Rick Caruso, billionaire mall tycoon, strode to the lectern at Town Hall Los Angeles this afternoon and gave a blistering assessment of the state of Los Angeles.
The schools are terrible — “an educational gulag.” The airport could be in a “Third World country.” City Hall is a “roadblock that's keeping L.A. from reaching its potential.”
In this sort of pre-announcement speech, it's customary to say how bleak everything is as a prelude to offering a vision for reform. What's less common at this stage is to attack a bunch of individual officeholders.
Caruso spiced his speech with a high dose of score-settling. He attacked Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for being interested only in “tickets to the next sporting event.” He went after mayoral rival Austin Beutner for his “limited success” as job czar. And he boasted about firing then-Chief Bernard Parks due to falling morale and rising crime on Parks' watch.
At times, he went out of his way to take shots. Asked about the NFL, he said that some members of the City Council “would have a tough time spelling 'football.'”
About the only mayoral contender Caruso left un-zinged was the favorite, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. But he did attack the Westside subway extension, which is one of Yaroslavsky's highest priorities, saying the money could be put to better use on light-rail projects.
“We're spending billions of dollars to put people underground,” he said. “We have the best climate in the world. Why are we putting them underground?”
For a non-politician, Caruso is a man of considerable political gifts. That's part of what has made him a successful developer. But in this speech, he came off mostly as a guy who thinks he's smarter than everybody else. That may not be the best way to run for mayor.
But judge for yourself. The text is below.