The Knukcleheads of the Day award
Today's winners are Miami Police Chief John Timoney and the Miami Herald. We'll start with Timoney.
Note- I got to thank Rick at SOTP, who wrote two excellent posts on this subject. Click here and here to read them, they are well worth the time.
Miami Police Chief John Timoney drives a very expensive car, but a CBS4 News investigation has revealed that his use of that luxury SUV valued at more than $50 thousand may be in violation of Florida law and his own department's policy.First the Chief is leasing the car, then he's been test driving it. His story keeps evolving. What is it? The Miami Herald also reports that Timoney has been driving this vehicle for a few months. If you are I went to an auto dealer, are we going to be allowed to do a test drive lasting months? Hmm........
CBS4’s Gary Nelson found that Miami’s top cop dives a luxury car provided to him free of charge by a Miami-Dade Lexus dealership, an arrangement Chief Timoney's spokesman first denied, telling CBS4 that the chief had paid for the car, but later acknowledged, admitting that he was getting a free ride.
CBS4 cameras recently spotted the chief driving his 4-wheel ride, a luxury Lexus SUV, which according to Florida motor vehicle records bears a dealer tag registered to the Lexus dealership.
Under motor vehicle laws, dealer tags may only be used on "vehicles owned by the dealer, in inventory and for sale." State law says dealers may not accept payment for the use of a car bearing tags.
When CBS4 submitted a written inquiry about the Chief's Lexus, specifying the tag number as positive identification of the SUV, Miami Police Department spokesman Lt. William Schwartz denied the chief was getting the car for free.
“The Chief says he leases the Lexus. He pays for the car; there isn't a story here,” Schwartz said.
But when CBS4 pointed out that under state law, the tag on the Chief's car could not be legally used on a leased car for which payment was being made, the story changed.
In a follow-up telephone interview, Schwartz said the chief "has a car that he leases from Lexus. But the car you're talking about, the SUV, is a hybrid that the dealer is allowing him to use. He’s test-driving it. He’s thinking about buying one."
Channel Four also reports-
Also note Timoney gets a $173,000 a year salary plus an $8,000 a year car alllowance.
At Lexus of Kendall, an SUV similar to the one Chief Timoney is driving has a sticker price of $53,186, which with a typical lease would cost about $750 a month.
Under Florida and Miami-Dade county ethics laws, Timoney is required to submit quarterly reports disclosing gifts, including goods or services, valued at more than a hundred dollars.
State and county records reveal Timoney has not reported his free use of the Lexus.
A police chief that breaks the law. What a disgrace, but not the only one in South Florida. After Timoney's shenanigans became public, he decided on a change of course.
Miami Police Chief John Timoney on Tuesday bought a Lexus sport-utility vehicle from a Kendall dealership that had been letting him test-drive it for free.Timoney is still full of tahe. He got caught and continues to lie. The City of Miami should fire him. A Chief of Police who thinks he is above the law and can't tell the truth, doesn't set a proper example for those he is supposed to lead. I've always contended law enforcement and our justice system need to be held to a higher standard. Too often the reverse happens.
''I understand how the use of the vehicle may be ill perceived,'' Timoney wrote in a statement Tuesday night. ``The last thing that I want is for my actions to be perceived as anything other than beyond reproach. Therefore, [Tuesday] afternoon I purchased the vehicle in question.''
As to the Miami Herald, they get their award for the following editorial on Timoney.
Timoney violated city and state ethics rules, and the Herald thinks buying the car lets him go from all responsibility. Talk about kissing the ass of a local official.
Being police chief doesn't mean you get to live by different rules. Miami Police Chief John Timoney acknowledged Tuesday that he understands that axiom and, as a result, said he will buy the luxury car that a dealer has allowed him to use for months without charge. The rules are the same for everybody -- and so, too, for Chief Timoney. Paying for the car is the right move, and we commend the chief for his change of heart and doing the right thing.
Gary Nelson, a reporter for Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS4, reported Monday that Chief Timoney had driven a car provided free by the Lexus of Kendall dealership in apparent violation of county and state ethics laws, which require disclosure. Use of a free car also was in apparent violation of the department's own rules.
When first asked about the arrangement, the chief said he would get an opinion from the county's Ethics Commission. He also said that there wasn't a conflict of interest because the dealership is outside the city of Miami and doesn't do business with the city.
After mulling over the issue, Chief Timoney decided that a second opinion wasn't necessary. Good decision. This is about common sense. The department's own rules discourage taking gifts. Chief Timoney would be personally offended and likely would call for an internal-affairs investigation if one of his officers were given free use of a car by a local dealer. ''What's up with this?'' the chief would want to know. ``What does the dealer want in return?''
Even if Chief Timoney were convinced that the situation was perfectly harmless, he would put an end to it immediately. Why? Because it compromises the officer's integrity. It tarnishes the police department. It hurts every officer who obeys the law, follows the rules, plays it straight. Whether police chief or street officer, accepting a free car creates the perception that some service has been rendered, some favor is expected or some deal is in the offing -- if not now or in the past, then certainly in the future.
In a telephone interview late Tuesday, Chief Timoney said that he had discussed the issue with a friend who reminded him that the issue wasn't about whether a legal opinion might find that no ethical violation had occurred. The issue was about Mr. Timoney's reputation and perceptions that he had done something wrong. To resolve the issue, he said he would simply ''buy the car.'' That's the right decision, and for the right reason.
Rick at SOTP writes-
Note to the Miami Herald editorial board: should we also expect you to maintain that a shoplifter who gets caught outside a store he just got done pilfering is "doing the right thing" and "setting an example" by paying for the stolen goods in his hands?For all those in law enforcement who also think the laws and rules don't apply to them. The public be damned.
It appears as though the chief did something wrong. He denied it then lied about it and then decided to try to make it all go away. No admission. No apology. And for this he's "setting an example?" For who?
Bob Norman at The Daily Pulp is also commenting. He calls his post, 'Miami Herald praises crooked chief'.
Miami Police Chief John Timoney and the Miami Herald are today's Knuckleheads of the Day.
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