Op-Ed: Villaraigosa: We came together after the 1992 uprising. We can do it now!
It was late August, a month before Californios voted for the 1992 ballot measures that finally established the city charter that would change the state from a “one man, one vote” to one that gives power to the people and gives them the tools they need to make better decisions. Mayor Willie Brown was out to lunch with his brother, a city administrator, when the phone rang. It was Tom Bradley, who served as Los Angeles’ first elected mayor while serving as governor of California. Bradley asked Brown about the state of the city’s efforts to reform Los Angeles’ charter and address community concerns. In the early days of the rebellion, the mayor and the former governor did not speak to one another often. But when Bradley arrived in Beverly Hills to meet with Brown and City Councilmember Ron Dellums for a late lunch on that July day, Bradley asked Brown if he had any suggestions for the Los Angeles city council that might help bring a halt to the war that raged around the city.
The next day, Bradley met again with Brown and Dellums to discuss what needed to be done. Brown, the former mayor who had served as both an executive and a state legislator, told Bradley that he needed his help to get Los Angeles’ new charter passed. The mayor told Bradley to start calling other mayors and governors. “I told these people that Los Angeles would never survive without their help. They all became my co-religionists,” Brown said in an interview last month.
Brown and the other mayors and governors needed some political clout, but it was a different kind of clout than had been in evidence since their defeat the year before on Prop 187. “I didn’t know what we were supposed to do,” said Mayor Tom Bradley of his meetings with Willie Brown and Ron Dellums. But by June, they had an idea. “We thought that if the voters got that charter, that the politicians could begin to make changes that would make the people more at home in the city,” said Tom Bradley. “And we knew that the voters were hungry to see these changes come about. They had been out in the street that first summer. And it had given people hope.”