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State of the City

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Today at 5:30 pm, Mayor Villaraigosa made a "State of the City" address -- sort of like the State of the Union address, but just for LA. In fact, the speech in many ways served as the inverse of this year's State of the Union address.

"Angelenos, it's time for all of us to make the tough choices," said Mayor Villaraigosa. According to the Mayor, we're trying to stop violence and inequity, and we're all in it together. He listed a series of visions that will be addressed in his budget: a better public transportation system, synchronized traffic lights and better paid roads, more cops on the streets, more services for the homeless, and, as was much anticipated, education reform.

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He held the address not at City Hall, but at The Accelerated School, a public charter school in South Los Angeles, which he held up as a model for what he wants to achieve via education reform. We watched/listened to the speech via the webcast on his site. Much of what he said has been covered in an announcement earlier this week. He wants to cut the central administration of LAUSD, which, according to everyone we've ever spoken with who is remotely familiar with the school district but doesn't actually work in its headquarters, is insanely bloated and bureaucratic. He wants to expand after-school programs. He wants to lengthen the school day and shorten the summer break, which makes sense given that most parents work now and struggle to find activities for their children before they get home. He wants to give "the mayors of the cities in LAUSD" (How many mayors is that, really? A lot of independent cities in LA County do have their own school systems. ) control of the school district, taking most of the power away from the school board. That's the kicker. It's the only way he can attempt major reform and expect to have any real control over the outcome, but once you make a shift like that, it holds true for whoever holds the office on down the line, so it's important to think it through.