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Villaraigosa is no Hahn holdover

A Times Op-Ed article wrongly characterizes the mayor's first term as merely upping the ante on his predecessor's agenda.

November 05, 2009|By Robin Kramer

Robert Greene's Nov. 1 Op-Ed article, "The real Villaraigosa era begins now," in which he portrays Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's first term as largely a continuation of his predecessor James K. Hahn's policies and offers prognostications regarding his second term, was strange and strained. And wrong.

As every serious student of modern cities -- and of Los Angeles history -- knows, the aspiration for safer neighborhoods, improved mobility and public transit, and the development of jobs and affordable housing must be staples of focus for municipal leadership. But there is a vast difference between naming the issues and getting results.

As someone who has the unique perspective of having served two mayors as chief of staff, what strikes me about the last four-plus years is that Villaraigosa has successfully brought people together who most often disagree to make palpable progress in each of these civic challenges and more. Just as impressive, he has done so amid the nation's greatest economic disintegration in a generation.

Consider the dividends on Villaraigosa's leadership in setting tall goals and galvanizing the community to go after them:

* The Los Angeles Police Department has achieved a historic high number of officers in the most under-policed big city in America.

* The city has seen its lowest crime rates since the 1950s.

* Last year, county voters approved Measure R, a once-in-a-generation investment championed by Villaraigosa to build a true countywide mass-transit system.

* The Port of Los Angeles, both the engine for the region's economy and a source of major pollution, has become a national model for green growth.

* Our city has been hailed by the White House as the national model for green energy and technology.

Moreover, the mayor has doggedly pursued an aggressive agenda to ensure that all the children of our city have access to a first-rate public education. Villaraigosa has made significant progress in this area, having struck and strengthened partnerships with the Los Angeles Unified School District and other important organizations.

Working with Angelenos across the spectrum of geography, race, sector and perspective, Villaraigosa has built a strong foundation to continue tackling these core issues and the considerable and complex challenges Los Angeles faces now and in the future.

Robin Kramer was chief of staff for Mayor Richard Riordan and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa before retiring earlier this year.

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