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March 29, 2005

Villaraigosa vs Hahn

I don't think that Mayor Hahn is corrupt, but I'm not looking closely. Nothing that Antonio Villaraigosa is shouting leads me to believe he'll be a better mayor, but he certainly sounds convinced himself.

I listened to the debates this evening and I have to say that I'm less than impressed with either candidate. I wanted Hertzberg to make it through the prelims, but I have to admit that I didn't go out and cast a ballot for him or anyone. So perhaps I'm a typical LA voter. Actually, I'm not even sure I get to vote, we have our own mayor in Redondo.

Hahn didn't do a good job of defending his record. If there was something to be proud about, he didn't show it very often. It seemed to be a contest about whom is reviled the least. The theme of tonight's catfight was trust and honesty. That's a good one.

I keep getting the feeling that AV is an upstart. He really came out swinging, portraying himself as a 24/7 crusader with his sleeves rolled up. Hahn deflected all the bullets but still didn't seem like Superman. The tone was defiant and bold; I don't think I've heard the like in an LA mayoral debate. I felt both embarrassed and proud, like the contested girl between two arrogant men. And yet neither of them gave me any real clue that they had anything more than desire going for them.

How many police can LA afford? Apparently, that's anybody's guess. Neither would commit to raising the numbers without raising taxes, and yet neither would raise taxes. Hahn put the problem at the feet of a cascading chain of budget busting causalities related to Villaraigosa's tenure in Sacramento. Antonio says Hahn underdelivered with only 400 officers. It seems to me that neither is ready to say in public that to transform the LAPD requires something on the order of 7-10k more officers. It's the only way to change the culture from that of unyeilding, paramilitary tactics to one more in line with what other big cities have.

Villaraigosa surprised me with his focus on residential, single family neighborhoods. I think he's triangulating well, whereas Hahn is boldly sticking to the affordable housing and high density rhetoric. Hahn in righteous in rebuffing the unproven allegations of corruption but he kept saying 'yet' at the ends of his sentences. Somebody is going to find a turd in his administration and that could spell disaster. Outside of that hedge, Hahn sounded comfortable, even dealing with the dead body of Bernard Parks. Cops love Bratton. Everybody loves Bratton. Hahn can crow about that, but he remained relatively modest.

In the end it was Hahn's reserve that won the evening for me, but it wasn't a resounding victory. Villaraigosa hasn't convinced me that he has a plan nor that Hahn is running off the rails. AV is playing against the fears and distrust of Angelenos, and that's good politics, but it's also a confidence game.

BoiFromTroi throws shade on the squabblers.
LAObserved reports on other reactions.

Posted by mbowen at March 29, 2005 06:13 AM

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Good essay. Good structure, logical, anaylitical with the decision exactly where it should be -- the end.


Posted by: ric landers at March 29, 2005 12:03 PM

Although I agree with your opinion, its my contention that both are "weak" and I, for one am glad that they're only running for mayor. Hahn and Villaraigosa both support drivers license to illegals and both support The City of Los Angeles special order to its police force to not detain illegal immigrant. For that reason only, I see a very low turnout for the elections in May. No one is going to vote, for weak candidates who don't have the will of the American citizens.

At least I won't..

Posted by: JC Lewis at March 30, 2005 04:05 PM