Daily News and the Chief
Hahn administration's lack of drive reflected in research center application failure
If there's a perfect illustration of how Mayor James Hahn's benignly neglectful administration has been, it is the bungling of the application to host the state's $3 billion stem cell research center.
Word came Tuesday that Los Angeles -- California's largest city -- was cut from the finalists' list because it didn't properly complete the paperwork and meet the set criteria. In other words, all the mayor's merry staff men and women, his access to high-priced consultants and his pals among L.A.'s superwealthy and superpowerful insiders couldn't even follow basic directions. Civic leaders in San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego and even little Emeryville could, but not L.A.
It was a telling display of why the mayor's bid for a second term is in such serious trouble that he barely made the May 17 runoff. In a city that's famous for the marketing genius of Hollywood, the mayor couldn't even put together a sales pitch worthy of consideration.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine won't create many jobs directly. The real benefit would come from companies wanting to locate close to ground zero for $3 billion in research funding, as well as the expertise available to local research facilities at University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles.
Hahn came to understand the value of this deal frighteningly late, despite the cheerleading by some of his top advisers nearly a year ago. But when he called the media to a big show of sending the application -- just hours before the deadline in March -- he suddenly was the biggest, if most belated, champion of the center.
It must have been no surprise to Hahn's campaign team that the news about the application process wouldn't be good for him because they chose to trot out the old, tired attack on rival Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa over the letter that he -- and Cardinal Roger Mahony and dozens of other prominent figures -- sent asking for clemency for the son of a major Democratic political contributor whose son was convicted of dealing crack.
It worked in 2001. But that was before the citizens of Los Angeles had four years of Hahn's administration fumbling through its civic responsibilities, never acknowledging mistakes and breaking out the same deny-and-deflect technique.
It's enough already. If Hahn really wants another term as mayor, he's going to have to wake up to the realities of the city and get to work fixing what's broken.
If Los Angeles is ever going to live up to its potential, it needs to have a leader as dynamic, energetic and visionary as its people.