Local television news anchors should beware: Dating Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa may have its perks, but career advancement is not one of them.
Lu Parker, a KTLA weekend anchor and general assignment reporter who has been dating Villaraigosa since March, has left the anchor desk. Parker will report for the station, which is expanding its 6:30 p.m. newscast by a half hour starting Monday.
The apparent demotion marks the second time that a newscaster involved with Villaraigosa has departed the anchor desk. KVEA-TV Channel 52 reporter and anchor Mirthala Salinas, who was involved in an extramarital affair with the mayor in 2007 while she was covering him, was suspended for two months then reassigned to the station's Riverside bureau when their relationship became public.
KTLA News Director Jason Ball said Parker's move to full-time reporting "was something we had been talking about for months and months," and had nothing to do with her relationship with Villaraigosa.
Last May, while working as a weekend anchor, Parker announced a story about the likelihood of the mayor running for governor in 2010.
Ball at that time said Parker would no longer cover local politics. He defended her ethics, adding, "I have the utmost faith on Lu Parker's abilities."
At the time of the reports of his relationship with Parker, Villaraigosa's divorce from his wife, Corina, was not yet final.
His relationship with Salinas raised conflict-of-interest concerns and clouded his first term in office. Local political observers said the scandal could have been a contributing factor in his decision not to run for governor, though Villaraigosa has denied that.
Last month, the station announced Jason Martinez would become a weekend anchor.
Parker, a former Miss USA who is pictured in a bikini on her website and described on the site as an Emmy-winning journalist, did not respond to requests for comment.
KTLA-TV Channel 5 is owned by the Tribune Co., which also owns The Times.