AV: Because we did a climate adaptation study, the only one of its kind in the world that's comprehensive. The San Fernando Valley is going to get hotter. L.A. is going to get hotter. That means we'll use more energy. We want it to be clean energy. Those same people have complained about smog for a generation. Smog is better because we are reducing our carbon emissions. Look, I recognize that some people don't support all these initiatives. I understand that, we've gotten behind good public policy. ... I'm not taking a whole lot of time to think about who disagrees with this or that. I worked as hard as I could. I tried to do it with good science and good public policy. Some people will agree with what we've done; some people will not. It's as simple as that. There's an opportunity for the next mayor to move in another direction if that's what they want to do."
LAT: But you feel good about where you ended up?
AV: "I feel more than good. In fact I get invited to speak all over the world, to speak about the L.A. story, particularly on the environment. I'm sitting on the U.N. Steering Committee on Safer Cities, particularly on the issue that we've driven down crime so much. I was at the education summit in New York last November or so with respect to the L.A. story about improving our schools and education reform, so there are always going to be people that disagree with some, agree with others. Ultimately, this is a job where you have to look at the man or the woman in the mirror — in my case, the man in the mirror — and let that be your guide. What you learn in a job like this is that it's not a popularity contest. And importantly if you're looking for public opinion, don't look for immediate gratification. Look at the public opinion that will judge this 10, 20, 30 years down the line."
LAT: There's been a long history of tensions, sometimes very severe, between the LAPD and communities of color in particular. Can you talk about whether that has changed over the last eight years in particular and in any concrete way, how it's changed, if it has?
AV: "It has changed. It's changed dramatically. I was president of the ACLU. I got behind, back then when I was on the board, the Christopher Commission, the police reforms. When I was in the Legislature, I was supportive of the Rampart investigation that uncovered a lot of abuses. In 2001, I was the first candidate to say I supported a consent decree — that wasn't popular. I have worked assiduously with [former Police Chief Bill] Bratton and [LAPD Chief Charlie] Beck to get out of that decree, but more importantly to change the culture and the practices of this department. So one proof that it's better is that the federal government after more than a decade has released us from the consent decree. We're no longer under a consent decree. There was a Harvard Study two or three years ago that said the LAPD has more support in communities of color than they have in a generation. Early on, I said to Bratton and Beck — both of whom have been absolutely supportive — I said we've got to have a department that looks like L.A. I mean if you see the department today, it's more diverse than any time in its history. Latinos are the new Irish. We're half the city, and you're seeing that they're something like 42% of the department. People of European descent are about 34%; African Americans about 11%; Asian Americans about 9[%] when you include Filipinos. Women are almost 20% of the department. When I go to graduations, and I try to go to most of them over the years, because I'm very proud of the fact that we have graduations — I think we've had 80 since I've been mayor because we are growing the Police Department — we've seen a complete change in the makeup of this department. Beck and Bratton believe in constitutional community policing, you see that. They believe in the gang reduction and youth development efforts. Charlie was just with me, my partner Chief Beck, was just with me at the Summer Night Lights announcement this year, which started on the 26th. And I'll be there because I'm working until the 30th at midnight."
LAT: And that's been one of the initiatives where you've been successful in bringing in private funding to work with public funding?
AV: "Philanthropy has been involved. There must have been, I don't want to exaggerate maybe 25 different corporate or philanthropic partners. Unheard of. We've seen a game change in that area because it works. In fact, USAID has tagged our gang reduction/youth development effort to work in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Department of Justice has said that we are one of the best practices when it comes to gang issues. I've talked to my friend Rahm Emanuel to talk about some of what we're doing."
LAT: And would that be the kind of initiative that you would be looking to take statewide, if you were to hold statewide office?
AV: "L.A. has a lot of best practices that I'd like to see adopted statewide, but no, cities mostly do that. But as an example, the cities would do it, but the state ought to be investing in that, ought to be partnering with cities to do that."
LAT: You're not thinking about running for governor in a primary against Jerry Brown?"
LAT: You're talking four years later?
LAT: Why would you want to be governor?
AV: "Actually, I haven't made my mind up about that."
LAT: "You have not made your mind up."
AV: "No. What I've said is that's the one job in public service that I'd like to do. But the reason I want to go on a listening tour and the reason why I want to affiliate with a think tank and a university — I only want to be in public service, and I would only want to be governor if I could be bold in transforming this state, and restoring the luster of the California Dream. If I thought it wasn't going to happen, couldn't do it, why would I want to do it? Look I've been majority whip, majority leader, speaker of the Assembly. I had an audacious run for mayor in 2001 when nobody thought it was possible. I ran for City Council in 2003 and ran for mayor in 2005. I've given all I had to public service, and I don't have this need to run again. I'd only run if I thought I could make a difference."
LAT: But what would you want to do?
AV: "That's what the listening tour; that's what the think tank, and the university, is all about. I definitely want to reflect on the last 20 years. I want to be around people who can help me think through how you fix the challenges that face us as a state, the challenges that face great global cities like ours, and the nation. I'm not thinking specifically about anything right now, other than, you know — I want to take this on. People can see by the way I ran in 2001 and 2005 that I really wanted this job. I think the best way to show it is to be grateful. I also want to take it in a little bit. This has been an honor of a lifetime, something I'm deeply grateful for. And I want to reflect on it a little bit. I'm not jumping into things. Some of you ask me, are you running for '[county] supervisor, are you running for City Council?'—
LAT: Six years is a long time.