Where in the world is L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa? On TV. At campaign rallies in primary and caucus states across the country. Stuck to Hillary Clinton’s hip. Anywhere but L.A. Via LAT:
For more than 2 1/2 years, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been the public face of Los Angeles, appearing in one neighborhood after the next and often leading the nightly news.
But over the last two months, he has devoted noticeable time and energy to a cause outside the city. By today, the mayor will have spent 18 of the last 65 days on the road for presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) — visiting Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Texas as the primary election season has intensified.
On Friday, he started what was supposed to be a five-day swing through the Lone Star State to woo Latino voters ahead of Tuesday’s important presidential primary, but he decided to cut the trip short and return home this morning.
Villaraigosa, a national co-chairman of Clinton’s campaign, is one of her leading messengers with Latino voters. But in and around City Hall, political figures and neighborhood activists have begun to notice the mayor’s absences, sometimes quipping “Where’s Antonio?” as they guess where he will turn up next. The critics question whether Villaraigosa is being distracted from pressing city business, including a budget deficit that requires tens of millions of dollars in cuts.
“I think it’s too much for the mayor to be gone for reasons that have nothing to do with Los Angeles,” said Sandy Brown, president of the Holmby-Westwood Property Owners Assn. “I don’t see a nexus between campaigning on behalf of a candidate and bringing business back.”
On the stump, Villaraigosa travels with a press deputy from his City Hall staff and members of the Los Angeles Police Department security detail that accompanies him around the clock whether he is in the city or away.
The mayor’s office said the Clinton campaign covers the cost of flights and hotels for him and his press aide, but the two pick up their food expenses. The city typically pays the travel, hotel and food costs for the LAPD officers, according to police spokeswoman Mary Grady. On three occasions in the fall, the Clinton campaign paid hotel and airfare expenses for the officers before those involved realized that the city covers the costs.
The two press aides who trade off campaign swings — Matt Szabo and Janelle Erickson — use their vacation time as well as personal cellphones on the trips because they are barred by city and state law from engaging in political work on the job.
Erickson, who worked in former President Clinton’s congressional affairs office, said she didn’t mind using her vacation time or working on weekends for a cause she believes in.
“It’s not only my responsibility but an honor to work for someone as smart and talented as Hillary Clinton,” Erickson said.
Climbing the political ladder on LA taxpayers’ dime?
Si, se puede.
Flashback: The toilet brush campaign.