Antonio Villaraigosa was his usual charming self last night when he dropped by the latter-day secession group Valley Vote to spend 90 minutes or so auditioning his re-election pitch and addressing concerns from overdevelopment to overpaid city workers.
He even said nice things about me even though we disagree on a lot of issues. I got to chat with a lot of these truly concerned citizens who have worked long and hard for a better city whether it’s L.A. or the Valley.
Before the mayor arrived, I got a chance to make my own pitch which is that nothing great will happen unless business, civic, social groups of all types across the city unite around a handful of core issues — like quality schools, safe streets, healthy neighborhoods and good jobs — and become the third force in city politics equal to the unions and developers/contractors/lobbyists.
Both Antonio and I were warmly received which tells you a lot about the decency of these people and their eagerness to embrace anyone who offers any hope at all at making L.A. a better city.
What intrigues me about everyone who lives inside the bubble of City Hall — is how the world they operate in makes such perfect sense to them when it seems so corrupt to me. This is true of every politician and staff member and bureaucrat I know even ones who are cynical about what’s going on.
Somehow, they can’t see that inflated salaries and benefits, civil service rules that reward and protect low achievement and sloppy contracting practices that give away fortunes are the problem.
The mayor is certainly no exception.
His scheme to raise taxes, fees and rates while cutting services almost seems to make a kind of insane sense when you listen to the innocence with which he says that every new dollar he takes in from the public, he’ll reduce services by $1.50. He blithely explains away giving pay raises that far exceed inflation even as the economy was sinking, even blaming the economists for not predicting things would be as bad as they are.
As always, he rests his case on the reduction in crime and makes the city’s new plans for massive development without community input sound like smart growth.
I’m not going to belabor the point because I’m putting up video of the event. It’s the first time I ever tried to shoot with a video camera or post it online. So it’ll be pretty amateurish at best. Click here for his answer to a question on city salaries, the Tennie Pierce case is here and here for the first segment of his talk, Part II is here, Part III is here.