Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mucho hacer sobre nada 

Maybe it's because Paris Hilton has fallen off their radar, but it's been trainwreck-interesting watching the local LA news media trying their damnedest to turn the non-story of a mayor's extra-marital affair into earth-shaking news. Try as they might, the tale just doesn't get traction, because the vast majority of Angelenos have heard the news, said, "Meh?" and moved on.

I'm referring, of course, to the shocking revelation that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who announced almost a month ago that he and his wife of twenty years were getting divorced) has been having an affair for the last year with hot, younger female Telemundo news reporter Mirthala Salinas. It's either amusing or pathetic, I'm not sure which yet, to watch various local news reporters, all of them white males, try to grill some political commentator in an effort to get them to call Mayor Villaraigosa a bad man, or to show some figures indicating that all of Los Angeles has turned their back on him in disgust.

No such luck. And I think the high point in the stupidity came when a local reporter for KCAL-9, who shall remain nameless (but is no doubt much younger and much balder than the mayor), got himself into a state of high dudgeon over the fact that Salinas covered local political news for Telemundo, implying a conflict of interest -- and then completely shot himself in the ass when he pointed out that "the affair has been going on for a year, but eleven months ago, she covered him on the news!" Yes -- right about the same time she went to her bosses and basically said, "I'm schtupping him, I can't cover him on the news anymore."

And, indeed, unlike a trio of local news hacks I could mention, Sra. Salinas did the right thing. As soon as it became clear that her relationship with the mayor was more than professional, she informed her bosses. They, in turn, removed her from coverage of any news having to do with him. Sure, there was that month of overlap, but, c'mon -- the first month of any relationship, but especially with somebody who's married to someone else, isn't grounds for making a major change in your life. It's when the second month begins and it's still going on that you have to start to decide, "Okay, can he keep his toothbrush here? Should I leave a work outfit at his place? Would it be better if I weren't the one informing a large chunk of the city about his activities, because I might have become a bit biased?"

Salinas did all the right things. And, okay, maybe the mayor was a little shady in banging around on his wife of two decades, but... power is attractive, people in power meet lots of other people, and men in their 50s are particularly susceptible to the "hot younger thing paying attention to me." Q.V. Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, etc., etc. And, say what you want, but... a) Mayor Villaraigosa fought to make his marriage work when it almost fell apart thirteen years ago, and b) He had the decency to not dump his wife while she was dying of cancer. And, as a further comparison to LA spousal politics, he most certainly did not try to cover up for his wife illegally driving a city-owned vehicle and then crashing it while her license was expired and she was uninsured.

The point is this: is Antonio Villaraigosa doing his job as mayor? So far, for the most part, yes. And, despite attempts by the above unnamed reporters to claim nothing but failure on his part, they're wrong. The only things they could bring up were that he has failed to take over the school board, and hasn't built the "City to the Sea" subway line yet. What they fail to mention is that, while he didn't take over the school board legislatively, he managed to do it electorally -- enough of the candidates he supported won the last election, including a woman who unseated an incumbent former teacher. As for the subway to the sea? Nobody in their right mind ever thought that project would instantly appear as soon as it was approved. What Villaraigosa has managed to do is eliminate the major stumbling block to the whole thing -- a US Congressman's objection to any construction in the Wilshire Corridor. That hurdle has suddenly been cleared. Given the track record of the MTA, it'll be fifteen years before trains are running from Wilshire/Western to Santa Monica -- but it looks like they will be eventually.

So, to recap... LA's Mayor announces his divorce, then reveals that he's been having an affair. In both cases, he's the guy who called the press conferences to make the announcements. In both cases, the people of LA have said, "Oh. Yeah, so... that's cool. Go on mayoring." That would have, should have been the end of the story, except for three pissant reporters who are, more likely than not, just jealous that they aren't holding high office and aren't nailing some Mexican hottie. And that's it. Jealousy, nothing more.

In fact, I only have one question as to how the whole divorce will effect us, and it's this: Mayor Villaraigosa's birth name was Antonio Villar; when he married Connie Raigosa in 1987, they followed a somewhat modified version of Mexican convention in combining their names as Villaraigosa. All I want to know is, will he change back and become Mayor Villar, or will he remain Mayor Villaraigosa?

In all honesty, I'm hoping it's the latter, because watching these gringo asshats who snipe at him totally muff it when they try to pronounce a pretty easy name is priceless. Although, if he really wanted to screw with them, he'd marry the reporter, then change his name to Villaragosalinas.

Humor aside, though -- Antonio Villaraigosa is quickly proving himself to be the kind of mayor we haven't seen in this city since Tom Bradley or Sam Yorty, and all the reporters who are more interested in what Antonito is up to can just go suck it. The people of LA get it -- Antonio is a LaGuardia class mayor. We decided back on June 8th at the announcement of the divorce that it was mostly a family matter that had nothing to do with government. We still think that.

Now, if only the morons at KCAL-9, Channel 5 and the local Fox news affiliate could get the same damn simple premise into their pointy little heads, and stop all of this much ado about nothing.

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