Monday, October 21, 2013

The man who lives in this house has spent over $1 million of his own money trying to get elected to a job that pays $10,000 a year. Why?

Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine's
Sunset Island home, center.
(Click image to enlarge.)

Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine's website says, "For the past 28 years, [he] has been an integral member of the Miami Beach community."

According to his site, Levine started a company in 1990 with just $500.

And, before long he was a multi-millionaire.

But making piles of money - sometimes using questionable or borderline illegal business practices - left him little time to do other things.

Levine's idea of being an "integral member of the Miami Beach community" apparently doesn't include bothersome things like voting in municipal elections or even attending an occasional city commission meeting. But now he wants to be the city's mayor.

It's nearly impossible to find any evidence in our local newspaper of anything he's done to better Miami Beach or South Florida. Or anything that shows he cares about his community.

I did find one mention in a 2007 Miami Herald story that talks about Levine getting involved and using his considerable influence to bring about some change at MIA. But that's it.

From the Miami Herald, April 1, 2007:
When Miami Beach entrepreneur Philip Levine got frustrated last year waiting for his baggage from American Airlines at Miami International Airport, he contacted the aviation director and set in motion the creation of a task force to tackle the problems.

"No one loves to check luggage, but with the new regulations, more and more people do," said Levine , the founder of Onboard Media and now co-owner of 15 Lucky Strike bowling centers. "So the issue is how do you not only get it down faster, but also make that area nicer and an easier place to hang?"

The result a few months later: somewhat expedited baggage delivery, and a slightly nicer claims area.

Levine couldn't believe there were no flat-screen monitors to tell passengers which carousel would have their bags. He said the place needed music and somewhere to buy coffee.

He wanted the whole vibe changed -- including employees' attitudes.

"Everyone should be an ambassador," said Levine, 45.

Miami-Dade Aviation Director José Abreu heeded his words, and in November, created a task force of about 20 members, including representatives from the airport, American Airlines, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Beacon Council, to remedy the situation.
So, the next time you're at the American Airlines baggage claim carousel and you're enjoying the music, the flat screen monitors, and the coffee, and you're wondering who to thank... Philip Levine's your guy.

Entrance to Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine's
Sunset Island home.
(Click image to enlarge.)

Philip Levine isn't the first millionaire to run for public office.

One tally shows that 47 percent of the members U.S. House and Senate are millionaires. And then there's Rick Scott...remember him?

But those folks have real power. And the benefits aren't bad, either.

On the other hand, the Miami Beach mayor's job comes with a $10,000 annual salary and an uncovered parking spot.

And "one vote out of seven on the City Commission," says the Herald's Christina Veiga.

And, according to Veiga, "Levine has bankrolled his own campaign to the tune of $1.2 million. He calls his campaign events 'Friendraisers.' Contributions aren’t required, and Levine picks up the tab."

So why is a multi-millionaire spending more than $1 million of his own money to win a job that pays $10,000 a year and comes with no power.

So far, Levine hasn't answered that question satisfactorily.

But it's an answer he owes Miami Beach voters.


  1. Levine has more than adequately and satisfactorily answered that question, and on more than one occasion.

    He has said he is refusing to accept donations of more than $100 and is funding his campaign from his own pocket to avoid entanglements with the megabucks that special interests, like developers and others with agendas, typically donate.

    You might instead want to question why "Con"gora DOES take $ from such special interests, and why he keeps lying about his association with PACs and ECOs that are using undeclared $ to throw mud in this campaign via dirty mailers and why he is hiding behind an ECO called "Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility."

    Everytime I get one of "Con"gora's mailers, I feel the urge to have to spray my mailbox down with Lysol.

    1. No, he hasn't answered the question. Why is he spending more than $1 million of his own money to win a job that pays $10,000 a year and has no real power? The city manager is the one who calls the shots.

      He didn't get to be a multi-millionaire by throwing away his money.

      Spending $1 million to win a job that pays $10,000 a year is throwing away your money. There's something he's not telling us.

    2. of course let's see how rich he is when he leaves office...

  2. To answer your headline's question...there are two theories.

    One is being mayor is a stepping stone for higher office...senate, governor, supreme leader.

    The other is Levine is doing it for the more traditional Miami Beach motivation: money. Obviously not the mayor's salary. The idea is he and his slate can reward their buddies with deals in return for a payoff later on.

    Either way, it's not for his love and devotion to the city but rather to himself.

  3. If he doesn't fix the flooding problems he will be out millions in lost property value. Mayors get travel expenses and business contacts that ensure a lucrative future. Past mayors have gone on to be lobbyists. They are making money on the things they failed to regulate when they where in office. Nobody complains about that.

  4. Sunset Islands need $4 million in storm water improvements in the next 5 years. He's in just as much trouble as the rest of the Miami Beach residents who own property. Only so many foreigners you can fool into buying property in Miami Beach.

  5. Levine is a very mean person, people don't change over time. About the ocean, yes, will be back where it belongs. The manglar system and mother nature can't be fooled.


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