Phil Willon has covered City Hall for the L.A. Times, with an emphasis on Mayor Villaraigosa, for two years. When he came on the beat in 2008, California Editor David Lauter memoed that "at the core of any news organization lies the job of holding public officials accountable for what they do and say...[and no place] is more important than covering the government of Los Angeles." Well, Willon didn't especially stand out. He also never moved into town from Riverside, and now he's headed back out there to cover the Inland Empire as a roving state reporter. "Phil will take the experience he has developed and use it to produce probing, insightful journalism about a region struggling to regain its footing after a deep economic collapse," Lauter says now. (Memo at Fishbowl L.A.)
Next up at City Hall: Patrick McDonnell, the paper's former bureau chief in Baghdad and Buenos Aires. Since the LAT pulled out of South America, he's been covering labor in the city room. He's an experienced reporter, though new to Los Angeles politics. Lauter waxes less high-minded this time: "He is a veteran with a keen eye for telling detail and a gift for storytelling...His skills as a veteran reporter will stand him in good stead as he seeks to tell the story of city government in peril."