This time it's with the global public relations firm Edelman, where he'll be a senior adviser. Since leaving office last June, L.A.'s former mayor has been brought on at Herbalife, the L.A.-based maker of nutritional products, Banc of California, a community bank in Irvine, and Harvard's Institute of Politics as a visiting fellow. And now Edelman. All these gigs, along with a city pension of more than $97,000 a year, certainly will bring in more money than Villaraigosa ever made as an elected official (being mayor of L.A. pays $232,000). None of the positions appears to be remotely full time, which means he could probably take on more of these so-called jobs - and they don't even include the lucrative speaking circuit. His detractors might be infuriated about the cottage industry of Villaraigosa Incorporated, but it's really no different than an actor or athlete getting paid ungodly amounts to peddle somebody's golf clubs or soda pop. The marketplace is often more pragmatic than meritocratic, and if the head of Herbalife decides that having the former mayor of Los Angeles on the payroll is a good thing, than more power to them. Besides, hiring ex-politicians is standard issue in the often-unholy alliance of politics and business. And Villaraigosa does have a skill set that companies would appreciate. He has lots of connections in L.A. and Washington - as well as among Latino and Democratic groups - and he's comfortable in front of large groups and TV cameras. He also can offer guidance on legislation, fundraising, and the like. Whether any of that gets tapped is anybody's guess; neither the former mayor nor any of his new employers have said very much about these deals beyond carefully crafted press releases (I'm guessing they're all short term arrangements). On the Edelman position, Villaraigosa said, "I look forward to contributing my unique perspective and experience in navigating resolutions and driving key initiatives for Edelman's clients."
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