Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tells reporters, “I have a relationship with Ms.
(Mirthala) Salinas, and I take full responsibility for my actions.” Salinas was an evening anchor for Telemundo, Channel 52. on June 8, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a terse statement announcing that he and his wife, Corina, were separating after 20 years of marriage.
He extended his hand to Rouda and introduced himself as Antonio.“I look at him and go, ‘I know who you are. “I knew he was not going to visit an elderly Jewish woman with wine and food,” she said.
Rouda, a self-described news junkie, said she recalled the chance encounter because it was the night before the funeral of Rosa Parks in Detroit, which she saw reported on television and noticed that Villaraigosa had attended.
Rouda said that at the time, she chose not to tell anyone about meeting the mayor because she thought it was a private matter.
She spoke only after Times reporters contacted her recently.
Fernandez was eventually transferred to USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center east of downtown, where a doctor described the mayor as “a model citizen.”Fernandez died Jan. Two days later, Villaraigosa flew to Phoenix to attend weekend memorial services for her at the Greer-Wilson Funeral Home.“He did come for services,” said Eddie Lopez, the funeral home’s general manager.
“I remember him being there.”All along, Villaraigosa and his aides remained silent about the relationship.
The two women and Villaraigosa got into the elevator. Rouda said she was certain that Villaraigosa was visiting Salinas because everyone else in the 15-unit complex was “older and Jewish” except for her.Then in September 2006, Villaraigosa played a direct role in the medical care of Salinas’ mother, Yolanda Avila Fernandez, who was being treated for cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to sources familiar with her case.The mayor consulted with doctors on a regular basis and appeared in Fernandez’s hospital room with her family on the eighth floor of the complex’s north tower, serving as an emotional anchor and an unofficial spokesman for Salinas and her siblings.Several media analysts condemned the relationship as a conflict for her and the mayor and suggested that Salinas’ bosses should have taken immediate action to remove her from handling any Villaraigosa coverage.“There really is no question that this is unacceptable,” said Kelly Mc Bride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute in St. “Telemundo is fully committed to journalistic excellence.Every day we strive for the highest standards of journalistic ethics and make every effort to protect our objectivity and avoid possible conflicts of interest.”Villaraigosa, who called Salinas a “consummate journalistic professional,” said she decided about a year ago that “our friendship had grown to a point where it was necessary to inform her management that she shouldn’t cover me. And they agreed.”The Times traced their relationship back at least 18 months.