The LA Weekly has a good blog post about Villaraigosa (or Villar as some of my readers like to call him) landing on President-Elect Obama’s 17-member economic advice team. The City of Los Angeles certainly isn’t a model of economic health. The city is suffering from the burst of the housing bubble — the Weekly suggests that it is because Villaraigosa created an economic plan revolving around housing development. Unemployment in LA County (I know that we can’t hold Villar responsible for the whole county, but this is the only data I could find) is at 7.8 percent, higher than the national 6.5 percent. And I haven’t even mentioned the city’s budget woes, the recent writers’ strike, bank closures and layoffs.
Look at the list of people Villaraigosa was sitting with yesterday:
-David Bonior (Member House of Representatives 1977-2003)
-Warren Buffett (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway)-will participate via speakerphone
-Roel Campos (former SEC Commissioner)
-William Daley (Chairman of the Midwest, JP Morgan Chase; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Commerce, 1997-2000)
-William Donaldson (Former Chairman of the SEC 2003-2005)
-Roger Ferguson (President and CEO, TIAA-CREF and former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve)
-Jennifer Granholm (Governor, State of Michigan)
-Anne Mulcahy (Chairman and CEO, Xerox)
-Richard Parsons (Chairman of the Board, Time Warner)
-Penny Pritzker (CEO, Classic Residence by Hyatt)
-Robert Reich (University of California, Berkeley; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Labor, 1993-1997)
-Robert Rubin (Chairman and Director of the Executive Committee, Citigroup; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1995-1999)
-Eric Schmidt (Chairman and CEO, Google)
-Lawrence Summers (Harvard University; Managing Director, D.E. Shaw; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1999-2001)
-Laura Tyson (Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; Former Chairman, National Economic Council, 1995-1996; Former Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, 1993-1995)
-Antonio Villaraigosa (Mayor, City of Los Angeles)
-Paul Volcker (Former Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve 1979-1987)
I’m thinking that there must be a few Latino economists somewhere — I have actually met one. In examining this list, Villaraigosa looks like the weak link. He did rise through the ranks of organized labor, but he doesn’t represent them now. And to my knowledge, Villaraigosa has never run a Fortune 500 enterprise. There was one other Latino, Roel Campos from the SEC, and he actually passed the bar. Remember how Villaraigosa attended a law school that is no longer in business and failed the bar a few times before giving up?
I wouldn’t have picked Villaraigosa for his economic knowledge at this point. Maybe his presence would have more impact if he had John Sweeney’s role as president of the AFL-CIO. Maybe one of my readers will see the value in Villaraigosa being on this economic advice team, but right now, I’m not feelin’ it. Just this summer Villaraigosa was telling us that the economies of East and South LA were booming, check it out here.
Sandy Sand is also questioning Obama’s move warning, “Listen Up Obama People: Vet the strutting peacock before having any further dealings with him.”
Finally, this speaks to the crisis within Latino leadership. If any Latina mamas are reading this, please encourage your boys and girls to learn about economics, push higher education, and enrich them with books. Drive, push, and demand success so that when they are in positions to lead, they at least appear qualified and bloggers like me aren’t left scratching their heads.
Photo Credit: Cartoon courtesy of LA Times Blogs