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Patt Morrison on Mayor Villaraigosa's long goodbye

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Patt Morrison.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Patt Morrison.
Dave Coelho/KPCC

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Mayor Villaraigosa has spent the last month on a victory lap of sorts, but it all came to an end on Sunday night when Eric Garcetti was sworn in as the 42nd mayor of Los Angeles.

He'll be the our first ever Italian-Jewish-Latino mayor, but Villaraigosa was our first Latino mayor in more than 100 years. Villaraigosa’s spent the last month saying his “adios” and KPCC’s Patt Morrison clocks the mayor’s long goodbye.

Has it really been eight years?

The Villaraigosa era ended Sunday night with a big foodie-Moby-music downtown party for Eric Garcetti's swearing in as the new mayor.

That other big downtown block party of about three weeks ago? That one was called 'Celebrate LA,' but it was really 'Celebrate Mayor Villaraigosa.'

On the city hall steps, Stevie Wonder played You Are the Sunshine of my Life as the mayor sang along. With one hand, Villaraigosa took cell phone videos of the crowd. With the other, he delivered a thumbs up.

This last month, his 96th month in office, has been a kind of victory lap for our departing mayor.

When the president of China landed at Ontario airport for his meeting with President Obama, the mayor was there to greet him. I know what you're asking, and the answer is, because LA owns Ontario Airport, that's why.
When the National Homeland Security conference opened at the Bonaventure, the mayor made a few remarks.

And when the Electronic Entertainment Expo kicked off at the Convention Center, the mayor had something to say.

He threw a dinner for the crown prince of Belgium at Getty House. Villaraigosa's moving out of there PDQ anyway ... maybe to that apartment in Venice he's been talking about.
Close to the beach. Close to LAX. And wall-space for all those plaques he's been collecting lately.

He signed the city budget and the plastic bag ban ... launched a zoning code reform website ... showed up for the LAPD cadet graduation.

At the Red and Purple Line Metro stations, he declared an end to freeloaders' free rides. He opened a new downtown park. He went to Vegas for a mayors' conference and to Utah for Mitt Romney's bipartisan retreat.
He was a mayoral marathon runner this month, sprinting down that last few hundred yards, slapping high fives as he goes.

There he was at the airport, at the rededication ceremony for the ten-foot-tall bronze head of Mayor Tom Bradley. It's outside the international terminal that bears Bradley's name. Inside the terminal, the mayor had a look at the makeover, and at the future  Antonio R. Villaraigosa pavilion.
The airport commission that he appointed voted to name it in his honor. 

Fancy shops are going to open there; if your flight has been delayed, you can eat a hundred-dollar caviar snack, and pay for it out of the ten-thousand-dollar Hermes purse you just bought -- at the Antonio R. Villaraigosa Pavilion. At the airport.

Will we miss Villaraigosa, our showman mayor? Gregory Rodriguez of Zocalo thinks we will. He was infuriating, sometimes, elbowing his way with the rough edges of his early rough life, and spieling the smooth patter of his confident politics. But entertaining.

Maybe what we really dislike is the spectacle of a politician enjoying being a politician. Teddy Roosevelt's daughter once said her father wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. Villaraigosa told the New York Times, "I love life. And I get beaten up about the fact that I love life. If there's a concert, I'll get up and I'll dance with Aretha Franklin. Yes, I will."

And now, at least until he starts his campaign for governor, he won't have to say he's sorry.