I apologize in advance for being so juvenile …
Last week, I camped out at Kahwa Coffee on Second Avenue South. I had just dropped off Ella at school and I wanted to get back to work right away. So I returned to the bustling coffee shop that once served as my “office” when Michelle and I lived downtown.
Kahwa South is a great spot to work from because it’s so full of energy. And you never know who will walk through its doors in search of a cup of joe. It’s where elected officials from South Pinellas tend to gather or meet with reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, which is headquartered just two blocks away.
Anytime I am at Kahwa, I notice a slew of Times reporters coming and going. I seem to always bump into Michael Van Sickler, with whom I get along much better in person than I do online. The business reporters make frequent appearances. I remember Daniel Ruth making a daily appearance, but I haven’t seen him during my most recent visits.
And, of course, now and then political editor Adam Smith will be there, more often than not meeting with a key local politician.
As much as I’ve come to both detest and resent Adam, he and I are still cordial when we bump into each other. Or at least we had been. For example, when Adam was walking along Adams Street en route to the Capitol in Tallahassee, and I was working at a table outside of the Governors Inn, he said something like, “Schorsch is here” or something like that, which, after giving it a second thought, was typical Adam-condensation because I’m in Tallahassee — you know, the center of Florida politics — more than Adam.
Like George Costanza muttering about the jerk store calling, I kept thinking about how I should have said something snarky back at Adam. See, in person, I’ve always tried to be respectful of Adam, especially when I see him with his wife, Catherine. All of our kids go to the same school and, well, you know how that goes.
No matter what I’ve written about him or what Adam has said to others about me (like how he tells producers he won’t appear on the same radio or TV shows as me), we’ve been big enough to acknowledge each other when we see each other in public.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife ran into Adam meeting with former U.S. Rep. David Jolly. Despite Michelle being a loyal supporter of Charlie Crist, the Democrat who unseated him, David was as charming and gentlemanly as he’s always been to Michelle. He gave Michelle a big hug and they exchanged promises to get us all together for a drink in the near future.
Meanwhile, Adam couldn’t even stand up from the table to say hello to someone who had invited him to her wedding. As is typical, he was condescending, asking about why Michelle was at the Vinoy Club and so far from “Pinellas Park,” a reference to our home in the Bayou Club in Seminole!!! Never mind that we are probably at the Vinoy more often than Smith. But like his comment to me in Tallahassee, he was attempting to make Michelle feel like an outsider. He said a couple of other things, which I can’t remember how Michelle described, but the bottom line is, he was pretty much a d*ck.
So when Adam walked into Kahwa Coffee last week, I steeled myself and did not exchange the usual pleasantries. No more bullish*t, I said to myself.
Smith saw that I was working there, turned on his heels and walked back outside without ordering.
That’s when the gods smiled. Adam decided to sit at a table right in front of where I had parked our Chevy Suburban, a beast of an SUV which has an engine as loud as a jetliner.
An engine, as it happens, that can be turned on by remote, just as the panic alarm can, of course, be set off by remote.
Yes, I had some fun with that remote.
Adam did not stay at Kahwa long.
Like I said, I apologize for being so juvenile.
If it weren’t the petty bulls*t I’ve described above that had pissed me off about Adam, it certainly would be the work product of Lazy Adam.
See, I can tell you right now what Adam Smith will be writing about in a few weeks. That’s because, lately, there’s a simple calculus involved with what Smith writes about.
I’ll write about something before anyone else will. The subject matter will percolate. And then Lazy Adam will add his two cents as if he’s the first to arrive at the issue.
I opined that “Bob Buckhorn is on the clock” on January 3 and that if he wants to run for governor, the “opening is now” on January 22.
Along comes Lazy Adam six weeks later, writing that if Buckhorn wants to run for governor, “(t)he clock is ticking fast.” Smith even framed his story like I did mine, ticking off the status of Buckhorn’s possible opponents.
Here’s another example.
On January 6, I push out 750 words about how St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman could hand former Mayor Rick Baker a major victory by scheduling a referendum on the future of the Rowdies soccer club in May, just months before Baker has to decide if he will run against Kriseman in the fall. It’s local politics at its most granular. It’s what you’d expect from a website called “SaintPetersBlog.”
Guess what Lazy Adam wrote about six weeks later? That’s right, Kriseman, Baker, and the timing of the Rowdies referendum.
“Before the mayor’s race kicks into gear, however, city residents will head to the polls May 2 to decide whether to approve a long-term lease and big expansion of Al Lang Stadium. It would be privately funded through businessman Bill Edwards, who owns the Rowdies soccer team, which he wants to turn into a Major League Soccer franchise. And here’s where things could get awkward. Baker is president of the Edwards Group and one of Edwards’ top advisers. Edwards has the support of Kriseman and City Hall in the MLS quest, but can’t afford for relations to sour amid a brewing political rivalry between Baker and Kriseman.”
Listen, I get it that what I write is not earth-shattering. I’m not the only one to think that Bob Buckhorn needs to fish or cut bait. I’m not the only one to think it could get awkward down at City Hall because of the Rowdies referendum. But I was the first political columnist to put those ideas into print (or at least online).
Lazy Adam will tell you he doesn’t read my stuff and that I am crazy to think my work influences him.
He’s probably telling the truth about the first part, but let me give you a perfect example of how full of sh*t he is about the second part.
A week ago, Florida Politics’ Scott Powers wrote a story about how Winter Park developer Chris King is contemplating a run for Florida governor in 2018. This was based on information I shared with Scott, who will tell you that eight days ago he had never heard of King. But a source of mine told me about King while standing in my kitchen two weekends ago.
I know a scoop when I hear one. I Googled King, and there was nothing out there about him running for governor. If there was, I missed it. But he is the real deal, so much so that my source told me that other 2018 contenders were asking them about what King was up to.
So I tasked Powers with finding out more and writing about it, which he did and that’s why when you Google, the first news entry about King running in 2018 is our story.
Less than a week after we published this story, Lazy Adam blogged an entry about how “another serious contender emerges in 2018.”
Right, he “emerged” because of a story that veteran reporter Scott Powers wrote. That was the emerging.
At first, Smith’s blog entry did not include any attribution to Powers’ reporting. But after I went on a tweet storm (in which I even called out Smith’s editor, Amy Hollyfield), the Times had a “Hat tip to Scott Powers” added to the end of Smith’s blog post. Of course, that attribution does not show up in print, so readers of the newspaper think Lazy Adam is All-Knowing Adam whose political radar can detect even the slightest movement of a possible candidate.
Here I’ve written 1,500+ words about slights and sore feelings and mere coincidences, and I get that all of this is pretty juvenile (there’s that word again).
My issue with Adam truly is not personal. What’s remarkable is that despite all of his and the Times’ attempts to marginalize my work, I am in a better position now than I was seven years ago. So much so that you have to wonder why they did it in the first place.
No, my issue is that Adam Smith is the political editor of the state’s largest newspaper. He should be setting the agenda for the rest of the political reporters in the state.
Instead, in most cases, he’s a month and a half late.
Last week, I wrote a think piece about how decisions by Jeff Atwater and Francis Rooney impact Jack Latvala’s 2018 ambitions. Had I not written this screed, no doubt Lazy Adam would have written something along the same lines in March.