The June cover of Los Angeles Magazine, out in a few days, bears a portrait of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and one word blazoned in white ink across the page: Failure. The subhed: "So Much Promise, So Much Disappointment." It's a common enough sentiment around town, even among Democrats, but a pretty startling turn given the early pro-Antonio leaning of the magazine's editor-in-chief, Kit Rachlis. When my profile of Villaraigosa ran in December 2006, the headline read Pop Star Mayor and the editors put him on the cover. Villaraigosa was only 18 months into the job then and still seemed to be maturing into the role. Now writer-at-large Ed Leibowitz pens an open letter to Antonio that draws a line from his betrayal of his wife to the betrayal felt by voters "who believed you could love this city more than you love yourself."
The story goes online next week; exclusive excerpts follow:
We are bitter because you promised us so much....What you now lead is an administration in which politics almost always trumps policy…
There have been no great civic works to mark your tenure—no public art or municipal architectural feat to instill pride.
"Mr. Mayor, the city you have sworn to lead is in crisis. It is time you put a stop to the betrayals and fecklessness. Time you resist the urge to bound up the career ladder…Call a press conference and tell us in language that contains no loopholes that you’ll stay with us until the end of your term.
Give it your all, and maybe you’ll emerge from your tenure at City Hall looking more like Barack Obama than Sammy Glick….Remind us that you once stood for something more than the political advancement of Antonio Villaraigosa, and that there is some residual greatness about you yet.
If the mayor has lost the confidence of Rachlis and his friends, to go with the alienation of Valley moderates and — if the anecdotal evidence holds up — Latino women, Villaraigosa's ambitions for governor begin to feel more like a longshot. Perhaps this piece is just meant as a wake-up call to shock Villaraigosa into bearing down and skipping on Sacramento this time around. The June issue starts hitting mailboxes over the weekend and from what I hear, the story should go up online Monday.