Los Angeles Daily News reporter Rick Orlov wrote a fascinating item in his "Tipoffs" column yesterday, noting that L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is reworking his image by making staff changes and looking at what public services the city can afford.
Orlov also writes that Villaraigosa's choice for the next LAPD chief may help the mayor beef up his "law and order" reputation.
But an unnamed business leader in Orlov's column gets to the heart of what Villaraigosa should really be focusing on to improve his image, and it's a stone cold no-brainer: Better and more responsive city services.
"This is the civil rights issue of the year," the business leader says in Orlov's column. "We just need to make City Hall see it."
Villaraigosa, for example, could start with city agencies, which the mayor oversees, that get things done for such people as William Campbell.
Campbell recently wrote in a blog post that he's had no luck getting the city to remove swastikas in his neighborhood in Hancock Park.
Or Villaraigosa could listen to Brentwood community activist Jay Handal and provide better oversight of city departments and their general managers, rather than just slashing their staffs so the mayor can fix a $400-million budget shortfall that he helped create.
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Campbell and Handal's complaints, in fact, pinpoint another image problem for Villaraigosa, and it's not about appearances -- such as looking tough on crime -- but substance. The mayor, many critics say over and over again, needs to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
"I think he'll realize his political success in the future relies on the job he does with the city," L.A.'s civic-minded billionaire Eli Broad told L.A. Weekly last year.
A lot of people, though, are wondering if that realization will ever kick in.