Monday, April 25, 2005

Mayors going down

Language No Barrier to Vitriol

Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, locked in an increasingly acrimonious race for reelection, sharpened his attacks Saturday on Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa in their final scheduled debate and for the first time cast himself as the candidate who will upend the status quo.

"We can't afford to go back to … policies of the past. Let's go forward into the future," Hahn said, linking his opponent to policies he said have failed at the city's Police Department and its public schools.

The mayor also took a new swipe at Villaraigosa's past, injecting into the campaign a 28-year-old misdemeanor assault charge that was ultimately dismissed.

The tenacious attacks by Hahn hewed to a reelection strategy that has tarred Villaraigosa for his work for the American Civil Liberties Union, his lackluster record on the City Council and his ties to former Police Chief Bernard C. Parks.


Villaraigosa, who led Hahn by 18 points in the most recent Times Poll, also continued to criticize him for presiding over an administration that has been under criminal investigation for more than a year.

The two men, who also faced off in a nasty 2001 race for mayor, have tangled in four rancorous debates.


Hahn said he "rejected the status quo" at the Police Department and suggested Villaraigosa would take the department backward because of his ties to Parks, who has endorsed Villaraigosa.

The mayor said he "didn't like the status quo of not building houses," so he created a housing trust fund.

And embracing reform of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the mayor said he wants "to change the status quo at LAUSD."

Hahn largely avoided the issue of education reform until last week, when he said he wants to appoint three school board members.

First of all, is the LA Times selectively quoting, or has the mayoral campaign fallen to such depths as to produce front-page platitudes such as "We can't afford to go back to … policies of the past. Let's go forward into the future"? Mayor Hahn has got to be running the most pathetic campaign I have ever seen. This is a perfect example of how Instant Runoff Voting would improve our electoral system. After all, people were bored with the Mayor's race already when they voted the first time, in March. Hahn should be happy though... he could have been named one of the country's three worst mayors by Time magazine:

San Diego's Embattled Mayor to Resign

San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy, under fire for a city pension scandal that remains the focus of a criminal probe, on Monday announced his resignation and said the seventh-largest U.S. city needed a fresh start.

Murphy, who won reelection in November, said he would resign effective July 15, allowing him time to finish work on the budget for next fiscal year.

"A good leader knows when it is time to move on," Murphy said. "It is time for me to move on and time for a fresh start for the city."

Murphy, a Republican originally elected in 2000, was named one of the three worst big city mayors in the United States last week by Time magazine, which said the pension scandal had "discredited" his administration.

The $3.6 billion San Diego City Employees Retirement System has a deficit of more than a billion dollars, due in part to underfunding by the city and benefit increases.

Federal prosecutors and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the fund's shortfall. The city attorney and district attorney have separate probes underway.


Murphy has been a lightning rod for criticism since he resumed office in 2004, after an election in which City Councilwoman Donna Frye won 5,500 more votes than him on a write-in ballot. Thousands of those votes were deemed invalid because voters failed to color in a bubble, and Murphy took office on a slim margin.

His resignation leaves the city with the choice of appointing an interim mayor until the next general election or holding a special election.


Blogger erin said...

the rest of Time's best/worst list:
New York's Michael Bloomberg
Atlanta's Shirley Franklin
Baltimore's Martin O'Malley
Chicago's Richard Daley
Denver's John Hickenlooper

Honorable Mention:
San Francisco's Gavin Newsom

Detroit's Kwame Kilpatrick
San Diego's Dick Murphy
Philadelphia's John Street

3:29 PM  

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