Buried in Thursday's news that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and city controller Wendy Greuel have issued a city spending freeze was a mandate that “travel has been suspended” with some exceptions. It's fascinating because, as you might have read here, the mayor has been everywhere but home during L.A.'s historic budget crisis: Guadalajara, San Antonio, Europe.
The mayor's folks might say that much of that travel was done last year when the budget crisis wasn't in focus, but everyone in City Hall knew it was coming, and red ink was already piling up: The City Council had decided, as it often does, not to get its hands dirty too soon. So now that Villaraigosa got his fun time in — including the usual TV camera time out-of-town, often for national outlets — it's time to shut down the party.
Of course, a big exception to the travel ban includes trips for “travel to Sacramento or Washington, D.C. for the purpose of participating in City advocacy,” according to a statement from the mayor's office. Can you guess where the mayor was Thursday? In Washington, D.C., ostensibly to lobby for his favorite pet project, transportation and the “subway to the sea.”
Of course, while he's in the capital, Mayor V. found room in his schedule to set up three hours worth of national TV time on CNBC and CNN with Anderson Cooper. So as the city piles up an estimated $350,000 in red ink a day, you can be assured that your mayor is doing his best … to get his mug on TV.
Oh, and that spending freeze? It applies mainly to “furniture and equipment purchases,” “food and beverage purchases for employee related events and activities,” “remodeling city offices,” and “mailings that are not legally required or related to revenue-generating activities,” according to the mayor's office.