Mayor Eric Garcetti has been in office one year, and it's time for a report card. In the current class of big-city mayors, Garcetti is not the overachiever (that's New York's Bill de Blasio), not the bully (Chicago's Rahm Emanuel) and not the troublemaker (recently resigned Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes). He is more like the nerd, the one who focuses on the wonky aspects of governing, such as his new website displaying DWP customer wait times and street pavement condition metrics, and who tries a little too hard to be cool, as when he uttered an expletive on live TV during the Kings' Stanley Cup parade.
Overall: Garcetti's work this year has been satisfactory. He came into office promising a "back to basics" agenda with a focus on getting City Hall to function better, and on improving the economy. We appreciate his emphasis on modernizing the city bureaucracy, but would like to see more urgency and a stronger sense of mission.
Makes good use of time: Garcetti had a slow start. He kept a low profile in the early months, with few big announcements aside from his demand to revise the new contract with Department of Water and Power workers. He focused instead on behind-the-scenes efforts, such as convening working groups and selecting general managers. That's important groundwork and it was time well spent — if the relationships established in the first year allow him to enact policy changes that might otherwise have been blocked or attract investments that might not have been forthcoming.
Exercises self-control: Supporters say Garcetti has shown enormous discipline. Skeptics say he's been too cautious and has failed to take advantage of first-year political capital to push an ambitious policy initiative. Clearly this is a deliberative mayor. But what is he deliberating on? What is he passionate to change? Garcetti needs to do a better job of communicating his vision for the city.
Plays well with others: Garcetti's collaborative, personal touch has already become a hallmark, leading to some noteworthy successes. He worked with congressional leaders to lobby the Army Corps of Engineers to back a more expansive and expensive restoration of the L.A. River. But in some cases, he has been too conciliatory. He says economic development is a top priority, yet he preemptively scaled back his proposal to eliminate the business tax to avoid a fight with the City Council. He should stick up for his agenda.