Zev Yaroslavsky

How Villaraigosa convinced voters to tax themselves in a recession — and won

How Villaraigosa convinced voters to tax themselves in a recession — and won

“Dream with me,” Antonio Villaraigosa urged in his 2005 inaugural address as mayor of Los Angeles, sketching out a vision of a comprehensive public transportation system that could redefine his car-choked city.

But three years later, his most dogged effort to achieve that vision threatened to be more delusion than dream. A brewing economic slowdown tipped into a full-blown crisis weeks before voters were to decide on his plan for a countywide measure that would increase the sales tax to pay for transportation projects.

Chief among them, the measure would help advance — but not fully fund — a subway heading west from downtown along the heavily trafficked Wilshire corridor —...

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