The Miami International Book Fair schedulers did a wonderful thing on Sunday: they arranged for School Superintendent Rudy Crew to read from his book, The Way to Save Our Schools, immediately before a panel of New Times writers convened in the same room to swear a lot and talk about journalism. (We’re guessing that Crew didn’t bring up New Times writer Francisco Alvarado’s take on the book, or his profile on the mistake-prone administrator).
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Police Chief John Timoney were in the audience, listening to Crew's shtick.
So as the Crew panel ended and just before the New Times talk started, I spotted Timoney. I approached him and smiled. Batted my eyes. He was talking to someone else, but he made eye contact and grinned. He obviously thought I was a fan.
When he stopped talking to the other person, he turned to me. “Hello,” he said, warmly. “Hi,” I grinned. “I just wanted to introduce myself.” He shook my hand. “I’m Tamara Lush from the Miami New Times.”
A bit of background: Although I had e-mailed and called Timoney and his police spokespeople while writing a piece on the chief a few months back, I had never actually met him in person. So, to be fair, I wanted to meet him face-to-face, since I wrote a story that called him “America’s Worst Cop.”
Timoney wasn’t amused. When I told him who I was, he dropped my hand and gave me a cold stare. “I just met your boss,” he said, in a tone reserved for describing dogshit, or cop-killers.
“Oh! Good,” I said. “You know, if you had returned my calls, maybe I could have worked out a better headline for your story,” I said, still smiling.
“Rest assured, I won’t be returning your calls, ever,” he growled and walked away.
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In case you were wondering, neither Timoney, nor Mayor Diaz, nor Superintendent Crew stick around for the New Times panel.
Was it something we said?
The absence of the three city leaders didn't go unnoticed by radio host (and former New Times columnist) Jim Defede, who was his usual incisive self during Sunday's discussion. "None of 'em wanted to stick around for this panel," he said.