In a rare battle of top city leaders past and present, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fought back against charges by a predecessor, Richard Riordan, that Los Angeles will go bankrupt by 2014 if deep cuts and structural changes, including concessions from city unions, don't happen soon.

Fox 11 News reported this week that the mayor's office was preparing a rebuttal for the Wall Street Journal after Riordan and co-writer Alexander Rubalcava used the paper as a forum to state that “Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council have been either unable or unwilling to face” deep budget cuts to solve cascading red ink.

Fox 11 stated that the mayor would blame some of today's budget problems on Riordan's own administration, which reigned from 1993 to 2001. Riordan didn't deny his part in piling financial burdens on the city budget: “I'm not going to excuse myself — I'm worried about the future of L.A,” he told the station.

Villaraigosa was diplomatic, at least at first. “Well, Mayor Riordan is a great friend of mine,” he told reporters. “I'll just give him a big hug.”

But when asked if the city's ship is sinking, he fired up: “Those representations are not based on fact. The fact of the matter is this city will never go bankrupt. It will not go bankrupt under my watch.”

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.