Mayor Villaraigosa delivers 'State of the City' address

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In his annual State of the City address Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa repeated his call for city workers to share in the pain of one of L.A.'s worst-ever budget deficits. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports.

Frank Stoltze: The state of the city isn't quite the state of the union – but the Narbonne High School drummers lent the occasion some pomp and ceremony.

[Sound of Narbonne High School drummers]

Mayor Villaraigosa kept up his own drumbeat – for city workers to forgo pay raises and contribute more to their pension funds to help the city address a $530 million deficit.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: My fellow city workers, we face a stark and clear choice – we can reopen contracts and together write a jobs budget or we can stay stuck on autopilot on a path to a layoff budget.

Stoltze: Layoffs, he said, that could reach 3,000 city workers. Even so, Villaraigosa again promised to continue hiring more police officers. After the speech Councilwoman Jan Perry said she's increasingly skeptical of that idea.

Councilwoman Jan Perry: I think our financial situation is so serious that I think we have to have a discussion on whether or not we can even afford to take care of the officers that we already have.
Stoltze: You're suggesting maybe we shouldn't hire new ones.
Perry: We may not be able to afford to hire new ones.

Stoltze: The mayor's no doubt hoping that a $160 million federal economic stimulus grant comes through for the LAPD. In his address, Villaraigosa also promised to open 21 neighborhood centers in which people could seek government assistance. He added that he'd raised $4 million to hire outside contractors who'll help L.A. Schools Superintendent Ray Cortines.

Villaraigosa: We're helping Ray recruit a team of change agents to help lead the district – change agents, not bureaucrats – innovators who will demand high expectations for students and will stop at nothing to make that happen.

Stoltze: As expected, the mayor didn't beat the drum about his ambitions for higher office. Many political observers believe Villaraigosa will run for governor next year.