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60. Four more

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Is it only my distorted memory, but isn't Antonio Villaraigosa at the beginning of his first term as mayor, not his second? His previous four years "? full of incident and ceaseless bustle "? were diverting. They were even productive in part. But those four years seem in retrospect "? even to Mayor Villaraigosa "? to have been about something other than Los Angeles or its future.

But now it's "deadlines over headlines" the mayor said on Wednesday, although that seemed bleakly term-limited for day one of a new term.

"I stand renewed and reinvigorated," he added later. "Above all, I stand determined to finish what we started, determined to find a second wind in our second term," and sounding a little like the pitchman for an ED preparation.

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More than the mayor begins a new term and the new fiscal year deflated. The city has a 12 percent "official" unemployment rate. The actual percentage is much more than that, given the number of discouraged unemployed and undocumented unemployed, neither of which are counted. The city's disparities of wealth and privilege gape wider now than four years ago. The city sags under a $530 million deficit. And the mood of the city's anxious middle-middle class is starkly negative. According to a recent LA Times poll, Angeleños don't want much more from the mayor other than more cops and better schools.

The mayor had once offered a great deal more. A million trees. 200,000 have been planted. 1,000 new LAPD hires. About 830 have been sworn in so far, and funding for the rest will have to come from elsewhere, probably from the federal stimulus package.

Villaraigosa was going to the green mayor. The subway mayor. The education mayor. The pan-ethnic possibilities mayor. And now he's the recommitment mayor and the close-out sale mayor.

"Dream with me" the he had said four year ago, invoking the cruelly seductive pitch that created Los Angeles. And Angeleños dreamed of what they always do "? a better paradise of the ordinary. The mayor's dream turns out to have been a cabinet post in a Clinton administration that never was or the Governor's office that has eluded him. He dreams now, some say, of Senator Villaraigosa.

There is a another dream worth pursuing, worthy of a four-year term. It's being the mayor the city needs.

The image on this page was taken by Flickr user Agile Mind. It was used under a Creative Commons license.

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