I’ve known Eric Garcetti a long time. To use my Silver Lake apartment as a field office for his first City Council campaign, I bought my first-ever fax machine, which you can have. I even served as his communications director, where I distinguished myself by getting his wife’s hybrid car a parking ticket at a news conference announcing free meter parking for hybrid cars.
Now that I’ve been out of City Hall for a few years, I hear the food there is much better, which figures. Also, I want to offer some sage advice from a seasoned pro to my old friend now that the party’s over and his work as L.A.'s 42nd mayor begins.
1. Dream big. But for the love of God, don’t tell anyone about it. Have you ever listened to someone tell you his dreams? Bo-ring. And weird. Just because you’re the mayor doesn’t mean anyone wants to hear “there was this extra room in my house, and my dad was in it, but he was Don Draper, and I had to install a sink and my teeth fell out.” Instead...
2. Manage expectations. The last guy was all “A million trees!” That’s a sucker move. Hundreds of thousands of trees later — lots of trees — no one cares. Here’s a pitch: A million leaves. You can knock that one off before Columbus Day. It’s, like, six trees.
3. Be a friend to the working man. A casino economy has left the working man adrift in a vast gulf of inequality. Also, his union spent all his money trying to beat you in the election, so he’s short on cash. At least buy him some fish tacos.
4. Use political jujitsu. Remember that truck full of people campaigning for your opponent, telling all of Boyle Heights that she would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour? Blow everyone’s mind by … raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Chamber of Commerce will be all “Everyone’s going to move to Cudahy!” But in a survey of small-business owners, only 9% could find Cudahy on a map. In a separate survey, 22% of Cudahy residents identified Cudahy as “an edible, drought-resistant native plant.”
5. Tailor the job to your own brand of pizazz. Two things come up in every profile of you: You’re in the Navy Reserve, and you used to write musicals. The conclusion is obvious: Turn your first major address into a revival of “On the Town,” set in L.A. Instead of delivering the State of the City as “the mayor,” do it — with appropriate costume and choreography — as “a young sailor on shore leave.” Instead of having an adventure in search of a dame, search for a budget surplus, or a really good banh mi.
6. Reorganize the office of the mayor. Early reports suggest that you’re planning to cut back on the number of deputy mayors. Don’t do it! We need more deputy mayors. Up to 41/2 million more. Too many pot shops on the Venice Boardwalk? Deputize the roller skaters to regulate ‘em! Big backup on Beverly? Deputize the line for “The Price Is Right” to direct traffic!
7. Cut and stamp a lot of “City of Los Angeles” tin badges. See previous item.
8. Advocate for wildlife. Everybody gets excited when they see a coyote crossing the street, but you can be the mayor who welcomes them into our civic fold. Allow coyotes the use of selected dog parks, as long as they can prove they’ve gone three months without eating a pet (or, in the case of Chihuahuas, three weeks).
9. Settle this “Eastside” business once and for all. For traditionalists, it’s where the L.A. River cut off immigrant communities from access to power and influence. For hipsters, it’s where you’ll find more artisanal lotion depots and fewer Jaguars/boob jobs. A conclusive determination from City Hall will herald peace and the invention of the red velvet burrito.
10. Enjoy the job. As a three-term City Council member, you’ve already held the most powerful position in the city (quibblers, note: “Maitre d’ at Dan Tana” is technically in West Hollywood). As mayor, you’ll have much less authority over land-use decisions, but you’ll get blamed for everything that goes wrong. Have fun!
Josh Joy Kamensky is a writer and a communications consultant in Los Angeles.