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L. A. Confidential

Is Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan the most business-savvy politician in the country? An exclusive interview with the man at the helm of the first 21st-century city.

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This story appears in the November 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It has often been said that Los Angeles is one of the most futuristic cities, a dynamic metropolis linked to the world by trade and Hollywood, a boiling melting pot of opportunity and risk. Leading this thriving city into the next millennium is its mayor, Richard J. Riordan, an ultrasuccessful businessman and Republican twice elected in a predominantly Democratic city. Despite a charter that gives most of the power to the city council, Riordan has used his bully pulpit and business connections to help transform this city of more than 3.6 million from a place where businesses are burned by rioters into a center for realizing entrepreneurial dreams.

With surprising energy at age 68, Riordan has worked hard to bring Los Angeles back from riots and recession. But he didn't plan to go into politics. Born in Flushing, New York, he graduated from Princeton University in 1952 with a degree in philosophy, served in the Army during the Korean War, then earned a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1956. He was recruited to Los Angeles by the politically connected law firm O'Melveny & Myers LLP. There he became involved in the firm's tradition of philanthropy, and people involved in charitable organizations soon sought him out as the man who could solve problems.

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