Johnny Be Good

Minority rep says Timoney must go

He never did it. No way. No how.

Miami Police Chief John Timoney contends he couldn't have said, "Fuck the Cubans," on February 12 at 1:00 a.m. at a party sponsored by Ocean Drivemagazine.

Since New Times reported the quote in a February 16 The Bitch column, the chief has been denying, denying, denying. "I never uttered those words," he told CBS 4 reporter Brian Andrews during a February 20 newscast. He made the same comment on NBC 6 and in letters to this newspaper, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, and city commissioners. When the issue came up on Spanish-language radio station El Zol (95.7 FM), he called in to deny uttering the odious phrase. In a February 23 "chief's bulletin" to the department, he wrote, "Being an immigrant myself, putting down any ethnic group would be hypocritical.... I am not a hypocrite."

You're not a crook either, Mr. Police Chief, but methinks thou doth protest too much.

I mean, you made the comment to New Times managing editor Jean Carey — that's right, managing editor —and calendar editor Lyssa Oberkreser. They were less than three feet away from you, and sober. It was after 1:00 a.m., and there was no music to confuse the listeners. You held in your hand a highball glass containing a yellowish liquid that, to the pair, appeared to be whiskey, and you had spent hours at a party with an open bar.

This past Monday, Rolando Gutierrez, Jr., president of the Miami Police Hispanic Officers Association, called for your ouster over the incident. "The comment was in bad taste and totally uncalled for," Gutierrez says. "My position is that [Chief Timoney] should actually be fired if he made a comment such as this." (Gutierrez's letter to New Times follows this column.)

Though you've declined to return our phone calls, two things are clear to us. You, not New Times, have a motivation to lie about this. And you have a history of shading the truth and disavowing your words.

First there was that dustup during the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000, when you were Philly's police commissioner. Remember? You said a 33-year-old affordable housing advocate named Camilo Viveiros threw a bike at you, but then you failed to identify him at trial. He was acquitted.

Oh yeah, and then there was that little thing about the videotape. Though you claimed you had nabbed Viveiros, the tape showed the advocate being handcuffed on a sidewalk by two officers. You were nowhere in sight. "Timoney has a very strong interest in publicity," the protester told Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede.

That interest is probably why you, as the Magic City's top law enforcement officer, agreed to ride bicycles with Heraldreporter Oscar Corral amid the disturbances during the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit in 2003. In a follow-up story about the adventure — hell, in the lead sentence — Corral quoted you as barking, "You're bad. Fuck you!" to a demonstrator who had been detained by police.

But you later denied saying, "You're bad," insisting you don't talk like that. And you couldn't recall blurting the "Fuck you" part.

The Heraldstood by its story. "Timoney gave us a hard time," says a Herald reporter who did not want to be identified. "But Oscar clearly heard him say, öYou're bad. Fuck you.'"

Then we have that Ocean Driveparty at the St. Regis Hotel in Bal Harbour. You, oh much respected Chiefy, were there with your assistant, Angel Calzadilla. "The chief must have spoken to at least two, three dozen people that night," Calzadilla says. "None of those conversations involved anything about Cubans."

Carey, a journalist with two decades of experience who runs this newspaper's day-to-day operations, says she and Oberkreser bumped into you just as the music stopped at 1:00 a.m. "We were standing close to the stage — about 100 feet from the door and 25 feet from a bar," she recalls. "The lights had come on, and DJ Irie announced that the party was over. The music was off. That is how they signified the party was over.

"I saw [Timoney] and said, öYou're the police chief'.... He was an arm's length away from me, about two and a half feet away. I shook his hand."

Then Carey says she asked you whether your job is "more politics than policing." Your response: "I was police chief in New York and in Philadelphia, and then I come down here, and it's all about Cuban politics.... Fuck the Cubans! I've got a job to do!"

"He was smiling when he said it," Carey says. "He didn't mean it in a malicious way...."

Is she sure that's what you said? "Absolutely."

Oberkreser, a former librarian who oversees the largest section in the newspaper, confirms the statement and says two other partygoers besides Carey and herself were there: "It wasn't in a mean way that he said it.... We all were shocked.... None of us knew what to say."

So were they inebriated? Oberkreser says she had two dirty martinis in four hours at the party. She had been drinking club soda for an hour before you made the comment. Carey, designated driver for her group, had one chocolate vodka martini in more than three hours.

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