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Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Council President, Takes One More Baby Step Toward Admitting He's Running for Mayor (VIDEO)

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Thu, May 19, 2011 at 6:30 PM

click to enlarge Quick campaign tip: Keep better company. - EXPOSAY
  • Exposay
  • Quick campaign tip: Keep better company.
Everyone and their mistress knows Eric Garcetti is running for mayor. Hell, we even drew up an eight-item list on the utter obviousness of it, way back it in January.

But the L.A. City Council president is taking his sweet time to drop an official bid, stringing us out on a never-ending lean toward "yes," but never quite a yes toward "yes," seeming almost to enjoy the torturous tortoise race. Slow and steady -- that's Garcetti!

While the rest of Los Angeles seems to have tired of this game, AOL's Patch clings to Garcetti's every hint.

In January, he told Hollywood Patch he was "seriously leaning." Now, he gives Sherman Oaks Patch an EXCLUSIVE! video interview, which in the end proves entertaining for a variety of reasons, none of them being his non-announcement that he's now "definitely leaning 'yes.'" Yeah -- we know. Here's the clip:

As you can see, the real gems of the interview are Garcetti's excuses for not having decided whether to run yet.

"I've been so focused on balancing the budget, which we just did today."

Funny -- because that "balanced budget" of which Garcetti speaks happens to be not balanced at all. As we reported at length today, millions of dollars in proposed cuts have no actual target. For instance, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has been handed negative $41 million and told he must find places to trim. How much "focus" does a lazy handoff like that really require?

It's all summed up in Garcetti's declaration that "after 10 years on the council, this was the smoothest [budget approval] we have had." In this case, smooth can be defined as the antonym of focused.

"I'm going to be re-elected for council president July 1, and then I'll make a decision over the summer."

Major oops. Garcetti just gave us an accidental peek into his embarrassingly cocky subconscious, calling his seat at the head of City Hall's half-moon table as good as won, for the fifth year in a row.

Sure, he's got a pretty good shot -- and certainly needs the re-election for a fighting chance in the mayoral race -- but, for that very reason, not everyone's gunning for his continued presidency. More than one City Hall observer has hinted to us in the past few weeks that some councilmembers are getting fed up with Garcetti's united-front leadership, and aren't so keen on giving him that edge for potential mayorhood.

Of course, there are also downsides to being prez: As political analysts told Weekly reporter Patrick Range McDonald in "Zev Yaroslavsky Will Replace Antonio Villaraigosa as Mayor, Experts Predict," Garcetti's going to be held more accountable for the city's problems (and lord knows they abound) than your average councilman.

In the end, McDonald ranked Garcetti as tied for fourth -- along with Austin Beutner and Alex Padilla -- in chances for L.A. mayorship. Better to let the experts explain, using a 1-through-10 rating system where 10 is best and 1 is worst:

Gilliam gives him a 7. He is "positively regarded by most people," but "I don't know if he has the fire in the belly for a dogfight" like the mayoral race. He has the skills to fix the budget and deal with unions, but critics will target "the weakness of his record: no real, major accomplishments." He may have problems raising money in a field of candidates also looking to the labor union/developer axis for cash.

Kaye gives him a 1. "He's responsible for the state of city government -- he's the City Council president." He can't handle budgetary problems or the unions: "Eric hasn't done it during his many years on the council." Critics will target his handling of L.A.'s economic crisis. Garcetti is "likable and comes across dripping with sincerity." But like Villaraigosa, "He'll continue the coalition of contractors and developers that control City Hall."

Klink gives him a 7. He describes Garcetti as "one of the smartest people to run for 2013." Also, "He's very charismatic." He will raise money from trial lawyers, labor unions, environmentalists and developers.

Regalado gives him a 6. Garcetti has "name recognition and is seen as smart." Yet, "Nobody knows how well he'll run in all parts of the city." Critics may call him "indecisive." He'll raise funds from environmentalists, developers and labor unions.

Riordan gives him a 3. "The public wants a strong mayor, and he will not be seen as a strong leader." He can't handle the budget: "He's too much in bed with the unions." He says Garcetti must avoid repeating Villaraigosa's "narcissism of having to look good rather than getting things done."

South gives him a 6. "He's a very engaging, very, very smart guy." But critics will target his record. "He's had to make a lot of decisions as [council] president -- and that's extra baggage." He's a "good fundraiser," but developers and unions may give to his rivals as well.

Given his shameless concessions to the unions last night, we'd say Garcetti's in a better position than ever to fill Villaraigosa's lobbyist-bought boots in 2013.

All right, man -- wake us up when you're done leaning. No more crying wolf.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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