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Villaraigosa Flips Out, Walks Out of Metro Meeting After County Leader Antonovich Says Constituents 'Gang Raped' by Sales Tax Plan

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Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 4:57 PM

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Updated at the bottom with feedback from Antonovich's camp. First posted at 1:08 p.m.

In a rare showing of rage and emotion, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa walked out of a Metro meeting today after L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said that a proposed a permanent extension of a transportation tax could amount to "gang rape" of some communities.

A witness at the executive management committee meeting this morning said the mayor straight flipped out after Antonovich complained that the tax extension was being done without consulting with various communities and constituencies in the same way things were done when the tax, Measure R, was passed the first time around a few years back:

Antonovich said something like, we're going to be "gang raped again."

The mayor stood up, yelled, called the language inappropriate and walked out, the witness says: But he returned to vote.

The committee was considering a stance on the proposal -- in favor or against. The vote was 3-2, with the mayor, who chairs the Metro board, in favor, and Antonovich opposed.

The proposal would allow the city to accelerate construction of a subway to Santa Monica and expand the region's light-rail dreams. Read more here.

Villaraigosa walked out of another Metro meeting last month after gadfly John Walsh ranted about extramarital sex. Maybe the mayor has thin skin when it comes to sexual metaphors.

[Added at 3:51 p.m.]: If you want to know why, with Measure R's half-cent sales tax running through 2039, the mayor wants to extend it permanently now, LA Biz Observed's Mark Lacter explains further:

... Measure R expires in 2039, which means there's a cap on the amount of revenue that can be guaranteed. By extending the tax - essentially making it permanent - local officials would supposedly have an easier time borrowing against future revenue, no matter what Congress does or does not do.

And our boss notes that Antonovich reps some of those outlying areas in the county that are also taxed but which really don't see much in return is far as subways and light rail goes: Much of the Measure R cash, some would argue, is going toward train projects in the L.A. basin, particularly the core Westside.

To be fair, however, Metro put forth plans that will see a lot of the cash go toward freeway lane expansions and other transportation improvements throughout the county.

R, which passed in 2008, is expected to bring $40 billion in extra transportation cash to the county.

[Update at 4:57 p.m.]: Antonovich spokesman Tony Bell tells the Weekly that, indeed, this is about alleged taxation without representation:

The point is that Measure R is a countywide tax - not a just an LA city tax.

Any extension requires the input of all the County's town councils, cities and regional associations. If LA City wants a tax to pay for their individual projects, then they should vote to tax themselves without including the rest of the county - who have their own vital transit needs.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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