Sunday night, Los Angeles’ 42nd mayor, accompanied by wife Amy Elaine Wakeland, stood on City Hall’s Spring Street steps and was symbolically administered the oath of office by an 8th grade daughter of a janitor. Eric Garcetti had been formally sworn in Friday.
But as of Sunday morning, Garcetti gets the mayor’s official Chevy suburban, a residence in Hancock Park (we still don’t know if he'll actually live there), a $232,425 salary, and a $5.5 million dollar budget for his office, down 10% from what Villaraigosa had to spend last year. He’ll have a staff of just under 200 people as he becomes the chief executive of a city of with $7.7 billion budget, and a $216 million deficit. As of today, he has a seat on the Metro Board of directors where he’s gonna have a significant role in shaping mass transit. He’s had a security detail since Election Night.
Garcetti is at the top of a major City Hall shakeup. There are seven new city Council members, and fresh faces in the controller’s and city attorney’s office. It’s the biggest reshuffling of the deck since the1980s, one with the possibility of changing the complexion of city government in Los Angeles. The emphases seems to be on making Los Angeles a nicer place to live, with a government focused on city service — fixing potholes and L.A.’s deteriorating streets, trimming trees collecting trash and repairing sidewalks. And as importantly, focusing on creating new jobs in Los Angeles.
Garcetti says he’s all about jobs — from planting a “Film Czar” in his office to keep TV and movie shoots in Los Angeles, to cutting red tape for startups, and slashing business taxes — though he’s so far declined to say by how much. He says L.A. has learned from the recession that jobs cannot be taken for granted. He says he’ll be an aggressive pitchman for businesses considering Los Angeles as their base, focusing on aerospace, manufacturing, trade and tourism.
The new council members were sworn in as a group. Only newly-elected City Attorney Mike Feuer got specific about what he’s planning — a return t0 having neighborhood prosecutors, a Rocky Delgadillo idea; a gun violence unit to help quell shootings; and a program to insure safe passage of kids on their way to school.
Garcetti hugged mayoral opponent Wendy Greuel after the ceremony as though she were not the big-bankrolled pro-union advocate, the stance that that cost her the election. Largesse, on Gargetti’s part.
But Garcetti sounded more, last night, like the incoming CEO of a startup business, rather than a politician. He’s having all of L.A.’s city managers reapply for their jobs today. Essentially asking each why they should keep their jobs, how they can cut costs, and do more with less. As the recession wanes and tax revenues are expected to rise, Garcetti seems eager to not make the mistakes of previous administrations that spent too freely, and just assumed the money would always be there.
He’s pro-business and has promised to streamline city approvals — but he’s been tough on developers who want to raze cultural and historic landmarks. His fingerprints are all over Hollywood’s renovation — it’s in his district. His first big litmus test will be approval or rejection of the twin Hollywood Millennium towers project next to the Capitol Records Tower. He’s shot it down once. It’s back again, slightly scaled down — but still faces a lot of criticism.
Garcetti will be out of the office 40 days a year as Naval Reserve lieutenant working in an intelligence detail. 8-year-commitment runs through 2013, one he’d like to renew. He’ll spend one weekend per month of drilling and training, and two weeks this year in more intense training. He’s won a marksman ribbon for his accuracy with a 9mm pistol. Eric Garcetti is a sure shot.
He’s very pro-cop, crediting the beefing up of the LAPD with a 40% reduction in crime in his district. He’s considered an enemy of the Department of Water and Power that spent heavily to defeat him.
He’s 42, the youngest mayor in more than a century. He married wife Amy in 2009, they have one child. He’s a Columbia University grad, with degrees from the London School of Economics and Queens College, Oxford. He’s traveled overseas extensively, and worked with democracy activists in Burma during his college days.