Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Boxer says Villaraigosa would make "fine" Transportation Secretary

Democratic National Convention: Day 1

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gets a thumbs-up from Senator Barbara Boxer to be the next Secretary of Transportation - if there's a vacancy.

He's not officially announced he's leaving. But the possibility that Transportion Secretary Ray LaHood may step down is fueling speculation about who might replace him.

This morning, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California told a room full of reporters she  thinks L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa "would be terrific" at the job.

Boxer heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which championed Villaraigosa's idea of expanding transportation loans to communities willing to put up their own tax money to pay them back. Congress approved a billion dollars a year to fund the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act - or TIFIA program.

Boxer likes the idea so much, she wants to create a similar program to help landlords and developers make buildings energy efficient, suggesting it should be called the BIFIA program.


Former Villaraigosa aide gets endorsement in LA City Council race

Matt Szabo

Marta Evry

Former Deputy Mayor Matt Szabo was endorsed Wednesday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Szabo is one of a dozen candidates running for a city council seat in the Hollywood area.

A longtime deputy to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa picked up an endorsement Wednesday from his old boss for his city council campaign in the Hollywood area.

Matt Szabo is one of a dozen candidates hoping to replace outgoing Councilman Eric Garcetti in the Thirteenth District.

Szabo is well known to those inside City Hall. He worked for Villaraigosa for six years, handling budgetary issues.

Previously, he worked for then-Councilwoman Wendy Greuel and former Mayor Richard Riordan.

Outside City Hall, Szabo is facing an uphill battle to raise campaign funds.

The latest finance report, posted Jan. 10, shows the Szabo campaign with $83,253.

In contrast, former Public Works Commissioner John Choi posted $189,268 and Alex De Ocampo with the Saban Family Foundation reported $134,056.

“Matt is tenacious and decisive, knows how to lead in a crisis and is not afraid to take on the biggest challenges for the benefit of the community he serves,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. “Matt Szabo will make a great councilman, and the residents of District 13 will be fortunate to have him on their side as their voice in City Hall.”


Playing the Villaraigosa-Cabinet speculation game (UPDATED)

LA Mayor Villraigosa Discusses Immigration Reform In Washington

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa remains the subject of speculation over a Cabinet post in the Obama administration.

UPDATE: Ken Salazar's decision to leave as Secretary of the Interior, announced Wednesday, puts more pressure on the Obama Administration to name Latinos to his Cabinet. 

ORIGINAL STORY: Everyone in Washington considers themselves smarter than anyone else in the room and therefore entitled to prognosticate on everything under the sun. Here's my punditry on the matter of where L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa might land in a second Obama admistration cabinet, should his personal life survive the vetting process:

There are currently two cabinet posts vacant at the moment: Labor and head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Neither is a good fit for Villaraigosa.

The mayor might argue he's been a leader in the green cities movement — meeting Kyoto targets on greenhouse gas, planting thousands of trees, reducing water consumption, reducing emissions at the ports. But there are others with more scientific backgrounds — outgoing Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire for one — who have a deeper environmental resume. Gregoire headed the state’s Department of Ecology and negotiated a nuclear waste cleanup agreement.


Is a Cabinet post in the offing for Villaraigosa?

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Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama is looking to fill out his Cabinet, but is Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on the short list?

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addressed the National Press Club Monday, ostensibly to talk about immigration reform. But the Mayor sounded more like he was auditioning for a job.

The rumors have been floating around for months: will Villaraigosa be invited to join the cabinet of the second Obama Administration?

Villaraigosa steps down this summer after two terms as mayor. At a luncheon for media and Latino leaders at the National Press Club, Villaraigosa said he’s aware of the abyss: "With each passing week I take another step toward what one wit would call the transition from Who’s Who to who’s he?"

Villaraigosa’s has already served as Speaker in the state Assembly. And he doesn’t seem much interested in running for Governor. When asked whether he’s been asked by the White House to take a Cabinet position, Villaraigosa gave his stock answer: "I don’t care to comment on any future job. I’m focused on the job I’ve got."


Villaraigosa talks immigration reform in Washington DC

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke about immigration reform Monday at the National Press Club in Washington.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is in Washington this week for the U.S. Conference of Mayors' winter meeting. But he’s been talking immigration reform all over town.

Villaraigosa was a guest on “Face the Nation” Sunday. On Monday, he addressed the National Press Club, outlining the steps he and fellow Democrats believe Congress must take to fix the nation’s immigration system. 

Villaraigosa said a "pathway to legal, permanent residency and citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants must be at the core of reform."

Responding to critics who want to clamp down on the undocumented in the workplace and cause them to self-deport, the mayor said there’s never been a case in history where 11 million people have self-deported.

Like other Democrats, Villaraigosa wants to replace the current E-Verify system, which checks citizenship status in a federal database. The mayor instead endorsed what he called an “effective and efficient” employment verification program.