In 2005, a new day arrived in Los Angeles, when citizens elected the charismatic Antonio Villaraigosa as their mayor. Serving on his transition team, I remember surveying his winning coalition at a meeting: East and South Los Angeles organizers and West Side philanthropists; Asian and Armenian immigrant businesspeople; and corporate, labor, and nonprofi t leaders from every culture and community.

“Come dream with me, Los Angeles,” the new mayor said in his inaugural speech. And a great many of...

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