Leftists never tire of telling conservative Americans that mistakes liberal politicians make in their private lives are none of the public’s business. They contend the private is separate from the political and has no bearing on performance in office.
This has never been true. An individual that is morally corrupt in his private life will be morally corrupt in his public life. Sexual, financial, or emotional wrongs done in private have a way of eventually leaching into public.
Outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proves my point. During his time in the L.A. mayor’s office, Villaraigosa was the second-highest paid mayor in the United States. His annual salary was $232,735 and over two terms his compensation totaled $1,682,937. He lived in a house provided by the city and was chauffeured around L.A. in a city-provided auto.
Yet as he leaves office at the end of June, City Hall lobbyist Harvey Englander is quoted in L.A. Weekly as observing, “(Villaraigosa) doesn't have a car to drive, he doesn't have a place to live — and he needs a lot of money.” He also owns no stocks, no bonds, no 401(k) and no IRA. His motto was spend today and let tomorrow take care of itself.
According to LA Weekly, as mayor Villaraigosa spent between 11 and 15 percent of his working day on city business. The rest of the time he lived a lifestyle that his friends estimate will cost $750,000 a year to duplicate in private life. That’s because he lived much more extravagantly than even the governor of California.
The Weekly article explains how he spent his time in luxury hotels, traveling to expensive locales, enjoying thousand-dollar seats at various events, eating in fine restaurants, and drinking vintage wine. What the taxpayers of L.A. didn’t pay for, wealthy friends and interest groups did. Villaraigosa had a high old time on someone else’s dime.
So is it any wonder that he leaves the city and the next mayor a potential budget deficit of over $1 billion in the next four years and a city employee pension fund that is estimated to be $26 billion short? Of course not, because Villaraigosa conducted the city’s business the same way he did his personal business.
As a result the streets are filled with potholes, landscaping is neglected and the fire department is suffering from budget cuts.
On July 1, Villaraigosa will learn that tomorrow is here and with a vengeance. I don’t imagine he has learned any sort of lesson, but I hope the citizens of L.A. have.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Click Here Now.