The newly appointed councillor for ward 5 was not a fan of my question.
"Were you the James Maloney who was with Councillor Grimes on St. Patrick's Day 2011 when he drunkenly berated a journalist at the Old Sod at Bloor and Royal York?"
"That's a ridiculous question," said the 49-year-old lawyer who on Monday was chosen by council to represent the Etobicoke-Lakeshore ward vacated by Peter Milczyn upon his election to the provincial legislature. "I'm not gonna answer it."
Grimes, the councillor for neighbouring ward 6, was more open to a similar, albeit more delicately phrased, query concerning whether Maloney was among the gentlemen accompanying him that evening. "Yeah, he might have been, yeah he was with me, yeah."
Given what we've learned about how the mayor celebrates the same holiday, Grimes's reported indiscretions on St. Patty's Day 2011 seem tame. But (allegedly) threatening or intimidating a journalist is never cool, especially in response to a matter-of-fact observation.
Marcus McCann, then managing editor of Xtra, was at the same Kingsway bar as the councillor and his pals when he tweeted, "At the Old Sod, and a slurry city councillor Mark Grimes just gave an impromptu toast. He has the day off, he says."
That much is whatever. But as McCann reported in his paper...
About half an hour later, I overheard my name.
It was a bit of a surreal moment. A group of barrel-chested, middle-aged men were reading my tweet. They seemed upset, so I identified myself, told them where I was sitting and offered for them to join me. I hoped that a brief conversation would calm them down.
During that exchange, one of the men (later identified as lawyer James Maloney) kept motioning for me to come speak to him.
I went back to my table briefly - to drop off our second and last round of drinks - then went back to speak to him.
He asked me repeatedly why I had sent my tweet. I told him several times, "I tweeted it because it happened." They were an intimidating and unamused bunch.
McCann thought he had managed to smooth things over, but on the street shortly afterward, Grimes - whom the Fords affectionately call the "Midnight Mayor" - apparently shouted, "Who said I was slurry?"
I was on the sidewalk smoking (a bad habit, I know), so I raised my hand and identified myself as the author of the "slurry" tweet, and I asked if he wanted to talk to me.
"I wasn't fucking slurry," he said.
He walked toward me and got right up in my face. He asked me several times, "Am I slurring now?"
"Yes," I told him. "A little."
Grimes' friends got in between us, forming a physical barrier.
McCann wrote that once those friends convinced the councillor to leave, he "exchanged cards with Maloney, who - rather than apologize - insisted that my initial tweet was inaccurate. I told him I thought it odd that, given Grimes' outburst on the street, he would contest the 'slurry' comment from an hour ago. He insinuated that I had somehow breached my responsibilities to Xtra by tweeting what I had."
Maloney, a politically active Liberal, will remain councillor through the end of the term (November 30) and has no plans to run in the October election. He says he will remain a partner at Hughes Amys while serving on council; both jobs, he says, are typically slow during the summer.