With his new-found celebrity as a tool of Barack Obama, Antonio Villaraigosa used a visit to Sacramento to mock Gov. Jerry Brown’s soak-the-rich plan to balance the state budget for the first time in more than a decade.
“This isn’t the way to fix it,” the mayor told the LA Times reporters in its Sacramento Bureau, a move that suggests his goal is to do all he can to undercut the governor so he can succeed him in 2014 running on his own plan of undoing Proposition 13 protections for commercial properties business and imposing a sales tax on professional services of lawyers, accountants and others who mainly serve businesses.
Chutzpah is just another word for nothing left to lose, it would seem.
Hard as it may be to believe, it appears Antonio think Brown won’t run or can be beaten in two years as he’s staking out his claim as the man who talked fiscal gibberish when the state’s future was at stake.
This is mayor who couldn’t even balance the budget in good times and has made such a mess of the city’s finances that it will take many years to recover even if the good times rolled again.
What’s interesting about his latest gambit is has done nothing but cut taxes for business, subsidized developments with taxpayer money that was intended for the poor and stuck middle class people with bills through soaring rates and fees and his “full cost recovery” policy for the services they paid taxes to get.
It is as if the mayor who works 11 percent of the time doesn’t know LA has lost more jobs than anywhere in the country in the last four years, that LA has jobless and poverty rates are among the worst in the nation – that the decline of the city and state has been going on for a generation and been made far worse by politicians who think leadership is a game, a con game
“From the mid-1980s to 2005, California’s population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000,” Stanford University economics professors Michael J. Boskin and John Cogan wrote in a Wall Street Journal article Tuesday headlined “California’s Greek Tragedy.”
“California’s economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. The unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is higher than every other state except Nevada and Rhode Island. With 12% of America’s population, California has one third of the nation’s welfare recipients …
“Partly due to generous union wages and benefits, inflexible work rules and lobbying for more spending, many state programs and institutions spend too much and achieve too little.”
A “California renaissance” is still possible, they said, but “it requires is a governor with the vision, determination and political will to see it through” using reforms that are working in budgeting and taxes, education and welfare, crime prevention and pensions.
The same can certainly be said of the city of Los Angeles which has fared even worse than the state since the mid-1980s, gaining a million people while having more than 50,000 fewer jobs to support them – a decline that has accelerated in the last six years.
What’s so disconcerting is how oblivious the national press corps is to what is going on as evidenced by recent New York Times and Time magazine and even the LA Times portrayal of the mayor as if his manifest failures didn’t far exceed his few actual accomplishments.
Even veteran Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters can’t look at the murky world of LA politics and find anything but a beautiful rainbow — “the emergence of post-racial politics in California” in the hideous corruption of the City Council redistricting process.
His evidence for such an astonishing statement is the black politicians like Parks and Perry and Latinos like Gil Cedillo were punished by the Latino mayor and black Council President Herb Wesson while failing to note the districts were drawn by a puppet commission to dramatically shift power to Latino candidates and make absolutely certain that the political machine has total control for the next decade.
“As those once considered to be ‘minority groups’ achieve numerical dominance, ethnicity and race fade as political factors, replaced by the personal and ideological motivations exhibited by white politicians when they are dominant,” concludes Walters.
Give minorities a little power and they behave just like white people – who would have guessed?
Truly that misses the point: This isn’t about post-racial politics which is a long way from happening. It’s about the preservation of a political machine that has failed for a generation to provide for the common good for four million people.
The fact is white people still hold nine of the 15 Council seats and two of the three citywide offices and with the exception of union boss Maria Elena Durazo, most of the power – and money — in L.A. is still wielded by white people who make up 28 percent of the city’s population.
If there was a ray of hope in the redistricting process – a ray of hope that some kind of political balance can be achieved – it was in the anger that exploded in the redistricting process from the Korean community and the forceful stand taken by Commission Helen Kim in exposing what a fraud the process was.