Of all the complaints about Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the dumbest one is that he is leaving office broke and looking for a job.
The most vivid example of this was an LA Weekly article making fun of the fact that the mayor doesn’t have money and is seeking work.
If that’s true, thank you, mayor. Thank you for spending much of your life in public service and not profiting from it.
As is the case with most of Villaraigosa’s critics, the Weekly covered his pursuit of women, his divorce, his hanging out with Charlie Sheen in Mexico and accepting free tickets for events he had to attend as mayor. These were troubles he brought on himself. But they shouldn’t define his two terms as mayor. Nor will they after a few years have passed.
That’s how it is with mayors. Jim Hahn was scorned as boring when he left office and criticized for political fund raising. Looking back, it’s clear Hahn was a mayor of great courage who had the guts to get rid of then Police Chief Bernard Parks.
Dumping the African American chief probably cost Hahn his re-election bid, as he may have known it would, but it cleared the way for the appointment of Chief Bill Bratton and a police department reform that has made Los Angeles a better place. And his fund raising—which I criticized while on the Ethics Commission—was for the worthwhile campaign that defeated Valley secession. Secession would have fragmented the city. By defeating it, Hahn helped save L.A.
Tom Bradley’s long tenure—with accomplishments too numerous to list here—was dimmed by his fifth term, his decision to stick around too long and to associate with some financial types who dealt with the city. Those are forgotten now as the Bradley years are recalled as an iconic period in the city’s history.
Mayor Richard Riordan was criticized for not getting along with the City Council, which I thought was an admirable trait. That is being forgotten and he will be remembered for the sense of stability he brought to the city after the 1992 riot and the charter reform that greatly strengthened the power of the mayor.
So it will be with Villaraigosa. His legacies are the growing network of commuter rail lines and other transportation projects that are slowly changing the city and his continued support of the reform police administration that Hahn made possible.
So good luck mayor in your search. You deserve a good job.