Between 1993 and 2001, Mayor Richard J. Riordan, a maverick multi-millionaire who championed pragmatism over divisive politics, pulled Los Angeles from the brink of collapse and turned around one of the world’s most famous cities. Wildly popular today among Angelenos of all stripes, Riordan continues to be a major force in the political and civic worlds of L.A.
Riordan, a non-ideological Republican who was pro-choice, pro-gay rights, and pro-immigration, was elected to office in the aftermath of the infamous Rodney King beating and subsequent 1992 L.A. Riots, which caused nearly $1 billion in property damage and took the lives of over 50 people. With ineffectual political leadership at City Hall, racial tensions were running high, the economy was in the tank, and the city’s crime and homicide rates grew out of control during the crack cocaine epidemic. And only a few months into Riordan’s young mayoralty, L.A. appeared to be most definitely doomed after the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake rocked the city to its core.
But unlike his combative counterpart in New York City, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Riordan was a healing, compassionate figure that recreated L.A. into a thriving, world-class metropolis—and he’s still a key problem solver in the nation’s second largest city.
As the result of Riordan’s efforts, Los Angeles is now a cultural and event destination. He oversaw and pushed through the construction of Frank Gehry’s masterpiece Walt Disney Concert Hall -- a venture the mayor helped personally fund when private financing stalled -- and the landmark Staples Center. He reformed the nation’s second largest public school system, modernized the Los Angeles Police Department, and reformed Los Angeles’ City Charter. After an unsuccessful run for California governor, Riordan worked for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as his secretary of education.
Riordan’s perspective on effective leadership is like no other.
Readers will also learn about the numerous tragedies Riordan faced and how each event shaped him as a person and as mayor. From the deaths of Riordan’s two young children to the passing of his mother on the eve of his first mayoral election, Riordan’s courage and compassion in the face personal heartbreak illustrates why he is so beloved. Riordan is also a cutting-edge philanthropist who helped dramatically improve literacy rates in such places as Mississippi and has personally donated over $100 million to improve the education of poor children. For years, he has donated half his income to charities. This 330-paged memoir delves into his successes and difficulties during his time as mayor, the ideas and value system that drove his work—such as his deep spiritual beliefs that everyone is equal and deserves the opportunity to succeed—and the life events that shaped him.