[Hpn] L.A.'s Mayor elect Faces Challenges Head On

unclescam unclescam@buskers.org
Thu, 16 Jun 2005 00:13:44 -0400 (EDT)


and we can all move into his water front home tomorrow. usa today is a
right wing propaganda tool.
where's my housing advocate?

On 6/16/2005, "William Charles Tinker" <wtinker@metrocast.net> wrote:

>I apologize for the double send,my index/trigger finger twitched/spasmed on
>me.
>
>In The Struggle
>Bill
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "William Charles Tinker" <wtinker@metrocast.net>
>To: <hpn@lists.is.asu.edu>
>Sent: Wednesday, June 15, 2005 11:42 PM
>Subject: [Hpn] L.A.'s Mayor elect Faces Challenges Head On
>
>
>> www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-06-15-villaraigosa_x.htm
>>
>>
>> L.A.'s mayor-elect faces challenges head-on
>>
>> By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY
>>
>> LOS ANGELES  The day after he won election as the first Hispanic mayor
>> here
>> since 1872, Antonio Villaraigosa started getting calls about running for
>> state and national office. "I just laughed," he says.
>>
>> Villaraigosa: "Any continued national prominence will hinge on how
>> successful I am as mayor."
>> By Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY
>>
>> Villaraigosa's May 17 victory vaults him into the top tier of Hispanic
>> Democrats, along with statewide officials such as New Mexico Gov. Bill
>> Richardson and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar. But he knows his star will fade
>> unless he proves he can manage this huge, unwieldy city. "Any continued
>> national prominence will hinge on how successful I am as mayor," he says.
>> To say the job is tough is an understatement. This city, the nation's
>> second
>> largest at 3.7 million, is plagued by school violence and transportation
>> problems, racial and ethnic tensions, poverty and homelessness, and
>> periodic
>> attempts by various communities to secede.
>> Though he doesn't take office until July 1, Villaraigosa is already
>> dealing
>> with problems such as an imminent hotel labor crisis. He's winning praise
>> for his visibility in a city craving public leadership after four years of
>> Mayor James Hahn's reserved, bureaucratic style.
>> "This is a hands-on guy. He jumped right in," says Joe Cerrell, a veteran
>> Democratic consultant close to Hahn.
>> Villaraigosa took a break Friday for a rare sit-down interview. He'd had
>> three hours of sleep after a late-night-to-early-morning negotiating
>> session
>> with hotel workers and managers. He would later restart the talks and push
>> them through a sleepless night.
>> But for this 45 minutes, Villaraigosa discussed his life and hopes in ways
>> that underscored his blend of street and elite. The product of a broken
>> home
>> in a poor Hispanic neighborhood, he talked of shining shoes and bouncing
>> back after hard knocks.
>> As he sipped green tea for his hoarse voice ("I do it like the English do,
>> with a little milk and honey"), he also talked of the Mexican-American art
>> on the walls of his City Council office and his vision of Los Angeles as
>> "the Venice of the 21st century." The 15th century trade crossroads of the
>> world, that is, not the nearby beach town.
>> Villaraigosa wanted this job so much that after a stinging loss in 2001,
>> he
>> ditched investment banking and, to the dismay of his friends, decided to
>> start over again. That meant running for city council, a comedown after a
>> stint as speaker of the California Assembly and temporary stardom as the
>> surprise winner of a multicandidate mayoral primary in 2001.
>>  The Antonio Villaraigosa file
>>
>>  Age: 52, born Jan. 23, 1953, in East Los Angeles.
>>
>>  Education: B.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 1977; J.D.,
>> People's College of Law, Los Angeles, 1985.
>>
>>  Political career: Los Angeles City Council, 2003-present; lost runoff
>> for
>> mayor of Los Angeles, 2001; member, California Assembly, 1994-2000
>> (Assembly
>> speaker, 1998-2000).
>>
>>  Family: Married, four children.
>>
>>  Notable: First Latino mayor of Los Angeles since 1872.
>>
>>  Quote: "I'm a big believer that, rather than looking so far ahead that
>> you
>> trip over your feet, instead do your job. Do a good job at the job that
>> you
>> have. And things will take care of themselves."
>>
>> - On his future in national politics
>>
>> Source: The Associated Press, Marquis Who's Who , USA TODAY research
>>
>> Hahn halted Villaraigosa's ascent back then in a runoff, beating him
>> 53%-46%
>> after running an ad that linked Villaraigosa to a convicted drug dealer.
>> But
>> the reticent Hahn proved to be "a better mayor than politician," in his
>> friend Cerrell's words. This year, with investigators looking into whether
>> Hahn's donors received city contracts, Villaraigosa won the primary again
>> and then went on to crush Hahn by 18 points in the runoff. He won
>> majorities
>> of Hispanics, whites and blacks, according to exit polls and post-election
>> studies.
>> A former labor organizer and union negotiator, Villaraigosa encountered
>> wariness from some in the business community. The Los Angeles Area Chamber
>> of Commerce endorsed Hahn, but a week after the election, Chamber
>> President
>> Rusty Hammer posted a column headlined "Congratulations Antonio." George
>> Kieffer, an executive board member of the chamber, says Villaraigosa
>> already
>> has been in touch with Hammer and shown a "healthy" inclination to take an
>> active role in city affairs.
>> Forty percent of people in Los Angeles are foreign-born, according to the
>> U.S. Census. Nearly half the population is Hispanic; about 11% is black
>> and
>> 11% Asian. The diversity of Villaraigosa's support has made him a poster
>> person for racial healing. He's even been asked to do an interview for the
>> upcoming DVD version of Crash, the film about brutal ethnic and racial
>> tensions in Los Angeles.
>> Villaraigosa's broad ethnic and racial coalition could serve as a model
>> for
>> others, says Frank Gilliam, an urban politics expert at UCLA. The key, he
>> says, is to lay a sound foundation. Villaraigosa's pledge to be "mayor of
>> all of us" was credible, Gilliam says, because he'd been building bridges
>> throughout his labor and political careers. "Antonio has really long and
>> deep relationships" with black leaders, he says. "And he is clearly
>> comfortable coming to the African-American community."
>> Democrats have seen their majority among Hispanic voters erode
>> substantially
>> in the past two presidential elections. Villaraigosa advises the party to
>> "speak to America's heart" and redefine "family values" in a way that's
>> meaningful to people's lives. Democrats can expand their appeal to Latino
>> voters, he says. All it takes is work.
>> Never give up
>> Resilience has been Villaraigosa's hallmark throughout a life of adversity
>> and wrong turns. He's been poor, a high school dropout, an unwed father.
>> He
>> was partially paralyzed by a tumor during high school, arrested for
>> assault
>> in his 20s, deserted as a child by an alcoholic father who underscored the
>> abandonment when he later named another son Antonio.
>> But Villaraigosa never stayed down or out for long. He started earning
>> money
>> at age 7, shining shoes on a downtown corner. The tumor was removed and
>> the
>> paralysis disappeared. He managed to finish not only high school but also
>> college and law school.
>> His trial on the assault charge  he was defending his mother against a
>> harasser  ended with a hung jury.
>> And though his two oldest daughters were born out of wedlock to different
>> mothers, unlike him they had a father in their lives.
>> At a time when it was virtually unheard of for men, before 1979's Kramer
>> vs.
>> Kramer, he says, "I had joint custody of the children."
>> The girls each chose to live with him when they turned 15. Now,
>> Villaraigosa
>> says, all four of his children  ages 29, 27, 16 and 14  are so close
>> that
>> "you'd never know my family was blended."
>> Villaraigosa says he's been "blessed with a drive and determination that
>> compels me to get up every time I've fallen down."
>> But he pauses when asked if his life will be an inspiration to other
>> children in difficult circumstances.
>> "Yes, these young people need role models," he says. "But they also need
>> concrete support  teachers with high expectations, high-quality
>> instruction
>> and support at home to make them successful."
>> A short honeymoon
>> Villaraigosa is in that heady period of promise that precedes any
>> political
>> administration. The realities of governing  such as having to say no 
>> won't intrude until he's sworn in. In the meantime, he has already
>> signaled
>> his activist approach to the job.
>> Traffic and schools are Villaraigosa's most urgent problems. He is
>> exercising his right as mayor to be board chairman of the Metropolitan
>> Transit Authority, which oversees trains, buses, commuter lanes, traffic
>> lights and highway ramps. He is hoping to persuade Los Angeles to emulate
>> New York and Chicago, which have put their mayors in charge of city
>> schools.
>> Villaraigosa's early advantage is his high profile around the city, even
>> before he takes office. Steve Kinney, a Republican consultant here, says
>> the
>> bully pulpit is a Los Angeles mayor's main tool in a town with a strong
>> and
>> independent-minded city council. Villaraigosa has "tried to step out and
>> do
>> some good positioning, some grandstanding," he says.
>> Even as he attends elementary school celebrations and other events related
>> to his city council duties, Villaraigosa is meeting with community
>> leaders,
>> speaking to business groups and talking about ways to make more movies in
>> Los Angeles and attract more high-tech media companies.
>> When violence broke out recently at a school, Villaraigosa met with
>> parents
>> and children. And just last weekend, on the brink of the tourist and
>> convention season, he personally mediated the end of a 14-month labor
>> dispute between hotel operators and their employees.
>> The mayor-elect hosted a meeting of the two sides in his office Thursday
>> night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, he called them back at 10 p.m. and
>> assigned them to separate conference rooms. Then he shuttled back and
>> forth
>> using the techniques he'd learned during his union years: guilt, charm,
>> hardball. At 4:55 a.m., five minutes before managers planned to lock out
>> workers at seven hotels, the parties reached agreement.
>> Villaraigosa held a press conference, kept an 8 a.m. haircut appointment,
>> did a 10:30 a.m. event in his council district, and kept going through an
>> 8
>> p.m. speech to the Los Angeles Press Club. Only then did he go to sleep.
>> "This would be work," he says, "if I didn't love what I do."
>>
>>
>>  Copyright 2005 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
>>
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