As the city's historic budget crisis loomed, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went to Guadalajara, San Antonio and Europe. He's been to the Grammys, the Oscars and his own Academy Awards party. The mayor even found time to make an appearance on the soap opera All My Children recently, even as the city bled an estimated $350,000 a day in red ink as a result of inaction by Villaraigosa and the City Council regarding the city's $212 million deficit.
So, as there are fewer police and firefighters on-duty as a result of cost-cutting measures, you'd assume that L.A.'s mayor was on the budget crisis 24/7. You would assume wrong: Villaraigosa is headed out of town again. This time he's going to Washington, D.C. Thursday, and the trip has nothing to do with the city's financial woes.
Rather, Mayor V. is headed to the capital to lobby a Senate committee regarding his favorite vanity project, his "subway to the sea." The mayor wants to "accelerate the construction of 12 Measure R transit projects over 10 years instead of the current 30 year schedule ...," according to an announcement.
Key among those projects, of course, is his long-favored subway extension from the Miracle Mile to the Santa Monica, mostly along Wilshire Boulevard. The tax increase from Measure R will fund the project. But the timetable was originally set at 30 years -- the norm for a major subway line.
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Regardless of whether or not the route makes sense (another light rail line from Culver City to Santa Monica was recently approved), it's been high on Villaraigosa's agenda. Higher, perhaps, than even the day-to-day needs of the city.