It’s been more than a week since city editor Heather Urquides left the Tampa Bay Times after taking a voluntary buyout.
Urquides posted on her Facebook page: “I’m leaving journalism. It wasn’t a decision reached lightly. But, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I feel like there’s something else out there I was meant to be doing at this point in my life. There’s nothing like the news business, and there’s no better government team than the one I have had the pleasure and privilege to lead. I know my decision has shocked many, as I love the Times and this city. But I need to listen to my inner restlessness and take this leap.”
Between travel to Ft. Lauderdale and Tallahassee, I have not had time to memorialize my feelings about Urquides’ departure. In a nutshell …
Saint Petersburg wins.
I win because Urquides was near the top of my enemies list and now she’s gone. Ever since St. Petersburg’s 2009 mayoral race, when I first began to expose the newspaper’s lackluster local reporting, I have been in Urquides’ crosshairs. As a source inside the Times emailed me last week, “it has been a top priority of Times editors to put you and the Tribune out of business.”
Urquides came close to accomplishing her goal by greenlighting John Cox’s now-debunked hatchet job against me. Although I ended up being exonerated, the publishing of the story caused a period of severe duress in my life, with me going so far as to contemplate what life would be for Ella Joyce with me not in it. I will never forgive Urquides or Cox for that. And this is why I take the greatest of pleasure in seeing both Urquides and Cox gone from the Times. That Urquides is out of journalism entirely is even better.
Meanwhile, I’m still standing. Standing taller than a year ago. Standing taller than ever before.
Putting my own personal issues with Urquides aside, few people in the city have done more to harm St. Petersburg than Heather. And that’s not just me saying that, that’s many other prominent city leaders who think that way also. Beyond being woefully uninformed about how city, regional, and legislative politics function, Urquides was not fair or objective in her journalism. And while she may believe “there’s no better government team than the one I have had the pleasure and privilege to lead,” why is it that there has been such a high level of turnover within said team? I’ll tell you … it’s because Urquides was horrible at her job.
The Times‘ reputation among the locals has sunk these last few years and it’s no coincidence that during this time, the person who led the local government coverage was Heather Urquides.
Bottom line: Good riddance.