Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion

    Mayor Villaraigosa Stumbles to Left on Immigration


    Mayor Stumbles to Left on Immigration

    by Jill Stewart

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s recent handling of protests by pro-illegal immigration crowds showed a man awkwardly straddling opposing sides of a political chasm that divides Angelenos who have all supported him. And his lack of deftness leaves doubt about whether he can bridge this gap as well as whether he can keep some of his most fundamental and important promises.

    One year ago, Villaraigosa was busy wooing the business community to back him for mayor. At the time, he told me — and other journalists — that he intended to be a mayor who “pays attention to the middle class.”

    His pledge made sense on a pragmatic level, since the ability to fight Los Angeles’ drift toward unlivability relies almost entirely on wooing those who buy the homes, rebuild the business strips and invest in the schools.

    It also made good political sense to pay attention to the middle class, because Villaraigosa trounced incumbent Mayor James Hahn after Hahn largely abandoned his middle- and business-class base, spending too much time wooing labor unions and identity politics groups Hahn believed could assure his re-election.

    And for months after his election, Villaraigosa appeared to be as advertised. He said the right things about municipal belt-tightening, appeared in person to calm parental fears about race trouble in the schools, and recently jumped into the high-stakes business battle to win NFL football back to Los Angeles.

    But lately, Villaraigosa has stumbled in the face of pressure to take sides over a proposed guest worker program for illegal immigrants now before Congress.

    First, he gave a troubling speech — one that I will always remember as his “us versus them” moment — using jarringly divisive language before a cheering, pro-illegal immigrant crowd to declare that “... we clean your toilets.”

    Villaraigosa could not have handed his critics more powerful evidence for them to argue that his loyalties are not with Los Angeles’ middle class core at all. The negative reaction was so intense that one talk radio station caused a sell-out of cheap toilet-bowl brushes on eBay, after directing angry Los Angeles residents to buy a brush and mail it to Villaraigosa to show their anger toward his divisive language.

    But a poor choice of words from Villaraigosa is not all that’s putting the middle class on edge. The city has pursued a fat increase in trash pickup fees aimed directly at middle-class homeowners, even as media outlets publish seemingly endless stories on excessive overtime or excessive workers compensation paid to spoiled city workers.

    Voters, business owners and middle-class families — the core city taxpayers — have also been unsettled by a nasty criminal trial in which private PR agents working for the Department of Water and Power stand accused of grossly padding their DWP billings — without anybody at City Hall even noticing.

    The PR scandal predates Villaraigosa’s election, and was used by Villaraigosa to devastating effect against Hahn. But the trial acts as a constant reminder that you can allegedly bilk a Los Angeles City department for hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet nobody even spots the waste.

    Further putting out the middle-class, Villaraigosa’s recent State of the City speech came freighted with all the verbal precursors to calling for more tax increases on the middle class.

    Then, this week, Villaraigosa reminded us through his words and actions that he is very awkwardly straddling his labor union/minority rights past and his pro-business/mayor-for-the-middle future.

    In a hurriedly explained change of plans during the final two days of April, Villaraigosa abruptly cancelled his May 1 NFL meeting out of state, telling one print journalist that he was concerned that violence or other troubles could erupt at the big May 1 protests demanding amnesty for illegal immigrants.

    While some media outlets seemed unaware of his change in plans, and continued to report on Monday that Villaraigosa was out of town to meet with the NFL, I heard him interviewed by KFWB news radio that morning, during which he confirmed that he had suddenly delayed his NFL meeting.

    The KFWB reporter had done his homework, and asked the mayor — who had been insisting he opposed the boycotts and rallies — if it was true he had already told the Spanish-language media that he intended to give a speech at the afternoon protest.

    What followed was the sort of strained spin, too frequently heard in politics, that almost makes you uncomfortable. Yes, Villaraigosa admitted, he had told Spanish-language journalists he would be speaking at the afternoon rally — but, he offered, his only concern was to ensure the safety of the citizenry.

    Suddenly, the job of mayor, less than a year into his tenure, isn’t looking so easy.

    Later that day, a different radio station reported that, as Villaraigosa prepared to give his speech to the massive afternoon protest crowd, he waited until after his aides managed to find for him “a big enough American flag” to wave onstage.

    Appearances are important in politics. Once he made the decision to speak at a rally he previously claimed to oppose, I don’t begrudge him wanting to have the star-and-stripes at his side.

    But promises are even more important than appearances. Former Mayor Hahn, who broke several of his promises to the city’s middle- and business-class in his fight to woo the powerful labor unions, can attest to that.

    Villaraigosa promised to be a mayor for the entire city. That includes illegal immigrants, as well as everybody else. But he also promised to make a special effort to shore up, retain and attract middle-class families, without whom the city cannot remain livable.

    Yet in recent weeks, that is not what we have seen. With new middle-class taxes probably on the way, with his divisive us-versus-them language, and with his strained explanation for wanting to appear at a rally he said he opposed, Villaraigosa is making the fundamental promise of his mayoralty look extremely difficult to keep.

    Jill Stewart is a syndicated political columnist and can be reached at
    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  2. #2
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion
    16,029 ... ide/13433/

    Antonio's Long RideHow immigration issues torture the mayor

    Wednesday, May 3, 2006 - 7:00 pm
    When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa grabbed an oversize American flag and waved it exuberantly at the thousands of immigrants who completed their march down Wilshire Boulevard, it looked like the most spontaneous of acts. With the nation’s lawmakers scapegoating illegal immigrants for months, Villaraigosa suddenly offered the nation a stunning visual contrast — a politician who offered gratitude, not scorn, to the sea of humanity that made its way from MacArthur Park carrying signs and banners, a leader who honored their patriotism and peaceful protest.

    “We come here for the same reason,” Villaraigosa proclaimed, as the crowd roared its approval. “We come to work. We come for a better life. We come to participate in the American dream.”

    Yet Villaraigosa’s journey to the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue had been far more circuitous than the one traveled by the marchers, and much less of a certainty than it appeared during the live feed of the Great American Boycott of 2006. For days, the mayor had planned to miss Monday’s marches, opting instead to fly to a meeting in Texas to woo the NFL back to Los Angeles. Even after he reversed course and decided to delay his departure, Villaraigosa and his communications team vacillated between a strategy of presence and absence at Monday’s immigrant marches.

    Villaraigosa, an adept politician, knows full well that immigration — and his role as the mayor of Los Angeles, where immigrant labor is so much a part of daily life — offers him an instantaneous national platform, the opportunity for one-on-one interviews with Wolf Blitzer and sound bites on Good Morning America. Yet immigration is also a mine field, one so treacherous that Villaraigosa has stayed almost robotically on message with his support for — we can all say it together by now — “fair and sensible, comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform.”

    In other words, Villaraigosa spent 48 hours looking like he was running toward the issue and away from it at the same time. On the one hand, he did not venture out of his third-floor office to greet the thousands of marchers who had gathered around the City Hall south lawn, an event organized by the activists who had promoted the much-debated, one-day boycott. On the other hand, Villaraigosa went on CNN to defend illegal immigrants, providing a momentary counterpoint to the increasingly toxic Lou Dobbs.

    So it went for 48 hours. First Villaraigosa would demand a “pathway to citizenship,” something long sought by the estimated 11 million undocumented workers throughout the nation. Then he would give a nod to the red states, insisting that marchers carry the Stars and Stripes — not the symbols of Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala — up the protest routes.

    Villaraigosa had been out of town during the media buildup for the Great American Boycott, as the English-language news agencies, determined not to get caught napping a second time, hyped the event for days. The mayor missed the opportunity to weigh in, appearing instead before African-American mayors in Memphis and at the White House correspondents dinner with CNN analyst William Schneider.

    Back in town on Sunday, Villaraigosa called a hastily arranged news conference, promising in a two-sentence news release that he would address the two great issues of the day — the coming protest marches and the Spanish-language national anthem, a red herring greeted by red-meat conservatives as the biggest thing since the War on Christmas.

    With no fewer than 12 television cameras aimed his way, Villaraigosa said he would stay in Los Angeles for much of Monday. The decision had been greeted with relief by the mayor’s allies at City Hall, who still remember the drubbing former Mayor James Hahn received when he was grounded in Washington, D.C., after the September 11 attacks, allowing then–Council President Alex Padilla to steal the spotlight. Villaraigosa attributed his change in plans not to the marches but to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s changing schedule at the NFL meeting.

    “It looks like he’s getting [to Dallas] much later than I thought, so, given that, the urgency to get there earlier in the evening is not as prevalent as it was before,” he declared.

    Then it was on to the silly “Nuestro Himno.” Villaraigosa labeled it “offensive” in a one-on-one with Fox News Channel’s Geraldo Rivera, and looked almost gleeful when CNN brought the issue up again the following day. “I was absolutely offended. I was offended because to me, the national anthem is something I personally believe deserves respect,” the mayor said. “I think that without question the vast majority of people in the United States of America were offended as well.”

    Moments later, CNN turned the microphone to Dobbs, who praised Villaraigosa for urging students to avoid the boycott and then used the mayor’s words on L.A. Unified against him. “More than half of the Hispanic students there are dropping out of high school, and the reason that is happening in large measure is the huge influx of illegal aliens into that community,” he said.

    When Monday’s first march — a crowd estimated at 250,000 — arrived at the steps of City Hall, Villaraigosa went literally underground, staging a noon photo-op and press conference in the Emergency Operations Center, an underground bunker where city leaders can track events on multiple television screens. Reporters spent a half-hour pressing their noses against the glass partition of the EOC, watching the mayor chat up Police Chief William Bratton behind a second, more distant pane of glass.

    When Villaraigosa emerged, he revealed that he would not address the demonstration being staged outside City Hall, saying his primary responsibility is the public’s safety. With the bigger march only three hours away, Villaraigosa would not guarantee an appearance at that event either, reminding listeners that he had another responsibility — a 7:05 p.m. flight to Dallas to secure a football team.

    “It’s going to depend on how long it takes for [the marchers] to get from MacArthur Park to the La Brea tar pits,” he said. “We were originally told they would be there at 5:30, now we’re told it’s 6:30 and that may be a bit problematic.”

    An hour later, mayoral aides said they still did not know what Villaraigosa planned to do. They remained equally uncertain as Villaraigosa left for a 3:15 p.m. helicopter ride with Bratton over the city. Villaraigosa remained coy all the way up into the beginning of the late-afternoon march — the one blessed by establishment figures such as Cardinal Roger Mahony and Big Labor.

    The hesitancy wasn’t entirely surprising. If marches were enveloped in violence, would any mayor — regardless of one with long-term political aspirations — want to be identified with a disaster? After all, we want our mayors, and our politicians in general, to be strategic. Who wants a dim bulb incapable of thinking two or three steps ahead?

    Yet strategy can also seem cold and calculating, and the boycott of 2006 briefly placed Villaraigosa in a different kind of political danger — appearing as though his own fortunes were being weighed against the people who had so bravely stepped into the streets. Villaraigosa arrived, of course, welcoming the crowd of roughly 400,000 that had walked for miles. In that moment, he fulfilled his promise — as he put it in his own words onstage — to be a mayor “for all of us.”
    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  3. #3
    Senior Member nittygritty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Can this Mayor be recalled?
    Build the dam fence post haste!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts