Commissioner Slams Beach Mayor for Saying Non-Cubans Have No Right to Oppose Cuban Consulate

Mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Michael Grieco
Mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Michael Grieco
City of Miami Beach

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's controversy meter is, at times, notably off. The millionaire mayor made a historic trip to Cuba last month, and while speaking with Cuban officials, he broached the idea of bringing a Cuban consulate to Miami Beach. 

This is, of course, Miami-Dade County, where all discussion of Cuban relations is sure to be heated and heartfelt. The blowback was swift, and yesterday the Miami Beach City Commission passed an official resolution opposing the plan. 

Oddly, Levine attacked the resolution's sponsor, Commissioner Michael Grieco, in the Miami Herald

“The only reason this has happened is because you have a commissioner who is trying to use this as a political ploy because he would like to run for mayor, prematurely,” Levine said. “And he believes he can get the Cuban vote by appealing to their deepest level of fear and insecurity. Which is cruel. Especially when he’s not Cuban.”

Levine, notably, is not Cuban himself. 

Opposition to the possibility of allowing a Cuban consulate in the county among Miami-Dade's Cuban-American population existed long before Grieco introduced his resolution and, in fact, long before Levine broached the topic. The Miami-Dade County Commission had already passed a similar resolution. It's not as if this was fake controversy Grieco was stirring up himself.

During the board's meeting yesterday, Grieco clapped back at the mayor. 

"Nor did I resort to personal attacks in the Herald, like the mayor," Grieco said. "I chose to rise above being petty, but there is one nugget that I respond to." 

"The mayor's assertion in the paper that because I am not Cuban, I should not be addressing this matter. If that were true, I would need to be gay to support my LGBT brothers and sisters. It would also be saying that only Jews can stand up for our Jewish community or that I would have to be female to fight for women. I find this logic offensive and divisive."

Indeed, Levine, who is also not gay and defeated an openly gay candidate to win the mayorship in the first place, spearhead a resolution at the same meeting banning Miami Beach employees from traveling to North Carolina and Mississippi for nonessential work purposes after those states passed anti-LGBT laws. 

Grieco went on to point out that before introducing his resolution, he listened to what Cuban-American residents of the city had to say. 

A high-profile attorney, Grieco was elected in 2013 as a Levine ally. Though the two share many similar goals, this isn't the first time they have butted heads at a commission meeting. 

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