The Long Goodbye

It was a simple hug in a darkened garage of City Hall East. One man works as a parking attendant. The other has run the city of Los Angeles for eight years. The embrace between them was genuine.

Saturday, June 30, is "technically my last day as mayor," Richard Riordan said. "But if we're speaking practically, it is Friday."

Rising for an early morning workout, Riordan served coffee at his own restaurant, the Original Pantry. The energetic morning pace of the 71-year-old mayor resembled a political campaign.

In fact, another campaign--this one for governor--was on the minds of every television interviewer, indeed, just about everyone he met. Again and again, he was asked: Will you run?

For the last time, he wished good luck to graduates at the Los Angeles Police Academy. In the City Council chambers, he accepted a proclamation from the same council members with whom he often sparred during his tenure. Riordan said he felt as if he were cheating; after all, he said, it was always him handing out proclamations, not receiving them. But he accepted the proclamation with grace.

From his staff came accolades--no tears, but heartfelt thanks to the mayor whom they served and credited with large contributions to the city.

Late in the day, boxes were still being packed, telephones were set to be shut off at 5 p.m. The mayor was worn out, all but collapsing in his office beneath a poster from children at the City Hall day-care center, thanking him for his support.

As he made the rounds Friday, Riordan was asked how he should be addressed after leaving office.

"You can call me Ricardo, or Dick," he quipped.

As of Sunday, Riordan added, "I won't be mayor."

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