Where's Antonio? Flying to D.C., Hanging with His Cousin...Again

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa flew out of town again this week, and attended another swearing-in ceremony for his cousin, California State Assembly Speaker John Perez. This time around, the mayor didn't blow a good chunk of his workday glad-handing in Sacramento.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

On Monday, March 8, Villaraigosa was found in Wilmington at 9:30 a.m., breaking ground for a $22-million roadway improvements project along Harry Bridges Boulevard, according to City News Service. 

The mayor hung out with several elected officials, including L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who Villaraigosa later endorsed for lieutenant governor on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the mayor was completely off the radar ... at least the media's radar.

Villaraigosa, City News Service dutifully reported, held "no public events." No word on what kept the mayor from his usual sprint around town, attending one P.R. event after another.

By Wednesday, Villaraigosa was back in the swing of things, taking an interview with KABC at 8 a.m.

At 10 a.m., the mayor scooted over to Markham Middle School in Watts to attend the first performance of the Alvin Alley American Dance Theater's four-day residency at Markham, City News Service reported.  

Markham Middle School, if you remember, was taken over by the Mayor's Office from the Los Angeles Unified School District, but its students continue to under-perform, with a November, 2009, L.A. Times editorial describing the school as "problem-plagued."

At 7 p.m., Villaraigosa met up with CNN's Anderson Cooper, who interviewed the mayor about the city's gang-reduction efforts.  

Sometime late Wednesday night or very early Thursday morning, Villaraigosa took the red-eye to Washington D.C., where he once again took his eye off the ball (re: L.A.'s budget crisis) and lobbied Congress for his favorite legacy project: "Subway to the Sea."

He also managed to squeeze in three interviews on Thursday: KNX at 6:10 a.m., CNBC at 4 p.m., and CNN at 7 p.m.  

The mayor, who seems increasingly obsessed with the idea of building a subway line within 10 years instead of 30, had visited the nation's capitol only two weeks ago, seeking much-needed dough for the rail project.

Interestingly, two days earlier on March 9th, Villaraigosa appointed a new congressional liaison, who will essentially be the chief lobbyist for the city of Los Angeles and be headquartered in Washington D.C. Leslie Poliner replaced Jim Seeley, who had the job for 34 years.

Villaraigosa will be back in town today for a 9:15 a.m. press conference at the Convention Center, where he'll announce a proposal to add a "carbon surcharge" to DWP customers' bills. The mayor wants the fee to pay for his plan to eliminate the use of coal in L.A. by 2020.

Then the mayor will head over to the Japanese American National Museum at 10:15 a.m. for a "community swearing-in ceremony" for his cousin, California State Assembly Speaker John Perez.

Villaraigosa had taken heat late last year from powerful U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, who was concerned about a proposed rail project the mayor backed that could possibly mess with the operation of the Japanese American National Museum.

As chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Inouye could cause problems for Villaraigosa's "Subway to the Sea" if not listened to. Inouye also happens to be a board member of the museum.

Perez was already sworn in on March 1 at a fancy ceremony in Sacramento, but apparently the assembly speaker and Villaraigosa are taking that show on the road -- one day after Villaraigosa was lobbying federal lawmakers for subway money.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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