After leaving office, Mayor Riordan will take an executive position running
the LA Unified School district's classroom computer program. I would think
this could be good for TFA. How are you coming with the conatcts I gave
Saturday, November 4, 2000 <<...<<
News from Los Angeles in the Los Angeles Times
Riordan to Join L.A. Unified After He Leaves City Hall
<<...<< Mayor: In an address to Valley leaders, he strongly denounces
secession, then makes surprising disclosure about plan to take executive
post with district.
By JIM NEWTON, Times Staff Writer
In his final annual address on the state of the San Fernando Valley, Los
Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan on Friday delivered his most forceful call
ever for that area to remain part of the larger city, then surprised the
audience by announcing that he will go to work for the Los Angeles Unified
School District when he finishes his term in office.
Speaking to a group of Valley business leaders, Riordan denounced secession
on political, moral and practical grounds, warning that it would force a tax
hike, leave the Valley with uncertain leadership and abandon the city's
"I love the Valley," Riordan said. "I feel that you're part of the family,
and I don't want you to desert the family. . . . The rest of the city needs
you. You can't abandon the poor. It just isn't right."
Riordan's pointed rejection of secession represents a significant escalation
in his efforts to head off that politically charged prospect--a topic so
heated that in a mayoral debate following Riordan's speech, not one of the
six candidates angling for election in April so much as mentioned the word.
Riordan, by contrast, tackled the issue head-on and in far more
confrontational terms than he ever has before.
"Secession," Riordan said bluntly, "is a lousy idea."
As significant as that pronouncement was, however, the mayor almost
overshadowed it with an offhand personal remark in response to a question
after his speech. Asked to elaborate on his thoughts about breaking up the
school district, Riordan let slip that he intends to go to work for L.A.
Unified after he finishes his second term as mayor, which ends next summer.
The mayor, who helped elect four of the school board's seven members, said
he has been in discussions with Supt. Roy Romer and has agreed to accept an
"executive position" with the district next year. Riordan did not elaborate,
but in an interview later, he said he and the superintendent had agreed that
Riordan would run the district's classroom computer program.
The former Colorado governor, who now runs the city's schools, was not
immediately available for comment.
At the district, Riordan said, he will be in charge of working with schools
to make effective use of computers in the classroom. Riordan, who has
donated thousands of computers to schools in various parts of the country,
said the job fit his talents. "I think this is something I'm good at," he
said. "I know the experts in the field."
Riordan's post-mayoral plans have for months been the object of much
speculation. Most observers predicted he would do something in the field of
education, because no topic animates Riordan as much as children and
But Riordan is a multimillionaire, and he will be over 70 when he finishes
his second term as mayor. He passed up the chance to run for governor in
1998, and some friends had predicted he would slow down when he wrapped up
his mayoral administration.
The idea of a quiet retirement, however, seems to have little appeal for
Riordan, an energetic and restless man. Asked how long he intended to take
off between finishing his work as mayor and starting his new job at the
school district, Riordan responded: "three or four hours."
Riordan has held office for nearly eight years, and for that entire time has
enjoyed the strong support of the San Fernando Valley. It was the Valley
that helped put him in office in 1993, and polls since have shown that
though he is popular citywide, he enjoys his greatest approval ratings north
of the Hollywood Hills.
As the race to succeed him gathers steam, some of the candidates clearly
covet Riordan's base in the Valley.
On Friday, City Councilman Joel Wachs often invoked the mayor's name during
a low-energy debate among the six leading mayoral candidates. Among other
things, Wachs praised Riordan's economic development initiatives and his
handling of the recently completed negotiations between the city and federal
government over the future of the Los Angeles Police Department.
So effusive was Wachs in his praise of Riordan that eventually businessman
Steve Soboroff complained. As Soboroff pointed out to the audience, Riordan
has endorsed his candidacy, not Wachs'. Soboroff suggested that his rival
withdraw from the race and back him instead.
Wachs laughed, but did not respond.
The debate--really more of a panel discussion in which the candidates rarely
addressed one another, while sitting cheek-by-jowl in straight-backed
chairs--also was notable as the first joint appearance of the candidates to
include state Controller Kathleen Connell, the latest contender to join the
Connell used her debut debate performance to stress her determination to
bring tough fiscal management to the problems of Los Angeles. She addressed
issues such as police corruption, transportation and the city's business
climate in terms of their economic impact, arguing that her experience in
the private sector and as controller made her the right person to handle
In other debate highlights, City Atty. James Hahn and Assemblyman Antonio
Villaraigosa enthusiastically welcomed the signing of the consent decree
with the federal government on police reform.
Connell, Wachs and U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra also applauded the deal, though
in less glowing terms.
Soboroff was the only candidate to oppose it, calling it an abdication of