Mayor Eric Garcetti was in a philosophical mood at lunch Wednesday. He quoted the poet Robert Browning, who wrote “Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?”
Looking sharp in a dark blue suit and white dress shirt, he combined introspection and political salesmanship when he spoke to a packed banquet room at political consultant Emma Schafer's Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum luncheon at the Palm downtown.
Garcetti offered the good news--the Olympics on their way, two National Football League teams (both to play in Inglewood), raising the minimum wage. He dived into the bad--homelessness, the price of housing, the worst traffic, and the worst air.
Then he talked about his staff, the team that has been absorbing much heat for the failures.
He warned them, and himself, not to be trapped into "imposter's syndrome," described in Psychology Today as a term "referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments...and fear being exposed as a fraud."
"We push ourselves toward the darkness," he warned.
Rather, he said, look toward what Los Angeles will become and "here in Los Angeles we have to make sure your reach exceeds your grasp."
But the realities remain. I asked about homelessness, particularly Steve Lopez' column in the Los Angeles Times that morning in which he quoted Sarah Dusseault, chair of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, as saying that much maligned organization should be given more power. The question prompted his longest answer, not surprising since homelessness is his greatest problem.
The authority, Garcetti said, "is very imperfect." But he was skeptical over Dusseault's suggestion that the authority, which now has little power, be given the wide-ranging authority of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, run by city and county elected officials who decide where the trains and buses go.
"Homelessness (involves) everything," Garcetti said. "Transportation is one thing." Still, he said, he believes homelessness can be eradicated.
That certainly is reaching toward the heavens.