Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Modern Big City Republican Mayor---Honest, They Exist

Richard J. Riordan with Patrick Range McDonald. The Mayor: How I Turned Around Los Angeles After Riots, an Earthquake and the O.J. Simpson Trial. Franklin,Tn.: Post Hill Press, 2011.

The author was Los Angeles Mayor from 1993 to 2001. A Republican in a Democratic majority city, he avoided partisan politics. Los Angeles elects its mayor in a non-partisan fashion with all candidates running and a run-off held between the two largest vote getters if no one gets a majority of votes in the first vote. Riodran served as Mayor during times of racial tensions and, in 1994, a devastating earthquake

When the earthquake hit, his phone and mobile phone were both dead. He drove straight to City Hall at 90 MPH in total darkness. He almost drove off a collapsed overpass. He established a command post where he learned 240 gas lines had been reputed, several electrical transformers were on fire, entire blocks in the San Fernando valley were ablaze, and two aqueducts were ruptured. Annhesuer Busch sent two million cans of water.

Riordan admits to having had a drinking problem. He had two DUIs and an arrest for interfering with police arresting a friend at a bar. He cheated on his wife with a woman he would later marry.

Riordan loaned Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley $300,000 for his unsuccessful run for Governor. He donated $25,000 of that and the rest was paid back to him. Bradley appointed Riordan to the Recreation and Parks Committee and later became its President.

The author observed racial divisions in Los Angeles. He felt Police Commissioner Daryl Gates was not a good leader. He would join in pressuring Mayor Bradley to replace Gates which Bradley did. Riordan though became unhappy with the replacement Willie Williams.

Riordan ran for Mayor. His main rival was Council member Mike Woo, who Riordan believed "was more interested in power and prestige." Riordan was elected.

As Mayor, he worked to have more police officers worked with President Bill Clinton, reduced red tape for small business loans, pressured for more loans o minority and inner city areas, and walked in the Gay Parade.

Los Angeles had its worst final crisis. Riordan consolidated services and privatized some other services.

Riordan learned police officers spent 40% of their time on paperwork. Los Angeles lacked a basic computerized system. He learned a computer system would cost $300 million, so he sought private donations.

Rioardan boosted the development of the Staples Center sports arena and Disney Hall. Heclasted with Police Chief Willie Williams. Riordan could not get Williams to resign yet got Council not to rehire him when his contract ended.

Riordan believes the subway system is too expensive for the number of people it serves.

A scandal emerged of rogue police officers. Riordan argues this was not a reflection of all police.


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