by Rebecca Schoenkopf
I know exactly when all y’all started to hate LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: it was when he left his wife for that hot piece Mirthala Salinas.
I have no idea how you could blame him for that. Did you see her? I would have left my wife for her too! (And so would you, you big liar.)
Then there was that wee kerfuffle when he tried to take over LAUSD—and have you seen it lately? My son’s English class is reading Jane Eyre—and by “reading,” I mean they are listening to the book on tape. Seems there aren’t quite enough actual copies of the book-on-paper to go around. Suck it, LAUSD.
I personally think Antonio Villaraigosa is swell. SWELL, I SAY! He’s not sexy—he’s no my-boyfriend-Gil-Cedillo, who is sexy and growly like Al Pacino. But the amount of bitching I hear about Villaraigosa (mostly in the vein of “HE PROMISED ME ONE MILLION TREES WHERE ARE MY ONE MILLION TREES”) seems awfully ’snickety.
Dude got rid of 65,000 diesel trucks coming from the port in San Pedro! That is so many fewer diesel trucks! (Folks living along the 710 are well aware of the cancer cluster that lines the freeway.) Dude also decreased toxic emissions in the port by 52 to 75 percent! That is so many percent of toxic emission decrease!
Perhaps you have also noticed that there are some new trains? And everybody’s number one complaint now and forever has been our preposterous LA transportation system? And now we actually have one? And soon we will have more? And in fact Villaraigosa is infrastructing our good old Los Angeles at freaking warp speed? Thirty years’ worth of train-building in 10 years? That is some masterful politicaling, yo! That is some Pat Brown-level shit! (Or even better: MOCKUS!)
And so we saw Villaraigosa Wednesday, at the LA Business Council’s Building the Workforce Summit at UCLA. He was introduced by a nervous fellow from Bank of America (a sponsor of the summit), who began his remarks with this doleful plaint: “While it’s easy to bash large corporations these days” … er, yes, BofA fellow, it is! And here’s why! (I highly recommend reading through poor Mrs. Crabtree’s full complaint. And then doing whatever it is you like to do to lower your blood pressure. Maybe some yoga? Or perhaps some weed?)
So, that was stupid, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one scoffing. But then the mayor came on, and he listed all the cool stuff he has done, with the diesel trucks, and the trains, and the energy-saving LED streetlights, and the pocket parks the city has built!
(For the premier example of one such new park, treat yourself to sunset at the gorgeous Vista Hermosa Natural Park, just west of Downtown. They took an irregular parcel that was mostly seemingly unusable hill, and terraced beautiful walking trails amid hardy native plants. It’s so natural, and so pretty, and it smells like Topanga, and how many of the kids in that neighborhood ever got to smell Topanga before?)
But no, there aren’t one million trees yet (and how many have you planted, complainers?)—and more importantly, according to the new report from USC and UCLA presented at the summit, LA is not making good on its solar potential despite the yeoman’s work done in job training. A panel earlier in the day had included Jose Osuna, from universally beloved Homeboy Industries, discussing the fact that 2,200 people a year in LA now get job training for solar panel installation, design, and sales. And yet, he said, Homeboy had managed to place exactly two workers with the city.
Villaraigosa’s answer? Solar costs more, at least up front. “I’ll stand up and fight for it,” he said, “but you have to stand up and fight with me!” And I am entirely sympathetic to this argument, because it is what our poor President Obama has been facing: a mandate to do something awesome, and then we all expected him to do it all by himself … And HE DID! He did SO MUCH! And we still bitch and complain because we don’t have our one million trees.
Plant a tree, baby. Be the solution.