Explaining Southern California's economy

No investment-banker mayor for L.A.: Austin Beutner drops out

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Mark Sullivan/Getty Images for The Broad Stage

Austin Beutner on stage during the preview of The Broad Stage 2010-2011 schedule. The former investment banker and deputy mayor dropped out of the race for mayor of L.A. today.

Austin Beutner, the retired investment banker who was running for mayor of Los Angeles but who wasn't polling anywhere near other candidates or raising as much money, has dropped out of the race. Our new politics blogger, Alice Walton, has the lowdown. His stated explanation is that he wants to refocus on his family. This is from the statement his campaign released earlier today:

I have decided to withdraw from the Los Angeles Mayoral Race.  While everything I’ve learned exploring the possibility has reinforced my view of how much our city needs leadership who will solve problems, it has also reminded me of my responsibilities as a husband and father.  My family has been my biggest supporter in this effort, but my own needs at this time are for me to be engaged with my family in a way which is at odds with the demands of a campaign.

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Should we be afraid of Mitt Romney?

GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Campaigns In Florida

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 24: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets supporters and gives autographs after a speech at the National Gypsum Company January 24, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Romney's speech was billed as a "prebuttal" to tonight's State of the Union speech by President Barack Obama (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

That's what Michael Keating, formerly of the Boston Consulting Group, thinks. A president who comes from the brutal world of private equity? Terrifying. Keating outlines the fear in the LA Times:

Private equity consultants are not real business people, if real business people can be defined as entrepreneurs who want to build something of lasting value that can employ members of their community and make profits for their shareholders, whether public or private. A private equity consultant is more like an Excel spreadsheet with legs that looks at the "target" company through the lens of return-on-investment and cutting costs to the bone. If those costs are people, well, that's just capitalism in action. If an opportunity exists to expand a product line and it becomes necessary to hire some engineers and sales people, then welcome aboard. It's all a very finely tuned calculation that has nothing to do with what most people recognize as doing business. It is an abstract exercise, at best, that most of these ladies and gentleman have learned at places like the Harvard Business School, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School or wherever business is taught as warfare rather than as a contributor to the social good. 

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Will his background in private equity undermine Austin Beutner's LA mayoral race message?

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Mark Sullivan/Getty Images for The Broad Stage

File: Austin Beutner on stage during the preview of The Broad Stage 2010-2011 schedule at The Broad Stage on April 22, 2010 in Santa Monica.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Austen Beutner gave a Town Hall Los Angeles speech yesterday at Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Downtown LA. The core topic? Getting "Los Angeles back to work."

In the speech, Beutner rolled out a kind of plan for a plan, highlighting areas he intends to focus on to rebuild the city's economy, which is currently facing a budget deficit of something like $200-$250 million and unemployment in LA County of 11.5 percent, three points higher than the national rate of 8.5 percent.

It's just an outline, although Beutner characterized it as an "ambitious agenda." The candidate — who came to city government as a "jobs czar" from a very successful career in banking and private equity, as well as in the Clinton Administration — zeroed in on six key job-creating areas: trade; technology and education; tourism; manufacturing; transportation; and small business.

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