Since leaving office in 2013, former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been mostly out of the spotlight. He has made some appearances in the Central Valley, part of a “listening tour” widely expected to morph into a campaign for governor sometime this spring. But he has generally avoided weighing in on L.A. issues.
That changed, however, on Christmas Day. The former mayor was driving around downtown L.A. when he spotted some homeless encampments. On the spur of the moment, he took out his phone and started narrating his thoughts.
“Here we are on Fifth and San Pedro looking at the homelessness all across here,” the mayor says, with “The 12 Days of Christmas” playing on the car stereo. “Poverty. You know we can do better than this. We really can. There's no way that in the richest nation in the world, so many people are hungry, looking for shelter. … Tents everywhere. My God. Why can't we do more for each other?”
Sounds like he's working on his stump speech. Scott Donohue, a Villaraigosa aide, confirms that that is the mayor talking. He says Villaraigosa sent him the video and asked him to post it to Twitter.
“This wasn't premeditated,” Donohue says. “I thought it was an interesting way for him to get a holiday message out there.”
Homelessness is, of course, back in the news, with Garcetti declaring a “state of emergency” on the issue before walking it back. Garcetti is expected to announce a comprehensive plan on homelessness early in the new year. It was also a hot topic when Villaraigosa became mayor back in 2005, and he launched his own plan. Since then it's waxed and waned, while becoming more acute downtown as a growing homeless population has clashed with an influx of new residents.