|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."
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.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.
"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.
|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.