As Mayor Philip Levine leads the nation’s mayors around Miami Beach, the city’s police union membership is in the midst of a vote of no confidence against him.
The Fraternal Order of Police is conducting the vote through Saturday and the union’s leadership argues that Levine has shown a lack of leadership, communication and support for officers in his two terms as mayor.
“Mayor Levine has repeatedly belittled and dismissed the concerns of the business community and residents in Miami Beach in favor of his own political ambitions,” the letter to union members reads.
Chief among the union leadership’s complaints is that Levine was absent during Memorial Day weekend, which was mostly calm in the early parts of the weekend before multiple shooting incidents took place leading to two fatalities. The city hosted parties and visitors for Urban Beach Weekend along with the Air and Sea Show over the holiday weekend.
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“During his four years in office Mayor Levine has yet to accept one meeting with us to discuss the issues that are most affecting Miami Beach law enforcement and our ability to perform our duties at the highest level of service,” union president Bobby Jenkins said in a statement.
The union’s letter also says that Levine has failed to increase police staffing in various parts of the beach and that he “failed to take into consideration the strain that additional events during Memorial Day Weekend and other high traffic days would have on resources.”
The union’s vote was first reported by Politico Florida.
Levine was away vacationing when the incidents occurred and organized a press conference the following week where he reintroduced a previous plan to ban alcohol sales after 2 a.m. and reduce noise on Ocean Drive. That decision will go before Miami Beach voters in November.
“I have only missed one meeting in four years due to the death of my father,” Levine said in an emailed statement.
A spokesman for Levine described the vote as “nothing more than an eleventh hour political stunt.” The mayor, a possible 2018 gubernatorial candidate, has been playing host as the U.S. Conference of Mayors kicked off in Miami Beach Friday and will continue through the weekend.
“Mayor Levine has a proven record of working in lock-step with city employees to foster a positive culture,” Levine’s office said in an emailed statement. “As the Mayor welcomes mayors from across the country, he is kicking off the weekend with the men and women of the Miami Beach fire department to showcase their important work through a simulation activity.”
Police Chief Dan Oates said that he was surprised to hear about the vote and said that he wasn’t consulted.
“I’ve never seen, in any context, that these votes of non confidence are particularly helpful,” Oates said. “I guess the union feels it’s important to do. We’ll see how the vote goes.”