an interview with the Washington Post last January, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine talked about his city's strengths, comparing Miami Beach to Monaco: "We also think there's great opportunity for us to attract hedge funds and private equity groups, because what do they need? They're looking for, number one, quality of life. We have it. Number two, they want beautiful places to live, Miami Beach, we have it. Number three, they want tax savings. You move from New York to Florida, you're going to save probably almost 10 percent on your income. So we're a little bit like the Monaco of America, and that's who we are."
Last March Levine told Miami Today: "Picture that Dade County is a big jewelry store. Miami Beach is Rolex. Everybody wants Rolex in their store. And the reason you want Rolex is because it brings people into the store, and, uh, I think we're Rolex. And I think that we have a lot to offer."
Last weekend, Levine was back in Washington to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, and to, in his words, "promote Miami Beach."
Levine likes to use the term "world-class tourist destination" when describing Miami Beach.
What Levine never mentions, and what he never told the Washington Post or Miami Today - and I'm 99% certain he didn't mention it last weekend in Washington - is that Miami Beach is home to two city-sanctioned businesses that extort hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from residents and visitors alike.
On paper the two businesses are called towing companies. But in actuality they're companies that engage in legalized auto theft.
Exactly six months after winning the mayor's seat, Levine has yet to keep a promise he made during his run for office:
[S]hould I become Mayor, I will conduct a thorough assessment of all city services and operations during the first 90 days. During the course of that review, should I uncover a problem with the towing vendors I will implement corrective actions forcefully and fairly, including any necessary sanctions upon them in accordance with our city code.
How's this for a "problem," Mr. Mayor?
Last July I reported that in 2012, Miami Beach police officers were called to the city's two towing companies more than 750 times, mostly due to complaints from people who had had their cars towed.
Year in, and year out, Miami Beach Police are tied up on an almost daily basis mediating squabbles, breaking up fights and investigating reports of other crimes at the tow yards belonging to Tremont and Beach Towing.
And according to a list of calls dispatched by Miami Beach Police to Tremont and Beach Towing in the first four months of this year, 2014 looks to be on track to equal or surpass the number of calls received and dispatched by police in previous years.
|List of calls received and dispatched by|
Miami Beach Police to Beach Towing in Jan. 2014.
|List of calls received and dispatched by |
Miami Beach Police to Tremont Towing in Jan. 2014.
Between Jan. 1 and April 30 of this year, Miami Beach Police have responded to Beach and Tremont Towing a total of 256 times, according to records obtained by Random Pixels.
Cops were called to Tremont Towing on Bay Road 115 times in the first four months of 2014.
And police were dispatched a whopping 151 times to Beach Towing's lot on Dade Blvd during the same period.
As I noted last year, in 2005 the Miami Herald reported:
The calls and the complaints have become a public relations dilemma for the city and a drain on police.
"It definitely takes away from our resources, especially because we have to often send two officers to respond to a call," said police spokesman Bobby Hernandez.
So, how's that "thorough assessment" coming, Mayor Levine?
Six months into his term of office, Philip Levine appears to be no different than his predecessors.
Like those before him, he's more interested in protecting the thugs who run Beach and Tremont Towing, instead of doing what he should be doing: Looking out for the interests of the people who put him in office.
And in that respect, he's really no different than the dirtbags at Beach and Tremont Towing.
Most cities in the United States have a term for businesses that police are called to hundreds of times a year: "nuisance."
But if you run a "nuisance" business in Miami Beach, you get a "reality" show and a subsidy from the city.
Random Pixels: Meet some of the thugs and goons who control South Beach's towing Mafia
Random Pixels: Miami Beach Police responded to the city's two towing companies more than 750 times in 2012