Mariel Garza covered Los Angles City Hall for a time with Rick Orlov, wrote editorials for the Daily News and now is deputy opinion editor and columnist at the Sacramento Bee. She attended Monday's memorial service for Orlov in the City Council chambers and had a few thoughts for her Sacramento audience on her friend's career and his credentials contrasted to those of NBC's disgraced Brian Williams. Line of the day regarding Monday's event: "I don’t think the chamber had seen such a large crowd since the city considered banning lap dances." Heh.
He didn’t have fancy degrees or make a big six-figure salary. He did his job almost every day of his life for a modest paycheck, few accolades and plenty of aggravation from editors right until the day before he died from a heart attack.
On Monday, as Williams was embroiled in a deepening scandal, I attended Rick’s memorial in the packed council chambers in Los Angeles City Hall, where he had been stationed as a reporter for two decades. I don’t think the chamber had seen such a large crowd since the city considered banning lap dances.
In addition to his colleagues at the Los Angeles Daily News, where he worked writing as many as four news stories a day, the pews were full of reporters from radio and TV stations, and from a competing daily newspaper in town.
Even competitors liked and respected Rick. He treated everyone, from the most clueless rookie reporter to the most obnoxious TV correspondent, as fellow travelers along the important path of keeping the public informed. He shared sources and tips, and was always on hand to explain what the heck just happened on the council floor. His office door was never closed.
The only things he kept to himself were scoops. He was a nice guy, but not stupid.
About half of those at the memorial weren’t colleagues, friends or family, but subjects. Elected officials past and present, bureaucrats and political consultants took time out of their day to remember a guy who wrote about their deeds and misdeeds equally. As a former city controller and mayoral candidate put it in her tribute, Rick was one of those rare journalists you wanted to talk to. I know what she means; he was tough, but always fair and accurate. And like other journalists, he didn’t embellish or make things up.