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the skunks of los feliz
5.18.2005
 
Now that Antonio Villaraigosa has well and truly kicked Jim Hahn's butt out of office, the press has launched the inevitable slew of stories that frame the election as a watershed moment in the rise of Latino political power (Interesting sidebar: the N.Y. Times says Hispanic, the L.A. Times, Latino. Why? Who knows?).

Certainly that angle has some merit, and I do admit to feeling that maybe it was time for a Latino mayor here in El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles. I think, though, the real story here may be that we Angelenos are a proud people who expect our Mayor to operate at a certain, elevated level appropriate for a city as great as our own.

Let's face it: Jimmy Hahn was never gonna be a Daley, a Bradley, or a Giuliani, mayors who, despite some faults, inspired their cities to push for greater heights and became, to a certain extent, the embodiments of their respective municipalities. They may have had some ethical lapses (which may be impossible to avoid for anyone involved in big city governance), but they also had the charisma, not to mention the cojones, to lead , to dream, to bully, to build, to do all the things a great city requires of it's mayor.

Hahn is a bland bureaucrat who, utterly lacking in charisma and bereft of any noticeable leadership skills, traded on the good name of his father in order to get his shot at running the show, and gave us - What? An administration so lacking in imagination that even it's corruption was bland, run of the mill, uninteresting, even. That, and a half-baked airport expansion plan which is mired in controversy, and which may now be drastically revised.

I know that Hahn apologists will point to the Secession Battle as his legacy, a great moment in city history for which future generations of Angelenos will applaud him, but even then, his imagination failed him, and us. Rather than inspire us to want to stay together, Hahn used fear and deception to defeat the Valley seccessionists.

But all that is behind us now. Antonio Villaraigosa, who is more representative of Los Angeles in both personality and background, has won his chance to lead this great city. As el Alcalde de Los Angeles he will have the opportunity to take the city, and himself, to a new level of achievement. He has shown he can inspire. Now it is up to him to lead.
 
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