Garcetti talks job growth, homelessness in State of the City speech

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Attendees listen as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gives 2016 State of the City address at the Noribachi manufacturing plant in Harbor City. Thursday, April 14, 2016. (Robert Casillas / Staff Photographer)
Attendees listen as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gives 2016 State of the City address at the Noribachi manufacturing plant in Harbor City. Thursday, April 14, 2016. (Robert Casillas / Staff Photographer)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered his third State of the City address Thursday from a brightly-lit factory floor in Harbor City, a blue-collar setting where he touted the city’s economic recovery and possible solutions to the homelessness crisis.

Standing behind a large American flag at the Noribachi LED lighting factory, Garcetti talked up his job-creating record in the nation’s second largest city.

The latest unemployment rate in Los Angeles is 5.7, according to California’s Labor Market Information Division, about half of what it was when Garcetti took office in 2013. The improved employment numbers follow state and national trends.

“Economic prosperity translates into a better life for all of us,” Garcetti said, speaking to a crowd of elected officials, City Hall employees and business leaders. “It helps the city to improve our core services and get back to basics.”

During his 35-minute speech, Garcetti said he’d helped bring Noribachi to Los Angeles, all part of the roughly 100,000 jobs added under his watch.

The company, founded by a husband and wife, reflects “who we are as Angelenos, and who we want to be as a city: They’re high-tech. They’re inventive. They’re green. They’re global,” Garcetti said.

The mayor repeatedly returned to the theme of employment during Thursday’s event, highlighting his youth jobs program and a plan to hire 5,000 new City Hall employees. He also told the story of a janitor hired at LAX after arriving to the United States from Guatemala, and a former gang member from the Eastside who now works at a company that hires formerly incarcerated Angelenos to install solar panels.

His speech comes as the 45-year-old mayor gears up for his re-election campaign. Garcetti was elected in 2013 on a platform of restoring city services and putting the recession in the “rear-view mirror” by boosting jobs.

Candidates running against Garcetti in next year’s election include Mitchell Schwartz, a former Barack Obama campaign adviser. Schwartz declined to comment on Garcetti’s speech Thursday night, saying he didn’t watch it.

The mayor’s record, which includes passage of the city’s $15 minimum wage last year, has angered some business groups, who say they’ve felt neglected at times by City Hall.

Standing on the floor of the Noribachi factory on Thursday, Valley Industry and Commerce Association President Stuart Waldman said that the mayor’s business team needs to hire more people to be effective. “They need to do more to bring jobs to the city,” Waldman said.

Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, also was in the audience and said he was pleased by the growing number of jobs. But when it comes to Garcetti’s record, he noted that politicians routinely take credit the overall economy improves.

“I don’t think anyone is doing enough” on jobs, he added.

• VIDEO: Mayor Garcetti announces free year of community college to LAUSD grads

Tying jobs to an education theme, Garcetti also announced Thursday a new goal that every student who graduates from the Los Angeles Unified School District will receive one free year of community college education. A source in the mayor’s office said that the program will be funded and led by the Los Angeles Community College District.

The mayor also said he would ask voters to pass an initiative in 2017 to raise money to help address the city’s rapidly worsening homelessness crisis.

He also addressed the city’s crime rate by vowing to hire civilians to take over desk jobs, saying “cops belong in our communities, not in cubicles.”

Violent crime alone was up 20 percent last year, while the number of property crimes was up 10.7 percent, according to police statistics. The upticks followed a decade of declining crime in Los Angeles.



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