We christen this blog with the unveiling of Mayor Antonio Villasalinas (aka Antonio Villarsalinas).

July 5th, 2007 · 8 Comments

Well, it looks as if Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has lived up to the Latin-lover stereotype and his old reputation by revealing to the public this week that he is involved in a relationship with Telemundo television anchor Mirthala Salinas. Raising issues of ethics in the media and questions of character, it seems that our community’s rising political star shines less brightly. This evolving story seems to mimic the novelas on Telemundo. Perhaps Mirthala wanted to star in her own real-life telenovela all along and was waiting for her big break, while reporting the news for Telemundo.

I always suspected that this would happen to our Antonio. I had such high hopes for him when he was elected mayor in 2005. While I don’t live in Los Angeles, I had worked in the city, and of course, in being involved in local politics in the region, I was caught up in the excitement. It had been over 130 years since Los Angeles had a Latino mayor, and it was our time once again. I had seen him at political events during the ’04 election season for Presidential candidate John Kerry. Villaraigosa was one of Kerry’s campaign co-chairs and Latino community outreach leaders. I remember seeing Villaraigosa at an event in Lincoln Park, and I was struck by how friendly and quickly he approached the women campaign workers and volunteers. It was quite obvious to me that he was a lady’s man. Of course, his job is to be charming and personable — he’s a politician, but his ease and eagerness to engage with the women was not very typical of a married man.

At that time, he was gearing up for his own election, and I had heard about his previous infidelity and two daughters born out of wedlock. Enough time passed, combined with his accomplishments as a councilmember and assemblyman, to make the public look beyond his personal life. His wife Corina appeared with him in the campaign trail, and she had managed to reconcile with him after a separation in the early 1990s. It appeared as if he and his family were able to overcome personal issues, including his wife’s bout with thyroid cancer, and work together. I remember seeing this picture with his family that included his two older daughters on his campaign website. They really seemed happy and moving forward to support Antonio and his ambitions.

villaraigosa family

I guess it was too difficult for Antonio to keep his personal life together. I know that he had a troubling childhood, and his young adult years seemed to be equally dramatic. I am in the same age group as his adult daughters, and I have to admit that I don’t know many Latinas my age whose fathers were having multiple children out of wedlock in the 70s. That sort of thing wasn’t as common as it is now, and if there is one thing that Latinos, especially Mexican-Americans, take pride in, it is one’s family. Siempre la familia. It means everything to us.

It is as if all the blood rushed out of Antonio’s brain and relocated itself to the other head. Doesn’t he realize that an affair could distract from his legislative goals? His name isn’t Kennedy, Clinton, Gingrich, or Giuliani for that matter. Villaraigosa’s efforts to take over and revamp LAUSD have largely failed, as he hits the midpoint of his term, and we still have major congestion, issues with the LAPD, and a homeless crisis in the city. While he is popular, he is still something of an anomaly– our first modern Latino mayor, arguably one of the most influential Latinos in the nation. What possesses him to risk it all? Doesn’t he understand that he not only represents the people of Los Angeles, but the broader population of Latino Americans who seek adequate representation and a voice on the policy agenda?

Latino politicians should be more cautious. While the Hispano settlers, Californios, and multi-generational Mexican-Americans have held various offices in this country since the sixteenth century, we are still considered “newcomers” to the establishment and the American political process. Our representation is lacking in legislatures, the judiciary, business, education, and the presidency. One would think that we would use better judgment in positions of leadership, especially Antonio, who has so much to lose and is poising himself for a run for governor.

I also question the intentions and professionalism of Mirthala Salinas. She has been romantically linked to Fabian Núñez in 2003 while he divorced from his wife. And she has reportedly been involved with Mayor Villaraigosa for at least 18 months. Now pictures surface of Ms. Salinas with the mayor in a professional capacity with her network microphone in hand. Why did she not stop covering the mayor earlier? Could she not cover other subjects and see the mayor off the clock? Also, what kind of Latina is content being the “other woman” for months on end? Obviously, she’s a social climber and seeks power and influence, hopping from Núñez to Villaraigosa, but did she need to announce the divorce of her boyfriend and his wife of 20 years on her network newscast? It was as if she was throwing salt in Mrs. Villaraigosa’s wounds. Or perhaps she was trying to “one up” Corina Villaraigosa on the news, or maybe she did not know how to ask the station manager to have another reporter cover the story? She’s been in the media for over ten years. I’m sure that these ethics issues have been covered in her training. Is this the kind of example that we want to set for young Latinos and Latinas? Speaking of young Latinos, I can’t help but wonder about Antonio Jr. and Natalia and how they feel about this situation. Surely, Antonio wouldn’t want his own children to be caught up in such drama, especially his daughters.

So in ending this post, I give you Mayor Antonio Villasalinas or Villarsalinas, but I agree with Steve Lopez of the LA Times, Villasalinas sounds better without the “r.” Let’s hope that he gets his act together and that he really loves Ms. Salinas because he is going to pay for this indiscretion for a long time. Do you think he’s going to marry Salinas? I don’t, but I don’t know how he could in good faith keep the hybrid name that he created with Corina Raigosa, representing the union that he accepts full responsibility for ruining. Maybe he should take a tip from P. Diddy and reinvent himself with a new name. After all this is La La Land, where anything is possible and high profile divorces proliferate.

Tags: Antonio Villaraigosa · Corina Villaraigosa · Fabian Núñez · Mirthala Salinas · Steve Lopez · Telemundo

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 SAJ // Jul 6, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    scandalous! ha ha. the whole thing is irretrievable. just kidding. what do I know. it’s going to be hard for me to comment on this blog since I don’t have a clue when it comes to politics. very funny post though! we miss you. :)

  • 2 Barista // Jul 22, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    I saw this coming a long time ago, and I’m glad this is the subject for news and blogs right now, because people need to know about how the Mayor really is. He’s a loser. I’ve met him twice already, and if i hear another proverbial “outrageous” or ” make no mistake about it” one more, I think I’m going to puke. He’s a liar, a cheat, and an attention whore. If he is going to put him self out there in front of the media like he always does, i.e. endorsing a political candidate, shoveling dirt on the opening of some new building etc., he should be able to take the negative heat as well. Respect his privacy? Ya right. That just shows how controlling and manipulative he is. He uses and likes the media when he wants, but when it’s negative, he shrivels up and cries. I mean really, look at his last name. He intends to keep it! BE A MAN DUDE, and do what’s right and not political. I’ve met him twice before, and seen first hand how he is a ladies man and loves attention from females. His political career is over. I won’t even buy oranges from him when he starts selling them at freeway exits. Punk ass.

    Hey let’s face it. He’s not a great looking guy. Actually, I tend to stare at his ears while he talks and I find this to be a barrier to communication. But, if he is going to use his power to get women, well I respect that. Just don’t project yourself to be a family man to get voters and people behind you, and then for the last year or so be having an affairs. It’s not the first time, and people should see that this has something to do with his character. If he is willing to lie about this, what else is he willing to lie about? All it took was securing an interview with Ms. Salinas, a woman who has a history of bagging Latino men on the up swing. Wait a minute… maybe I should be giving Ms. Salinas a call..time for my interview…

  • 3 Oscar // Jul 26, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    I believe male Latino politicians or high profile Latino leaders face these type of challenges Antonio is presently facing. In education for instance, we lack male representation because men tend to fall into these type of scandals and other various reasons. In education their are few male role models and many youth have a vague perception that their are strong latino leaders and professionals. Many of our male leaders get weeded out of their positions because our society also has a vague perception that us latinos can be inspirational leaders like Antonio. In my perspective, as a Latino professional male, we have to not only inspire and lead male youth to seek higher education but also to have a dialogue about leadership responsibilities and consequences. Currently I present empowerment workshops to youth about balancing your life personally and professionally. I tend to see many Latinos/as coming out of the educational system unprepared for life challenges, and that is why in my perspective our male leaders tend to fall into these type of challenges. I always believe in hope I believe this is a challenge that is also amplified by the media especially when a Latino/a has a leadership position. We as a community have to support our Latino/a leaders during these challenges because I truly believe Antonio is an awesome leader! It is when we as latinos/as begin to point the finger and put down our own leaders that we do our community and raza harm. Antonio in his leadership position, has opened the door for many of our present and future leaders and he will overcome this challenge.

  • 4 webmaster // Jul 26, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Oscar, I agree that we need to teach Latino youth about leadership responsibilities and consequences. However, I think that the big difference here is Antonio V is a grown up. He’s been politicking for close to thirty years. I had and still have a great deal of hope for him. A little contructive criticism won’t harm la raza. Don’t you think that he would be more effective for everyone, not just Latino youth, if he could walk the talk about being a family man?

  • 5 Oscar // Jul 27, 2007 at 4:36 am

    Yes, I agree he made a poor decision and took action which is now effecting his family and his career. I believe in personal responsibility and leaders need to set the example. As a leader you need to set the example through your morals and values. Many leaders get lost with political jargon and their high profile positions. As a leader, your family is your foundation, if you stray away from your family you will face these types of challenges. I agree that constructive criticism needs to be part of a dialogue that is essential amongst the latino community and our chosen leaders. Yes he would be more effective not only talking with his familia but yes walking the talk :)

  • 6 John Edwards affair - Could have been easily avoided // Aug 10, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    […] and try not to make similar mistakes. Just last summer, we were lamenting Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s affair with Mirthala Salinas, which weakened his credibility and ended his […]

  • 7 The AP asks if Villaraigosa is a heavy hitter or Hollywood hype — What do you think? // Mar 1, 2009 at 8:56 am

    […] on this site, arguably one of the most high profile big city Latino mayors in the country, starting with his disappointing affair nearly two years ago, which has cast a cloud over his first term as […]

  • 8 whooza // Oct 9, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Everyone knows Antonio Villaraigosa is a great Mayor of Los Angeles.He is also involving more social activities in USA.Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with Lauren Slater (KOOZA ICON) promoting the upcoming Cirque du Soleil show “Kooza” in Santa Monica.
    For more pictures

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