South Miami Vice Mayor Josh Liebman on Wednesday took back his accusation that Commissioner Bob Welsh helped create a racist flier in 1998.
In exchange, Welsh agreed to drop a slander lawsuit against Liebman. Welsh adamantly denied creating, printing, or distributing the so-called “three monkeys” flier, which depicted three black city leaders — Mayor Anna Price and commissioners David D. Bethel and R. Paul Young — as chimpanzees.
“I dropped the suit in exchange for him writing an email saying that he had no first-hand knowledge of it,” Welsh said. “He also said that I did not do it. That’s what I inferred from what he wrote.”
Welsh served Liebman and commissioner Valerie Newman with slander lawsuits at the South Miami City Commission meeting Dec. 3 at City Hall.
Welsh’s complaint against Newman is still pending. She didn’t respond to messages left on her cell phone Thursday night.
Welsh’s suit came after Liebman said at a Nov. 19 City Commission meeting that Welsh was responsible for distributing “the racist fliers featuring former Mayor Anna Price as the Queen of Spades, three monkeys representing three black commissioners and the Star Spangled Banner, which was written in Ebonics.” Newman also said that Welsh “distributed the flier of the three monkeys” at the same meeting.
“It’s a frivolous lawsuit,” Liebman said. “It has absolutely no merit. He also voted in favor of his own censure. I want to save the city any further embarrassment and any further negative P.R. and from any additional wasted monies.”
Welsh joined Liebman and Newman in voting to censure himself for a poster, titled “40 acres & a pool!” featuring a floating mule in a pool. Welsh said he “tried to do a poster to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Murray Park pool that had soul.” Welsh said he printed 10 copies of the poster, passing out five to friends to “vet” its appropriateness. When one objected, Welsh said, he promised not to pass out the poster.
Welsh was an activist long before he became a city commissioner. He is known in South Miami as “Bicycle Bob” for his habit of pedaling around town handing out fliers about city issues.
Liebman said Welsh needs to remember he is a commissioner now.
“I don’t think it’s too frequent that commissioners are suing other commissioners,” Liebman added. “I think its crazy.”