Mayor finally has his school board majority, so what’s next?

first_imgIt’s almost like the final scene from “The Candidate.” Now that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has a majority of supporters on the Los Angeles Unified school board, what does he do with his majority? Details will emerge over the next 45 days as Monica Garcia and the board members-elect – Tamar Galatzan, Richard Vladovic and Yolie Aguilar Flores – work with Villaraigosa to map out a plan. Step one is expected to be Garcia’s election in July to lead the board, ousting Marlene Canter, who has served as president for the past two tumultuous years. The second step will be to outline an agenda for the first 100 days, possibly including a new call for a district audit by City Controller Laura Chick. If Chick is not directly involved, she is expected to be asked to help in developing the review. The mayor and his top education adviser, Ray Cortines, also have been working for months on a list of schools the mayor would like to control directly in an effort to show how public schools can be improved. Those familiar with the planning say an announcement on which schools have been selected will be made in late July or early August. It’s a tight time frame if the mayor wants control of any schools by the traditional start of classes in September. New York was very much on the mind of Villaraigosa last week. First there was a far-from-flattering profile of him in the New Yorker. Then he hurriedly bundled his environmental programs into a “Green L.A.” package to present at a Large Cities Climate Change program organized by former President Bill Clinton. While he was in New York, speculation grew over whether the mayor would endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton for president when the mayor was spotted dining with the Clintons at the tony Kobe Club steakhouse owned by celebrity chef Jeffrey Chodorow. The mayor, who was part of a group that included billionaire Ron Burkle, was outed by radio star Rush Limbaugh on his blog, www.rushlimbaugh.com. Limbaugh told how the former president introduced himself and later brought over a guest – Villaraigosa. Only in America could a former motorcycle cop from the West Valley get elected to the City Council of the nation’s second-largest city and now be considered an expert congressional witness. But that’s just the position in which Councilman Dennis Zine – more noted for his fondness for inexpensive dinners and motorcycles than his policy matters – has found himself. Last week, Zine was part of a panel testifying before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on immigration reform as part of his service as immigration chairman of the National League of Cities. “I was honored, but also humbled,” Zine said. “You don’t appreciate it until you are actually back there and realize you are talking to Congress about an important issue. And they’re listening.” Zine said he also learned something about himself and his own political ambitions. “When you take a five-hour flight back there and a five-hour flight back home, I realized that’s not a life I want,” Zine said. “If I ever had any thoughts about running for Congress, this convinced me I should stay here.” It’s not often you hear a city Convention Center commissioner saying take things slowly. But Wayne Avrashaw, an Encino lawyer who serves on the Los Angeles Convention and Exhibit Authority, says it’s time just to say no to plans to expand the facility. “The Los Angeles Convention Center has been a financial drain on the city’s precious general fund and has publicly been described as a `money losing taxpayer boondoggle,”‘ Avrashaw recently wrote. Despite that, he said the panel has authorized spending $1 million for studies to revise the master plan for possible expansion. While some believe the facility will need to be expanded because of business expected from a hotel being developed nearby, Avrashaw said the city should hold off until it sees if business actually increases. Critics have long maintained the problem with convention centers is the cyclical nature of conventions, resulting in either feast or famine. Avrashaw said the city should take a slow approach to see what develops and not tie itself down to a specific expansion plan. [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img