Villaraigosa Comes Out of Hiding: In My Neighborhood

Our dear mayor must be taking a liking to me. Not ten minutes ago, he showed up in my humble LA neighborhood trailed by a pack of news cameras. Oh, Antonio! Why didn't you call and let me know you were coming? I would have slipped on something more fitting the occasion as opposed to my usual luncheon summer attire: shorts, t-shirt and flip flops. I would have at least applied a little lipstick. I guess a girl can never be too prepared, can she?

Antonio was standing by a city public works truck in front of our big new tobacco store on the corner. Since news broke of his hot and heavy romance with a Telemundo reporter, he's been as scarce in town as a snowstorm in August. At first I couldn't get to him because the street was blocked off by traffic cops. As luck would have it, my bank is next door. I needed to go to the ATM anyway so I pulled into the parking lot then dashed over to the cyclone fence separating us. I waved at Antonio but he didn't smile.

And that's when I realized to my utter despair: Antonio wasn't in my heavily Latino hood to see me, he was there to address a matter of urgent importance: pot holes. Hence, the bright orange truck and half dozen city workers in hard hats flanking him.

Besides his beloved pals in the press, only a few neighborhood kids and some moms turned out to see the elusive mayor. "Are you guys here for the potholes?" one TV reporter gamely asked a woman in a black baseball cap. Sadly, no one seemed to care about the pothole problem.

Had the media overblown "the situation" with Ms. Salinas?" a reporter asked the mayor, who kept trying to steer the press conference from his sinking political career back to our sinking streets. "I'm not going to complain about my situation," Villaraigosa said glumly.

"Did Ms. Salinas do stories about you after your affair?" someone shouted out.

"I've addressed that," the mayor said tersely. "We're going to focus on our work."

At that point an overweight middle-aged guy in shorts called out, "I'm looking for the mayor's girlfriend. Is she here?"

How rude! I thought, glaring at him.

The mayor never did acknowledge me, but a local reporter who's been covering the mayor did so I didn't feel too slighted. "Hey, I know you!" he said.

He told me a little secret. Last fall he traveled with the mayor on a business trip to Asia. During the trip he noticed the mayor had "the hots" for another woman who was with him -- and it wasn't Salinas. Just last night he said he talked with this other woman on the phone.

Why does this matter? It matters because at the press conference, when this same reporter asked Villaraigosa if he's had any other affairs since 2005, the time he apparently started up with Salinas, the mayor flatly said no.

And maybe he hasn't. Maybe he hasn't been fooling around with multiple women. Or even two women or however many it might turn out to be. Maybe Antonio genuinely feels bad about betraying the public trust.

If only he weren't such a lousy mayor, maybe I could forgive and forget.