L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti nearly broke down in tears as he delivered his annual “State of the City” address on Sunday evening in front of an empty City Council chamber.
Telling residents “this is the worst it’s ever been,” Garcetti choked up as he said: “Our city is under attack. Our daily life is unrecognizable. We are bowed and we are worn down. We are grieving our dead.”
He added, defiantly: “But we are not broken, nor will we ever be.”
Garcetti’s address offered a stark contrast to the leadership style of President Donald Trump, who said recently he has to be positive, a “cheerleader” for the country.
Garcetti has done the opposite throughout the coronavirus crisis, discouraging “false hope” and “premature optimism.”
He said that he could not, as in previous years, say the state of the city was “strong.”
In his address, Garcetti praised the city’s past efforts to build up its reserve fund.
Still, he announced that some city workers would have to be furloughed for 26 days, and that some city services would have to be cut.
And there was more bad news:
All of us remember the 2008 recession. Until now, it was the biggest economic blow of our lifetime, and it hurt. But there’s no way to sugarcoat this. This is bigger, and it will hurt more.
Our City revenues have plummeted. Hotel reservations have collapsed. After 9/11, our airport closed for two and a half days, passenger traffic fell by as much as a third that month, and it took 10 years to claw our way back. Today airport passenger traffic is down 95%.
From a fiscal perspective, this is the worst it’s ever been.
At the height of the great recession, our city’s unemployment rate hit 13.4 percent. Today it’s higher. Preliminary numbers for the top of this month show nearly 300,000 angelenos unemployed. That number will rise.
Garcetti also panned the idea of returning to “normal,” saying that the previous “normal” had been unacceptable, taking a swipe at President Trump: “Before this crisis, on a normal day in the United States, we could … hear the slogan of America first elevated above actually putting all Americans first, pushing our immigrant neighbors into the shadows.” He said that the city should commit to “long term change” and renew a “commitment to heal an unjust world” if it hoped to succeed.
On homelessness, Garcetti mentioned that the city had moved vulnerable people off the streets and into hotel rooms during the coronavirus outbreak. He also mentioned the controversial policy of housing thousands of homeless people in residential recreation centers, praising “Sanitation and Rec and Parks employees [who] help run centers that shelter Angelenos experiencing homelessness.” Critics have said the policy, which appears to conflict with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on the pandemic, could spread illness among the homeless and in local neighborhoods.
Recent coronavirus testing among homeless people in a Boston, Massachusetts shelter found that more than one third had the illness, though not one of those tested had symptoms, making screening measures — such as taking temperatures — useless.
The Los Angeles Times reported that local public service workers unions were upset at the mayor’s call for a furlough, noting that city employees had been asked to bear the burden of providing emergency services during the coronavirus outbreak.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.