Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is speaking at today's launch in New York City of No Labels, which is said to be "an alliance of centrist Republicans and Democrats seeking to organize a grass-roots movement targeting the middle of American politics." What's interesting about that is the mayor's sudden interest in talking. Last week he made a trio of prominent public appearances, starting with a speech in Sacramento bashing his former employer, the United Teachers of Los Angeles union. It led to speculation on the motive behind all this publicness. Cathy Decker in the LAT:
To those more Machiavellian in nature — say, the entire political establishment — other possibilities came to mind: Villaraigosa was angling for an Obama administration job. He was declaring independence from party positions and powers in preparation for a future statewide run. Or he was trying to redefine his mayoralty in a way that could reap benefits down the line, were he to decide to exercise options one or two.
At minimum, last week gave voters a chance to see Villaraigosa in a different light, more like the Energizer Bunny model of his early tenure than like the mayor dragged down by the endless bad news that has bedeviled all elected officials in this dour economy.
For the record, the mayor insisted that last week was business as usual.
"I think you know my politics," he said in a brief interview Friday. "I'm unabashedly progressive, but I'm also unabashedly practical and pragmatic."
Causing almost as much chatter as the mayor's speeches is the fact that the L.A. Times missed Villaraigosa's coming-out diatribe against UTLA. The paper didn't catch on for a few days, as Calbuzz notes:
Tony V’s deliberately provocative comments, coming from California’s most prominent Latino politician, not to mention a lifelong union goon, and voiced at a time when teacher unions are increasingly embattled by national education reform efforts, starting in the White House, were a big deal.
And that’s how the matter was treated – by almost everyone except Hizzoner’s hometown paper....
Finally, on Friday morning, Times editors managed to clue their readers into what their mayor had been up to that week. A double byline story by Patrick McDonnell, who writes about labor, and City Hall reporter David Zahniser, which also included reporting by Teresa Watanabe and Jason Song of the education desk, finally caught up with the news – a full 72 hours after Villaraigosa spoke.