Joel on Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa


Rick Orlov


Los Angeles Daily News

“Urban politics expert Joel Kotkin, a frequent critic of the mayor, said he believes the high expectations that Villaraigosa set to start his term have come back to haunt him.

“Everyone wanted him to succeed and bring a new excitement the city was lacking,” said Kotkin, author of “The Next Hundred Million Years in America” and the Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University.

“We all wanted a great leader to emerge, like what we saw with (former Mayor Tom) Bradley in his first two terms. What I see is that we have a mediocre government, with mediocre leaders surrounded by mediocrity.”

While Villaraigosa has been hurt by self-inflicted wounds regarding his personal life and, more recently, the issue over free tickets to high-profile events, Kotkin said the bigger problem is with local city policies and the reality of the economy.

“It takes more to rebuild an economy than having the construction of condos,” Kotkin said. “At this stage, I’m not sure what this guy can do. Not only does he have the burden of the City Council and California being so unfriendly toward business, but he has this crappy economy that no one knows when it will recover.

“What worries me is that no one is talking about Los Angeles as being the city of the future,” Kotkin said. “Young people don’t want to stay here. You don’t see it on the top 10 lists of being the hot city in the country. You don’t see innovations coming from the city anymore.” “