Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine — known for his acute attention to quality-of-life issues in his city and his often cagey relationship with the local press and social media critics — decided to try his hand at crafting his own social media moment yesterday afternoon.
Traffic is undoubtedly a major issue plaguing the Beach, and Levine has championed several changes to try to relieve congestion. Some have been controversial (like raising street meter parking rates to $4). Others were generally heralded (like moving forward on the Baylink rail that would connect the Beach to the mainland). He's also regularly complained about delivery trucks temporarily parking in street lanes, and yesterday he apparently got fed up.
When he saw a FedEx truck stopped on Alton Road, he pulled out his cell phone, hit video-record on the camera (kept the phone in the vertical position), and confronted the driver. He then proudly posted the video to Facebook.
"Hey, so let me ask you a question," the mayor says to the driver. "What's the reason you have your FedEx truck parked in our most busy road?"
"I don't have nowhere to park it, man," the driver replies.
"What's that?" the mayor asks. "Explain to me again."
"I don't have nowhere to park. You know what I"m saying?" the driver says.
"You're going to get a call from our chief in about two seconds," the mayor says.
The driver gets into the truck and drives off, but not before Levine records its license plate number.
Levine wrote on Facebook that the driver ended up receiving two traffic citations.
Levine made millions of dollars in cruise ship media and reportedly sold his first company to Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy for a nine-figure sum.
According to PayScale.com, FedEx drivers make about $9.91 to $16.49 an hour.
The mayor has long preferred to communicate with the public through social media accounts rather than answer questions from local journalists. He's also well known for blocking anyone with criticism on Twitter and Facebook. (The Miami New Times Twitter account was among those blocked.) However, his video was met with heavier criticism than usual for the man dubbed "Bloomberg South."
"Mayor, this is very rude from you to do this," one commenter wrote on Facebook. "There is not enough loading zones."
"Mayor, I hope you feel good about yourself for getting a hard working individual either fired from his job or reprimanded by his supervisor," wrote another. "Nice work! Go sit behind your desk and do nothing like you normally do."
"Uploading it to social media without his consent is also a low blow and immature," wrote another. "I'm surprised you didn't yell 'World star, world star!!!' while filming this nonsense."
Comments agreeing with the mayor were present but fewer and farther between.
Levine replied to some of the criticism with liberal use of caps lock and exclamation points.
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"We have loading zones!!! And at the very least, park on a side street but NOT in the middle of our busiest thoroughfare!!! Maybe we should allow all delivery trucks to stop in the middle of our roads, clog traffic to a standstill???" he wrote in one.
Perhaps Levine is just cranky. He spent much of this week in New Hampshire campaigning for Hillary Clinton (he's good friends with Bill) and racked up national media appearances on Fox News, Fox Business, SiriusXM, and CNN. That didn't seem to help Hillary much in that state, but it did help raise Levine's profile.
He also sat down with the Tampa Bay Times and, when asked about speculation he may run for governor in 2018, said he was concentrating on running for reelection as mayor in 2017. But then he added, "When you do a good job, the future takes care of itself."