Gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa and state superintendent candidate Marshall Tuck are raking in donations from charter school supporters.
For days before Thanksgiving, 2009, Santa Ana winds had been blowing up ash and dust from the massive Station Fire that recently burned north of Los Angeles. The scorching, high-pressure weather system seemed a suitable climate for L.A.’s financial meltdown as the city entered the third year of America’s recessionary slump. Inside City Hall on that Wednesday before the holiday, government representatives and members of the news media listened to the testimony of a man who was on his way to becoming one of Los Angeles’ most powerful figures. He was only 40, held no elective office and had started his job as the City Administrative Officer just three months before.
Yet on this Thanksgiving eve Miguel Santana held the rapt attention of the City Council and journalists as he delivered shocking news: Los Angeles faced an imminent shortfall of $98 million and, based on his projections, the city could be burdened by a $1 billion debt by 2013.
For five years a chorus of voices has been predicting bankruptcy for Los Angeles, while often calling for deeper cuts to city employee pensions. Today, however, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed a budget for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 that includes a one-time surplus of $119 million. While some of that surplus would rely on additional pay and benefit reductions for city workers, even without such cuts the city would have a projected surplus of close to $100 million.
“It’s better than seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – we’re almost out of the tunnel!” Matt Szabo, Mayor Villaraigosa’s deputy chief of staff, told Frying Pan News in an interview last week. Szabo discussed the city’s financial picture and said that dire financial warnings have been largely overblown.
“One of the issues that’s highly irritating is the ease with which some people have thrown around the bankruptcy term,” Szabo said.
Last week I stood with hundreds of proud Angelenos outside the Department of Water and Power headquarters in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate a momentous announcement for the city and our environment. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proclaimed that Los Angeles will be completely off of coal power before 2025.
It will be a monumental shift.
“It took one hundred years to build up the power supply the DWP has today,” the Mayor explained, “but in a decade and a half, we’re going to replace 70 percent of it.” “Right now, 40 percent of our power comes from coal plants. But by 2025, that number will be zero.”
With the spotlight on our city, we were joined by national environmental leaders such as former Vice President Al Gore and Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune.
“This is a really big deal,” Gore said emphatically. “Americans worry that government is broken,
Thursday, December 6, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed two ordinances passed by the City Council approving the long-term purchase of solar power from a new development on tribal land in Nevada. The clean energy produced there will be enough to power more than 100,000 homes for 25 years.
The agreement is important here in Los Angeles, as the city moves away from coal and towards solutions like renewable energy and energy efficiency.
But we need more from our investments than clean energy alone. We need that investment to lift up communities that have been struggling in this economy. Thanks to the work of advocates over the years, some political leaders are embracing that connection.
“These solar contracts are proof-positive that environmental progress and economic growth go hand-in-hand,” Mayor Villaraigosa said Thursday. The signing ceremony took place at Occidental College, which is home to its own solar array.