Mirthala Speaks

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed on KCRW.

We finally heard this week from Mirthala Salinas. Her side of last year's messy affair with the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa.

In case you didn't follow every turn of that political telenovela, Salinas is the Telemundo reporter and anchor who became involved with the married mayor -- nineteen years her junior.

She also reported from the Telemundo anchor chair, with a straight face, the news that Villaraigosa's marriage had ended over unsubstantiated rumors of an affair.

With her, as we soon learned.

There were other juicy revelations, including that the mayor had been spotted at night at her Studio City condo, far from the official mansion off Wilshire Boulevard.

And that before Villaraigosa, Salinas had dated the mayor's friend, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez. And the president of the City Council at the time, Alex Padilla.

I guess it's safe to say Salinas liked her up and coming Latino politicians. She was also open to a range of ages and body types.

Padilla is tall and what they call strapping. He starred in baseball in high school, and not really that long ago.

Villaraigosa has more of a runner's build, though he likes to brag about the number of crunches he can do in one workout.

Salinas met all these politicians while working for Telemundo.

In the end, she lost her job as a rising star of Spanish-language television news. She's now working as a morning host in AM radio. Which is...not the same thing at all.

The affair with Villaraigosa quietly ran its course last fall, and her name faded from the headlines.

Until this week, when Los Angeles Magazine published online the first detailed interview with LA's other woman.

It was kind of a surprise within the Villaraigosa camp that, when she finally broke her silence, Salinas did not choose a sympathetic interviewer en Español.

Not that the Los Angeles piece, by Shawn Hubler, is especially hard-hitting.

It lets us hear from Salinas in her own words, explaining how the relationship began and unfolded.

Salinas says that while her mother was dying of pancreatic cancer, Villaraigosa showed helpful concern. Just as a friend.

After her mother died in January a year ago, the pressure led to a breakup with her boyfriend. In April she began seeing Villaraigosa romantically.

She describes the mayor as a happy man. Good-hearted, very positive. And a trait not often attached to Villaraigosa -– humble.

Being with him made her feel special. Protected.

In June last year, the mayor's marriage publicly broke up. Villaraigosa announced the separation, then admitted the affair after Corina filed for divorce and the Daily News linked it to Salinas.

She says she has no excuses to offer. If she hurt anyone, it was never her intention.

She insists that Antonio Villaraigosa loved her, but the media attention and pressure on the couple became, in her words, just too overwhelming.

She also likes to think that it's now part of her past. She's starting over again, personally and professionally.

Of course it's never that simple. We don't really know the damage done to the Villaraigosas of their children. Neither Antonio nor Corina have addressed it in the media.

We also don't know –- yet -- how it all plays out for the mayor and his political ambitions. Or for the Democrats, more generally. That we'll know in a couple of years.

For the observers who speculated that Salinas would end up the big loser, her career down fall offers them plenty of evidence. She spent ten years on camera at Telemundo, but that chapter is now over.

Reading the piece, Salinas seems to have her personal life back in order. She's engaged to be married to her pre-Antonio boyfriend. A nice looking guy, not someone in politics.

In the photos on their website, they seem happy with each other. And maybe that's how it should be.

For KCRW this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.