At a news conference out in the Valley this afternoon, Mayor Villaraigosa said he made an offer yesterday to Sheriff Lee Baca to help out on the jail rioting mess. As of 3 pm, the offer had yet to be accepted but Villaraigosa told me they were planning to talk: "I recognize that the situation has been deteriorating over the last few days." Villaraigosa said he's worried that the racial strife could spread to the streets, and reflects deeper issues than just the Latino-black gang clash that sparked rioting at the county jails in Castaic nine days ago. Quotes from my notebook:
"I have told the sheriff I would like to be of some assistance...I am concerned that it could go beyond the borders of the jail...I do believe there are real underlying social issues involved...This is a matter that should be of utmost concern to all Angelenos...There are few things that concern me more than racial conflict in this city."
Villaraigosa also acknowledged, under questioning by Laurel Erickson of NBC-4, that he was aware LAUSD Supt. Roy Romer had been planning to ask out of his contract early. The mayor also wants a say in who replaces Romer.
"I was well aware of his timeline...I think he made his decison based on what was best for him and his family..."
"I think Governor Romer has provided great service to this city...My hope is that whoever replaces him will be a change agent [and] a partner of the city of Los Angeles."
The mayor was in upper Northridge to announce new automated traffic lights along the Ronald Reagan Freeway and got a good media turnout: seven TV cameras (including Azteca America, a newcomer to the media scrums that Villaraigosa called the only Spanish language network that beams its national news from Los Angeles), KNX, KFWB, KFI and ink-stained wretches from the New York Times, Daily News, La Opiniˇn and, from the LAT, the new City-County Bureau chief Jim Newton. No, they weren't all there to learn about traffic across the North Valley.