Thursday, January 28, 2010

Does Mayor Villaraigosa Ever Pay Attention to His Own Words?

The Mayor, for all his own blustering, seems to ignore what he's said in his speeches. As you might have noticed, President Obama just finished his first "State of the Union" speech the other day. It is something that each President delivers annually. The City of Los Angeles has it's own version of this in a fit of lofty self-righteousness that the Mayor gets to assemble each April. Villaraigosa has delivered four of these, each one finding the city in a worse condition than the one before it.

Maybe you heard the Mayor's speech when it was made or just heard about it afterwards, but reviewing it again now is probably something Antonio would not like you to do. It is a real demonstration of why Los Angeles Magazine put him on the cover and printed "FAILURE" across the picture a few months ago. This speech is reprinted in Ron Kaye's blog, "Ron Kaye LA" today under the title, " Words That Come Back to Haunt Antonio," By Ron Kaye, today, January 28, 2010, 9:20 AM.

This "State of the City" speech was given in April, almost a year ago and even back that far, the Mayor appeared clearly to be aware of the direction that the city was headed towards- disaster.

According to the words spoken by the Mayor, there was a dire financial condition already well established in the City but he was loaded with "solutions" and recited facts and figures that all pointed out "urgent attention needed" and that was what we thought was going to happen. So reading through any of this will show you that BACK THEN the numbers were bad but they were LESS SEVERE than they are now. Who let that happen?

You notice that the Mayor was talking then about moving with some speed and acting "now" before things could become worse. So guess what? Things got worse for one of the main reasons being that Antonio got nothing moving. About the only thing he got movign was himself as he travelled all around the country and into some other countries with some international travel. Taking trips out of the city is a hard habit to break for Antonio, after all, that's about all he did for his first four years in office as he collected campaign fund for himself and for Presidential candidates Clinton and later Obama. If there was a function somewhere for mayors or Latino leaders, Antonio was sure to be there and he must have accumulated a really impressive photo album along the way.

Compare the figures you hear in the news now and you can see how much worse things have become with the budget plunging further into a deficit condition since the Mayor gave that speech. The plans he spoke about last April to save the city just never became activated- and he even said that the need to act promptly was needed to address the problems.

Maybe some of those plans would have helped keep us from such a predicament as we have now, but we will never know for sure. I don't know about how we are saving any money while we manage to keep city jobs unaffected as to hours and layoffs since the city people stayed on their jobs. It is only now we have Early Retirement departures from city service being realized. All the time that passed until that happened meant running the city into more debt, neutralizing much of the impact that was designed to result from making these retirement packages a deal for employees. (And now many of the ERIP positions don't save money as they were positions not being paid of of general funds- so about 400 more costly retirements will need to be done.

The whole speech tells a story of a Mayor, acknowledging that he was informed of the situation, but nevertheless, he chose to leave the city regularly. He usually claimed it was a city business-need. That may have been true for a few of those trips, but most of the time it was his own choice to leave. Even after he was sworn in to the second term of office, pledging to be the "best Mayor" for the city, Antonio left L.A. the next day and actually, left the country with KTLA Channel 5 television's news person, Lu Parker as his travelling companion. Antonio was "missing in action" for lots of times that his "leadership" might have really been called for. Michael Jackson died during that first period of Antonio's absence. Remember that ensuing memorial service that sucked up thousands of hours of police and other city services that also followed, all happening while the Mayor continued to be out of the country.

During the rest of the year, trips to Iceland and then to Europe took away the Mayor's attention from Los Angeles and meanwhile all the ills mentioned in the State of the City speech became worse.

The Mayor has become out of touch with reality and was already co-opted by unions as he tried to curry favor with unions from Day 1 as he approved the DWP's IBEW union contract that provided it's members with premium pay and raises. The Mayor's political aspirations have taken priority over anything that the City of Los Angeles needed. It makes you wonder why he wanted to have a job that he never worked on, but then, all jobs were the stepping stones to higher office. Only a dismal showing by which he won his second term, with about 10 percent of the registered voters in the city coming to vote for him, shocked him (or more accurately, his advisors) that he was in a weak position so it would be futile for him to run for governor.

Antonio Villaraigosa will probably go down in history as the worst mayor that Los Angeles ever had. It would be hard to imagine a worse one, but Eric Garcetti and others on the City Council have their eyes on that office and would be good candidates for doing more damage to the city to satisfy their personal agendas at taxpayer expense. Garcetti especially is a threat as the smooth-talking social engineer who has not one bit of a problem with spending other peoples money for premium prices on untested actions, but he will convince you it all will work.

If you were an Antonio supporter you made a bad choice in re-electing him. I am just talking about the second term. I used to be an enthusiastic supporter of Villaraigosa when he lost his first race to Jim Hahn, but I changed my views because Antonio changed. He seemed to work against the well-being of the city and worked to make L.A. a sanctuary city and then denying it as he ignored the seriousness of the gang problems and violence. He explicitly denied the impact of illegal immigration on jobs, city services and other areas that were increasingly apparent to even the most staunch advocate of that component of the city's population. All in all, Antonio became an unequivocal liar and remains so to this day.

The Mayor now sees a worsened condition from the one he spoke of last April and he has himself to blame as a major reason for this. Since he is so self-deluded with his performance as mayor I doubt that he will be able to right the ship without the residents and businesses further suffering financially with more fee gouging and reductions of city services- but by making deals with the city's coalition of unions, he's created a monster that is threatening to bite back. That union coalition already says the city breached it's deal and the unions are not subject to any further reductions or job actions for that reason. It's becoming a vicious environment at city hall and I don't know if bankruptcy can be avoided. A bankruptcy could at least see all the city contracts wiped out like a shaken up Etch-A-Sketch to be started fresh as a bankruptcy judge begins deciding things for the city.

The Mayor did a lousy job so far and even by doubling his staff to about 193 persons (further boosting salaries paid out and maybe creating jobs for friends since he's not planned to cut HIS staff) he's still got no good plan produced to get us to safety without some heavy casualties all around.