LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is expected to highlight his eight years in office — particularly in the areas of public safety, education, business, transportation and the environment — when he delivers his final “state of the city” address this afternoon.
Villaraigosa, who will pass the mayoral torch July 1, got an early start celebrating his tenure last week, stressing during a news conference with Police Chief Charlie Beck that his efforts to increase the size of the police department resulted in the reduction of violent crime by 50 percent since he took office.
He also urged the next mayor to maintain the progress made in the past eight years — raising the the number of police officers from 9,284 in 2005 to more than 10,000, a theme likely to resurface in today’s address.
Mayoral spokesman Peter Sanders said Villaraigosa will “take to task” the two mayoral candidates, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, “for their lack of vision and leadership thus far on the issue of education, an issue that cuts across the City and has broad implications to thousands of current and future students.”
The mayor expects to see “comprehensive vision on education, not just a few sound bites worthy of an attack ad or a mailer,” Sanders said.
Villaraigosa will also talk about rail construction, the reduction of carbon emissions, business attraction, and the various challenges he has faced since 2005.
A coalition of city employees will protest the mayor’s speech and demand that the city put more funding into city services and hiring workers.
“Los Angeles has weathered a tough recession, but now it is time for the city to begin to look forward,” said Cheryl Parisi, chair of the Coalition of LA City Unions. “We need to begin restoring good jobs and vital services, and broaden the economic base of our city. It’s time to revitalize and rebuild our great city and reinvest in our communities and public services.”
They urged the city not to continue the trend of contracting out for services. “Now is not the time to sell off our city’s core assets through privatization or cut more services. Now is the time to turn the corner and start fixing our city,” said David Sanders, regional director of SEIU Local 721, which represents 10,000 city workers.
During last year’s state of the city address, Villaraigosa warned that Los Angeles would face a structural deficit of $427 million by 2014 without major changes, and he proposed adjustments to city employees’ pension and health plans. Debate over pensions continues to rage at City Hall, and the city’s financial state likely will be a major theme of Villaraigosa’s speech.
With the city’s budget still in the hole by more than $150 million for fiscal 2013-14, the mayor could use his speech to give a sneak peak of recommendations he will include in his proposed budget, which is due out later this month.
The speech, scheduled for 5 p.m., will be delivered at UCLA’s Royce Hall. It will be televised on CityView Channel 35 and streamed online at www.lacityview.org and the mayor’s home page at www.mayor.lacity.org.