Philip Levine, Miami Beach's millionaire populist mayor has had a rough few weeks,
Late last month, veteran political reporter Michael Putney closed out his Sunday show by blasting Levine for calling up Miami Beach vendors who do business with the city and demanding they "donate" to the political action committee, Relentless for Progress,
Putney called Levine's actions morally and ethically wrong.
Levine responded by asking Putney if he could appear on last Sunday's show to present his side of the story.
Once on the show, Levine began by sucking up to Putney - comparing him to Walter Cronkite - and then spending the better part of nine minutes dodging Putney's questions on whether or not it's morally or ethically correct to strong-arm city vendors for contributions.
Putney asked Levine no fewer than three times about his involvement in calling up city vendors to solicit donations, and Levine dodged the questions every time. At one point he essentially said, "If everyone else has a PAC, why can't I?" (Click here to see the entire segment on This Week in South Florida.)
While the mayor did his best to avoid answering Putney's straightforward questions, his appearance on the show did serve to demonstrate one thing: He's a man who has no moral compass.
Whether it's accusing a police officer of unprofessional behavior, or illegally snatching the keys from the cab of a Coca Cola delivery truck, Levine continues show that he believes he lives in a world where he's exempt from any kind of scrutiny or accountability.
Putney followed up Levine's shameful performance on his show by firing another shot at hizzoner with a blistering op-ed in Wednesday's Miami Herald.
"[Mayor Levine] is trying to amass absolute political power in his city — not that there's anything wrong that that. But to do so he’s using a questionable political action committee that appears to be breaking city ordinances — and there is something wrong that that.
"What Levine and Wolfson are doing with their PAC may be marginally legal, but it's unethical and wrong. It doesn’t pass the smell test."
Perhaps sensing that he'd fail in any further attempts to convince Putney that there's nothing wrong with shaking down city vendors, Levine turned to another long-time South Florida resident for help in cleaning up his image.
In a Facebook post that invoked the name of Mahatma Gandhi, Levine announced that he was calling for the release of the Seaquarium's killer whale, Lolita. "Look Who Lolita the Orca Has on Her Side Now!" crowed the mayor. (It's not the first time Levine has compared himself to some of history's great leaders.)
Levine's out-of-left-field announcement that he was calling for Lolita's freedom is classic Phil Levine: If people won't stop asking tough questions...change the subject.
Too late, Mr. Mayor, your charade isn't working.
|Click here to enlarge.|