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Sunday, Jan 29, 2023

Business Leaders Pick Up Tab for Villaraigosa’s Inaugural

Antonio Villaraigosa is set to take office as the 41st mayor of Los Angeles this week during a string of inauguration festivities and private donors, many of them with business ties to the city, are picking up the tab.

The big donor event takes place Thursday night at the mayor’s inaugural ball, with proceeds going to the non-profit L.A.’s Best program. Officials there are looking to raise between $600,000 and $1 million, with tables of 10 going for $25,000.

“No question giving $25,000 to the new mayor’s favorite charity will get you noticed,” said Bill Boyarsky, a city ethics commissioner.

Neither current Mayor James Hahn nor former Mayor Richard Riordan held inaugural galas, though Riordan did host a dinner for city officials.

Boyarsky said that as long as L.A.’s Best discloses who contributes, he did not have major concerns.

But he said he would like to see future inauguration ceremonies paid for out of city coffers. “If we’re only talking about $200,000 here, that should be picked up by the city. It gives contractors and lobbyists one less chance to buy access and influence,” he said.

The inauguration ceremony itself is set for Friday morning (July 1) on the steps of City Hall, followed by a street festival. The total tab is estimated to be $200,000, picked up entirely by donors to a special inauguration fund set up by Villaraigosa’s transition team.

Developers, entertainment industry executives, entrepreneurs and business and labor organizations have ponied up the maximum $1,000 so far.

Among them: the Central City Association, the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, former Viacom Inc. and Universal Studios Inc. chief executive Frank Biondi, Warner Bros. senior vice president Howard Welinsky, trucking and warehousing firm president Robert Curry and Paul’s TV owner (“I am the king”) Paul Goldenberg.

Big Week Ahead

Friday is also a busy day at the City Council. Officially taking office will be Bill Rosendahl, elected last month to replace termed-out Westside councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski.

Also on Friday, the council will likely vote to grant Alex Padilla another term as council president. Councilman Eric Garcetti dropped his bid to unseat Padilla last month. Padilla is expected to serve as council president at least through some of next year, then give up the presidency post to run for the seat now held by termed-out state Sen. Richard Alarcon.

Finally, Councilman Martin Ludlow is expected to leave his post to assume interim leadership of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Ludlow is the leading candidate under consideration as a replacement for the late Miguel Contreras.

Thursday is the deadline for all prospective candidates for statewide office to issue their first financial statements. This marks the first test of viability for Democratic gubernatorial candidates Phil Angelides and Steve Westly.

Among the local politicos seeking or considering statewide office: City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo (Democratic candidate for attorney general) and two Republicans aiming to square off against each other in the primary for state treasurer: former gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon and current Assemblyman Keith Richman.

PUC Head Opposes Re-Regulation

An initiative by consumer advocates to re-regulate the state’s electric utility market is a “terrible idea,” according to the president of the state’s Public Utilities Commission.

The “Electric Re-regulation and Blackout Avoidance Initiative,” which officially qualified last week for the Nov. 8 special election ballot, would repeal key portions of the state’s 1996 deregulation law. The measure, drafted by the utility consumer advocate group known as TURN, was still pending signature verification last week before the Secretary of State’s office.

Most specifically, the initiative would ban the vast majority of the state’s businesses from leaving their utility and signing up with independent electricity providers.

Speaking to San Fernando Valley business executives recently, PUC President Michael Peevey said he believes the initiative imposes too many restrictions on the ability of companies to choose their electricity providers.

Peevey, appointed to the PUC by Gray Davis, said he favors a greater role for markets in the state’s electricity future.

Pacheco Leads Huizar

L.A. Unified School Board president Jose Huizar has his work cut out for him if he wants to move over to the Eastside L.A. City Council seat to be vacated this week by Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, if a poll released last week is any indication.

The poll of 300 district residents comes from the campaign of former City Councilman Nick Pacheco, who lost a re-election bid to Villaraigosa two years ago and is now trying to recapture his old seat. It gives Pacheco a 45 percent to 14 percent lead over Huizar and a 76 percent name identification, compared with just 35 percent recognition for Huizar.

Pacheco’s campaign played up the poll, saying it puts the former councilman in a strong position. Huizar said he was not concerned. “Once people get to know what I’ve done at the School District and once they see my endorsements, I think I can overcome this,” he said.

One of those endorsements is likely to be Villaraigosa, since he indicated through his advisors last month that Huizar was his pick for the seat.

Villaraigosa clashed bitterly with Pacheco during the campaign two years ago.

*Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227, or by e-mail at



Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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