What Does the Mayor of Los Angeles Do?

What Does the Mayor of Los Angeles Do?

2021-07-13 18:23:08

Good morning.

There’s nonetheless a Senate affirmation forward of Mayor Eric Garcetti earlier than he can actually go away Los Angeles.

However President Biden’s official announcement of Garcetti as his choose to be the subsequent ambassador to India has already set off yet one more Democratic political scramble in California, this time to fill a task that’s without delay high-profile and sort of thankless: that of a big-city mayor.

The truth that the announcement got here within the midst of New York Metropolis’s bruising, complicated mayoral election raised inevitable comparisons, not simply between Garcetti and New York’s outgoing mayor, Invoice de Blasio, however between the 2 jobs.

Though New York’s mayor has significantly extra energy, the roles have at the very least one factor in widespread, stated Raphael Sonenshein, the chief director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles: “It’s terribly troublesome to go away these workplaces with the bands taking part in and the crowds cheering. If you need a straightforward rise in politics, run for State Meeting — don’t run for one in every of these workplaces.”

Because it seems, although, the function of Los Angeles’s mayor was formed by New York’s. I requested Sonenshein, who additionally served as the chief director of a Los Angeles metropolis fee that helped reshape the powers of the mayor’s workplace in 1999, in regards to the variations. Right here’s our dialog, edited for size and readability:

Inform me about your preliminary response to the information that Garcetti lastly received the nod.

I had been extra optimistic than most that he was going to get the job, nevertheless it was clearly not a finished deal. I’m fairly happy about it.

Why?

I believe it’s an excellent step for him, and it’s an excellent step for Los Angeles in some essential methods.

No L.A. mayor in my recollection has gone from mayor to a national- or international-level publish. The mayors of the three largest cities by no means appear to go wherever — you get very formidable folks, and their ambition is at all times annoyed.

It additionally has to do with L.A. getting extra recognition within the nationwide Democratic Celebration. Nationwide Democrats used to say, you go to the Bay Space for expertise and also you go to L.A. for cash.

So what energy does the mayor of Los Angeles even have? And the way does that examine with different huge cities?

New York is sort of by itself, but additionally typical of East Coast and Midwestern cities in having a robust mayor system. It’s simply that New York is awfully robust.

What does that imply?

Once I was engaged on constitution reform from 1997 to 1999, I checked out New York Metropolis’s constitution, and I used to be astonished to find all residual powers not in any other case delegated went to the mayor in New York. That’s nearly unheard-of. The mayor additionally runs the faculties there, which is extra widespread within the East however is basically uncommon out right here.

The New York Metropolis Council may be very giant — 51 members. It’s stronger than it was, nevertheless it’s nonetheless onerous to resist the mayor. It’s a vertically organized authorities. That’s from the historical past of East Coast and Midwestern cities, with robust social gathering machines.

What you may have in L.A. is a authorities system that was designed 100 years in the past to not be like New York and Chicago. It was going to be a nonpartisan reform authorities with dispersed authority. And it certain seems like they succeeded.

Now we have what I’d name a reasonably robust mayor. I’d not use the phrase weak. The true problem is that there’s quite a lot of energy in L.A. authorities, nevertheless it’s divided amongst many establishments.

The college board is independently elected. The board of supervisors runs an immensely robust county authorities. You’ve gotten 87 metropolis governments, some contained in the borders of town of L.A., every of which has land-use authority.

On the identical time, although, the mayor is with out query the most-recognized political chief not simply within the metropolis of L.A., however within the county and in all of Southern California.

So throughout emergencies, throughout an earthquake, through the Covid disaster, it’s doable for all of these to tug collectively behind the mayor.

Is there something Garcetti will get blamed for that’s truly out of his management?

Homelessness is nearly completely designed to frustrate the authority of the mayor of Los Angeles. It’s a difficulty that crosses jurisdictional boundaries — the county wants town and vice versa. It’s a long-term disaster. And it’s terribly troublesome to deal with. So do you modify the entire construction in an effort to repair homelessness? It’s not one thing this dispersed authorities responds effectively to.

What in regards to the New York Metropolis mayor?

The one factor the mayor doesn’t endure from right here that the mayor of New York does endure from is an overhanging state authorities. It’s an influence that the California state authorities both doesn’t have or chooses to not use. So in New York, if the mayor doesn’t get together with the governor — as the present mayor doesn’t — there’s battle. You could possibly have a press convention the place the governor threatens to make use of the authority to droop the mayor. The state up to now has taken over the funds of New York Metropolis. None of that might occur right here.

For extra:


This week, Shohei Ohtani will pitch and hit in Main League Baseball’s All-Star Sport. My colleague Kurt Streeter writes that not solely is the Angels standout one of many best spectacles in sports activities proper now, however he additionally represents a robust rebuke of anti-Asian hate.


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Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported everywhere in the state, together with the Bay Space, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — however she at all times needs to see extra. Comply with alongside right here or on Twitter.


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