One of Philip Levine’s first acts as the newly sworn-in mayor of Miami Beach was to fire a commission aide who didn’t support him in the recent election.
Though Miami Beach has a city manager form of government (meaning the mayor has no real executive authority) the mayor does control hiring and firing in the Office of the Mayor and City Commission, according to the city’s charter.
Alex Fernandez was handed his walking papers Tuesday, he said. His termination letter was signed by Levine on Nov. 25 — the day the new mayor and commission were sworn in. Fernandez’s last day on the job is Friday, though he's still working until then.
In a text message, Levine pointed out that two other aides were also fired. However, those aides worked for an elected official who is no longer in office as of this week. Fernandez worked for Deede Weithorn, who is still a commissioner.
During the campaign, Fernandez had mailed a letter to Miami Beach residents, urging them to support a slate of candidates that did not include Levine. The Levine camp leveled an elections complaint against Fernandez for the mailer, claiming that he was acting as an unregistered political committee.
Said Fernandez: “I feel like I’m being singled out for engaging in activities protected by the First Amendment.”
Levine on Tuesday would not comment on Fernandez’s termination. In a text message, he only referred a Miami Herald reporter to the city charter, “specifically the powers of the mayor.”