L.A. mayor to unveil budget plan but may be upstaged by top deputy [Updated]
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveils his yearly budget plan Wednesday, calling for the restoration of key services while closing a $457-million budget gap.
But that event may be quickly upstaged by one of his top deputies, who is holding his own 2013 campaign event the same morning.
While Villaraigosa appears in one part of downtown to discuss his financial proposal, First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner will head to another to announce that his mayoral bid has secured the endorsement of former Mayor Richard Riordan, who held the job from 1993 to 2001.
[Updated at 8:45 a.m.: Beutner's team said it has decided to push back the Riordan news conference from 10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. to avoid conflicting with the mayor's budget speech at 9:45 a.m.]
After leaving office, Riordan endorsed Villaraigosa three times -- in 2001, 2005 and 2009. This time around, he picked Beutner and will appear with the candidate to tour a produce market on 6th Street, according to a statement from Villaraigosa's speechwriter and former deputy mayor, Sean Clegg.
Riordan has been a harbinger of bad news for City Hall, warning that the city is near bankruptcy over pension costs, even though he successfully campaigned in 2001 for a measure that allowed police and firefighters to retire with yearly pensions equivalent to up to 90% of their annual salaries.
Villaraigosa has not said who he would support in the 2013 mayoral race.
[Updated at 8:14 a.m.: Contacted by The Times, a high-level mayoral aide responsible for preparing Villaraigosa's budget said he did not know about the Beutner event.
"You're informing me of something I did not have any clue about," said Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Szabo.]
His budget is not expected to offer many surprises because he unveiled many of the major points over the last few weeks.
He plans to continue hiring police officers in a major recession. And he wants to fill more potholes, add more library hours and expand Fire Department staffing -- all while demanding city employee unions take a reduction in pay.
That money would go toward employees' retirement health plans.
-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall
Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner during a recent news conference for the proposed new downtown football stadium. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times