By all accounts, today's march down Figueroa and rally at Staples Center to honor the L.A. Kings — our Stanley Cup champions — was an epic affair.
As has been much joked about, every last Angeleno has become a temporary hockey fan during this joyous time. City News Service put the downtown parade population at “thousands,” and Los Angeles Times reporter Andrew Blankstein shoots even higher: “Maybe quarter million people not an exaggeration,” he Tweets.
The only man missing?
City Hall's own Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who's currently in Florida for another meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (his fifth in the last year, by our count).
It's one thing for Villaraigosa to miss the USC seminar on government ethics and transparency for a breezy weekend at the Kentucky Derby. Whatever. But the insanely attended L.A. Kings parade was a chance to reach out to the masses — to show the skeptics how proud he is of the city that elected him, and remind the rest that they even have a mayor at all.
It's not that the parade just happened to fall on the one day Villaraigosa was out of town. In the last month alone, he's made extended trips to Washington, D.C., and Vegas. And as soon as he gets back from Florida, he's going on an undisclosed California vacation.
City watchers have felt his absence like a slap in the face. As the L.A. Times understates it, “his heavy travel schedule has not sat well with all.”
A message from Service Employees International Union Local 721:
And all we get in response, today, is a stupid hashtag.
Kevin Modesti at the L.A. Daily News asks today: Why do we throw parades for our sports heroes, but never our elected leaders?
In the case of Villaraigosa, a Daily News commenter puts it best. “If our mayor were to balance the budget, not raise 'fees' and taxes, fix the sidewalks, fix the pension problem … I'm sure there would be a parade for him.”