That love letter to Antonio Villaraigosa's new aide Austin Beutner in the Los Angeles Times today got us thinking about the most fascinating fact the L.A. media leaves out when it comes to the super-rich, super-successful investment banker Beutner: his previous role as a honcho with say-so over the National Enquirer.
Now, we love the National Enquirer, especially for all its amazing scoops about the political world, which recently led to its former chief editor, David Perel, being given space to publish an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about how the National Enquirer took down John Edwards.
But two things strike us about Beutner, who we are sure, as the Los Angeles Times piece tells us, is “wiry” and “thoughtful” and “diligent” and even had an “epiphany.” But we also know that Austin Beutner was deeply — really deeply — and directly involved in the badly handled DWP rate hike fiasco that unfolded in City Hall over the past month.
So, think about this:
If you're on the Board of Directors of American Media for years, as Beutner was, that means you were in many, many private, closed door meetings to discuss cool, juicy, private stuff about the National Enquirer which the American Media board oversaw.
Connect the dots: Beutner knows scads and scads of National Enquirer dirt gathered in years of being a director on the board of American Media.
As we suggested in our story about the DWP debacle yesterday, the mayor is making Austin Beutner the temporary GM of the increasingly hated DWP, the city's monopoly utility supposedly owned by “the people”. Beutner has never run a public government department, division — even a city broom closet — in his life.
What's really going on here?
Most Angelenos probably pray that Beutner will be successful in luring high-tech businesses to L.A., one of the most business-unfriendly cities in Southern California. That's part of his portfolio, handed to him by Villaraigosa when Beutner joined the mayor in January for a salary of just $1 a year.
But Antonio is famously disinterested in the actual workings of Los Angeles City Hall, its departments, the problems facing city department general managers, or any other icky, dull or hard work. Read all about Villaraigosa's strange unwillingness to do real work, which we detailed in late 2008 in the Patrick Range McDonald cover story, “The All About Me Mayor.”
It may be that Beutner is more valuable to mayor for the political dirt he knows, via the National Enquirer, and far less valuable for any help he may try to give in changing how L.A. does business. That would be a far, far bigger achievement.