Who needs telenovelas when you have Los Angeles City Hall?
In Thursday's summer of love installment, inquiring minds wondered if taxpayers have ever footed the bill for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's dalliances with Telemundo news anchor/reporter Mirthala Salinas.
Meanwhile, Telemundo editorial staffers worried they might have said too much about the mayor in the presence of Salinas.
"They're all sitting here wondering, 'What did I say to her about him, not knowing that it could have gone right back to the mayor?' " said a Telemundo source who added that Salinas had earlier told suspicious superiors that she and the mayor were merely friends.
It's now clear that Salinas seems to have the strangest of fetishes -- a thing for politicians. She was previously involved with Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and state Sen. Alex Padilla. This demands a question:
Are Villaraigosa, Nunez and Padilla playing a game of ¿Quien Es Mas Macho?
If embattled City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo has any sense at all, he'll call a press conference today and get some credit for never having slept with Salinas.
By midday Thursday, Telemundo announced that Salinas was being put on leave, which is understandable. If I had slept with Janice Hahn, Jan Perry and Laura Chick while writing about City Hall, I'd probably be scratching at the door of the Recycler.
The one up-side in the summer of love story is that it has probably been a good thing for the San Fernando Valley. It's not clear how often Villaraigosa visited Salinas at a Sherman Oaks condo and later at one in Studio City, but it's possible no other mayor has spent so much quality time in the Valley. The next time there's talk of secession, Villaraigosa can argue it's too close to his heart to let it go.
My colleagues Duke Helfand and Steve Hymon reported that when Villaraigosa visited Salinas in her Sherman Oaks condo, a woman spied him in the elevator bringing in dinner and a bottle of wine. Villaraigosa introduced himself as Antonio.
If he were quicker on his feet, he'd have said his name was Rocky. But this is the mayor who flunked the bar four times.
As I've said, I'd be less interested in all of this if Villaraigosa had been a great mayor. But you have to wonder if his failed agenda is connected to his extracurricular activities. And I'll let you know when I get answers to the questions I asked Villaraigosa's office Thursday.
The mayor's staff told The Times that Villaraigosa paid for his plane ticket when he went to Arizona for the funeral of Salinas' mother. But did a police detail accompany him? Did he bill a room or meals to the city?
On Wednesday, I heard from a psychologist who took issue with my column suggesting that no one could love Villaraigosa as much as he loves himself.
"True clinical narcissism has nothing to do with self-love," said Victor Silva-Palacios, who explained narcissistic personality disorder. "Rather, it has to do with a severe lack of emotional development."
"Underneath an apparent 'self-love,' one frequently discovers a fragile ego and chronic emotional emptiness. It seems to me that Mr. Villaraigosa is trying to hide his insecurities with choices that are very destructive to himself and others."
Makes sense, but I prefer the diagnosis by an 84-year-old Latina who called and asked me to pass it along to the mayor:
"Tell him that his brains are between his legs, and there's not too much there."
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