Ladra expected the Miami Voice PAC crowd behind the recall of Miami-Dade Commissioner Natasha Seijas to shout insults (read: red herring) when we walked by Saturday to ask in person -- now that neither the PAC chairwoman nor group's attorney would return my calls -- why they have not filed campaign finance reports due more than a week earlier.
I could not have predicted Mayor Michael Pizzi, who honestly I did not recognize at first, would try to intimidate me and me me feel tiny. That was a pleasant surprise!
Pizzi was with the PAC chairwoman Vanessa Brito when I asked her to tell us why she has not filed required financial disclosure forms that would tell the world where they get the money for their campaign. She didn't answer, except to yell that her uncle was in the hospital and that I had personally attacked her and her family (read: red herring). For the record, I have not attacked anyone and this is not personal. It is my job to ask questions about her job.
Pizzi took her aside and told her several times not to talk to me. She then says that she is going to call the police (red herring) because I am harassing her, standing in the same public library parking lot asking her questions. I took photographs when I remembered to, because it is not second nature to me yet.
"Look at her hands shaking," Pizzi yelled and started laughing and egging others to join. "Are you scared? You nervous? You are trembling like a leaf."
And, indeed, I was shaking. The camera was visibly and quickly moving up and down -- but thankfully I was able to click off some shots.
I told Pizzi with no shame that, yes, I felt nervous and intimidated standing there by myself with a dozen people shouting insults aggressively at me as someone who dislikes me very much calls the police to make a false report against me when I am just trying to ask a question, do my job.
But I didn't even know it was Pizzi himself (elected office has aged him like Obama) talking to me like some street thug. I thought it was a low-brow Miami Vice bodyguard heckling me and trying to embarrass me and intimidate me. That's what it looked like. Until I asked someone who the seguridoso type with the dark glasses and the white polo shirt was and got "that's the mayor." Isn't that something? The mayor himself tried to make me feel foolish (a very difficult feat that only I can do myself, people, so stop trying.).
But, as honored as I feel about it personally (and, yes, I do get a tiny thrill when electeds or city managers or police chiefs get mad at me because it usually means I am on the right track), it is really behavior that is unbecoming of a sitting mayor. Especially one with apparent aspirations to higher seats.
Maybe if he didn't act so arrogantly and treat people in a disparaging way then he might not be facing a recall drive of his own. But that is a whole other post. Coming soon.
For now I will finish with a public thank you to Mayor Muscle Pizzi for adding his name to the list of public official jokers who think they can shout me down and shut me up. Makes my day.