Kevin Roderick writes Feb. 2, 2007:

Apparently responding to blogger Luke Ford's allegation that the Villaraigosas had split up, the mayor told the Times last night that the entire family — himself, Corina and the two teenage children — is living at Getty House. "Absolutely not true," Villaraigosa said of the gossip. "We are not separated." He did admit to strains, but called them "ups and downs." The couple had broken up once, before he ran for mayor the first time, over his affair that coincided with Corina undergoing cancer treatment. Just who Villaraigosa spoke with last night is strangely murky. The Times attributed the comments to "an interview Thursday evening at Getty House," but the short story carries no byline. Corina was not at home at the time, the paper said.

The L.A. Times Feb. 2 report includes this:

Others close to the mayor said they have been to Getty House in recent weeks and confirmed that his wife was there. And though the two rarely appear in public together, Villaraigosa said they did give some joint interviews in December.

Rumors about the marriage appear to have been fueled by the fact that he has not worn his wedding ring recently, an observation cited in the blog item. Aides said Villaraigosa, who has lost weight, stopped wearing the ring because it was slipping off. On Thursday, he was wearing it.

On Jan. 29, 2007, I reported the following on this blog:

The mayor and his wife Corina haven't been seen together in public in about ten months (since the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, visited in May 2006). Villaraigosa no longer wears his wedding band (not since the first week of September 2006). His wife does not live with him in the mayor's mansion (I don't think she's ever lived there with him).

"So, will he be reverting to his maiden name?" asks one internet commenter.

Connie was recently spotted cleaning the couple's home at Mt. Washington.

Around 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, a journalist at City Hall finally worked up the courage to ask Villaraigosa after his press conference, "Where is your wedding ring? What's the deal?"

The mayor said that he had lost weight and hadn't had the time to have it resized. The mayor said he was still together with his wife Connie.

Journalists from The Los Angeles Times, L.A. Daily News, and City News were around the mayor at this time but nobody bothered to report the matter.

Says a veteran journalist: "I used to say that his former communications chief, Cecile Ablack, was his girlfriend -- she left a tenured job at Yale to move here."

The mayor's father Antonio Villar is a registered sex offender.

Antonio Villaraigosa had a famous fling in 1994. Here's a factually accurate comment from the mayorsam blog:

The name of the woman is Martha Reyna. Her name is mentioned here only because she was already mentioned in the Ricardo Torres mailers and in the Times. She is Tony's comadre which means Tony is godfather to one of her four children. In 1994, Tony was contemplating running for office. Pat Bond, Gloria Molina's late consultant and herself a cancer survivor, adviced Tony not to run because cancer affects the whole family, not just the patient. She said she wouldn't do the campaign but Tony soon found Parke Skelton ready and willing to do the deed. Tony, thinking of himself as always, went forward with the campaign.

As if the pressures of the campaign weren't enough, Tony soon starts to have an affair with a long time family friend. Parke would send Tony and Martha out canvassing for votes - only thing is, they weren't canvassing. They were going to a motel in Silver Lake and Bill Mabie and Richard Polanco got wind of this. Parke, fearing that they would send pictures of Martha and Tony at this motel to Corina had Tony's home mail forwarded to the campaign office. While Tony and Martha were out doing their thing, Richard, Martha's husband and Tony's compadre and former state bar study partner was in the campaign office making calls to raise money for his good buddy Tony while Tony was out doing his wife.

Corina, Tony's wife, wasn't too involved in that campaign because she was home recovering from cancer surgery and treatment. She noticed no mail was arriving home and Corina is not a stupid woman, despite always going back to Tony after his little adventures. One day she calls Richard, Judge Richard now, and asks if Martha is home. Richard tells her she is in Palm Springs for a labor convention - she used to work for the Painters Union. Low and behold, Tony is also at the same convention.

Corina and Richard put two and two together and Corina confronts Tony. And you know how she got Tony to confess, she questioned his manhood so Tony coughs everything up - can't question his manhood, you know. This was during election day weekend. On election day, Xavier Becerra is up on stage introducing the victorious Tony and going on about what a good family man Tony is. All the campaign workers and virtually everyone else in the audience knows what has been happening and the snickering grows to a crescendo. Xavier would later confront Tony and gets in his face about what a fool he made of him - they will never be good friends again.

Corina doesn't even join Tony up on stage - some family guy. The next day she files for divorce. The case is still open. As for Richard, well Richard's hobby is gun collecting and he starts to hunt for Tony. Tony can't go home anymore and starts to ask his friends to put him up. Most refuse, including Gloria Molina and Ron Martinez. Tony ends up staying at the campaign office before he and Martha hit the road and go up north. This was in June and Tony still has a November general election and a December swearing in.

While on the lamb and hiding from Richard the gun collector, Martha gets word that her 13 year old daughter, Tony's goddaughter, couldn't take the drama anymore and runs away from home. This knocks some sense into Martha and she leaves Tony and returns home. Eventually, Martha and Richard get a divorce anyway.

But, this wasn't some drunken mistake that just happened. According to campaign staffers, Tony had been aggressively pursuing Martha - damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! After all, Tony is God's gift to women and power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Soon Tony is left without a lover, wife or family - even his sisters shun him. There is a fax that starts circulating - started at Gloria Molina's office, Martha Molina - Gloria's aid (no relation) couldn't stand Tony and gets this fax going - this was before e-mails and blogs. The fax is sort of a contest to give Tony a new name. With Corina Raigosa filing for divorce, Tony wouldn't dare use her last name, would he. Soome of the names are Villapendejo, Villapitosuelto, Villaprimadonna, Villahomewrecker, and on and on. I think the list got to over 100 new names for Tony.

Eventually, Tony and Corina get back together. Tony goes around giving his best mea culpa impersonation for all his bogus friends saying that he was such a bonehead. One of the arguments he actually used was that he was "in love" with Martha, as if Tony ever understood the meaning! As for Martha and Richard and Tony's godchildren, they are left by the side of the road like so many of Tony's other encounters. Hey, he got his rocks off right?

From another post to MayorSam blog:

Antonio Villaraigosa, like it or not, is a sleaze & sleaze is going to come out. It would be a perfect world if we didn't have sleazy politicians, but it's not, especially when you're dealing with someone of Tony's character. He lied to the 14th district just like he lied to his buddy Richard just like he lied to his wife - this is sleaze. You may call it broken promises, lack of character or lying but put all that in the context of a politician and it is SLEAZE.

The mistake Ricardo Torres made - and he is about as sleazy as they get - was that he backed off of his promise to continue to speak the truth. Alvin shouldn't make the same mistake. Latinos are about as uneducated about their leaders as any 3rd world population, it is our duty to let them know who their leaders are. Is it any wonder they end up with leaders like Ricahrd Alatorre - failed court ordered drug tests; Mike Hernandez - caught on camera buying drugs; Richard Polanco - caught with his mistress and mother of his two kids on the public payroll; Gloria Molina - caught trying to circumvent building and safety codes for her Mt. Washington pool, the list goes on and on.

All this stuff is true, Tony obviously has legal recourse - but he won't pursue it because he knows this is the truth. The voters should grow some balls and learn a little about hard knocks politics - Tony won't give you guys any quarter, he'll go right for your jugulars!

From another comment:

There were many ethic violations in Antonio's 2005 campaign. He's was using city staff to help with his campaign. He begged businesses in Boyle Heights to use their phones for phone banking yesterday. Ummmm...wonder if the press ever jumped on that story. Antonio doesn't want to be labeled "Latino mayor" yet he had his phone bankers yesterday calling Latino voters stating he would be the 1st Latino mayor. The more intelligent Latinos would hung up the phone on them.

From another comment:

Did anyone ever notice that right after Antonio won the Mayoral election he instantly put a photo of himelf on the new LA City website. In that photo he looked the way he does naturally with brown skin. A week later he changed that photo for the current one which is exposed incorrectly and he looks totally white. Why did he do that? He became the Mayor because he was Mexican but now that he's the Mayor he wants to be white?

Mexican Antonio White Antonio

If this was New York, you'd have numerous newspapers and reporters chasing this Villaraigosa-marriage story.

The L.A. media are provincial and protective in these type of stories. The L.A. Times similarly squashed reporting on Mayor Tom Bradley's extra-marital affair with a white woman. (Reference: Dennis McDougal's book on The L.A. Times)

I heard one theory that The L.A. Times has decided its future is with Hispanic readers and thus the one-sided coverage it gives of L.A.'s first Latino mayor since 1872.

The newspaper is reluctant to write anything negative about Latino leaders.

Only the LA Weekly (10/25/06) and reporter David Zahniser had the guts to write the truth about the final hours of Latino labor leader Miguel Contreras.

From a 2001 LA Times profile of Antonio during the mayoral race:

Villaraigosa fathered his first two children. He was 21 and had known the mother of his first daughter for just six weeks before she became pregnant. He was 25 when his second daughter was born to another woman.

After a fight during his 24th birthday celebration at a Wilshire Boulevard restaurant, Villaraigosa was arrested on suspicion of assault. He told a jury he had been defending his mother and sister against an abusive patron; he was acquitted.

But the rising star had also committed an indiscretion that would cost him dearly. He had an affair that became the talk of the Eastside political elite. His wife filed for divorce just one day after he won his first election.

The infidelity cost Villaraigosa the friendship of Molina, among others. Two years later, Corina Villaraigosa took her husband back, but Molina continues to keep her distance.

The one-sided coverage of Villaraigosa reminds me of the fawning Frank del Olmo coverage over a journalist of little distinction. I don't believe that novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez volunteered that gushing praise of del Olmo? I believe that Gabriel was only slightly acquainted with del Olmo, but The L.A. Times presented Frank's death to Marquez as the passing of a journalistic icon and thus received a gushing quote.

In Harvard's Spring 2005 Nieman Notes, Frank O. Sotomayor wrote:

Frank's friend of many years, author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a former reporter, wrote that he wished he "hadn't read the news of Thursday, February 19: Frank del Olmo was dead and no disclaimer or correction was possible. Those of us who are born journalists discover early in our lives, and often against our will, that our craft is not just a calling, a fate, a need or a job, it is something we can't avoid: it is a vice among friends."

As Tom Wolfe has discussed and written about (in his book The Right Stuff and elsewhere), the American media is like a 19th Century Victorian gentleman. The media collectively decides on the right emotional tone for a story and a person, and then tends to ignore evidence to the contrary.Kevin Roderick writes on L.A. Observed about my post: "Then the post wanders off onto some rant about the late Frank del Olmo, who Ford has long had a grudge against."

I have no grudge against Frank del Olmo. I have a grudge against people who try to make icons (journalistic or otherwise) out of people (such as del Olmo, Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy, Jr.) without accomplishment. John F. Kennedy, Jr., for instance, accomplished nothing. He published an undistinguished magazine called George. But as the handsome son of a handsome assassinated president, he received media adulation in disproportion to his accomplishments.

June 8, 2007

Rick Orlov writes on DailyNews.com:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his wife, Corina, announced today that they are separating because of the pressures of his job.

During a transition period, Villaraigosa will return to the couple's Mt. Washington home while Mrs. Villaraigosa and their two children continue to live at the Getty House.

"Each of us loves our children more than anything in the world and we are committed to working together for their benefit," Villaraigosa said in a statement. "I ask that the media and the public respect our privacy through this painful period of transition."

Villaraigosa has had a light public schedule the last several days and has no appearances planned for this weekend. Aides said he will hold a news conference on Monday to discuss his family situation.

Duke Helfand of The Los Angeles Times reports. LAObserved.

June 11, 2007

Kevin Roderick writes on LAObserved.com:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa knows how to draw a crowd. His news conference this morning to discuss his marriage was reportedly packed. "I take responsibility for what is happening and I feel a personal sense of failure about it," he said. "And that's all I'm prepared to say." He turned away questions about an affair while he was mayor, responding "Those kinds of questions are inappropriate. It's a matter between me and my family." He called his wife Corina an "exceptional human being in every sense of the word." Villaraigosa's two oldest daughters from a previous relationship — Marisela Villar and Prisila Villar-Contreras — attended, as did his brother Rob Delgado, sister Deborah Villar, and her son, Aaron Monarrez. Corina and the couple's two teenage children — Antonio Jr. and Natalia Fe — did not attend. Here's a photo from happier times for both the mayor and another local news figure. Daily News, Times, NBC4 with video

July 3, 2007

Beth Barrett writes July 3, 2007 for the Los Angeles Daily News:

After months of dodging questions about the breakup of his marriage, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa acknowledged Monday that he is involved in a romantic relationship with television newswoman Mirthala Salinas.

...Back in January, the buzz of the mayor's marital trouble reached a fever pitch, prompting Villaraigosa to give [Jim Newton, then chief of the Times' city-county bureau] an interview at Getty House, calling the reports "absolutely not true" and adding, "We are not separated."

But when Corina raised the same question about her husband's wedding ring, she got a very different answer.

Basically, he said it was none of her business, according to Corina's 88-year-old mother, Manuela Raigosa.

"At first he said he didn't want to talk about it," she said in Spanish during a telephone interview last week.

"When she approached him again, he said that they could stay in the house and he would move out (of Getty House) ... and if they didn't like it, he would leave."

For the sometimes rocky marriage of the mayor and his wife, who merged their surnames Villar and Raigosa when they married some 20 years ago, it was the beginning of the end.

Daniel Hernandez writes:

The news was "the get" of L.A. for 2007, with reporters at the L.A. Times, the Weekly, the DN, and certainly several others all clamoring to find enough sources who would confirm it. Congrats, as it were, to Beth Barrett. LAObserved has this good summary post. In any event, this is relevant because the mayor, by his own design, is as pop as Paris Hilton. And because there's an obvious ethical line being crossed by both parties. Otherwise, it's pretty sad.

I suspect that the mayor has been with Salinas for over a year, including time that she was covering him as a reporter.

I doubt that the mayor has had only one woman in his bed the past two years.

Eric Longabardi writes:

"She loves to have relationships with politicians," one inside source at NBC tells ERSNews.com exclusively. "She's a ‘power f***er!" This source also tells ERS News that Mayor Villaraigosa's latest dalliance, Mirthala Salinas, a political reporter for NBC's Telemundo is not the Mayor's last. "He's now dating one of the members of his LAPD protective detail," this source revealed.

Assembly Speaker, Fabio Nunez, one of Villaraigosa's best friends, also had an affair with Salinas from the summer of 2003 until after his swearing in as Assembly Speaker in February 2004. The Speaker's office confirmed to ERSNews.com that while the Speaker was divorced from his wife Maria (they have since remarried), Nunez and Salinas had a romantic relationship. Salinas attended Nunez's swearing in as Speaker of the Assembly. Sources also tell ERSNews.com that Salinas would regularly fly to Sacramento to see the Speaker. One insider at Telemundo said that "everybody in the newsroom knew all about it and management did nothing about it."

Kaus writes on Slate.com:

This may be a first: If you watch the third local news video linked on this LAT page** ("Mirthala Salinas reports Villaraigosa's separation") you'll see the news of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's separation from his wife announced last month on Telemundo by the reporter/anchorwoman with whom he has been having an affair.***

**--The LAT is now at least playing catch-up after having blown the story, beaten by both a lone blogger and its less stuffy rival, the Daily News. ...

***--Villaraigosa didn't say exactly when his relationship with the Telemundo reporter "evolved" from "friendship," but it seems obvious from the Daily News account that it's been highly evolved for some time (i.e., since months before the June separation and Salinas' Telemundo report about it ). ...

More: When Villaraigosa announced his marital trouble last month, the hapless LAT, in its traditional life-draining thumbsucker, listed Gary Hart as one of the politicians who emerged from personal scandal "with their careers largely intact, or enhanced." I'm sure ex-Sen. Hart, now a prestigious HuffPo blogger, will be happy to learn this. ...

David Zahniser writes July 5, 2007 in the LA Weekly:

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Daily News finally got confirmation of Villaraigosa's romance with Salinas, a political reporter who had already dated former council President Alex Padilla, among others. Daily News reporter Beth Barrett, with help from an interpreter, brilliantly went to the most obvious source, Villaraigosa's mother-in-law, who said that the mayor told his wife that questions about his missing wedding ring were "none of her business."

And yet despite the salacious details, information about the timing of the romance remained frustratingly fuzzy. After all, the woman dating the mayor had, as a reporter, covered Villaraigosa during many of his high-profile endeavors: staking out a position on illegal immigration, showing up on the scene of a gang shooting and, perhaps most notably, attempting to take over the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Salinas made her biggest splash last year when, camera operator in tow, she got a rare peek at the stash of toilet brushes sent to Villaraigosa after he delivered his famous "We clean your toilets" speech to a crowd of immigrants.

Mickey Kaus writes July 7 on Slate.com:

"Don't Get Caught Again": Lone blogger Luke Ford, and not the L.A. Times, continues to be where you go go to find out what's really happening in the Villasalinas sex scandal. Ford notes that the LAT, despite signs of catch-up tabloid feistiness earlier in the week, has delivered its traditional scandal-killing thumbsucker on schedule. Riveting headline: "Villaraigosa affair may not be one to remember." Why, "Democratic operative" Chris Lehane thinks he may survive! Ford comments:

It's stupid to write all these analysis pieces saying the mayor can overcome this scandal until we know how many more scandals are coming the pike on this score. I predict several.

He suggests some leads. ...

P.S.: The traditional pompous Tim Rutten piece--attacking "the gossip sheets ... that continue to proliferate like informational vermin"**--arrives right on cue as well. L.A.'s Pulitzer-winning paper is back to running at peak efficiency.

Bonus pomposity: Rutten writes--

Villaraigosa's personal connection with Salinas is a private issue that legitimately concerns only the two of them and their families. No one else has a moral or rhetorical right to an opinion on that aspect of their conduct.

Why the hell not?

**-- ... like the ones that broke the story the Times helped Villaraigosa try to keep a lid on. Rutten also more or less admits the Times helped cover up the marital trouble of the previous L.A. mayor, James Hahn, even though it clearly affected his performance (when he insisted on going home to look after his kids!). ... 10:54 P.M.