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Watch: LA Honors Former Mayor Richard Riordan At Memorial Mass

Two police officers in dress uniform, with peaked hats and ribbons and medals, stand on either side of an enlarged portrait of former Mayor Richard Riordan, a white man pictured wearing a dark suit with light red tie. The officers are holding the ends of a red, white, and blue American flag that has so far been folded in quarters lengthwise.
LAPD Color Guard rehearse the Presentation of the Flag as a photo of Mayor Richard Riordan looks on before a Memorial Mass in celebration of the life of the former mayor at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles in downtown Los Angeles on April 28, 2023.
(Genaro Molina
Los Angeles Times)
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The city of Los Angeles remembered former mayor Richard Riordan Friday. Riordan, who served as L.A.'s mayor from 1993 to 2001, died last week at the age of 92.

A memorial Mass was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and can be viewed here:

How to watch

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Archbishop Jose Gomez led the Mass , which featured remarks from Mayor Karen Bass, Sen. Alex Padilla and Riordan's family and friends.

Today's L.A. Council meeting was canceled in honor of the former mayor.

About the service

Alex Padilla, a man with dark slicked-back hair and a medium-brown skin tone, stands in a dark suit at a podium. He is biting his lower lip and his eyes are turned downward as he grips the podium. Several clergy members dressed in gold and white robes are seated behind him and off to the side.
U.S. Senator Alex Padilla pauses while making his remarks about former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan during his Memorial Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles in downtown Los Angeles on April 28, 2023.
(Genaro Molina
Los Angeles Times)

City leaders and elected officials, including members of the City Council, the County Board of Supervisors, former Mayors Jim Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa, and Sen. Alex Padilla were among the mourners gathered in the cathedral on Friday.

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn said prior to the memorial service that Riordan's style was to "ask for forgiveness instead of permission."

In one instance, she recalled, "He sent his staff out to some street and they just removed no-parking signs in front of some businesses because the businesses had complained. And, you know, you can't really do that. You can't just go out and take down no-parking signs."

What the current mayor had to say

Karen Bass, a Black woman with short, reddish brown hair, leans over and places a folded American flag in the hands of Elizabeth Riordan, a white woman with blond hair who is seated in the pews of a church.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass presents the U.S. flag to Elizabeth Riordan, the wife of the former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan, during his Memorial Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles in downtown Los Angeles on April 28, 2023.
(Genaro Molina
Los Angeles Times)
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Bass echoed those statements in her remarks at the memorial.

"Mayor Riordan acted with impatience," she told the congregation. "That is not to say that he acted without compassion. No, Mayor Riordan acted with a healthy and heartfelt impatience because he felt that the people of Los Angeles deserved swift decisions and urgent action to confront their greatest challenges."

She also reflected on actions he took during tough times in L.A. saying:

"Mayor Riordan took office at a time when L.A.'s soul needed healing," she said. "It was in the wake of the 1992 civil unrest — we saw record homicide rates and with the end of the Cold War, a dramatic downsizing of our economy. But that only prompted Mayor Riordan to dig deeper, move faster, twist more arms and open his heart even more because he loved L.A. long before he was mayor."

Riordan's support for the LAPD

LAPD Chief Michel Moore was also in attendance. He remembered a mayor who supported the police department with money and resources after the 1992 civil unrest.

"He brought in automation and introduced desktop computers, our first email system if you will," Moore said. "He brought technology, he brought people and he brought a belief back and he defended and stood up for us when others were heading to the aisles or it wasn't a popular thing to do."

His daughter says he was 'simply Dad'

Riordan's daughter, Mary Beth Riordan, eulogized the former mayor as "simply Dad" to her and her siblings.

"Many of you, especially his police detail, know what an avid cyclist dad was," she said. "My sister, Trish, remembers riding downtown with dad and his police escort rolling along Olympic Boulevard to the Original Pantry for breakfast. That was the day after he was elected mayor."

But apart from the fond memories, there were families tragedies, she said.

"The untimely loss of our brother, Billy, at 21, our youngest sister, Carol, at 18, took a toll on our family. Dad had difficulty expressing his emotions," Riordan recalled. "Instead, he channeled his grief through community involvement, doing what he could to battle illiteracy, encourage community organizing and promote diversity."

About Riordan's life and career

Before he was elected mayor, Riordan was a businessman, Korean War veteran, investment banker and lawyer before throwing his hat into politics. He was 62 years old when won L.A.'s top office.

His actions after the 1994 Northridge earthquake earned high marks. Analysts say Riordan's stewardship of the rebuilding effort was one of his most noteworthy accomplishments. When some engineers had predicted it would take over a year to rebuild the 10 Freeway, he ensured the 10 Freeway work was done in 2 1/2 months.

When his death was announced Bass said in a statement: "In the wake of the Northridge earthquake, Mayor Riordan set the standard for emergency action — he reassured us and delivered a response with an intensity that still pushes us all to be faster and stronger amidst crisis."

Riordan was a moderate Republican known for supporting LGBTQ and immigrant rights, along with the right to abortion.

While he was liberal on social issues, Riordan was an economic conservative. He staunchly opposed efforts to raise the minimum wage in L.A. and fought efforts to raise taxes to pay for city services.

“He was probably the last of the moderate Republicans in L.A. and California politics along with Arnold Schwarzenegger at a time when there were a lot more Republicans in L.A.,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A.

But Riordan couldn’t rise in the GOP. In 2002, he ran for governor of California, but lost to Bill Simon in the Republican primary.

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