Robert Cruz is the chief economist of Miami-Dade county; previously, he spent 25 years in academia teaching at Barry and Florida-International Universities. Before participating in a panel on South Florida and immigration reform, he talked about chasing girls, chilling on the beach—and some more serious subjects—in the Zócalo green room.
What’s your favorite pizza topping?
What does it take to get you out on a dance floor?
A lot. No one has been successful in doing that in a long time.
If you didn’t live in South Florida, where would you be?
What inspires you?
Seeing people do things for others that you wouldn’t think of—the everyday things. I’ve had some experience where people surprise me in terms of what they’re doing to help other people. During 9/11 I was staying at the Marriott between the Twin Towers, and when the planes hit we had to sort of run toward Battery Park. New Yorkers are pretty known for being on their own and not really caring too much, and I saw people helping each other, strangers, in ways that were remarkable. And that really made an impression on me. Maybe that’s too serious …
What’s the best thing about no longer being in academia?
You get to work on projects that you see potentially could have an impact. You also see how policymaking is done. It’s not the way that I think academics normally think of the way policy decisions should be made. There are a lot of factors sort of beyond the technical analysis that go into policy decisions.
What’s your favorite season?
Winter. Living in Florida, especially South Florida, we really wait for those cool days, which we think are cold days but are really cool days.
What was your worst subject in school?
I took a typing class, just because the girls were in the typing class. I didn’t do very well.
What relaxes you?
Just quiet, being on the beach under an umbrella, and just chilling out there.
Whose talent would you like to have?
I never was really that good in sports, so any sports figure would be good.
What word or phrase do you use most often?
“Uh.” You’re not supposed to be doing that when you’re trying to give a speech or doing public speaking.