Phil Willon, the L.A. Times City Hall reporter whose beat is mostly Mayor Villaraigosa, delivers a pre-election analysis that declares the mayor's record mixed. Villaraigosa gets credit from Willon for crime being down, LAPD staffing being up, passage of the countywide sales tax hike and electing a new school board majority — and for reigning "over Los Angeles for four years with the same guile and keen political instincts he used to dethrone the sitting mayor in 2005." The mayor gets dinged for not planting all the trees he promised and for being someone about whom "even some influential supporters still wonder if he can match his ability to campaign with a sustained effort to complete a major project."
One measure of Villaraigosa's political strength is that city figures voice doubts about him in private. Few are willing to criticize him publicly.
Eli Broad, the billionaire philanthropist and civic activist, couches a criticism in a half-compliment, urging Villaraigosa to set aside aspirations for higher office and focus on his work in Los Angeles.
"I think he can become a great mayor. He has it in him. I sure hope so," he said.
During an interview in his spacious third-floor City Hall office, Villaraigosa acknowledged that many of his far-reaching promises, such as making Los Angeles the greenest big city in America and fixing a school district with 50% dropout rates at many high schools, will take more time.
"I asked the city to dream with me, and I've been bold," Villaraigosa said. "We have focused our efforts to build a foundation . . . and made a lot of progress."
Over the weekend, the Times editorial page endorsed Villaraigosa by calling him not a great mayor, but a good enough one to be reeelected: "That's especially true given the field of opponents, none of whom we can support."
Downtown News takes a pass: "Although Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is the shoe-in, we do not know if he will serve a full second term. That, along with a string of failures during his first four years in office, means that Los Angeles Downtown News cannot endorse his bid for re-election." Nor can they stomach any of the other dudes.
Layoffs are a bitch: In the first iteration of the Villaraigosa story on the Times website, the headline deck had him beating Kenneth Hahn, not James, four years ago. See it: