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A Deeply Pragmatic Mayor : Riordan is a former businessman who wants to get down to business

If anyone was under the delusion that Mayor Richard Riordan is some knee-jerk ideologue with not a whiff, or whim, of deviation from the line of his Republican Party, one had only to watch his appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday to realize just how mistaken that stereotype is. The Los Angeles mayor, appearing with New York Mayor-elect Rudolph W. Giuliani, endorsed, among other things, gay rights, strong measures to control guns and the bipartisan notion of supporting candidates from the other political party in particular situations.

The truth is that Riordan, based on his performance so far, is a refreshing political presence--stoutly unwilling to be melted down by the pressures of conventional expectations and poured into some pre-existing political mold. Indeed that propensity for unpredictability is not simply the hallmark of TV interview show appearances but also, as the front-page Times report Monday underscored, the dominant tone of his new Administration. The mayor is obviously trying to staff and run City Hall with a flair for the pragmatic.

For this is a deeply practical mayor, not a corrosively ideological one. This is a businessman mayor who wants to get down to the business of managing this city better--not a constituency mayor who is satisfied simply to make the right gesture, say the right thing, give the right speech. This is also a mayor who is knowledgeable about Los Angeles and who is putting that knowledge to work.

Of course this Administration is still in the formative stage; the election occurred a mere six months ago. The full truth about the new mayor and his Administration won’t be known for some time. But already there is reason for optimism. For one thing, city government is getting a top-to-bottom review. No fair person can say that is not needed. The Tom Bradley Administration went on too long and near the end became somewhat ossified. The Riordan Administration is one of energy and new ideas. For that alone it deserves the support and enthusiasm that most of the public is now giving it.

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