Miami’s snake oil salesman

Snake oil salesman. It’s who I think of whenever I see or hear Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. His Sunday appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” was just another shining example.

One could almost call him funny if it wasn’t for the fact that during his appearance on the widely seen Sunday morning TV program, Suarez was trying to play all sides of a serious and existential problem that affects us all: climate change. As reported by Joey Flechas in the Miami Herald, here’s what I mean: “The mayor said climate change is ‘not theoretical for us in the city of Miami,’ and touted a bond program approved by voters in 2017 that allows the city to borrow $192 million for work to deal with sea level rise. As a commissioner, Suarez voted against placing the bond on the ballot, but he eventually voted in favor of the bond at the ballot box, he says.” (Bold lettering is mine.)

First, and most importantly, climate change is no laughing matter, especially in Miami. As someone who has lived in South Florida since the 1960s, I’ve seen how any rain, and sometimes not a heavy rain, or a rise in the tide, can flood parts of our city.

The fact is that Mayor Suarez loves the camera (and preferably when he’s on nationally, which tells me he has ambitions beyond Miami…) as long as it shows him in a good light. But when things get tough and rough, as they often do here, the mayor becomes as timid as a church mouse on a stroll through an empty building. Remember Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo, whom he recruited and called the Michael Jordan of police chiefs and brought in to resolve problems in the police department… and then threw under the bus when things got tough after two of Miami’s more thuggish commissioners wanted the chief fired, and did? 

On Sunday, Suarez, a Republican, was asked a question on climate change, and if he thought his party was taking the issue seriously. He answered that “Democrats, unfortunately have failed to be able to pass bills to address climate at any sort of scale.” Pressed on the fact that not one Republican was willing to vote in favor of any climate bill, Suarez said that the problem is that Democrats are not taking a bipartisan approach on the issue. In other words, according to Suarez, they were NOT playing the political game. But as Suarez knows well, climate change and the environment — again, especially here in Miami — is not a game.

As written in the Herald: “There’s been inconsistency in leadership on climate change initiatives under Suarez’s administration.” Suarez’ answer was that “his city needs help, but has not received any dollars from Biden’s infrastructure bill.” What of his failures in advancing the $192 million bond program approved by Miami voters in 2017 to deal with sea level rise?

Typical Suarez, blame someone else.

During his Sunday TV stint Suarez was also asked about the monkeypox outbreak. As reported, Florida has the third most cases in the U.S. And based on his answer, he was not prepared for the question or fully aware of the situation. Especially when one considers that the World Health Organization this past week declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern,” warning that the viral disease is spreading rapidly across the globe.

But here’s Suarez’ answer to “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan: “We’re monitoring this outbreak. I am not aware of any shortages in vaccines or testing at this particular juncture, none of it has come to my attention.”

The truth is, Mr. Mayor, and as reported by the Herald: “Miami-Dade health officials told the Herald that there is a vaccine shortage, and locals expressed frustration over the difficulty of finding testing sites.”

Francis Suarez might be a nice guy. I’m not sure. I don’t know him. But the mayor of an important U.S. city needs to take things seriously. And stand on the side of the people he supposedly represents. The fact is that Suarez seems to stand only on one side, his own, and one that makes him look good — and all fabricated by his PR machine.