Politics, government and public life for Southern California

With Ray LaHood leaving the cabinet, will Antonio Villaraigosa have a job in the White House?

Obama Accepts Nomination On Final Day Of Democratic National Convention

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Is Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa headed to Washington, D.C.? Ray LaHood's decision to step down as U.S. Transportation Secretary gives teeth to speculation that the mayor could join Obama's White House.

The White House announced Tuesday that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will step down from his cabinet position. With that news, Los Angeles political insiders are wondering whether this could be Antonio Villaraigosa’s big moment.

With the L.A. mayor in the home stretch of his second term, speculation continues as to what Villaraigosa will do next. His name is frequently mentioned for a possible cabinet position with the Obama Administration. Villaraigosa chaired the 2012 Democratic National Convention and spent the better part of the year traveling around the country to campaign for the president. He is a frequent guest on cable news and Sunday morning talk shows. And on July 1, he will be unemployed. 

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the mayor sounded open to a move to Washington, D.C.

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City employees line up for their annual picture with Mayor and Santa

City Hall Christmas Tree

Alice Walton/KPCC

It's an annual tradition at City Hall for the mayor to take pictures with city workers against the backdrop of the Christmas tree.

In the spirit of the holidays, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spent a recent morning at City Hall standing in front of a Christmas tree to take pictures with city employees and their families.

Hundreds of workers lined up near the rotunda to snap a photo with the mayor and Santa Claus. One person waiting was Isabelle Sanchez of the City Clerk’s Elections Division. This was her first time meeting the mayor.

“I'm very excited. I just saw him right now because I passed by and it's nerve-racking but I'm looking forward to it,” Sanchez said. 

Another woman in line was Jameea Jones. She took off work and brought her three children to the event. Though her daughters were more excited about seeing Santa, Jones felt it was important for them to see the outgoing mayor.

“I think when they see his face they'll get it because they've seen his face on TV before so, I want to see the reaction,” she said. 

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Villaraigosa: Reforms must be included with sales tax increase

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hasn't said yet whether he will support a sales tax increase. In a letter to the Los Angeles City Council, he said he wants to see seven commitments from members before he decides his position.

The Los Angeles City Council may decide Tuesday whether to ask voters to increase the city’s sales tax, but it remains to be seen if the proposal will win the support of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. 

In a letter to the council, the mayor listed seven reforms he wants to see along with a tax increase that could help close Los Angeles’ $216 million deficit:

  1. New management structure at the L.A. Zoo
  2. New management model at the Convention Center
  3. The elimination of 209 city workers
  4. Continued hiring of police officers
  5. Consolidation of street maintenance functions
  6. Establishment of economic development entity
  7. Pledge to maintain 5 percent of General Fund dollars in a reserve fund

“If we are going to ask the people of Los Angeles to vote for higher taxes, we must continue to cut spending, spur job creation, protect public safety and maintain fiscal discipline,” the mayor wrote in his letter.

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Mayor Villaraigosa headed to Brazil, Chile, Colombia on trade mission

Democratic National Convention: Day 1

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will travel to South America at the end of the month on a nine-day trip to promote trade and tourism.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa just got done traveling around the country on behalf of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. Now he’s breaking out his passport for another trip – a trade mission to Chile, Brazil and Colombia. 

The mayor and executives from the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports and Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board will be in South America from Nov. 24 through Dec. 3.

“The future of Los Angeles is tied closely to our neighbors in South America," said Villaraigosa said. "As we strengthen and build our local economy, we must leverage our assets in this global marketplace to create jobs here in Los Angeles."

“With two previous trade missions, we worked to develop strong economic ties with Asia," Villaraigosa added. "Now, we’re going to strength our relationships in South America to increase investment, trade and tourism in L.A.”

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Mayor Villaraigosa stumps for Obama in Florida

Democratic National Convention: Day 1

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

With the presidential election down to the wire, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is in Tampa and Florida Monday to campaign on behalf of President Barack Obama.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will campaign for President Barack Obama until the last minute before Tuesday's election, making final stops Monday in Tampa and Miami.

The mayor - who chaired the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina - has stumped in New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Iowa and Florida on the president’s behalf. He also attended presidential debates in Colorado and New York.

Villaraigosa’s schedule in Florida included interviews with CNN, MSNBC, Telemundo and Spanish-language radio. He also visited Obama campaign headquarters and a field office in Tampa.

“I think the biggest reason to vote for President Obama is that we have, what now, 31 straight months of growth,” Villaraigosa told CNN. “The other reason is that 32 million people have health care and that 12 million jobs will be created, according to Moody’s analytics, in the next four years if we keep charting the course ahead." 

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