Why don’t those terribly apathetic people down in LA do their civic duty and cast a vote for mayor?

How can Angelenos defend sub-20 percent turnout they saw in initial counts from March’s first round of the 2013 mayoral elections?

Easy. Being mayor doesn’t matter.

Says who? Says many of the same civic leaders who gnashed their teeth about the low turnout in the election.

Of course, they don’t come right out and say it. But just consider this deliciously ironic bit of news from LA last week:

Leading citizens and representatives of major institutions – business, labor, lobbyists, politics – announced they were forming a committee called the Los Angeles 2020 Commission. Its charge? To come up with ways to tackle the city’s persistent budget deficits and long-term fiscal problems.

What would have seemed strange, if you weren’t from LA, is the timing: less than six weeks before the May runoff election that will decide the next mayor.

To the extent that there have been any issues involved in the race (one of the two candidates, Wendy Greuel, didn’t even have a policy director until after she made the runoff), the fiscal health of the city has been the issue. One might think that a new mayor would set such a policy. But the commission members, in public comments, made clear that they saw any real fixes as beyond the ability of the mayor to propose, much less enact.

In most places, elections are seen as big decision points for a city or community. Candidates outline different directions, and the voters choose.

But LA’s leaders see those elections as irrelevant. So why should anyone be surprised that 80-some percent of registered voters have gotten the message?