Thursday, October 15, 2015

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is a big, fat liar [UPDATED]

A City of Miami Beach video posted on YouTube in Aug. 2013 shows that
planning and work on storm water pump stations began long before
Philip Levine became mayor.


See UPDATE below with details on a mailer sent out by Levine in which he appears to backpedal on the disingenuous claims made in his TV spots.


If you're a Miami Beach resident you've no doubt seen at least one of the ads (below) in which Mayor Philip Levine attempts to portray himself as a Knight in Shining Armor who arrived at City Hall in the nick of time, putting into action a plan to save Miami Beach from sea level rise, global warming, catastrophic flooding and the zombie apocalypse, all in one fell swoop.

Click to enlarge. 
In the ads he's running on TV and posting on social media, Philip "Just Get It Done" Levine is taking credit for the work begun by those who preceded him at City Hall.

His ads are a mixture of lies and self-promotion. Levine is very good at both. He's like that guy in school who would steal your idea for a science project and then take credit for it as if it were his own.

(In a recent interview on MSNBC, Levine told Jose Diaz-Balart, "We put together a $400 plan [to mitigate flooding.]...Miami Beach is leading the way. We've become a model.")

In the second ad below, a silky-voiced narrator intones: "Miami beach streets were flooding. Even on sunny days. And for years City Hall did little to stop it," Really, Phil? City Hall did little to stop it?

In a letter to the editor in this morning's Miami Herald, former Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower uses some actual facts to politely refute some of the lies spouted by Levine in his slick ads.

The main point of Bower's letter is that much of the planning for flood mitigation and storm water drainage started years before Levine ever thought about running for mayor.

Just below Bower's letter are parts of three Miami Herald stories that clearly show construction on storm water pumps was planned and under way long before Levine became Mayor in late 2013.

A Jan. 2013 Herald story notes that Alton Road construction was set to start "in an effort to relieve Miami Beach flooding."

Here's Bower's letter:

Flooding mitigation preceded Levine

A political truism reminds us that, “It is much easier to campaign than to govern.” Politicians accept this and realize that the words used while campaigning remain with them once elected.

Politicians should be truthful, they should take credit when deserved and give credit to others when warranted. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine should accept this truth. He is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts regarding flooding.

By no means can we declare victory as the mayor has done in ads aired by the disgraced PAC, Relentless for Progress. Running for reelection, he wants you to believe that nothing had been done to address flooding until he was elected and that the problems have since been fixed.

The flooding we experienced these past weeks are proof that we are far from done. Notwithstanding spilling pollutants into the bay or preferred contractors being awarded millions of dollars in no-bid contracts, Miami Beach flooded again, worse than ever in some areas.

I credit Levine for continuing the projects begun long ago. From North Beach to South Pointe you can see the improvements that have been completed. The Planned Progress program dates back to the early 2000s and was developed by Jorge Gonzalez, then city manager at the time.

Construction was purposely phased to make sure the transportation grid would not grind to a halt. Nonetheless, significant and successful improvements have been completed throughout and the overwhelming majority of residents have seen improved drainage, water, sewer, sidewalks, lighting and beautification in their neighborhoods.

The mayor should more appropriately acknowledge the efforts he inherited upon entering office. It is true that some improvements were completed under his watch, but it is also true that all were begun before he entered office.




From a June 2013 Miami Herald story:
Construction on Alton Road in Miami Beach has residents, the city of Miami Beach and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) all in contention with one another.

Alton Road has had a notorious reputation for flooding and irregular pavement for years in the South Beach area. Plans have been drafted, however, to combat those problems and build a better road that serves the surrounding area of Alton Road.

Construction began back in April and is set for completion in August 2015.

According to FDOT, the project, which began its planning phase in April 2007, includes “three pump stations (at Fifth Street, 10th Street and 14th Street) and a new drainage system to improve stormwater drainage in the area,” in addition to rebuilding roadways, driveways, sidewalks, pedestrian ramps and constructing sidewalk extensions.

From a Jan. 28, 2013 Miami Herald story:
Alton Road construction starts in effort to relieve Miami Beach flooding

Three separate roadway projects going on at the same time will likely cause traffic jams for Miami Beach residents and commuters.

Alton Road, Collins Avenue and I-395 will all be under construction in 2013.All are state projects, and they all overlap.

Among the projects is a plan to help relieve flooding along Alton Road. But the situation may get worse before it gets better.

The construction along one of Miami Beach’s busiest corridors may make area traffic a nightmare for the duration of the 2.5 year project, and may exacerbate the West Avenue neighborhood’s own flooding problems.

To top it all off, the construction kicks off just as spring tides will be at their highest, making more flooding likely.

From a Sept. 1, 2012 Miami Herald story by Curtis Morgan
In Miami Beach, where prolonged flooding in low-lying neighborhoods has become the norm after heavy storms, city leaders are weighing a $206 million overhaul of an antiquated drainage system increasingly compromised by rising sea level.

The plan calls for more pumps, wells to store storm runoff, higher sea walls and “back-flow’’ preventers for drain pipes flowing into Biscayne Bay. Those devices are intended to stop the system from producing the reverse effect it often does now. During seasonal high tides, the salty bay regularly puddles up from sewer grates in dozens of spots, such as near the local westside bar Purdy Lounge. Extreme high tides — like one in October 2010 — can push in enough sea water to make streets impassable, including blocks of the prime artery of Alton Road.

“It’s the first time, as far as I know, that any community in South Florida and actually in the entire state of Florida is taking into account sea level rise as they plan their storm water infrastructure,” said Fred Beckmann, the city’s public works director, during a public hearing on the plan earlier this month.


UPDATE via Political Cortadito:
The mayor also sent out a mailer (embedded below) — a whole mailer — saying that he never said he fixed the flooding. He sounds like a second grader caught in a lie. Nah-uh. I did not.

His campaign videos sure suggest he fixed the flooding. “The streets are drier, all because a mayor cared enough to fight back,” one says. And in the Relentless for Progress TV ad, he says “streets that were once flooded are now dry.”

Then the King Tide came and showed what a liar he is. Now, Levine is being more, um, specific.

“Miami Beach never declared victory over our flooding problem,” the mail piece says, and it is telling of how desperate he is and how much this has hurt his credibility that the whole mailer is about flooding. “We are still in the early phases of a five to 7-year plan.”

The mailer comes with a before-and-after picture of Alton Road and 10th, where the flooding has been fixed. What it doesn’t say is that Levine’s office building is on that corner. In fact, what it doesn’t say is that at least two of his properties are adjacent to the first flooding fixes. Wonder if that’s a coincidence.

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