Posted: 4/18/2006 5:15:30 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/18/2006 5:17:38 PM EDT by nightstalker]
Mayor Villaraigosa walked through the choir shaking hands with a lot of black students. I wonder if they asked him where their flag was....or the one for the kids from Vietnam or maybe Samoa. I guess these guys are really serious when they declare cities "Sanctuaries".
Despite it all I wish him good luck with his ambitious school takeover. It looks like he's taking on the unions etc but we'll know better later in the game.
Villaraigosa's 'State of the City' Pledges Transformation
By Duke Helfand
Times Staff Writer
11:27 AM PDT, April 18, 2006
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will deliver his first State of the City address today, promising to transform Los Angeles by hiring 1,000 more police officers, reducing traffic gridlock, eliminating the city's budget deficit, planting 1 million trees and remaking the public school system.
But Villaraigosa, who will give his speech at a South Los Angeles charter school known for innovation, is expected to devote the bulk of his remarks to his controversial school takeover plan. The 5:30 p.m. speech will be televised on LA Cityview Channel 35 and webcast at www.lacity.org/stateofthecity.
In a release previewing the speech, Villaraigosa called reforming schools "the central challenge facing Los Angeles." He is expected to offer the most detailed explanation yet of how he would alter the leadership of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
He has said his proposal would increase public accountability and create a system of checks and balances in the nation's second-largest school system, with 727,000 students.
Villaraigosa would, among other things, give all 27 cities served by LAUSD a "fair voice in oversight," empower teachers and principals and strengthen charter schools by expanding their numbers.
Villaraigosa's agenda for the city and its schools is wildly ambitious — and some observers say unattainable, particularly at a time when he faces a budget shortfall projected at more than $270 million this year.
It is an agenda that could help propel Villaraigosa onto larger state and national political stages. He is often mentioned as a potential future candidate for governor or U.S. senator, although he insists that he is focused only on being mayor.
It was unclear how much attention Villaraigosa would pay in his speech to the one issue capable of attracting perhaps the broadest national audience: immigration.
The mayor has tread carefully over this politically volatile subject in recent weeks as huge — and mostly peaceful — pro-immigrant demonstrations have descended on Los Angeles. He will likely continue to walk delicately in today's speech.
On other issues, however, he will push forward with gusto. The mayor said he remains undaunted in his plans to expand the Los Angeles Police Department and erase the deficit within five years.
When he releases his first city budget on Thursday, Villaraigosa will propose an increase in residential trash fees to pay for more police officers. Homeowners who now pay $11 a month would pay $18 next year and $28 by 2009 — providing enough money to hire 1,053 officers, he said.
Villaraigosa has ordered city departments to tighten their belts this year by curbing travel expenses, reining in workers compensation costs and taking other measures. So far, the city has identified $40 million in "efficiencies" this year, he said, adding that he expects to save $20 million annually in subsequent years.
For his speech, Villaraigosa chose the Accelerated School, about a mile southeast of USC. The mayor said he picked the new charter school — a college-like campus filled with amenities such as high-tech science labs, top-of-the-line workout equipment and an outdoor amphitheater — because it "demonstrated what can be achieved when high expectations and accountability are coupled with hard work and leadership."
Speaking inside the school's gymnasium, Villaraigosa will address an audience of city officials, police department personnel, labor leaders, educators and students.