The aftermath of last week's 8.8 earthquake in Santiago, Chile continued to send shock waves throughout the global community on Wednesday as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa became the first public official of a major U.S. city to officially announce that the quake's massive tectonic shifts have in fact trimmed his workday to two minutes each day and "no more ten minutes in any single week - and that's really pushing it."
Amidst a sea of reporters and television cameras, the mayor made his announcement while attending the grand opening of a Van Nuys Kragen Automotive Superstore.
"As I cut into this ribbon on this bittersweet occasion," said a somber Villaraigosa, "let us all be reminded of the cutting into the earth's crust that has torn asunder the great and proud country of Chile and thousands of its citizens. And yet let it also remind us of the cut-rate prices and first-class service with which Kragen Auto Parts provides all its customers."
"But unfortunately," the mayor continued, "another grave consequence of this disaster is that my time as mayor each day will be significantly shortened, at least for the foreseeable future."
A frequent target of scathing allegations by critics for possessing a compromised work ethic, Villaraigosa sought to preemptively defend his announcement by giving what amounted to a primer on seismology.
"I've engaged in exhaustive research over the past week, searching for answers amidst such a devastating incident," said the embattled mayor. "In doing so, I have scoured the most trusted sources of scientific information known to man, from Wikipedia to Yahoo News to YouTube, in search of the real truth."
"What I found," Villaraigosa explained, "was that, during the earthquake, part of the earth's crust shifted closer together - so close, in fact, that from this moment, our days and nights are going to be far shorter than one could ever imagine."
After being momentarily interrupted by Nick, a new Kragen employee who, mistaking the mayor for the store's assistant manager, asked if he could "get next Wednesday off for a thing," the mayor added, "As a consequence, we're all going to have to make some major sacrifices. Gone are the days when one could hit the gym at ten in the morning, in the middle of a workday, get one's bronze on at the ol' tanning booth for a few hours, and yet still have time for a seven-figure fundraiser in Beverly Hills. As I've said, this whole ordeal is incredibly tragic on so many levels."
Overcome with emotion, the normally self-possessed Villaraigosa, paused for several moments, in an effort to collect himself.
"But I'm not here today to wallow in self-pity over the fact that I will no longer be able to engage in a normal 20-hour workweek. Rather, I am here to announce the Two-Minute Mayor initiative, in which I accept the challenge of accomplishing all mayoral duties in the span of two minutes within each and every workday - not including federal holidays or Yom Kippur."
Jeff Carr, the mayor's chief of staff, maintains that it's only a matter of time before other national political figures follow Villaraigosa's lead on his Two-Minute Mayor proposal. "Per usual, the mayor is well ahead of the curve on this one," he said. "Unfortunately, City Hall's so backward, I doubt they'll recognize the genius of it."
Carr continued. "People might be raising their eyebrows now, but five years down the road, these same naysayers will be calling the mayor the visionary of his time. Same thing happened to Jesus."
"Decades from now," added Carr, "proposals like this one, the Subway to the Sea, and the Million Trees L.A. initiative will be mentioned in the same breath as The New Deal or possibly even the advent of penicillin."
When one skeptical reporter in the crowd questioned Villaraigosa's findings by citing evidence from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that the quake had indeed sped up the earth's axis - but only by 1.26 microseconds, Villaraigosa responded, "Seriously, which are you going to believe: A YouTube video with over a million hits or some random scientist?