Election Night Lessons: Miami Beach Loves Marijuana, But Not Enough to Elect Steve Berke
Good morning Miami Beach. Are you feeling sore and tired from swilling too many flutes of celebratory champagne last night? Are you surprised to find yourself wearing a campaign T-shirt altered to say "Philip
Levine Latrine"? Is your living room floor littered with more flyers than a Free Tibet rally? In other words, are you suffering from Election Night hangover?
Actually, you're probably just plain ol' hungover. That's because only around 11,170 people voted in yesterday's election on Miami Beach, out of nearly 90,000 residents. So if you were simply too lazy, apathetic, foreign, or felonious to cast a ballot, here's a run down of what we learned from last night's election results -- from marijuana to Matti Bower.
Lesson One: C.R.E.A.M.
You didn't really think a candidate could spend a small fortune on a tiny island election and lose, did you? Self-made millionaire Philip Levine made it rain on Miami Beach, dropping more than $1.5 million on us like a strip-club king. So it should be no surprise that Levine's largess landed him the lion's share of the votes. He garnered 5,639 of 11,170 votes, or 50.48 percent. That works out to roughly $266 per vote.
Levine's convincing win is a bit more complicated than it seems, however. Because his victory is within half a percentage point of the threshold for a runoff with second place Michael Góngora (36.43%), city officials will have to recount the votes. That could change if Góngora concedes.
Lesson Two: Miami Beach Loves Marijuana, But Not THAT Much
Two years ago, more than 9,000 Miami Beach residents signed a petition to decriminalize marijuana, but city officials balked at the idea. Yesterday, islanders once again sent a message that the city needs to light(en) up. On a "non-binding straw ballot question," 64 percent of voters said they want the city to urge Florida and federal officials to decriminalize medicinal marijuana.
Before you spark up that spliff, however, you should know that the vote doesn't mean much. First of all, city commissioners aren't required to follow through on the resolution. Second, the resolution holds no real weight. Finally, voters resounding rejected the one mayoral candidate -- Steve Berke -- who supported decriminalization. So follow Francisco Alvarado's lead and head 90 miles off-shore to smoke.
Lesson Three: Michael Góngora likes talking about Michael Góngora
Compare these two quotes from last night. "This is the most humbling night of my entire life," Levine said to supporters upon learning of his (seeming) victory. Meanwhile, his main rival, Michael Góngora seemed anything but humbled.
"I'm not going anywhere, people," he told the crowd, according to the Miami Herald. Then the candidate with 50-foot posters of his own face hanging from dilapidated buildings switched into the third person. "I can't tell you what the next step will be, but I can tell you Michael Góngora will be there."
Lesson Four: The Convention Center Issue Is Far From Over
Ballot Question #5 was a bitch. It was a confusingly worded question asking voters if they wanted to require 60 percent public approval -- rather than a mere majority -- for the sale or lease of properties around the Convention Center. Despite the difficulty in deciphering the question, an unequivocal 68 percent voted "yes."
That means it could be more difficult for the city to seal a $600 million deal with the developer selected to renovate the convention center.
Lesson Five: Crumbling Incumbents
One of the few surprises from yesterday's election was that current mayor Matti Bower and current commissioner Jorge Exposito could not escape runoffs. Exposito, the only true incumbent, will square off against criminal defense attorney Michael Grieco on November 19. Bower will face retired banker Joy Malakoff. Combined with what appears to be Góngora's loss to Levine, it was a bad day for Miami Beach officeholders. Perhaps voters blamed them for recent problems like police abuse, corrupt city officials, or the two feet of standing shit water along Alton Road.
So whether or not you were one of the noble 11,170 to have voted yesterday, pop some aspirin and suck it up. Because you've got another ballot bender in two weeks time.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.