Speculations have it that he is eyeing a presidential run in 2020, and already he’s acting one aspect of a president’s known tasks: traveling and visiting different states and countries. Problem is, Eric Garcetti is very much still a mayor of Los Angeles and his constituents are missing his presence with his many travels.
He’s been to Peru this month to secure the 2028 Olympics hosting greeted reporters on a noisy tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport upon his return- a place he has frequented much too often in the recent past. Last year, Mayor Garcetti has been to Atlanta, Phoenix, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas and Berlin, among other places.
A public calendar reveals that the mayor has spent one-third of his time away from California, having logged on only 112 days. Just in August, he was out of state for 19 days for travels that included vacationing in Berkshires, meeting with firefighter union leaders in Boston and hobnobbing with billionaire Ron Perelman in the Hamptons- many of which could hardly pass as official work or stuff that’s relevant or related to his job as mayor of L.A.
He has also been to Switzerland to woo the International Olympic Committee, found time to talk about transportation with U.S. senators in Washington, and discuss climate change with mayors in Mexico City.
He’s off to visiting New Hampshire and Wisconsin, with speculations of his presidential plans and ambitions following him. He chooses to play coy about the issue, but observers say he is definitely flirting with the idea.
But strong calls questioning his absences and traveling ways can no longer be ignored. He may have been convincingly re-elected in March with 81 percent of the vote, but he has refused to commit to serving his entire second term. With his travels and absences, Garcetti is testing the public’s willingness to tolerate his non-presence.
He and his office have not been as transparent as they should about his travels and absences from Los Angeles. Steve Erie, professor emeritus of political science at the University of California, San Diego offers insight on how such absences are being viewed by the public. He said: “Times are good, so that makes it easier for him to slip out of town. But there’s always a threshold. The criticism will be that he was elected to be mayor, not to run for president.”
The mayor’s spokesperson Alex Comisar defended Garcetti’s schedule, travels and absences, and said his trips have been “productive.” Comisar said his trade missions to Mexico and Asia in previous years “brought deals with airline, transportation and development companies.” Comisar added: “Mayor Garcetti’s only job is serving the people of Los Angeles, and he is fully committed to that work every day.”
But his absences have been increasingly becoming more glaring- and felt. Last year, he spent 74 days outside of California. The mayor was out of state for city-related events for at least 20 days and away for Olympics-related events for at least 13 days. A significant number of some of his out-of-state travels- 62 out of 112 days- he has been out on vacation and no reason was given for the leave.
In April, he was on a week-long vacation. In June, he was gone for a week and a half. In August, he was gone for two weeks again. Relevant offices have refused to disclose how much of public money is going to financing his security details, among others, during the mayor’s travels.
Perhaps, Garcetti needs to be reminded by his constituents that he’s still their mayor, and he needs to be in LA most, if not all, of the time. And that he’s not yet the President he may be aspiring to be.