A New World, A New Reality and A New Kind of Mayor
9/11 caught our Mayor in Washington, D.C. and LA woke up to Council President Alex Padilla in charge. It took a few days for Jim Hahn to hitch a ride back, and thus he was visually absent from the LA scene. One can obviously write that one off as just bad timing, though Mayor Hahn could have showed a little more fire in the belly about protecting LA. But we'll be nice for right now and not hold that one against him.
The Madrid train bombings also occurred during Hahn's watch. From what we have been able to dig up, Hahn made some vanilla comments including to get on with our lives, but didn't do much else. Run a Google search for yourself. You won't find much.
Now take the actions of Villaraigosa today. He had his press conference this morning with the same types of vanilla comments including to carry on with your lives. That's where the similarities end.
What a difference an election makes.
Where was Mayor Villaraigosa today? On buses and trains. If they are safe enough for us, they are safe enough for him. He was walking the walk. He backed it up with action. Having watched several channels throughout the day, not a single person has criticized the response. Everyone is actually bragging about how great it has been. The news media picked up on it. News outlets all over the world are quoting our new Mayor.
Think we're off base? Here's someone else's opinion along the same lines.
In our search for what Jim Hahn had done immediately following the Madrid train bombings - other than a few vanilla comments - we found a few interesting articles.
On September 23, 2004, LA City Beat posted this article: STATE OF THE UNION -- A series of recent sexual assaults have exposed the vulnerability of L.A.'’s Union Station to terrorist attack.
The entire article is about vulnerabilities of LA Union Station. One poignant portion reads:
Union Station'’s vulnerability was not lost on Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn. In October 2001, he successfully pushed through the MTA board a motion for a security reassessment there. A month later, the panel was briefed about it in closed session.Before this article, but after October 2001, you can see by this that not much action was being taken. Note Item 42 of the May 27, 2004 MTA Board Meeting:
B. ADD THE AMOUNT OF $500,000 TO MOU TCP2610LASD FOR CONTINGENCY FUNDING TO COVER EMERGENCY SERVICES REQUIRED FOR HEIGHTENED SECURITY RESULTING FROM ACTIVITIES SIMILAR TO THE RECENT MADRID TRAIN BOMBING, REVISING THE TOTAL CONTRACT VALUE FROM $55,081,812 TO $104,636,762.Note that no action was taken, including from Hahn who was actually present, or at least had a delegate taking action on other items on his behalf.
November 27, 2004 brings us this op-ed in the Daily News from Arthur A. Jones and Robin Wiseman: Are L.A.'s trains and subways targets for terror?
Any action taken? Not that I can find.
Villaraigosa has a geniuine opportunity to shine. So far so good. When terrorists in London shook the nerves of everyone around the world, Antonio Villaraigosa took to the rails to let his constituents know he was on the case. When they did the same in Spain, Jim Hahn held a press conference and then probably went to breakfast.
Now its time to see what changes can Antonio deliver to make it even safer. Based on what we saw from the Mayor today, he is definitely going in the right direction. After today's example, we all know what the price could be if he doesn't.
(Kudos to Mayor Frank for doing most of the work on this post.)