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Politics

Villaraigosa Skips Town . . . Again

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Thu, Mar 12, 2009 at 8:00 AM


It's no secret that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa lives the life of a jet-setter. Last summer, for example, he took 10 trips in 10 weeks to New York City, Chicago, Hawaii, England, San Francisco, Israel and more. But not everyone knows that when Villaraigosa is away all that time, someone else takes over the helm as "acting mayor." 

click to enlarge 30943960vg4_thumb_180x119.jpg

That person is usually the L.A. City Council president, who has been

Eric Garcetti over the past few years. Garcetti is certainly not a household name, but in 2007, if you remember, it was Garcetti, not

Villaraigosa, who dealt with the initial craziness of the May Day Melee at MacArthur

Park, where LAPD officers beat up the press and mostly peaceful civilians.

For the past few days, though, neither Garcetti nor Villaraigosa have

been calling the shots at City Hall since they're both in Washington

D.C. on a supposed lobbying trip to capture some of that stimulus

money.  President Pro Tempore and 2nd District City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel would normally take over at this point, but she's in the nation's capital, too.  So that leaves Angelenos with fourth-stringer Jan Perry, the assistant president pro tempore and 9th District City Councilwoman who represents downtown and South L.A., at the helm.

To

make matters even more bizarre, LAPD chief Bill Bratton is also out of

town as he pursues stimulus money in D.C. with Villaraigosa, Greuel and

Garcetti. So one of his deputies is the "acting chief."

Out

of town trips have always been a favorite perk of L.A.'s leadership,

but now it's getting to the point of some kind of bad parody.  The mad dash to Washington D.C. by Villaraigosa

and crew seeking big bucks, though, may be one of those odd indications

of just how dire this city's economic health may be -- recent estimates

have a budget shortfall of $1 billion . . . and counting. If things

continue to get worse, the mayor, who's very interested in running for

governor, may just want to leave town indefinitely.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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