Derailed? Train wreck mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his dreams for U.S. Secretary of Transportation


(PR NewsChannel) / December 10, 2012 / LOS ANGELES 

At the height of the mess that is Metro Rail, and well before President Obama was re-elected,“all-about-me” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa began angling for the job of  U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

If Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had any hope of ever getting the plum post that paid big dollars and gave him power, his money had to be on President Obama getting re-elected.

So there he was, weeks before the election, espousing the greatness of Obama and why the country needed Obama for four more years.

It seemed clear to many why Antonio Villaraigosa would be playing on Obama’s team. However those same people wondered why Obama would want him.

After all, Antonio Villaraigosa’s record of problems was well documented: with Metro Rail, the signature transportation issue of the millennium in Los Angeles, his sexcapades and his penchant for personal scandal.

Forget the “all-about-me” mayor tag. I think Antonio Villaraigosa should be called the “train wreck” mayor. (Seems fitting with all his personal baggage and Metro Rail.)

Still, there he was, whenever you turned on the television, promoting himself and, oh yea, the president too.

His efforts were not subtle.

His personal campaign for bigger office began many months earlier.

Well before the Democratic National Convention and the presidential election kicked into high gear, Antonio Villaraigosa began setting the groundwork for his next job. The train wreck mayor used his State of the City address to do it back in April.

In a commentary for KCET in Los Angeles, Jessica Levinson wrote about that:

So why did the Mayor focus on transportation? Well, Los Angeles is a vast and sprawling city. It is also a congested one. Certainly the city ranks among the top cities in which to have a serious conversation about transportation. It would be a wonderful moment if we could eliminate one from the relatively sparse list of common experiences shared my Angelenos. Right now my list includes sunshine, a healthy fear of earthquakes, and traffic.

A cynic (me) would also say this focus on transportation has something to do with the rumors that the mayor would like to be the next Secretary of Transportation should there be a second Obama administration. It seems unlikely that Villaraigosa is destined for higher office in California state government. So is the next stop on the Villaraigosa express D.C.?

Obama did not need Antonio Villaraigosa to carry the city or the state to win re-election.

People in Los Angeles saw Antonio Villaraigosa’s baggage. So why didn’t Team Obama see it during and after the election?

LA Weekly blogged about the obvious:  

With the Democratic National Convention now over, it’s clear that President Barack Obama has chosen, of all people, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to be a high-profile cheerleader for his 2012 re-election campaign.

That decision has caused a lot of head scratching in Los Angeles. He was, after all, deemed a “failure” by Los Angeles magazine and the “All-About-Me-Mayor” by L.A. Weekly.

In November, when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s man got re-elected, Villaraigosa should have been one step closer to his dream.

Except for one thing: an ugly, and unexpected defeat of Measure  J.

Measure J was a modern day David v. Goliath story. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expended a great deal of his own political capital to get Measure J passed, but a scrappy and diverse grass roots group united folks from Beverly Hills with South Central Los Angeles managed to defeat it.

That loss didn’t stop the train wreck mayor from unleashing his spin doctors. They floated the story that Antonio Villaraigosa was on the short list for U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

And the media–like the NBC station in San Diego–bought it: 

Some things just make sense. Like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Rumors abound about Villaraigosa stepping into that job as President Obama reshuffles his cabinet for the second term. Politico reports on the rumors, and the speculation that the current Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, may want to leave.

The timing and the job seem right for Villaraigosa.


The fast-ride path for Antonio Villaraigosa to U.S. Transportation Secretary seems to have hit some track-trouble, with Ray LaHood announcing last week that he plans to stick on the job well past inauguration day. [].

Perhaps enough time has passed for the fog to lift and Obama’s people have come to their senses—that the train wreck mayor  Antonio Villaraigosa is the last person who should be U.S. Secretary of Transportation and so they asked LaHood to stick around a bit.

Here’s hoping that the train wreck mayor never leaves the station on this one.

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SOURCE:  Steven James

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