By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Before that exchange, sitting at a long table with journalists, Currey conceded, "The practice with respect to labeling events private or not private seems to have been applied inconsistently."
There is yet another discrepancy facing the mayor: When L.A. Weekly, the Los Angeles Times and Fox 11 News requested the mayor's official, personal schedule under the California Public Records Act — each at different times, and each to see how the mayor was doing his job — Villaraigosa's office blacked out various lines or otherwise redacted the information, claiming those lines contained private information.
It is now clear that dozens of freebie events attended by Villaraigosa were being blacked out because some members of the mayor's staff believed his sports and cultural activities were private time, and not official business — a sentiment shared by many of his critics.
As John Schwada reported on Fox 11 News just after the district attorney announced he had opened an investigation, "on most days" that the mayor got access to free Lakers seats costing up to $3,000, Villaraigosa's calendar "indicated they were private events."
Watching all this from the sidelines have been former staff members to James Hahn. They say the media should have noticed a while ago that Villaraigosa was flaunting city ethics laws by taking scads of these gifts.
Says one former top aide to Hahn, who, like Mayor Richard Riordan, did not take free tickets, "It's just well known that every time he wants to go to a game, just bring a certificate. The joke is that Tommy Lasorda has a stack of mayoral certificates in his office from Antonio: 'Happy Month of March!' "
Hahn and Villaraigosa had bitter relations, having fought each other for the top City Hall job in two ugly elections during which both men played hardball. In the 2005 election, Villaraigosa delighted in calling Hahn "the most investigated mayor in Los Angeles history" over an overbilling scandal involving the Department of Water and Power and a city contractor, Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations.
In the end, court testimony failed to make any link between the scandal and Hahn himself, and Hahn is now a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. But the scandal tainted Hahn's administration and helped Villaraigosa to pull ahead and win the 2005 election.
Bill Carrick, a Democratic consultant who worked on Hahn's successful and unsuccessful campaigns against Villaraigosa, says Hahn "never took free tickets." His view of Villaraigosa's reading of the rules is, "You're growing up as a kid, and you say to your parents, 'I want to stay out 'til midnight,' and they say, 'You absolutely can't do that!' and you stay out to 1 a.m., and they ask you why, and you say, 'You told me I can't be out 'til midnight!' "
Riordan says he thinks the embarrassment and shame "have been punishment enough" for the mayor but then tells the Weekly he would like to see Villaraigosa "stop making these stupid statements that he was there on business.
"You don't want to do things in the aftermath that are actually more evil than what you did," Riordan says. "C'mon, Antonio, we are not that naive. Official business? So, my feeling is, this guy has suffered enough. But quit making these statements that this was about business. And please, please get on with fixing the city."
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.