I have a picture on the wall of my office. It was taken at about 4 a.m. in 1998. I'm in the picture with a group of Democratic and Republican legislators. We look tired; we've been up late for a number of nights. But there's also a glint of celebration.
That was a happy and proud moment. We had just negotiated Proposition 1A, which put $9.2 billion of school bonds on the ballot. This bipartisan breakthrough opened the way for three successful state school bonds that raised $34 billion for school construction.
I've also supported local school bonds, and the state and local money that voters entrusted to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is being used to build schools all over the city.
I don't take this progress lightly or for granted. But building for seats is not the same as building for reform. To date, L.A. Unified has done the former but only paid lip service to the latter. And I find myself moving to an uncomfortable and unfamiliar position on the question of the school district's bid to pass $3.985 billion in school bonds this November.
The final act of Hertzberg-for-Mayor played out last week, with Bob Hertzberg endorsing challenger Antonio Villaraigosa. And although there was some unexpected drama, the endorsement itself proved anticlimactic: Villaraigosa already had surged to a comfortable double-digit lead in two polls.
The race for Los Angeles mayor features two consummate insiders who are close to one another ideologically and disagree on few issues, posing a question: With Sacramento politics offering a clash of political tectonic plates and big, competing reforms, why is the mayor's race lacking in big ideas?
Just about everything went wrong and ugly for Jim Hahn leading into this week's city primary -- except the outcome. The result itself wasn't exactly a winner either, but it was close enough. The incumbent mayor barely scraped past energetic third-place finisher Bob Hertzberg, making it into a May runoff to keep his job.
First place went to Eastside City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa --just as pre-election polls predicted. Without a Villaraigosa collapse, the drama centered on the joust between Hahn and Hertzberg, the former state Assembly speaker who'd risen in recent weeks to a virtual tie with Hahn in some polls. Hahn's second-place finish means that he and Villaraigosa will face off just as they did when Hahn bested Villaraigosa in 2001.
On a drizzly morning, with the city just opening its eyes, Bob Hertzberg is sitting at Solley's Delicatessen in Sherman Oaks. Even before having his coffee, he seems animated, even agitated, by his great new project: how to save Los Angeles.