March 13th, 2009
08:56 PM ET

The Road to Rescue – could begin with green trucks

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/13/art.mayorvilla1.jpg caption="L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tells Anderson that electric trucks designed for container transport create more “green” jobs in his city and cut down on pollutants."]
Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Green trucks could help rescue the economy. That's what L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is telling us - and the Obama Administration.

Villaraigosa wants the government to give $6.8 billion in stimulus money directly to Los Angeles, where the unemployment rate has hit 12% - up from 8% just since October.

What would L.A. do with the money? For starters, it would buy some "green" trucks using alternative fuels, such as electricity and natural gas. The electric trucks are made right in Los Angeles by a company called Balqon. So buying more of them would make L.A run reduce pollution and create jobs at home.

The mayor showed us one of the trucks during an interview with Anderson. And he also showed us the Port of L.A. where some of those trucks would be used. The port handles 44% of all seaborne goods coming to the U.S., Villaraigosa told Anderson. It also generates more than 25% of carcinogens in the area. He wants to make the port greener - cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive with other ports around the world. And he says upgrading it would create a ripple effect of more money and jobs across the country.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/13/art.mayorvilla3.jpg caption="Anderson walks through the Port of Los Angeles with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who says he needs federal stimulus money for “green” upgrades to make the port cleaner and more efficient."]

Villaraigosa isn't just asking for stimulus money. He wants the government to change the way it gives out stimulus money.

He says some money should go directly to cities, because he fears that states would be too slow to dole it out, and that California would shift the money from job creation to deficit reduction. (Is he planning to run for governor?)

Villaraigosa is just one of thousands clamoring for cash. But he might have a leg up in getting heard. He's a darling of the Democrats, and an Obama ally.

See Anderson's interview with Villaraigosa on AC360 at 10PM Monday. It's the first of five days of special coverage as Anderson crosses the country, reporting from Los Angeles, New Orleans, Detroit, New York and Tampa to report on how Americans hit by the economic crisis are finding ways to pull through.

All Photos taken by Michael Cary, CNN Senior Producer, Western Region.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Cindy

    Oh..if Villaraigosa is Obama's buddy then he'll get the money no questions asked! Obama is in the payback stage!

    I don't see that L.A. should get any more than any other county. The money should be doled out evenly. L.A. is not a state into itself and shouldn't get way more than anyone else.


    March 16, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  2. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Great---you will have a few greem trucks---job applications--two---why don't you create jobs?

    March 16, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  3. J. Rogers from Regina, SK

    What ever happened to cost-benefit analysis and building/purchasing the most cost efficient and effective projects. This proposal looks like a white elephant in the making with no payback and eventual abandonment. Lots of ports around the world use electric forklifts, but few use electric trucks. Some world ports use propane so the reduced pollution and reduced carbon monoxide within closed places. The Long Beach Port Authority had announced plans to buy natural gas last year.

    The Mayor's idea seems to be a boondoggle that can be paid for by the federal government with little or no oversight and with potential kickbacks to the city. The proposed electric yard trucks will cost about $530,000 each as opposed to $150,000 per truck for natural gas. Electricity costs are probably higher per mile than natural gas as well. What could LA, the state and/or the feds do with nearly $400,000 difference?

    Sometimes you have been an advocate of schemes rather than asking the hard questions. And if the answer is not adequate, ask further questions until you get at the truth.

    March 16, 2009 at 1:54 am |
  4. Ron Illinois

    Being a resident of Illinois and with our reputation for political corruption, I am sure the stimulus will be well spent.

    It will go for raises for all of our politicians, right down to the lowest level mayor or road commissioner we have. It will pay for city and county employees to stand around with their arms crossed at every construction site while "one" person actually works.

    This state is full of public servants that serve themselves at every opportunity. Fill the hog troughs, the pigs are hungry.

    If I could find the handle on this political "Toilet" we call Illinois, I would flush it.

    March 15, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  5. andy

    sweet! I live and work in LA/Long Beach and would love to see anything / everything possible done to clean up the port. This is WELCOMED stimulus money.

    March 15, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  6. gregdeming

    Mr. Villaraigosa is just another sales person looking to close a deal. I would like to know what he has done to save taxpayers money. It's a never ending album...Give me more!

    March 15, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  7. Stephanie

    I'm really looking forward to this interview and learning more about what our Mayor has to say.

    March 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  8. Sherry, N. Calif.

    I do not live in Los Angeles. I think the Mayor has a good idea for abolishing the handout from the State but we will still need transparency because it is our money not just Los Angeles $$.

    Our cities throw money into some pretty stupid things. Like $13,000 each for palm trees here in Redding. There are twenty or more lining a street where they have caused traffic problems now but will be worse in the furtur. We have to have some oversight regulators even if the city does get money directly.

    I hope this Mayor does not throw any of the stimulis money into the new unfinished elephants home. How sad is that? They need to take those animals and put them where they can roam free with other elephants. No more money should be spent on this "Great White Elephant Prison".

    The middleman makes money in grocery stores, State economy, car sales,, etc. Those mid-men are some of the biggest theives this country has along with the banks CEO's. Get rid of them too! Our prices for commodities would be lowered so we can afford to buy again and maybe even SAVE some money on the side.

    March 15, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  9. kent Madison

    You should remind america that the best investment they can make is to pay off their credit cards with any extra income that they might have. It is a automatic return on their investment equal to the interest rate of the card up to 18%. In this economeny you will have a hard timme finding that kind of investment.

    PS you do a great job with your state of the union show.

    Keep up the good and honest work


    March 15, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  10. ronvan

    This is why I am for Mayors of cities receiving the stimulus monies. States have different agenda's and would piece meal monies to cities after taking their share, which would get nothing done! Green vehicles across the U. S. would benefit all of us.

    March 15, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  11. Megan Dresslar - Shoreline, WA

    I agree with you...... we need more money as bill stimulus to pass help this city right now..... I hope that will help them to fix the road or else. Thanks Pres. Obama! Yes we can! I can't wait see Anderson interview Mayor Villaraigosa on Monday night!

    March 14, 2009 at 9:39 pm |
  12. Carless CARIN

    Green is GOOD!!!!

    Get a BIKE – skip the CAR!!!!

    March 14, 2009 at 8:34 pm |
  13. Martina Ilstad Germany

    Hey Anderson
    This woldwilde economec crises is a really big chance for the wolwilde clima.if we understand to protect the right project with our money to save the wold.and the money dont pass through a lot of hands.Anderson thank you for doing this job,please ask for answers people they are responsible for that.

    March 14, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  14. Emelita from Austin Texas

    why all this businesses getting all this billions of dollars but nothing getting better?

    if all millions of peoples are sturving hardly make it thrugh daily basis
    and do not have money to spend, why can't we get some of that money too so we can put food on the table and have a roof over out heads and family? I do believe we are the part of this economy crisis?

    March 14, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  15. Minou, New York City

    I'm for any plan that makes our cities green! Cities should get money of the stimulus directly; mayors have a much better understanding of what is needed in their cities. If they have to wait for the state government to finally get things worked out, nothing will get done for a long time.
    As a former Angelina, I know that without a car you are lost in this city. I wish the mayor would plan to put money into efficient and green public transportation.
    I wish the mayor success with his plans.

    March 14, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  16. Isabel, Brazil

    Cities must show themselves attractive for new investment companies. These investments will help the council to increase the collection of taxes, bring more jobs and make the money move.

    In respect the money goes directly to the cities, if that were in my country, would be a great idea, because the corruption would go to make that money dilute and when these resources arrived in the city, it would not be more enough.

    March 14, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  17. Isabel, Brazil

    In this critical moment is important show the alternatives for each part of the country and discuss its viability. And always is good have a plan B if the government fails to help. Actually the ideal would be to have a plan B, C, D, …

    Make money again circular and return the purchasing power of people is what the population wants.

    March 14, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  18. Stephany

    hey AC 360
    the green truckes may help. going green is good. I think that our government needs to take that in consideration. all that jet fule they us! if we view confrence in stead of the president going to that counrty will help also. EVERY LITTEL BIt COUNTS.

    March 14, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  19. Annie Kate

    The more the stimulus money can go to the intended recipient without a middleman like the state the better it will be. Seems like when money has to pass through a lot of hands each place along the way takes a percentage of the money; the city would probably get more if it didn't go through the state first.

    March 13, 2009 at 9:33 pm |
  20. robyncaffrey keyser west virginia

    att :anderson

    i do so much agree, that the city's should get a portion of the stimulus.

    i dont care what anybody say's !
    states dish out the money "' when they feel there ready.

    yes we can

    March 13, 2009 at 9:21 pm |