By Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts
At 2:20 pm today, the California Democratic Party released a list of speakers at this weekend's convention in Sacramento with one big name glaringly absent: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Exactly one hour and 32 minutes later, Villaraigosa's press office sent out a release announcing: "Mayor Villaraigosa today announced that he will convene emergency weekend meetings with union leaders to tackle the city's budget crisis.
"Talks will focus on ways to close a $530 million budget deficit through shared sacrifice and shared responsibility. The Mayor will begin meetings in City Hall with labor leaders on Friday evening and will continue through the weekend."
"It is imperative that we act now to save jobs and protect services here in Los Angeles. That's why I'm meeting with our City union leaders," Mayor Villaraigosa said. "We're going to brew a pot of coffee and roll up our sleeves to get it done. We can't solve this unprecedented economic crisis with the old politics as usual."
Reminded us immediately of when Gov. Pete Wilson used the same excuse - budget negotiations in Sacramento - to skip the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston for his own political reasons (in his case, because he didn't want to be associated with the party's ultra right-wing platform).
Calbuzz asked Tony V spokesman Sean Clegg if the emergency budget session was "just a lame, bullshit excuse" to skip the convention. "It's exactly the opposite of that," Clegg said. "The city of Los Angeles and most cities across California are facing an unprecedented economic crisis and jobs come first."
Clegg said Villaraigosa is putting the needs of his city before his personal political fortunes by trying to pull together an agreement that would require labor unions to give back some hard-earned gains in order to save jobs and services in Los Angeles.
"This is a leadership moment. Antonio Villaraigosa is not going to Twitter while Rome burns," Clegg said -- a clear shot at the other mayor who would be governor: San Francisco's Gavin Newsom.
We can hear Newsom's spinners cackling already - and we haven't even spoken to them yet. It's their desperate hope that Tony V will not enter the race, leaving Prince Gavin a shot at being the anti-Jerry Brown candidate.
Especially when a new poll by Tulchin Research - Democratic but not affiliated with any governor's campaign - came out at 3:53 p.m. announcing that while Brown is still the leading candidate at 31%, Newsom is in second place at 16% with Villaraigosa in third at 12%.
With a 4.5% margin of error, the poll of 472 likely Democratic primary voters is further Newsom cackle fodder.