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Are Villaraigosa's appearances at Lakers, Dodger games a ‘private’ matter?

Figuring out how Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spends his days and nights should be, seemingly, a simple task because he is so widely recognized.

Marta Vieira de Silva and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a Lakers game. Credit: Getty Images But as with many politicians in California and across the nation, extracting detailed information about an elected official’s daily schedule rarely is an easy chore.

The recent story of Villaraigosa attending more than 80 Lakers games, Dodger games, concerts and awards shows -- many for free -- showed just how difficult that can be.
 
Although Villaraigosa says he was acting in his official capacity as mayor at those events, records obtained by The Times show that his own legal advisers once classified more than a third of them as “personal and/or private” -- and kept them from public view.

It all began last year when The Times requested copies of the mayor’s daily schedules under California’s Public Records Act. Although most of his meetings and events were listed, a fair number were blacked out -- and some of those “redactions" were baffling.
For example, Villaraigosa aides withheld the fact that the mayor went to the Dodgers-Chicago Cubs playoff game on Oct. 4, 2008, even though fans and news service photographers saw him at the game hugging Dodger owner Frank McCourt.
 
On the mayor’s schedule, they also blacked out a Lakers game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 6, 2009 -- a game in which Villaraigosa was photographed on the basketball court giving a city proclamation to Brazilian women's soccer star Marta Vieira de Silva of the Los Angeles Sol.

The mayor now says that at those events and most others he presented a city proclamation to an athlete, entertainer or event organizer, thereby making his free attendance part of his ceremonial or official duties as mayor. He said doing so exempted him from state and city laws that require politicians to report gifts they receive -- and say who gave them -- and limit the value of tickets or any other gifts they can accept to $420 from any one source in a year.

To figure which other events the mayor’s office was keeping from public view, The Times reviewed thousands of photographs from The Times, Getty Images, Reuters, the Associated Press and other news organizations.

The Times also went to the Los Angeles city clerk’s office and reviewed more than 10,000 proclamation orders from the mayor’s office, then to the City Ethics Commission to review Villaraigsoa’s financial disclosure statements from 2005-2009 as well as his campaign expenditure reports.

Finally, we compared dates on the proclamations and photographs with copies on his official calendars. The Times found that Villaraiosa failed to disclose attending eight Lakers games –– many sitting in expensive courtside seats -- and three Dodgers playoff games.

After a report by KTTV-TV Channel 11 last week about Villaraigosa sitting courtside at Lakers games, free of charge, the mayor’s office released a list of 81 sporting and cultural events that he was scheduled to attend since he took office in July 2005.
 
Officials in the mayor’s office are now researching Villaraigosa’s calendars, receipts and other documents to determine what “official” or ceremonial role he played at the events he was scheduled to attend. They also are trying to determine if tickets to all those events were provided free of charge -- and if so by whom -- or if the mayor or city paid for the tickets.

-- Phil Willon at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Marta Vieira de Silva and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a Lakers game. Credit: Getty Images

 
Comments () | Archives (17)

What about Villaraigosa's predecessors as mayor? I know Mrs. Tom Bradley and her mother attended Dodger games - were those seats provided free, or were they paid for, and if so, by whom?

The Los Angeles Mayor is a joke. He spends a large portion of his time (1) chasing female newscasters (2)getting freebies to all sports and entertainment events (3) creating racial divides so he can get re-elected to a highter position.

I observed him at a Dodger game last season, moving in to the owners box, sitting next to the owners wife. The parking lot attendant arrived and banished him from his seat. The mayor departed, waving to the crowd in the 4th inning. Perhaps our leaders should have to take an IQ test

Maybe the IRS should check and see if these tickets and such are being claimed right on his tax returns!

Just more of the same from Tony V.

Yes, because Los Angeles has solved all of its other problems.

The man is pond scum, pure and simple.

This is where investigative reporting begins, I commend the LA Times for stepping back up to the plate, and keeping all of our elected officials accountable and transparent. When they know someone is watching, they will clean it up real fast.

I would like to see more, especially on the mayor, because the whole city knows he has ethical issues, but behind the scene there may be something criminal.

"Are Villaraigosa's appearances at Lakers, Dodger games a ‘private’ matter?"

Nope. They're a bribe.


Prosecute.

Villaraigosa is a crook. He used is latino ties to weasel himself into office. He has done little in his time as Mayor, but enrich himself via the mayor's office. He needs to spend less time courting TV reporters and attending Hollywood events start fixing our budget issues and poor performing schools.

"Are Villaraigosa's appearances at Lakers, Dodger games a ‘private’ matter?"
Certainly not - yet for the first Los Angeles mayor "diversity member" the notion of integrity is applied in a different manner. Heck - Villa is a mini Obama -

Hate to bear bad news, but you spelled his name wrong twice.

JUST PLAIN CORRUPTION

How can you tell when Villaraigosa is lying?
When his lips are moving.

Man, what an embarassment he is.

Good piece of reporting, LAT.

No, it is not a private matter when the Pint Size Mayor is using his title to get a free ride. Furthermore, it costs the tax payers in the end. We are footing the bill for AEG for Michael Jackson.

How much do proclamations cost the city?

How does the Mayor travel to the events?

Has the Mayor attended events in places outside LA for free?

The proclamation he is presenting above does not look cheap.

Why does he need to make 10,000 proclamations?

NO

Calling him pond scum, as Geena Rodriquez does here, is insulting and unfair -- to pond scum that is. At least pond scum has a purpose in the eco system.


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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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