Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine may be relatively new to politics, but he has a veteran campaigner's knack for sidestepping or talking around questions about issues about which he seems not fully informed.
So when a someone at a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club luncheon in St. Petersburg today asked the Miami Beach businessman about how Florida virtual schools can damage the funding for local school districts, Levine did not miss a beat. He launched right into an applause-generating denunciation of charter schools in Florida, which sounded like he actually might have been talking about Florida's school voucher system.
"When I started in business they teach you this one golden rule. You know what that rule is? You don't invest in your competition," Levine said. "Right now we have a cottage industry of charter schools. We have all these folks in Tallahassee — this one's a lawyer who represents a charter school, this one's a consultant for charter schools, this one gets campaign cash from a charter school …
"What I plan to do …is to take money that we're putting in someone else's business and actually put it in our business, which is called the public school," Levine said of charter schools, which are in fact public schools, but often run by private companies, including for-profit companies.
"Can you imagine if all of a sudden you woke up one day and you found out we're investing taxpayer money in FedEx, DHL, and UPS, but we're not putting it in the post office?"