into questionable contributions to earlier Hahn campaigns, told the Times that the office is "aware of" the news reports.

Thursday in print: The Daily News squirts in three grafs on the Padilla news, under Rick Orlov's byline.

* Post updated with new information and edited for clarity

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