Friends, fellow reporters and politicians gathered at Los Angeles City Hall Monday to honor longtime Daily News reporter Rick Orlov in the council chamber where he spent countless hours documenting the business of the city.
Orlov, who covered City Hall for the Daily News for nearly 30 years, died Feb. 2 at age 66 from complications of diabetes.
“I knew he was going to pack this joint,” his former Daily News colleague Dennis McCarthy said, after surveying the standing room-only audience inside the council chamber, where a public memorial in his honor was held.
McCarthy and many others noted the importance of City Hall and the council chamber to Orlov, whose final byline — written while he was in a hospital room — was published on the day he died.
“This was his home away from home,” McCarthy said, “but more importantly, what Rick would want us all to know is that this is the people’s home.”
Daily News Executive Editor Michael Anastasi said he encouraged Orlov to slow down and “smell the roses” after learning that he was continuing to file stories from his hospital room.
But “covering City Hall, talking to the leaders of our city, talking to their staff members, filing four stories, for Rick, that was smelling the roses,” Anastasi said.
While reporters noted their late colleague’s kindness — with Daily News Managing Editor Carolina Garcia saying he was “humble, sweet, honest, a mentor” and a “reporter to his core” — some city leaders said they got a tougher version of Orlov.
Former City Controller Wendy Greuel noted that Orlov would sometimes roll his eyes and mutter under his breath, “What an idiot,” whenever he felt a public official said something “stupid.”
“That happened more times than we’d liked to admit,” Greuel said.
Many noted that Orlov’s Monday morning Tipoff column was a must-read for both City Hall observers and insiders.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who called Orlov a “mensch,” said his “columns were as important as the columns that hold up this room, or at City Hall.”
The mayor noted that Orlov was the “quickest interview in the world” and rarely suffered long-windedness from city officials. Orlov taught him to never “try to soften things around the edges and to always be concise,” Garcetti said.
Before settling into his City Hall beat, Orlov distinguished himself by covering major crime stories about the “Night Stalker” and “Hillside Strangler” serial murder cases, Garcia said.
On one occasion, Orlov negotiated the surrender of a murder suspect, but not before he netted a 20-minute interview with the man, Garcia said.
Orlov worked at a prodigious pace, filing multiple stories a day that turned out to always be “spot-on,” and he was considered to have the “best rolodex in the business,” Garcia said.
“On a personal note I will miss my friend,” Garcia said. “The city of Los Angeles will miss the dean of City Hall.”
Born in Chicago, Orlov spent his early years in Indianapolis before moving to Encino with his family when he was 12 years old.
He attended Birmingham High School and earned a journalism degree from what is now called Cal State Northridge.
He started working for the Daily News in 1978 and did a stint as an assistant city editor, but returned — at his request — to reporting on local politics in 1988.
—City News Service