As far as I’m concerned Antonio Villaraigosa walled himself off from me way back a few months before his first election in 2005. First he started posting election signs that phonetically spelled out the pronunciation of his last name (ELECT Vee-ahh-ray-go-sah!) to help educate those who were obviously having trouble wrapping their tongues around that contrived conjunction of his and his then-wife’s last name. Shortly after that, he led me to vote for Hahn when he decided to pander to the animal activist vote and kneejerkedly blurt out his support for closing the elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo, as if that’d be the most important order of city business to get to the moment after being sworn in.
Then came all his missteps and failures and that silly affair with that TV news reporter and the divorce and more missteps and more failures, which just built the divide between him and me all that much thicker and higher.
In fairness, the wall came down a bit shortly after his re-election when I’m guessing his Hummer-lovin’ transportation deputy Jaime de la Vega had someone phonetically spell out “bicycle” (bye-sea-cull) for ‘Tonio and after practicing it diligently he actually said the word publicly for the first time. Shortly after that revelation someone got a picture of him astride a borrowed fixed-gear at a community event in Baldwin Hills, and that endeared
me him a little more to him me. Then, as we all know, that high was followed by the low of him pedaling along Venice Boulevard where he took a bone-breaking tumble trying to avoid an inattentive cab driver. But from that near-disaster came his understanding that supporting bikes on the streets and cyclists’ rights to safely ride them there would be a lot easier and more positive a pet project than, say, taking over the school system or running for governor, or spending more time out of the state campaigning for a presidential candidate, or dating other local news reporters… well, scratch that last one.
And my belabored point is? Belabored more after the jump.