Someone should inform Mayor Villaraigosa that the chairmanship of the DNC Convention in Charlotte, NC does not expand his executive power beyond the City of Los Angeles. He wants to ram a project down the throats of many who will never benefit from the subway to the sea – or any other subway project. Los Angeles County is not the City of Los Angeles.
For that matter, what about residents of the San Fernando Valley who would still be stuck with the 405 and canyon roads as their main routes across the Hollywood Hills? Heck, the MTA has not even added much-needed parking to the North Hollywood Red Line station!
The mayor’s proposal to expand the Measure R sales tax beyond the lifetimes of generations yet to be born is a publicity campaign to win a seat on President Obama’s cabinet. The chances are fairly good, although by no means guaranteed, that the President will win reelection.
Villaraigosa would love to occupy a spacious office within sight of the United States Capitol. That’s where he would be if named the Secretary of Transportation. It would be a non stop ride from LA to DC on a virtual subway stretching 2,669 miles.
What irony that would represent. As the driving force behind national transportation policies, he would graduate from serving as the architect of a local train wreck to one on a coast to coast scale.
But how could he leverage an extension of Measure R to a cabinet post if it is uncertain that the measure would win support of two-thirds of the voters? Current polling suggests about 54% might support it, a far cry from two-thirds.
The extension does not have to win for the mayor to benefit. Even if the measure fails, the White House will hail him as a public transportation visionary. He will rally support from labor unions who have their own visions – inflated contracts. Couple that with his popularity among much of the Latino population and you have the political equivalent of owning all four railroads on the Monopoly game board. We’ll pay the price for landing on them while Antonio Villaraigosa will reap career benefits.