We were away from L.A. a few days and came back to see numerous articles about Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wanting the job of California governor. Yahoo! News even made a strange case for why Villaraigosa could run for president.
That news isn't surprising — Villaraigosa always has big plans for himself. Before the mayor does run for governor, the U.S. Senate, the presidency, or anything else, a reality check is most definitely in order.
Our L.A. Weekly colleague Dennis Romero mentioned a few things about Villaraigosa's nearly eight years as mayor last week, but we'd like to add and underline a few things.
First off, in the 2008, an L.A. Weekly feature story titled “The All-About-Me Mayor” showed that Villaraigosa is a man driven to distraction by constant press conferences touting himself, trips around the world, and spending enormous amounts of time on anything but attending to the nuts and bolts of his job.
For example, during a ten-week period in 2008, the mayor posed for a statue of himself for the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, spent only 11 percent of his time on actual work, and took 10 out-of-town trips.
In 2011, the Weekly noted in an article titled “Los Angeles: Broke and Broken” that while the city of Los Angeles continued to struggle with major budget deficits, Villaraigosa understated by millions of dollars how much his own huge staff actually costs taxpayers.
Villaraigosa, though, had no problem slashing funds for the Los Angeles Public Library system, even though it's a vital center of learning, shelter, and support for senior citizens, young students with working parents, the unemployed, and immigrants.
Voters corrected Villaraigosa's glaring mistake when they approved a 2011 ballot measure that gives L.A. public libraries more money.
Villaraigosa is now involved in a highly controversial, drawn out fight with Beverly Hills officials over the super-expensive Westside subway. If it ever gets built, construction costs for the rail line will be anywhere between $5 billion and $9 billion.
That's a lot of money for a subway that, according to a Metro report, will have very little impact on clearing up bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Westside's gridlocked streets.
Yet Yahoo! News thinks Villaraigosa has what it takes to be the first Latino president?
Considering everything we know about the mayor, that one left us speechless.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.