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City to Mayor: Take Our Advice

July 01, 2001

Los Angeles City Atty. James Hahn will become Mayor James Hahn on Monday. In 16 years as L.A.'s top lawyer, he defended the city from its detractors and prosecuted its foes. Now some of his foes and detractors--along with plenty of his friends--present their wish lists for action. It's a politician's sorry fate: Unsolicited advice, widely broadcast. But here it is, Mayor. And good luck.

* Noelia Rodriguez, press secretary to First Lady Laura Bush and former deputy mayor for communications to Mayor Richard Riordan

You certainly know how to navigate the corridors of 200 N. Spring St., and that will stand you in good stead. In the end, however, your leadership will be measured not by what you do inside City Hall, but by what you accomplish outside the halls of power, where real Angelenos live.

Keep in mind that there are more bridges in Los Angeles than the Vincent Thomas. Make your way across the bridges to Boyle Heights and Lincoln Park. Go to the Valley. Visit the neighbors of LAX. Ride the Red Line from El Pueblo to Hollywood.

While you enjoyed strong support from south of First Street, you were elected to serve all Angelenos. Reach out to those who voted for Antonio. Make believers of them.

Get to know the people who don't expect you to show up on their block. Ask questions of the merchants, the retirees, the workers, the young people who make up this great city and find answers to their questions, address their concerns, remind them that they have a role in improving their neighborhoods. Filling potholes is fundamental; fulfilling expectations is crucial. And don't forget the city employees who will be your ambassadors of goodwill, co-workers in your duties of service.

As mayor, yours will be the voice of this wacky, far-flung place. Now it's your turn to trumpet the wonders of America's second-largest city. Congratulations and Godspeed. And remember, always listen to your press secretary.

* John McCormick, screenwriter

I'd like to offer one word: trees. The idea is simple. During your tenure as mayor, you plant as many trees on the streets of Los Angeles as possible. Then, for years to come, Los Angeles reaps the benefits.

In the past, Los Angeles mayors aspired to blanket our streets with mini-malls. Please don't get me wrong. I love the fact that there is a Starbucks every two blocks. But just think if you were to reclaim barren sidewalks throughout the city and festoon them with trees. It would change the entire complexion of the city.

When visitors come to Los Angeles, they are overwhelmed by its size. Envision a Los Angeles where visitors were overwhelmed by its foliage. Instead of driving through the harsh, reflected light of a treeless street, they would cruise beneath a restorative arbor.

Are trees costly? Do they consume water? Do they need maintenance? Do they produce refuse? Yes, yes, yes and yes. But compared to the far more formidable problems you face, this tree idea is a walk in the park. Let me make the tree equation even simpler. More trees, cooler city, better air, happier population, reelection.

* Connie Rice, attorney

My specialty is suing the bureaucracies in Los Angeles. When you sue someone, it's a bit like a shotgun marriage--you get to know the person even if you didn't want to. With the LAPD, the problem is a matter of will: They don't want to change. With L.A. Unified, it's a matter of their inability to change. With the DWP, a culture of engineers, they can only really understand things said by engineers. We need a mayor with enough vision to overcome the inertia of all the entrenched bureaucracies. We need a mayor who can for the first time give us a plan for our city that brings the power of capital, industry and enterprise together in a mission of economic development that can actually reach down to communities that are completely off the playing field right now.

We have never had a plan for how capitalism can be linked to government and the academic sector to close the wealth and income gaps that have grown so wide in this city. I always thought Riordan should be able to do it: here is a guy who knows capitalism. But he never got over his discomfort with government.

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