At Cal State L.A. on Tuesday, Jaime Regalado was fielding a steady stream of e-mails, almost all of them from women who've had it with the Don Juan who calls himself our mayor.
"They'll never vote for him again," Regalado, who runs the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs, said when I asked the gist of the messages about Antonio Villaraigosa. "They say he can't be committed to anything and stay the course."
I was getting my own flood of mail and decided to call a few of the mayor's critics. A financial consultant named Hugo was equally disturbed by the mayor's admission of a long-rumored affair with a Telemundo anchor/reporter.
"When he won the mayoral race, I went to church with him and saw him walking side by side with his wife," said Hugo, 32, who held back his last name because "it's a small town."
"So I personally think it's a big disappointment, and he hasn't just done it once. It's the second time, and I think it says something about his character."
Yeah, and the last time the mayor stepped out on his wife she was battling cancer. Talk about a character issue.
Sue DiSanto, a medical transcriptionist, felt let down even though she lives in Chino. As a Latina, she said, she had high hopes that Villaraigosa would distinguish himself as a politician and be a role model as a man.
"Thanks for showing that Hispanic women don't really count, once you don't need them anymore," DiSanto said in a comment aimed at the mayor.
And so it went Tuesday, as a heat wave gripped Southern California and the hottest temperature in the nation was recorded at L.A. City Hall. The only thing that has saved City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and Villaraigosa from combusting in the summer heat is that the spotlight conveniently keeps shifting from one scandal to another in the ongoing adventures of our very own Rocky and Bullwinkle show.
As for the mayor, there are many who say they don't care what he does in the dark, as long as he does his job. But he's been no champ in that regard, either. It's hard to get back on track when you're tripping over your own pants.
Regalado wondered if the mayor's "charmed life" has run its course. At a certain point, he said, the mayor's infidelities to his wife and to a long line of former political allies can't help but inflict some political damage.
As for the mayor's "other woman," there had long been rumors linking him to a certain "on-air talent." I'm no psychologist, but can anyone be surprised that a man who counts the number of cameras at press events fell for someone in television?
My own suspicions of the current affair were all but confirmed last week when I called a Villaraigosa spokesman and asked to chat with the mayor about the rampant rumors. If there was no truth to them, I said, I would gladly sit down with the mayor and give him a chance to set the record straight.
The spokesman promised to check with the mayor and get back to me.
I guess he forgot.
Too bad, because I would like to have known if Villaraigosa intends to keep his name. The mayor used to be Tony Villar, as you know, until blending his last name with that of his wife, Corina Raigosa. If he ends up marrying Salinas, will he then become Villaraigosasalinas? Or Villarsalinas?
My vote would be for Villasalinas, with no "r," although I could be putting the cart ahead of the horse. There's no telling how serious Villaraigosa's latest relationship is, but if they do end up walking down the aisle, I can't imagine that Salinas would be content with a husband whose blended last name is a tribute to his ex-wife.
Come to think of it, given the mayor's track record and the number of female anchors in
, I'd hold off on any more name changes for a while if I were in his shoes. I mean, he'd be better off just getting a tattoo.
As for Salinas, she did not exactly distinguish herself as a journalist when, after the mayor's split with his wife, she reported on-air for Telemundo that "the rumors were true" -- there was indeed a "political scandal" at City Hall.
But that's the least of her worries.
She may be about to discover that life with the mayor is always a threesome, and it's impossible to love him as much as he loves himself.