|Kobe Bryant and Antonio Villaraigosa|
The term-limited outgoing mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, is said to be searching desperately for a job to pay the bills when he leaves his $232,000 annual salary office in a few weeks. An L.A. Weekly analysis of his tax and financial statements says that the 60-year-old mayor, a regular in the front row at Lakers games, doesn't have any financial assets other than a small rental property in the exurban Moreno Valley. He doesn't own a house in Los Angeles or a car. In an interview with the local CBS station, Villaraigosa didn't exactly deny that he needs money pronto.
Barack Obama's financial situation was similarly fallow up until 2004 (doing a cash-out refi on the condo kept him afloat a couple of times). But, then, Obama's WASPy tastes run toward browsing at bookstores and playing mediocre golf courses, while Villaraigosa is more of a party in Cabo with Charlie Sheen kind of guy.
As you may recall, as part of the Democrats' Hispandering, Villaraigosa was chosen to preside as chairman of the 2012 Democratic convention, while a younger Mexican-American "mayor," Julian Castro, was chosen to give the keynote address. Castro isn't a real mayor — he gets paid only about $3,000 per year for his ceremonial position because San Antonio has a city manager form of government, with a city manager who gets paid $355,000. But it's easier for Democratic power brokers to launder money to support Castro because he is a real lawyer. (A big Democratic contributor / trial lawyer gave the politically promising Castro identical twins a huge sum of money as a fee for referring an accident victim to him.)
In contrast, mayor of Los Angeles is a real job. It's not as powerful of a position as mayor of Chicago or New York, and Villaraigosa has mostly treated it as one long photo op, but L.A. doesn't have a city manager.
Villaraigosa, however, is not a real lawyer — he gave up trying to become a lawyer after failing the difficult California bar exam four times — so he can't go to work for a Democratic-connected downtown law firm like a typical ex-mayor might. (For example, Jim Hahn, the respectable Democratic dynast mayor whom Villaraigosa defeated in 2005, went to work for a big real estate developer to provide "legal advice and business development." Now, the ex-mayor is a judge. But, then, Hahn passed the bar exam back in the 1970s, so he can be a judge.)
Besides, Villaraigosa gives off sleazeball fumes — local reporters in L.A. seem to despise Villaraigosa — that have repeatedly undermined the national media's attempts to portray him as the smiling face of the inevitability of the Hispanic Electoral Tidal Wave.
But that doesn't mean Villaraigosa won't someday get elected governor of California:
On Sept. 20, 2012, the mayor dined with Democratic strategist Garry South at Celestino Drago's downtown Drago Centro, across from the landmark Central Library, where South suggested Villaraigosa would be an excellent candidate for governor. "We're going to have a Latino governor sooner rather than later," South tells the Weekly. "It's inevitable. It's just a matter of who it's going to be."
Amusingly (but unamusingly for Villaraigosa), it now appears that Gov. Jerry Brown wants a fourth term, which would make him an 80 year old governor after he had been a 36 year old governor. But why not? He's Jerry Brown and career weirdness is just normal for him. So, Villaraigosa would be blocked until he's 65 in 2018.
The problem for the Democrats is that the Latino Talent Deficit leaves the California Democratic party seemingly stuck with Villaraigosa because it's clearly going to be the Latinos' Turn by 2018, but who else is there?
So, until 2018, Villaraigosa needs a job. I can't imagine that the Democrats won't eventually conjure one up for him. But, the fact that they've left him publicly hanging this late in the game, with nobody yet stepping forward to take on the inevitable duty of subsidizing Slick Villy's lifestyle for the next half decade, is evidence of how little respect Democratic insiders have for him.
Lots of people in L.A. remember Tony Villar as a lowrider with a Born to Raise Hell tattoo, then as a far left Chicano radical at UCLA, they remember the girl he knocked up and didn't marry, and the various domestic abuse incidents.
In pictures of Tony Villar from his days as a Mecha leader at UCLA in 1974, he looks pretty standard Chicano of the day (think Santana album covers). He's part of what's left of the receding Chicano wave that crested about 1972 that I talk about a lot.
About 1987 he retooled his image to become a yuppie leader supposedly representing the rising tide of immigrant Latinos. That's served his career well, but he's apparently still kind of an aging juvenile delinquent on the inside, which is why journalists in L.A. roll their eyes when the national media bandies rumors that Obama is about to appoint him Secretary of Transportation or Secretary of Commerce. They assume that the Mayor is the source of the rumors, and hope Obama doesn't believe the hype enough to put Villaraigosa in charge of national highway maintenance.
Villaraigosa's career is further evidence of the Latino Talent Deficit. Here's this state with a colossal Hispanic population, yet Villaraigosa is the best they've come up with? But that's the kind of dog-that-didn't-bark-data that is hard to notice even when you aren't in danger of getting Richwined for noticing it.