Word around the LA Times newsroom credits publisher Austin Beutner as the driver behind the editorial page's new practice of giving letter grades to elected officials. The pieces are officially the work of the editorial board, which is to say the editorial writers, opinion editors and Beutner, but it's the publisher who went on Sunday's News Conference on NBC 4 to speak for the series. "We're trying to engage our readers, engage ordinary Angelenos, in what matters in City Hall," Beutner said. He disclosed that state officials and the county Board of Supervisors are next, and told host Conan Nolan that there's also expanded coverage coming of public education and the LA school district.
It didn't go unnoticed that Mayor Eric Garcetti received the lowest grade of the four citywide officials rated, a C, and since Beutner is not thought to be a fan of the mayor, his comments on Garcetti are perhaps interesting.
He's a very avid and earnest booster. Now it's time to roll up one's sleeves and get to the hard work.
And some of the campgn promises he made, some of the things that matter in our community, we've got to make progress on those.
Under questioning by Nolan, Beutner basically dismissed the passage of a $15 minimum wage that Garcetti helped spearhead and said the most important issues to Angelenos are jobs, education and the crumbling infrastructure. Those happen to be the issues Beutner was involved with before he became Times publisher, as economic development czar for Antonio Villaraigosa and as a leader in the LAUSD reform movement and the 2020 report committee that recommended fixing the city's aging infrastructure. Beutner also dinged the mayor for not leading on the DWP and a proposed rate hike, noting that the new general manager and all of the board were appointed by Garcetti. "They work for him," Beutner said. The C grade for Gracetti included a D for "political courage."
Beutner likes the work so far of City Attorney Mike Feuer and Controller Ron Galperin.