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L.A. story

June 22, 2007 |  7:13 pm

Hillary Clinton kept an audience of some of America's most important public officials waiting for almost an hour today. But anyone with even an ounce of experience with traveling to Southern California --- and then driving about town --- probably would cut her some slack.

Clinton The Democratic presidential candidate was scheduled to make a 1:15 p.m. speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors convention at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.  The New York senator had flown cross-country from Washington after late legislative votes Thursday but, according to one of her aides, the flight was late getting into Van Nuys Airport. Then, she and her entourage faced the daunting task of negotiating Friday afternoon traffic to make it to Century City.

The Times' Scott Martelle was there, and he reports that the luncheon program began without her. Then, for several minutes, the dias simply went dark; folks finished their meals as they waited for Clinton to show up.

Conference president Douglas Palmer, mayor of Trenton, N.J., provided an update for the crowd, which included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"Right now, mayor, she's just stuck in traffic," Palmer said. "I don't know, mayor .... come on, you could have got the (police) motorcycles" for her.

Clinton arrived about 2:10 and, as she often does, eschewed a standard stump speech to deliver remarks tailored to her audience. She called, for instance, for a greater national focus on the challenges faced by young African American and Latino men.

"What are we going to do to try to keep African American and Hispanic men in school ... and out of the criminal justice system?" she asked. "I think that's a question that deserves an answer, and it deserves a national agenda."

-- Don Frederick

Photo: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.); Credit: Reed Saxon/AP