Offering up what appeared to be a campaign speech, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addressed the Sacramento Press Club today, repeatedly blasting the Tea Party and Republicans, and even went after Californias Proposition 13 with a vengeance.
What was interesting is that Villaraigosa spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the states minority party, and the grass roots Tea Party movement.
I know some love to talk about media bias. The big irony lies in this: If theres a single bias, its the ever-increasing tilt favoring heat and light over actual news reporting. And unfortunately this hothouse ecology seems uniquely adapted to brewing Tea Party members! Villaraigosa said.
Calling on the media to help wage his fight, Villaraigosa said that the Tea Party is trying to kill 630,000 jobs by opposing the federal gas tax.
And I urge the reporters in the room, to follow the reauthorization of the federal Transportation Bill and to cover the major story of how its success or failure in the next 45 days will affect not just California, but the whole nation. Villaraigosa warned, If the Transportation Bill doesnt get done by the end of September, the federal gas tax will expire. And, you guessed it, the Tea Party is threatening to hold the gas tax hostage.
Any attention paid to Prop 13 is good, even if the property tax relief measure is being challenged. However, calling Proposition 13 a corporate tax give-away, Villaraigosa called for raising property taxes on businesses. How about recognizing that we cant afford this loophole any more?
He complimented the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown on the recent passage of the state budget, but said that Republicans obstructed at every opportunity. It is interesting to note that that the budget was passed using the new majority-vote authority, and only with votes from Democrats.
However, in spite of throwing red meat to the majority party, several members of the audience asked Villaraigosa what office he was campaigning for. Im here to shine light on the dark cloud hanging over California, Villaraigosa said, and added that he wouldnt rule out running for another elected political office.
Villaraigosa did get it right when he called education the real deficit of our times. He mentioned that he supports important education reforms including tenure and seniority reform. But those reforms were apparently just part of the whistle stop tour, because he spent most of the next few minutes talking about how current education funding levels are not adequate, and student-teacher ratios are too high. How can we expect our teachers to succeed with these conditions?
While it was entertaining, todays event should have been a debate or at least a panel discussion, which may have prevented Villaraigosa from using a Press Club event as a campaign stop.