A Miami Beach mayoral debate on Tuesday devolved into accusations of racism and angry name-calling by the candidates’ supporters.
The whole thing was caught on camera by MTV, which is making a documentary out of the campaign of one of the candidates.
The setting was a conference room in the Shore Club South Beach hotel on Collins Avenue. A standing-room-only crowd came out for the debate among entertainer Steve Berke (the subject of the documentary), businessman Philip Levine and current Commissioner Michael Góngora. It was organized by Miami Beach’s Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club and the Miami Beach Taxpayers Association.
The issue of race has come up before in the Miami Beach elections: Levine has been accused of running on a slate with commission candidates Joy Malakoff and Michael Grieco. The candidates Levine’s perceived slate is running against are all Hispanic. Levine, Malakoff and Grieco said they are not running coordinated campaigns. Grieco took it a step further, saying it appears their opponents are working in concert, which Góngora denies.
Tuesday’s fracas began with an innocent question from a resident about how city employees treat renters in the city.
Levine responded, in part, by saying that he would change the culture in City Hall “from one of being mañana, lazy, pushing things forward, kicking the can down the road.”
In Spanish, mañana means “tomorrow.”
Resident Carla Probus stood up to say she found the comment “kind of racist.”