Mail for the Mayor

“Dear Mr. Mayor,” Ed Leibowitz’s open letter to Antonio Villaraigosa, got the attention of our readers. Here are the letters we received about this feature

Nice to finally see a magazine take on the mayor. I will now subscribe to your magazine and send all of my friends a subscription, too. Great work!
George R. Watson 
Laguna Beach

I’m not particularly a fan of mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. But because I am definitely a fan of Los Angeles magazine (and kind of agree with a lot of what Ed Leibowitz wrote), I was surprised, almost shocked, to see the word “failure” slammed across the shot of the mayor on the June cover. Yeah, the image caught my eye, but I didn’t complete my original intention: to buy the magazine. Come on, he’s our mayor. Shame on you.
Jill Flanagan 

When I pulled out the June issue from my mailbox and saw Mr. Mayor’s grinning face on the cover, I was ready to cancel my subscription. Anger turned to satisfaction after I removed the plastic cover and saw “failure” printed across his body. You have it wrong, though: he has not been a complete failure. He has been an overwhelming success in getting his face in front of the public at every possible opportunity, from christening waterless toilets to attending Obama’s inauguration. You had better watch your back the next few years in L.A.!
Steve Clinton 

I take exception to your story about Mayor Villaraigosa. If it were not for the mayor, we wouldn’t have a clean-trucks program at the port. It was the mayor’s commitment to economic justice for the underpaid and overburdened port truck drivers, and environmental justice for the rest of us, that got the ball rolling for clean trucks. The mayor realized that the existing system is harmful and unsustainable, and he did something about it. We have had our setbacks, but that happens every time people try to make things different and better. The program is a success that has saved lives, improved health, and lowered costs for taxpayers.
David Greene 
San Pedro

Finally some publication has the guts to print a courageous article addressing perhaps one of the slimiest, unprofessional, and useless mayors this city has ever seen. However, what I would have liked for your magazine to have addressed is our mayor’s complete disregard for the city’s Westside. Sure, it is not his constituency, but it is the lifeblood of Los Angeles, and he has shunned us in favor of the city’s center, south, and east. Not acceptable, Mr. Mayor.
Kevin Boles
West Hollywood

Mr. Leibowitz’s open letter to Mayor Villaraigosa told only part of the story. In our experience, the mayor has a serious commitment to sustainability, transportation, and housing issues. First, the mayor’s commitment to making Los Angeles the “cleanest and greenest big city in America” enabled Los Angeles to enact the groundbreaking private sector green building ordinance, the most comprehensive of its kind in the nation and one that has made a real difference in making Los Angeles the leader in sustainable development. Second, because of the mayor’s leadership, Los Angeles also has created the new clean tech consortium, composed of our three largest universities, business organizations, and the city. This consortium is focused on bringing clean-tech companies to Los Angeles, an effort that will further enable the city to be a clean-tech leader. Finally, Mr. Leibowitz refers to the Los Angeles Business Council’s 2008 workforce housing scorecard, which cited data showing that Los Angeles had the largest housing affordability gap in the nation. However, he fails to mention a key aspect of the scorecard’s analysis—namely, the critical link between improving transportation infrastructure and addressing the housing crisis. We believe the mayor has taken bold action in this arena with his leadership on passage of the measure R half-cent sales tax for transit. These are just a few of the areas in which the mayor’s leadership has proven essential.
Mary Leslie 
President, Los Angeles Business Council
Los Angeles 

Yes, candidate Villaraigosa inspired many of us to hope for change in Los Angeles. And as we take stock of Mayor Villaraigosa’s first term we see that there is indeed more on the to-do list than on the list of accomplishments. But we think Ed Leibowitz took the easy shot and missed the mark. To borrow from President Obama, Villaraigosa’s victory was not the change many of us sought but rather the opportunity to fight for that change. Our mayor has articulated a vision of Los Angeles as a place where the dignity of working people is recognized, where economic recovery can be rooted in green jobs, where a budding transit system can be built into an alternative to choking traffic, where the children living near the port can breathe fresh air, where children can walk safely to a school at which they spend the day learning, and yes, where rents can be affordable for working people. The question that will get us closer to the results Leibowitz longs for is, how has each of us actively engaged to bring about the change Leibowitz faults Mayor Villaraigosa alone for not delivering?
Beth Steckler 
Highland Park

Ed Leibowitz states: You vowed to make L.A. a no-kill zone for abandoned cats and dogs. By the end of 2006, the euthanasia rate at city shelters was 41 percent, not even 2 percent less than the previous year; your animal services director recently resigned after suspending the city’s free spay-neuter program.” The 2005 euthanasia rate was 41 percent. The 2006 euthanasia rate was also 41 percent. There was no statistical difference. I’m talking cats and dogs only. In fact, cat euthanasia went up in 2006 under Ed Boks. I worked for Ed Boks during this time. I am very familiar with the numbers and the spin job Boks and Villaraigosa did with the numbers. Villaraigosa hired Ed Boks for positive press, period. He did not care if there was any progress. I am also the person who sued Boks and the city. We are currently trying to settle the case.
Mary Cummins
Los Angeles

Ed Leibowitz got it mainly right that our mini mayor has been a disaster. But it is ironic that he would knock Jim Hahn when it is obvious that Hahn was a much better person to lead the city than what we ended up with. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the city charter, knew hundreds of city employees by their first names, was an attorney (mini mayor flunked the bar four times), answered his mail, was an honest, decent human being and a good manager. He reformed the LAPD by giving us Bratton and held the city together through several secession fights. When someone only has charisma, you end up with a mini mayor or someone like George Bush. We all know how that turned out!
R. Richards
Los Angeles

It seemed like Mayor Villaraigosa had a lot of promise going in and making the city a better place to live, but he is the ultimate failure by disappointing many residents. It started with his affair with the reporter from Telemundo and his failed attempt to take over the LAUSD in an effort to improve schools. He has been a big disappointment. He has a lot of work to do in not only repairing his image but gaining the trust of every resident in Los Angeles that he has the willpower to keep the promises he made. I’m glad he isn’t running for governor, because he can’t do it.
Tracy Bueno 
El Sereno

Dear Mr. Mayor, Los Angeles magazine was right. You have failed. While your personal life has been mildly entertaining, your lack of common sense has made its way into your day job as well. Only days before I got a letter from the DWP, telling me my rates were going to go up, the city spent three days shoring off all the Chinese elm trees that line our Everglade Street and provide shade to dozens of homes. They were trimmed only a couple of years ago. Now that was a waste of money. As it is, we only water our family of four home once a week and have torn out half of our lawn to help conserve water. Are the dog days of summer really a good time to eliminate all the shade on our street? We all managed to get away with no air-conditioning because of those elms. And now you want to punish us with higher water rates because of your lack of common sense? The irony of it all was when I called the DWP to try to renegotiate my water allotment, I was offered five new shade trees for free. Five new trees that will need three times as much water as the old ones. She wouldn’t discuss it any further. That also makes no sense. Shame on you. No wonder we’re in the sad shape we’re in. All the photo-ops in the world can’t help you.
Michele Stueven 
Mar Vista

I could not agree more with your article on our Mayor’s failure(s) and priorities up north and points east (depending on who’s winning). You would think that since he “unofficially” aspires to be the next Governator, he would work more closely with the Governator in getting Caltrans to clean up our litter-strewn and graffiti-covered freeways that the state seems to have forgotten. Does he not see the mess on his way to City Hall each morning, or maybe the tint on his government-paid limousine windows are too dark?
Matthew J. Rohr 
Los Feliz

Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. is a national, nonprofit organization committed to creating opportunities for low- and moderate-income people by advancing the development of affordable housing in thriving communities. For more than a decade, we’ve had a strong presence and commitment to building and financing affordable housing in Los Angeles. In fact, last September, we joined the mayor for the unveiling of the Housing That Works plan—the first strategy in recent memory developed by the city to comprehensively address housing needs. When the mayor committed $1 billion over five years to affordable housing development with the intent of leveraging an additional investment of $4 billion, Enterprise was the first partner to step forward with our pledge of $700 million over the five years. We will meet this commitment by collaborating on the development of innovative financing products, private and philanthropic investments, and programmatic responses to address the foreclosure crisis, the demand for workforce housing, and the need to make affordable housing environmentally sustainable. The annual commitment of $100 million to the Los Angeles Affordable Housing Trust Fund has been instrumental in regularizing what is now a transparent system for distribution of city housing dollars. A mixed-income housing ordinance, a central pillar of the mayor’s five-year plan, is now being considered by the city council. The recessionary economy has made affordable housing development in mixed-income communities particularly difficult. The credit crunch, the state’s funding crisis, and losses and consolidations in the banking industry have cut into the dollars available for housing. Nevertheless, Enterprise remains firm in its commitment to the city, and we are actively seeking new contributors and investors to support the development of affordable housing. The groundwork we lay today will provide the foundation for achieving the city’s affordable-housing objectives—and we will see even greater success when the economy begins to turn around. Recognizing the growing and persistent need for affordable housing in Los Angeles, Enterprise advocates for keeping this issue at the top of the city’s agenda, and Mayor Villaraigosa has been our strong ally in this effort.
Jeff Schaffer 
Vice President/Los Angeles Impact Market Leader
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Los Angeles

Mr. Mayor not only took on a monumental task, but he has attacked it with vim and vigor. As you rightly point out, he overcame many odds from a difficult childhood and impoverished background to attain a position which deserves our utmost respect. To drag in his personal life is unconscionable. And so what if he did decide to run for governor of California? More power to him. He would be a wonderful asset to our state.
Angie McCartney 
Playa del Rey

There is something so highly disturbing about this cover that I had to write. Usually, editorializing and criticism is saved for the actual article. That cover is ugly and mean-spirited.
Michael Albert

Your open letter to Mayor Villaraigosa was an interesting critique of a man who considers himself a resounding success simply by virtue of the position that he has attained. I am curious, however, as to why you did not directly assert that the infrastructure of Los Angeles is grossly inadequate and is rapidly deteriorating? Our streets are riddled with potholes and are crumbling. Our traffic jams are among the worst in the world. Our schools, for the most part, are physically pathetic, poorly staffed, and lacking needed teaching materials. Los Angeles has become an ugly disjointed mass of urban sprawl as far as the eye can see. Mayor Villaraigosa would undoubtedly respond that there is no money to resolve the city’s problems, and Los Angeles magazine does nothing to offer solutions. There are many that could be suggested. Through the Internet, the city could sell deeds to undivided, non-possessory interests in each of the Hollywood stars on the Walk of Fame, printing them on parchment bearing a gold seal and signed by the mayor. Millions of people around the world would pay for $100 or some other appropriate sum for a co-ownership interest in the star of Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, or hundreds of other celebrities. The Los Angeles Unified School District could swallow its pride and allow Staples, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and others to sponsor the provision of books to our students and school libraries. Schools could also be adopted and sponsored by corporations and bear a bronze plaque or seal to acknowledge the sponsor. One by one, every street and boulevard could be adopted, repaved, and maintained by a corporate sponsor such as ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, or Toyota Motor Corporation. Trees could be sponsored by individuals, as hundreds of thousands have been in Israel. Bike paths could be sponsored by makers of protein bars, sports drinks, etc. The city can press the Obama Administration for funds to build a massive solar-powered water desalination plant and finally build our subway to the sea. There are many more things that can be proposed and accomplished. Your critique of Antonio Villaraigosa isn’t enough. You can do far more. Los Angeles magazine has the platform and the potential to become far more relevant.
David Rudich 
Los Angeles

ALSO: Read Dear Mr. Mayor