Commissioner Hothead

Periodic temperamental outbursts seem to be part of the job description for the City of Miami's District 5 representative. Commissioner Jeffery Allen, appointed to replace the indicted and possibly cop-threatening, possibly bribe-taking Art Teele, has shown that he is qualified for this public-serving position, as least in the nonpassive aggression department.

Allen reportedly got into a scuffle with his chief of staff, Milton Vickers, outside city hall at about 7:30 this past Friday night. According to several witnesses, Allen, age 48, was standing near the door, waiting for Vickers, whose car soon screeched to the curb, one witness noted, with "bravado." The two men had words, which escalated into what was described as an "in-your-face, chest-to-chest shoving match." Someone else said Allen grabbed Vickers by the shirt and pushed him. "I'm trying to run my office with integrity," one witness recalled Allen saying to Vickers, age 55.

Vickers is reported to have warned Allen not to touch him or he would press charges. Allen countered he'd press charges right back. Vickers called for the sergeant at arms on duty. Allen persuaded him instead to come inside and talk things over. No report was filed. The next morning, at a "town hall" meeting at Booker T. Washington High School in Overtown, Allen introduced another man from his office, Neil Shiver, as his chief of staff. Vickers was nowhere to be seen.

New Times asked Allen about the incident after the meeting, but he declined comment on any subject. When pressed for an explanation, he spun around and called this reporter a "libelous, slanderous" journalist, an apparent reference to "Commissioner Who?" (November 4, 2004), which explored Allen's extreme press avoidance. When asked to provide specific examples of his charge, he again retreated, sputtering that New Times would be hearing from his lawyers. An attempt to gain explanation of the Vickers incident from the newly promoted Shiver was cut short when Allen shouted from across the room that Shiver and indeed Allen's entire staff was "banned" from speaking with New Times.

The exact reason for the altercation was unclear, but city sources indicated that Vickers was known to be seeking employment elsewhere. Vickers was spotted at city hall Monday, meeting separately with Allen and city manager Joe Arriola. He could not be reached for comment.

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Rebecca Wakefield

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