Even in Miami Beach's drunken carnival of a political scene, few elected officials have had quite as colorful a term as Commissioner Michael Grieco. The attorney has brawled with the NAACP over civil rights, sprinted down a drug dealer while out on his morning job, called a former opponent a "fucking scumbag" at a debate, and been embroiled in an unseemly fundraising committee now under state investigation.
Now the Grieco show is over. The commissioner announced from the dais at this morning's commission meeting that he's dropping his bid for reelection, citing the "many sacrifices" he's made while serving in office.
Grieco also apparently asked for a Miami Beach cop to stand in front of him at the meeting, preventing a Miami Herald reporter from approaching him to ask exactly why he's dropping out:
It's hard to believe the decision doesn't have something to do with the ongoing probe by Miami-Dade prosecutors into a PAC called People for Better Leaders, which raised $200,000 last year. Miami Beach bans elected officials from asking lobbyists or vendors for donations, and Grieco insisted he had nothing to do with People for Better Leaders, which was stocked by high-flying Beach vendors and power players.
But the Herald thoroughly debunked Grieco on that claim, even using a handwriting analysis to show he had signed documents for the PAC. Grieco dropped a bid for mayor after those stories but was still running to keep his seat on the commission — until today.
In a statement sent to New Times and other reporters, Grieco doesn't mention the probe but instead says political life was taking a toll on him professionally and personally.
"Because of the many sacrifices I have had to make for my family, my clients, my health and my law practice, I have decided this is the right time to join Commissioner Malakoff and Mayor Levine in retiring from the Miami Beach City Commission this year," he writes. "I am no longer seeking another term. Effective today, I am withdrawing as a candidate for reelection. I encourage the two remaining candidates to run campaigns befitting the people they wish to serve."
Two challengers remain for the seat: investor Mark Samuelian, who narrowly lost a commission bid in 2015, and local activist Rafael Velasquez.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.