Will L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s newly gained clout over the Los
Angeles Unified School District be a political liability in the long run?
If the district deteriorates, will that affect Villaraigosa’s political
It’s a no-lose for Antonio. All he has to do is improve the three schools
they gave him, and he can claim victory.
Chances are good that a district lawsuit will bring things to a quivering
halt. But at least some of LAUSD’s problems are the result of bad PR. They
did little to publicize the advances that have been made in the past few
The mayor won’t make that mistake; he’ll put a spotlight on the good things,
even if he didn’t make them happen.
Antonio deserves credit for taking a significant political risk.
Unfortunately for the kids of L.A., he’s likely to succeed only in having a
record of failure on the top issue of concern to voters when he runs for
governor in 2010.
Villaraigosa is doing something. Voters like that. Even when failure is the
result, they appreciate the sentiment. Bombing Libya did very little after
the Pan Am tragedy, but Reagan got big points for taking action. Jimmy
Carter bunkering down in the WH during the hostage crisis earned him no
It will be a liability in that he’s taken public ownership of the problem
and if things don’t improve. People will view the failing to be his and his
alone, even if thanks to the bifurcated accountability setup in AB 1381, the
failures aren’t exclusively his fault. As for affecting his political
future, it depends on how far the district falls.
The people from whom we sought opinions: Andrew Acosta, A.G. Block, Roy
Behr, Don Wilcox, Jon Fleischman, Evan Goldberg, Deborah Gonzalez, Dan
Schnur, Jason Kinney, Tom Kise, Karen Hanretty, Kevin Spillane, Michael
Houston, Adam Mendelsohn, Matt Ross, Sam Delson, Mike Madrid, Morgan
Crinklaw, Dave Lesher, Richard Zeiger, Mike Madrid, Margita Thompson, Ralph
Simoni, Bob Hertzberg, Scott Baugh, Steve Maviglio, Tony Quinn, Peter
DeMarco, Adam Probolsky, Barbara O’Connor, Jack Pitney.