News Anchors Sent to Pronunciation Camp: Antonio Villaraigosa is LA's New Mayor

For all the people who’ve been terrified that a Villaraigosa mayorship means ``Los Angeles, Mexico’’ - just like it said on those billboards for a Spanish-language TV news show - I predict that Antonio Villaraigosa’s first mayoral proclamation will be to calm everyone’s fears by declaring that the official food of Los Angeles is macaroni and cheese.

This comes on the heels of my earlier prediction that this would be a close race - five points max - so take it for what it’s worth. [Also for what it’s worth, I’m quite fond of macaroni and cheese.]

It was only, like, nine o'clock on election night in LA -- an hour when the campaigns aren't even opening the bottled water yet, much less the liquor -- and the only question left unanswered was whether Mayor Jim Hahn would concede in time for the eleven o’clock news, or get it over with on the ten o’clock news, so he could make it home to San Pedro for his bedtime.

Nearly 18 points difference. I don't think I could get a margin like that in my own family. What was this vote about, or just as important, not about? How come fewer than a half-million voters bothered to decide who will lead a city of multiple millions?

Was this a referendum on Jim Hahn the mayor, or Jim Hahn the campaigner? About positive ideas or negative ads? On Antonio Villaraigosa the candidate, or Antonio Villaraigosa the new face behind door number two? This time around, the voters evidently preferred making a deal, taking a chance on the unknown, rather than playing it safe and taking the hundred bucks out of Monty Hall's hand and going home with the smaller, sure thing.

Anyway, by the time this election straggled over the finish line, each candidate had so thoroughly fragged the other that most of us were sick of them both.

A big winning margin is a burdensome mandate. George W. Bush squeaked and eked into office a second time, and still proclaimed that he had political capital to spend. Villaraigosa will have capital to spend, but a lot of big expectations to spend it on. The bigger the victory, the sooner it’s ``put up or shut up’’ time.

After 16 years with Jim Hahn as city attorney, LA had some idea what we were getting when we elected him mayor four years ago. Villaraigosa’s has been a whirlwind courtship, and what LA wants to know now is, will this be like some Vegas wedding? Will we toddle off to the Elvis Drive-Thru chapel with the guy who looked so good in the ads, and wake up next to Mr. Morning After? Politics always has some of that cold-light-of-morning reality, and Villaraigosa’s chore of meeting the expectations he’s engendered is much greater than Hahn’s more modest task of four years ago.

Me, I’m just thrilled that we won’t have to listen to how these candidates will roll up their sleeves and get things done. I kept thinking: guys, spare us the sartorial metaphors - just wear short sleeves.

If I were any good at this online tech stuff, I could make your computer play the theme music to ``The Godfather’’ right now.

I am looking four years ahead, and I see it all shaping up: a Corleone blood feud, a family seeking to avenge its despoiled honor: Mayor Villaraigosa being challenged by Hahn - Janice Hahn.

Janice Hahn, the outgoing mayor's sister, the Hahn with the personality, is also going to be the Hahn who still has a power base, in her Harbor-area council district. She’s the inheritor of the Hahn Famiglia mantle the way that aristocratic second sons inherit the title when the first son is shot down in combat.

She is smart and energetic, and she has stuck by and stuck up for her brother in this campaign, in the city council chambers and beyond it. She is not beyond baring her teeth on her bro’s behalf; earlier this year, she snapped to her fellow council member, Villaraigosa, to ``keep your crappy speeches for the candidate debates."

``Sisterhood is powerful’’ - remember that phrase? And this sister has her own ‘hood to back her up.

But please - can we get in a little actual governance first, before the perpetual political campaigning starts up again?