LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C. Tuesday for the 80th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is expected to include the release of a new report on the
economic health of cities and a meeting with President Barack Obama.
More than 250 mayors, including at least 16 from Los Angeles and Orange counties, are expected to attend.
Villaraigosa became president of the Conference of Mayors in June.
The mayors are expected to urge Obama and Congress to act on a transportation spending bill that has been stalled in committees. They also plan to point out the absence of cities’ needs as an issue in the Republican presidential primary campaign.
The conference will begin Tuesday with remarks by Secretary of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, a former San Gabriel Valley congresswoman, and continues through Friday, when Obama senior advisor David Plouffe and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama administration White House chief of staff, are scheduled to speak.
The mayors will meet with Obama cabinet secretaries and members of Congress throughout the week.
The centerpiece of the conference will be Wednesday’s release of the group’s State of America’s Cities report, which will include 2012 employment forecasts for the nation’s metropolitan areas. Los Angeles closed 2011 with an unemployment rate of more than 14 percent, according to city officials.
Villaraigosa is scheduled to deliver a speech addressing the report immediately following its release.
Villaraigosa’s position as president of the mayors’ organization gives him some additional power to influence the health and future of the city, said Jaime Regalado, a Cal State Los Angeles political science professor emeritus.
“If you’re the mayor of a large city, this is kind of a crowning achievement, especially if your term is coming to an end,” Regalado said. “It gives him access to the White House, to the Congress and to the players in the administration.”
Villaraigosa could use the position to bring direct benefit to the city by safeguarding transportation dollars, Regalado said.
“It gives him the wherewithal to `be in the room’ for those debates, so to speak,” Regalado said, cautioning that “he hasn’t brought home the bacon yet.”
Regalado said the presidency is also likely to help Villaraigosa personally, allowing him to leverage high-level contacts for future career moves, which he has been silent about. His term ends June 30, 2013.
This is Villaraigosa’s second trip out of the Los Angeles area this month. He was in San Francisco and Sacramento Jan. 7-9 for the inauguration of Mayor Edwin Lee for a full, four-year term and to meet with state legislators regarding the elimination of redevelopment agencies.
Other mayors from Los Angeles and Orange counties planning to attend the meeting include Barry Brucker (Beverly Hills); Ling-Ling Chang (Diamond Bar); Carol Chen (Cerritos); Howard Fishman (Hermosa Beach); Bob Foster (Long Beach); Laura Friedman (Glendale); Sukhee Kang (Irvine); Mary Ann Lutz (Monrovia); Steven Ly (Rosemead); Micheal O’Leary (Culver City); Sam Pedroza (Claremont); Miguel Pulido (Santa Ana); John Solis (La Puente); Tom Tait (Anaheim); Nicholas Tell (Manhattan Beach); and Douglas Tessitor (Glendora).