Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Villaraigosa plans to attend girlfriend Lu Parker's pet project [Updated]


Mayor <a class="taxInlineTagLink" 

id="PEPLT007500" title="Antonio Villaraigosa" 

href="/topic/politics/antonio-villaraigosa-PEPLT007500.topic"  />Antonio

 Villaraigosa</a> attends a church service with Lu Parker last 

summer before being sworn in for his second term. The two have been 

dating since March.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is scheduled to appear Monday at an event launching his girlfriend’s fledgling charity to help animals and at-risk young people.

The Lu Parker Project, created by the KTLA news reporter who has been dating the mayor since early last year, is organizing young community volunteers to repaint the lobby at the city’s South Los Angeles Animal Shelter.

It is the first in a series of events and fundraisers the group hopes to sponsor, according to representatives at It Girl Public Relations, which handles publicity for Parker.

While the mayor is scheduled to appear with Parker at Monday’s kickoff event, he has no role in the organization, said Juliette Harris, It Girl’s chief executive officer.

Nonprofits seen as being associated with politicians and those close to them warrant scrutiny, some government watchdogs say.

Speaking generally, Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, said vigilance is needed with such charities to “make sure they are not a back channel way for special interests to find special access to electeds that regular constituents don’t have.”

The motivation for Parker, a longtime animal advocate, is to beautify the city and help animals and children in the process, according to a press release.

"As a former high school teacher, I have always believed children crave an outlet to express love and compassion,” she said in a statement. “My dream is to help them find that outlet through Lu Parker Project by introducing them to animals who otherwise would never have a shot at knowing what love feels like.”

According to the project’s website, which describes how financial donations can be made, the organization’s federal tax-exempt status is pending and expected to be approved this year.

Among those on the new nonprofit’s board of directors is Villaraigosa appointee and Animal Services Commission President Melanie Ramsayer, according to the group’s website and interviews.

Harris, the publicist, said the charity hopes to hold an annual fundraising event to cover operating costs. A projected three-year budget is being prepared for the Internal Revenue Service but is not yet available publicly, said the group’s attorney, Jessica Shofler.

[Corrected at 6:21 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled Jessica Shofler's last name as Sholfer.]

Monday’s painting project, involving groups that work with former gang members and children at risk, is being put together entirely with volunteers and donated supplies, Harris said.

Asked if Parker had considered restricting donations from those seeking business or permits from City Hall, Harris said that sort of question will be considered when fundraising activity begins.

In response to questions about the mayor's appearance and possible future support of the charity's fundraising efforts, press secretary Sarah Hamilton issued a statement. It said   the mayor "attends numerous community events like this each year and is happy to support the Lu Parker Project and its efforts to give at-risk youth the opportunity to volunteer their time to beautify their local animal shelter and help homeless animals."

-- Rich Connell

Photo: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attends a church service with Lu Parker last summer before being sworn in for his second term. The two have been dating since March. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (46)

If his Honor's gf is truly humble about her "dream is to help children find that outlet to express love and compassion" then why not humbly name the non - profit to reflect children, compassion, or love? Naming it The Lu Parker Project reeks of self-promotion!

Why not go out, he is not doing any good in the office... just another 'pristine' example of California politicians.... He has done nothing for LA that has not massaged his ego.... What a disgrace to Hispanics....

How can Lu Parker solicit donations for her charity? Does she want to be a journalist or an advocate? Will the mayor solicit his friends, colleagues and community leaders to support her organization? There are many excellent animal rescue organizations and groups working with at-risk youth in L.A., she should join one of them and support their efforts.

Well I bet he got FREE TICKETS...At least this outing was legit!

This is just another photo op for our sorry excuse for a mayor. (Hold a homeless puppy, shake a disadvantaged youth's hand....) As a long time animal rescuer and welfare activist, I've met the mayor/seen him in action at shelter openings, fundraisers for the animals before. His lack of knowledge regarding animals is pathetic. He has the resources to make animal welfare a priority in this city where we have the largest shelter system in the country, and where thousands of animals are killed every day for lack of space. He has the power to release Billy the elephant from his long, torturous, and inhumane captivity at the LA Zoo. He could attempt to ban circuses who brutally abuse their animals from the city of Los Angeles. Other cities and countries have done so. Does he really care about animals, youths at risk, our city etc.....? I think not. I still really can't figure out what this guy cares about other than himself.......

I have never liked Villargosa. But what is wrong with helping Animals? This is the only right thing I ever seen him do. His motives may be something else entirely, but at least his woman is making him help. How can we criticize charity work? BTW, I am a republican voter.

"This is a closed media event.

Temporary No Parking signs have been posted and vehicles will be towed.

Security will be provided by LADOT and LAPD."



So first they mention the animals so they are 1st then the childrens I gues the animals are more important than the childrens, no wonder every commercial there is a pet in it. Priorities last, no wonder the country is going backward.

who cares

If all this is for show and only time will tell, lets hope future political dreamers find it a useful tool if not an example of what not to do. The nationality of a candidate has nothing to do with integrity either you have it or you don't; like my abuelita always said," the real cream will always rise to the top." Future Hispanic candidates take note, integrity is developed over time and cant be sold, EVER!!!!!

Ol' Tony is showing more forhead than his vain self would perfer these days.

Bunches of phony. That's it and that's all.

In response to questions about the mayor's appearance and possible future support of the charity's fundraising efforts, press secretary Sarah Hamilton issued a statement. It said the mayor "attends numerous community events like this each year and is happy to support the Lu Parker Project and its efforts to give at-risk youth the opportunity to volunteer their time to beautify their local animal shelter and help homeless animals."

Sarah, would he support the Lu Parker Project of he was not dating her?

Ughhh! I live really close to the shelter, have volunteered too. I don't think the Shelter needs painting. I remember the manager there said they needed money for better quality food, maybe they can use that money for that or to keep animals alive longer instead of killing them for not getting adopted.

So I'm headed North on Mission from Cesar Chavez approaching the 5 freeway overcrossing. I can see the traffic is backed up. It's barely 3pm. As I get closer to the on ramp, I can see that the traffic light is out. "Great", I say to myself. I look to my right, whizzing out of this parking lot is the LA Parking Enforcement, you know, the traffic conductors. I say great again. But wait, the driver cut in line and kept going! Hey what can you expect from LA Employees for your tax dollar right? I look to the right again, and this parking lot is FULL of parking enforcement vehicles. As a matter of fact, I'm right in front of their office. I LAUGHED! and thought, it's like a firestation ignoring the fire a cross the street.
This light is tying up traffic,no one is working on it, and the traffic enforcement department REFSUED to send anyone during the seven minutes it took for me to pass that light. I saw twomore cars come out of that parking lot headed North and South on Mission.

And Playboy Villar... I predict he will be a lonely fool, even if he hassomeone by his side, when the other clock starts to tick..

What a dummy.

Who really cares what this mayor does.He is a total antiamerican loser

this is lame. what a wanker..... how about giving at risk kids lakers playoff tickets

I may not be the Mayor's biggest supporter, but I do support his right to attend whatever events he chooses or provides assistance to.

Forums such as this, have provided an outlet for every loon, malcontent and xenophobe from across the country. Oh yeah, as well as loser wannabe politicians like Walter Moore (who uses a slew of screen names).

I completely understand all the comments posted about agendas, publicity etc.. but as a volunteer of this project and someone who is always skeptical about the agendas of anyone, I can confirm that Lu Parker has been a volunteer at the South LA Shelter for quite sometime now. When no cameras are around she is at the shelter walking the dogs, socializing them etc... on a regular basis. As an advocate for social justice, I feel that her efforts off camera should be noted and considered before passing judgement about this project.

Being at the shelter is not an easy task, and being at the South LA Shelter is even more heart breaking as it leads the pack of euthanized dogs in the county. You should definitely support this project whether you like the personality or not. There are plenty of other volunteers from other rescue groups including Best Friends Animal Society helping on the project as well. Lu Parker just happened to spearhead this project, and for that, I, nor anyone else can criticize.

@Nick Frankie -
Actually , we can criticize all we want and rightly so. She has volunteered at the shelter. That's great. It really is great.

So, if you have volunteered then you can go straight to your pal the Commission president, Melanie Ramsayer (who is also on your "team") and your boyfriend, the Mayor and close down all operations of the taxpayer-owned shelter and paint the lobby without going through the channels that any other group would have to go through. Sorry, Nick it reeks and you know it.

You can also have LADOT and LAPD at your disposal for your "media event."

Oh how very funny. The mayor sees the value of animals to the city and the children, but somehow doesn't feel the same about the public libraries? I love animals, don't get me wrong, but when was the last time the animal shelter helped somebody by giving them access to computers, printers, books, and heck, pretty much a place to study or stay preoccupied with Young Adult/Children's programs after school lets out? I'd say there are more children, adults even!, in need of access to these services more than they need access to cats and other furry things to seek comfort in.

« | 1 2


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


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.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: