Villaraigosa

Mayor Antonio at one year

CartoonSome takes on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's first year in the corner office on the third floor at City Hall follow after the jump.

Cartoon snippet: Los Angeles Times

The Times' Current section reunited cartoonist Mark Alan Stamaty, who followed last year's mayoral campaign for the section — and who now gives Villaraigosa a B+ for effort and an incomplete for results — with Daniel Hernandez, who covered the campaign for the Times then jumped to the LA Weekly. He writes in the Outside the Tent feature:

It's been a year since Villaraigosa took office, and he has clearly enjoyed the afterglow of extraordinarily positive media coverage. I know because I helped generate it. While a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, I covered Villaraigosa's mayoral campaign and the first few days after his victory....

At times, The Times acts as if it's still gaga-ing over Villaraigosa's election. The most dazzling recent example was a sweetly penned Column One story that ran on Cinco de Mayo. In it, the mayor is depicted barreling across the city, attending a 5K race, an African American church service, a Holocaust memorial, a dinner with the president and a party for pal George Lopez. The story began: "Most of his constituents were fast asleep on a peaceful Sunday morning when Antonio Villaraigosa zoomed full-throttle into another frenzied day."

Hold the presses, folks. The mayor is energetic, shows up everywhere and likes to "roll up his sleeves." It's a trope that The Times and other local media have beaten to death.

Compare this treatment with the newspaper's coverage of Villaraigosa's predecessor and campaign opponent, James K. Hahn. Despite being from storied lineage in L.A. politics, the former mayor was generally depicted as a boring, absent and vaguely corrupt technocrat. Late in Hahn's term, news stories were more likely to point out when Hahn was not at some important event than when he attended one.

Current also asked political science professor and City Hall veteran Raphael J. Sonenshein for his take on the mayor after a year:

A great first year in office is a wonderful thing. Any leader would want one. But it's important to remember just how quickly the good times can disappear.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance, became a political star his first year as governor of California, defying expectations that his inexperience would make him a patsy of Sacramento's wily veterans. But he stumbled badly shortly thereafter.

Now consider Antonio Villaraigosa. He too had an outstanding first year as mayor of Los Angeles, piling up a remarkable array of successes. But as he enters his second year amid the controversy over his compromise plan to carve out a role in running the city's schools, Villaraigosa might see a cautionary tale in the governor's political fall.

Rick Orlov's anniversary piece in the Daily News comes with a Flash slide show.

Whether taking on former allies at the teachers union, state legislators or even longtime constituents, Villaraigosa has unabashedly risked public and political ire in tackling controversial issues. Key advisers have often tried to slow him down, warning that he was breaking campaign pledges or alienating voters.

And Sherry Bebitch Jeffe mischievously speculates that Villaraigosa and Schwarzenegger might someday switch jobs.


More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
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