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Jimmy’s Final Gasps 

Unloved Hahn fades into history

Thursday, May 19 2005
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Photo by Slobodan Dimitrov“We’re going to win by two points,” a labor supporter of Mayor Jim Hahn said Monday after a long day of phone banking. “Either that, or lose by 20.” It wasn’t 20, but it came pretty close, and it puzzled more than a few of the union people who crowded into Hahn’s election-night gathering at Element, a Hollywood nightclub. “I do think we’ll win by 2 percent,” said Service Employees International Union Local 347 political director Teresa Sanchez, even as disappointing vote tallies were coming in. “Once you’ve been doing this for years and years, like most of us have, you get a sense about it. We made 400,000 calls in the last four days.” United Firefighters of Los Angeles City leader Pat McOsker didn’t like the numbers he was seeing, but the resident of San Pedro — just like the mayor, just like his own brother, Hahn Chief of Staff Tim McOsker — tried to stay upbeat. “I’m waiting to hear what San Pedro had to say about the mayor’s race,” he said. The mayor’s sister, Councilwoman Janice Hahn, also tried to be upbeat, but she discussed what people would remember about the first mayor in more than seven decades to be ousted after a single term. “He will go down in history as one of the best mayors that Los Angeles has ever had,” Janice Hahn said, citing the monumental drop in crime, the revamping of the Police Department, and the defeat of San Fernando Valley and Hollywood secession. So why didn’t voters give him credit? “That’s going to be a hard one,” his sister said. “I hate to blame the media, but certainly there has been a concerted effort by the largest newspaper in town to discredit him, malign him, and to not give him credit for the good things in the city but to blame him for what they see as the bad things, like traffic.” Then out came Mayor Hahn himself, and he was all fight and spirit, ticking off the ways the city’s improved in the last four years, with new housing, more jobs, better policing. He was not exactly on fire, but he looked sharp, in command, mayoral. Who was this guy? To the last day, Hahn was living up to his reputation as a fierce campaigner, if a lackluster leader. If only he had been fighting for his job every day of the last four years. “Los Angeles is a place where dreams can come true,” Hahn said. “This is a place that judges you on who you are, how hard you work.” He had to know it was over, but Hahn told his supporters they were in for a long night. They knew better. Still, there were no tears, not even any long faces. Campaign adviser Kam Kuwata joked that there was no reason to go home. “We paid for the room,” he said. “What the hell.” On Monday, Julie Butcher, general manager of SEIU Local 347, sighed at the labor dollars that were spent fending off the challenge by Antonio Villaraigosa, the candidate most often thought of as a friend to labor. The challenge — and ultimately the defeat — of a good labor candidate like Hahn meant there would be hundreds of thousands of dollars unavailable in several months, when they would be sorely needed to fight the host of ballot measures being proposed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead of being united, Butcher said, labor would be licking its wounds. “It didn’t have to be this way,” she said. But on Tuesday night, the mood at Hahn’s party was pretty much summed up by Kim Thompson, a neighborhood-council leader, environmental activist and Hahn supporter who could see that things would change for her on July 1. “I’m sad,” she said. “I’ve lost my parking space at City Hall.”

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