A look at the record
Villaraigosa, who is not burdened by a lack of self-confidence, considers his accomplishments to be "fairly continuous throughout the years."
The statistics he recites include the declining rate of violent crime in Los Angeles, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, hundreds of acres of new parks and passage of a sales tax increase to pay for public transportation projects.
"I know I've kind of caught a little attention, maybe a little wind here, but all of this stuff we've been doing all along," he said. "We've been working hard every day, kind of schlepping."
Yet in certain areas Villaraigosa fell short of his promise. He proposed to plant 1 million trees throughout the city; his administration has planted about 335,000, which Villaraigosa's office said is far more than previous administrations. He persuaded the state Legislature to pass a law giving him significant control of the city's schools, only to see the measure thrown out in court. He promised to expand the city's Police Department to 10,000 officers, and was criticized when he fell just short of that number -- though Villaraigosa may reach the threshold still.
"We'll announce in September that we hit 10,000, which, if you saw an article recently, they said that I always set a high goal and I only did 9,943," Villaraigosa said. "Oh yeah, I'm going to hit 10,000."
Last week, Villaraigosa's office suggested he may have overshot on his timing, saying the department is more likely to reach the 10,000-officer threshold closer to the beginning of next year.
"That's not happening as soon as he thought," press secretary Vicki Curry said.
Jaime Regalado, retired executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, said Villaraigosa had "a hard time in his first term, there's no question about that."
Critics said Villaraigosa was unfocused, and his affair with a Spanish-language television reporter led to the breakup of his marriage in 2007, disappointing many of his supporters.
"The affair was a big thing for a lot of people, especially women voters and a lot of Latino voters," he said. "But I think it was more, some people started to feel that there was a little bit too much fluff there."
Regalado said Villaraigosa turned out in his second term to be "a fairly good mayor" and a "good voice" for the city. His travel for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, including his lobbying for federal transportation funding, benefited Los Angeles, Regalado said.
Of Villaraigosa's chairmanship of the convention -- and the attention he will enjoy for one more week -- Regalado said, "That's more about Antonio."
Last week, Villaraigosa traveled to the Republican National Convention in Tampa to provide on-air criticism of Republican messages.
In Charlotte, he will remain on TV, and is expected to benefit from his ability as chairman to help influential people gain access to speaking roles and other events.
"You're giving lots of presents to people," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist. "In politics, it's the ultimate Santa Claus job."
(c)2012 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
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