Photo: Jeffrey Salter"I've always had like a movie in my mind. And i can see the vision of where I hope or think I may go in the future. It's blurry because a lot of times it's way out in the future. But I can sense or feel things." -- Philip Levine
Miami Beach's mayor has an entrepreneurial touch
On a sunny afternoon in February 2016, Philip Levine, multimillionaire businessman/mayor of Miami Beach, came upon a FedEx truck blocking a lane of traffic on one of the city’s main roads. The driver, who had presumably just completed a delivery, was hurrying back to the truck. Levine pulled out his phone and hit “record.”
“Hey, so let me ask you a question,” Levine calls out, striding toward the startled driver. “What’s the reason you have your FedEx truck parked in the middle of our most busy road?”
“I don’t have nowhere to park it, man,” the driver responds nervously. He immediately climbs into the truck.
Levine moves closer, his voice rising. “You’re going to be getting a call from our chief in about two seconds,” Levine says, as the engine starts. He moves behind the truck to record the license plate as it begins to drive away. “Here we go. Here we go,” Levine begins saying to himself, as his phone continues to record.
A little while later, Levine posts the 38-second video, in all its awkward and uncomfortable glory, on Facebook and Twitter, with an addendum that the city had issued citations against FedEx. The posts set off a mini-storm of comments and responses — many of them critical, including one from a woman calling Levine a bully — and led to a new round of newspaper and television stories about the mayor, who first campaigned for office four years ago under the hashtag, #FixItPhilip.
These kinds of confrontations aren’t all that unusual for Levine, a first-time officeholder who has also initiated public clashes with everyone from home-rental company Airbnb to a professional geologist at the University of Miami. They have made Levine a polarizing figure in south Florida. But they have also helped make the Democrat one of the highest-profile mayors in the state — and a top contender for governor in 2018, should he choose to run.
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