Villaraigosa Skips Town . . . Again
It's no secret that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa lives the life of a jet-setter. Last summer, for example, he took 10 trips in 10 weeks to New York City, Chicago, Hawaii, England, San Francisco, Israel and more. But not everyone knows that when Villaraigosa is away all that time, someone else takes over the helm as "acting mayor."
That person is usually the L.A. City Council president, who has been Eric Garcetti over the past few years. Garcetti is certainly not a household name, but in 2007, if you remember, it was Garcetti, not Villaraigosa, who dealt with the initial craziness of the May Day Melee at MacArthur Park, where LAPD officers beat up the press and mostly peaceful civilians.
For the past few days, though, neither Garcetti nor Villaraigosa have been calling the shots at City Hall since they're both in Washington D.C. on a supposed lobbying trip to capture some of that stimulus money. President Pro Tempore and 2nd District City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel would normally take over at this point, but she's in the nation's capital, too. So that leaves Angelenos with fourth-stringer Jan Perry, the assistant president pro tempore and 9th District City Councilwoman who represents downtown and South L.A., at the helm.
To make matters even more bizarre, LAPD chief Bill Bratton is also out of town as he pursues stimulus money in D.C. with Villaraigosa, Greuel and Garcetti. So one of his deputies is the "acting chief."
Out of town trips have always been a favorite perk of L.A.'s leadership, but now it's getting to the point of some kind of bad parody. The mad dash to Washington D.C. by Villaraigosa and crew seeking big bucks, though, may be one of those odd indications of just how dire this city's economic health may be -- recent estimates have a budget shortfall of $1 billion . . . and counting. If things continue to get worse, the mayor, who's very interested in running for governor, may just want to leave town indefinitely.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.