MAILANDER’S LA-About a year ago, I was talking to a long-standing County Supervisor staffer about the Garcetti for Mayor candidacy. The subject was Garcetti's Facebook presence: heavy on photos of him standing around with lots of people, and very, very light on real politics.
"I don't get it," he said. "It has nothing to do with governing, or leadership, or...anything. They're the kinds of photos you put up in the local chamber of commerce meeting hall."
"I don't get it either," I confessed.
Forgive me for being cynical, but I'd still rather read about what politicians are doing than look at photos of them doing things I do every day myself, like walking along the LA River.
I still don't get this persistent Garcetti photo barrage. It may have been what Antonio did as well, but that was the worst part of the Villaraigosa mayoralty, not the best part of it.
It's simply not what real Mayors are supposed to do. They're supposed to keep the City safe and get the trash picked up and bring business to the City.
And I mean business like private aerospace, for which LA has camera-ready cheekbones, not street vendors, affordable housing projects and Washington boondoggles.
And I also still don't get Garcetti's lucky buddy Councilman Mitch O'Farrell flaunting a photo of himself in a lavender shirt and a trilby even while Silver Lake has suffered what is tantamount to a civic tragedy: the murder of Assemblyman Mike Gatto's beloved father Joseph.
No, I don't have much confidence in a guy walking around in tennis shoes and tight pants and a guy in a lavender shirt and a trilby coming down hard on public safety issues or landing big economy boosters.
"And look at that snazzy jacket!" one of Garcetti's Facebook faithful, Glenn Gritzner, crooned at a photo of Garcetti, O'Farrell and an EPA Chief Gina McCarthy walking the LA River on Thursday morning.
If Gritzner's name rings a bell, it's because he achieved some notoriety of his own a scant year ago. Described by LA Weekly as "a well-to-do, high-flying lobbyist and political player in City Hall and Sacramento, a managing director of Mercury Public Affairs, a powerful firm whose top partners include former California Speaker Fabian Nuñez and Adam Mendehlson, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger," Gritzner reached a private settlement in a hit and run ironically involving LA cyclist and bicycle advocate Don Ward late last year.
Whatever Garcetti, O'Farrell, and the administrator were actually discussing on the banks of LA's would-be Seine didn't seem to matter to Gritzner and others among Garcetti's cloud of Facebook faithful, who cheer every photo posting.
Even the LA Times got into the act of celebrating the ham side of Garcetti this week, running a story about Garcetti's posing in a kayak on the LA River for renown art photographer Catherine Opie. The photo, featuring the Mayor's signature, will welcome visitors to LA at LAX.
While the Mayor's team is busy thinking up all these dreamy photo poses, police are struggling to solve heinous crimes, and businesses in and around LA, especially in the South Bay, are trying hard to compete. The LA Times also reported a few days ago that Long Beach was suddenly in the running for a Boeing 777 assembly plant—but didn't report any local political figure rising to champion the cause.
LA may not be Long Beach, but we're connected to Long Beach via that same old LA River that Garcetti loves so much. And not only that, but we have hundreds of ready-to-go engineers in San Pedro and South LA and Westchester and throughout the Valley who are ready for work--and not for work of the street-vending variety.
"Southern California—the former undisputed center of the aerospace industry—has seen the number of aerospace workers in Los Angeles County fall to 56,780 last year, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., which tracks the industry. That is a nearly 70% drop from the 189,035 workers employed in 1990," the Times dutifully reported, even while Garcetti and O'Farrell were busy dressing up for their River photo op.
The Garcetti team, now nearly a tenth of the way into its first and perhaps only term, still does not have any heavyweight economic thinkers on board. When I ask around for signs of intelligence on the Garcetti staff, the name of fundraiser Rick Jacobs most typically comes up. And that to me is chilling, because professionally Rick Jacobs is simply an ideologue who perpetually asks the monied for money when he's not tilting at even moderate windmills.
When I balance the figure of Rick Jacobs against the Photoshop side of the Mayor's office, I do have this feeling that if in a few months someone other than I were to start kicking the tires of the Garcetti Mayoralty, they might even collapse the whole vehicle.
(Joseph Mailander is a writer, an LA observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He is also the author of Days Change at Night: LA's Decade of Decline, 2003-2013. Mailander blogs here.)
Vol 11 Issue 94
Pub: Nov 22, 2013