The City Council hall was overflowing on Tuesday morning as city representatives and the public said a fond farewell to Councilman Tom LaBonge of CD4 who served 39.6 years in city government. LaBonge was accompanied by his wife Brigid, son Charles and daughter Mary Catherine as speaker after speaker roasted, toasted and honored LaBonge and his work in Los Angeles, calling him “Mr. LA.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke warmly of LaBonge and their work alongside one another as representatives of neighboring districts for 12 years, even jousting that LaBonge never knew a boundary, he looked at the entire city as his project. “He loves to document history, to feel history and to mark history,” Garcetti said. “But he hasn’t just marked history, he’s made history, and he is our history.” Garcetti spun tales of LaBonge getting his hands dirty while cleaning out storm drains and loading up garbage, hiking in and restoring Griffith Park, and making an effort to get to know many of the citizens of this vast city.
The line up of notables included City Attorney Mike Feuer, Tom Gilmore of the Sister Cities program, the Fire Department, actor Neal McDonough, Janice Hahn (via video feed) and Larchmont’s own Joanne Pickett who spoke on behalf of the Larchmont Boulevard Association and Larchmont Village, calling LaBonge “the best civic booster in all of Los Angeles.” Many of his fellow council members also gave kudos to LaBonge for his vibrant style of leadership, and warm connection with other Councilmembers, noting his shoes would be hard to fill. There was even a Top 10 countdown of retirement suggestions for a man who embraced the city with such great enthusiasm (the tongue-in-cheek suggestions included driving a Starline Tour Bus in Hollywood, and walking dogs in his beloved Griffith Park.)
The walking bridge that connects City Hall West and East is mounted with LaBonge memorabilia honoring LaBonge’s nearly four decades of service to our neighborhood and the city. It’s fun to see everything from early Olympics posters to his own photography laid out to linger over.
Thank you Tom LaBonge ~
LA Times, Patt Morrison: What’s the Next Job for Tom LaBonge, LA’s tireless civic booster?