The SunPost Top Ten List: POLITICS

It’s New. The SunPost Top Ten List – A new special issue from the editorial staff of the SunPost. Join us as we explore all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful people, places and happenings in our fair city. You might not agree with our choices and we certainly received yours loud and clear, (our email server crashed twice with all your enthusiasm). Our lists are in no particular order, and some picks cried out for details. Some are funny, some are sad…but most reflect the amazing city that we live in.

 POLITICS
TOP 10 NEWSMAKERS

Norman Braman
Is there really any other political story than the virtual revolution that took place in Miami-Dade County with the ouster of Mayor Alvarez? What voters did has sent shockwaves through local political grounds. What? The little people can fire me? Me? Meeeeee!?! Gazillionaire Braman put his money where his mouth was in pushing the Alvarez recall effort. Who knows what would have happened were it not for his efforts. Look, Braman can be quite the pill. No doubt about it. “Cantankerous” doesn’t do him justice. But when a rich guy takes on an establishment of shadowy rich guys and hoses them? Pure media frenzy.

Carlos Alvarez
Hi, my name is Carlos Alvarez. I used to be mayor of Miami-Dade County. You know, in South Florida. Home of corruption so brazen its barely distinguishable from everyday processes. Home of incompetence so epic that our flagship municipality was taken over by the bozos in Tallahassee. Our laundry list of disgraced politicians takes more memory than a baseline iPad has. But me…I’m the schmuck who gets run out of office. Oy vey.

Natacha Seijas
The fact that Seijas was another recall “victim” is simultaneously proof that there is a G-d, and that intelligent life resides in this universe. Is that bitchy?

Andre Pierre
In another city, the North Miami mayor would be front-page news every week. Seriously, journalists work their whole lives without every getting the opportunity to cover such an unrepentant ass. And the thing is, he had such a wave of goodwill when he took over as mayor; and he seemed to have so much going for him. Well, not so much. His tenure instead has been characterized by race-baiting, allegations of corruption with pretty prima fascia clues, bouncing checks to the city, running around with a mock “police” badge. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Pity poor North Miami. Had the Biscayne Landings project not been scuttled by the market crash and with a more stable mayor – it could have been a contender. Now its just popcorn munching fun, waiting for the next shoe to fall.

Scott Galvin
So as to not be too down on North Miami, which does, after all, have that fabulous Museum of Contemporary Art, consider longtime Councilman Scott Galvin. The veteran pol and local neighborhood boy made some headlines as the one guy in North Miami who was aware of a State Attorney’s investigation that has led to at least one arrest. It speaks well of him and makes one wonder what all else is going on up there.

Michelle Spence-Jones
Acquitted? Really? Was that the Casey Anthony jury’s warmup act? Um, ok, but Michelle…please…just…go…away!

Miami Herald
Usually the Miami Herald can barely report on news, much less actually be a newsmaker. Hey, you remember when some loudmouth media people around town in some publications (ahem) accused the Herald folks of supporting development around its former landmark location because they wanted to maximize profit from selling its building to developers and relocating their offices elsewhere? Yeah, remember how some critics called these loudmouth media types crazy? Well, the building was announced as sold earlier this year to Genting Malyasia Berhad, a big resort and casino developer. Yeah. Apologies currently being accepted.

Miami Beach Commissioners Jonah Wolfson and Jerry Libbin
Dudes, the rivalry thing this far out from a Matti Bower-less election? Come on, it’s a small sandbox here. Can’t you guys just duke it out on the beach or something? Arch-nemeses used to be so much more interesting in Miami Beach.

Rick Sanchez
Sometimes its just petty gossip that makes the juiciest news. Rick Sanchez’s latest fall from grace is just such delicious material. Sure Jon Stewart says things that would be called racist if he weren’t one of the big liberal love children. But it isn’t the point, Rick old buddy. You just don’t have the clout to pull off a criticism like that. From squatting over a map of Iraq on Channel 7 in Gulf War 1 to squatting over the body of that dude you ran over before “running home” for a quick pre-police drink – you’re essentially a douche. Please, please, don’t come back here.

 TOP 10 POLITICAL GAFFES

Really?
You have to admit, if you don’t live there, Miami politics is a lot of fun. Somewhere between a car wreck and anything with “Kardashian” in the description. Hand it to Mayor Tomas Regalado for arguably being the only one who doesn’t realize that. Regalado at a commission meeting was asked about Miami having gone through four city managers (and counting) in less than a year and a half.
“There is no instability at the city and that the city is thriving because of the Heat.”
Well, we heard it. Nothing to see here. Go one your way.
Really?

Really? Miami Beach style.
Appearing on Michael Putney’s “This Week in South Florida.” Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez responded to a characterization of Urban Beach Weekend as “out of control.”
“Well Michael, I’m not sure that I would characterize it as out of control,” Gonzalez said.
Sure if you were one of the people not shot by police or gangbangers.
Really?

Backhanded Compliment?
Marc Sarnoff isn’t going to win any awards for “Best Politician” any time soon unless maybe it’s the kiss of death from New Times. Sure, people who like him have this weird Obama-esq god-king worship going. And then there are the sane people who recognize political opportunism when they see it. Sarnoff has a way with language, such as when he said that former Miami commissioner Angel Gonzalez was a “jack of all trades and a master of none,” at a commission meeting before Gonzalez was
forced out of office because of a state attorney’s investigation.  With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Luther, Luther…
Look even if your Miami-Dade mayoral candidacy is a bit of a joke, if you’re going to play in the world of politics there are a few no-no’s. Luther Campbell discovered this after he gave up his candidacy. At the time Campbell suggested that former rival Julio Robaina effectively offered him a bribe in exchange for an endorsement when talking to his own “co-workers” at Miami New Times. Campbell obviously learned something during his foray into politics and recanted pretty quickly.

Keystone Cops
Its been a while since a local municipal police force made headlines for the usual — drug trafficking, murdering people, faking evidence. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy making little boo-boos. In North Miami, there are accusations that they’ve conspired with political enemies of the one councilman who has apparently talked productively with state attorney’s officials investigating the rampant corruption there. Meanwhile in Opa Locka, cops are accused of banging suspect instead of pushing them through they system and looting from the property room. Nice, very nice.

Signage
When the City of Miami actually refuses to be pressured by special interests, it makes news. When the folks doing the pressuring end up with nada, its even more special. A cadre including local attorney Santiago Echemendia and Harkley Thornton, formerly a governing board member of the South Florida Water Management District (and buddy of Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon) allegedly tried to pressure Miami to settle a law suit with their company in order to place billboards around the city. Cannon pushed through the House legislation that would limit the amount of money that the city could collect from billboard vendors and seriously reduce income from that source. The city rejected pressure to settle the lawsuit and today the company in question has no billboards in Miami. For Miami, a rare moral victory and for the billboard vendors….oops!

Highrise?
For decades, Surfside has been a pleasant low-rise community with an impressive history of resident oriented governments. Well, things could be changing. Mayor Daniel Dietch is taking the heat for the Surfside commission’s approval or a proposed hotel development in the heart of the city. While low-density compared to the rest of Greater Miami Beach, its still a departure from the normal character of the adorable city and Dietch has angered residents who vehemently oppose it. Danny, baby, maybe you should wait a term or so before taking on a chore like this. Right or wrong intrinsically, it isn’t going to ingratiate you with the folks.

Keystone Cops Part Deux
Golden Beach is a different kind of town. Imagine the most hostile condo association on the planet…worse than Boca. Then give that condo association the ability to hire men with guns. Problem? You think? Well apparently, fudging paperwork to hose the taxpayers is more common in this exclusive fascist-leaning beach town. Earlier this year the cops were under investigation for financial mismanagement causing Police Chief Jim Skinner to resign. Who watches the watchers? Apparently no one in Golden Beach, allegedly — of course.

I own what?
North Bay Village Mayor Corina Esquijarosa doesn’t appear to be in such great shape with her constituents. Activists have already gathered a ton of signatures seeking her recall after she was busted a few months ago for failure to disclose the income she made from a pair of properties in the city of Miami and a default judgment for losing one of those properties. If only she failed to pa income tax, she might not be able to keep her North Bay Village job but the Feds might have a Treasury secretary job available soon.

Free Speech? What free speech?
Look we live in an era when otherwise respectable White House officials are openly trying to quash free speech of political enemies. Wow. In Miami Beach, of course, things take on a more colorful nature. A couple of months ago, Club Madonna was the victim of an over-reach by Beach code officials when city staff tried to force the city’s legendary men’s club to remove a poster of Mayor Matti Bower stuffing dollar bills in a (hot) male dancer’s…uh..waistband. The poster had been up for a while, so it looks like this was a little cleansing in advance of this year’s election. Club Madonna owner Leroy Griffith, rapidly becoming the champion of free enterprise in Miami Beach, fought back against the Gestapo tactics.

 TOP 10 POLITICAL MOVES (WIN, FAIL, WHATEVER…)

Comedian(s) Running Wild
The next Miami Beach election in the ol’ mayoral category was looking pretty dull when it seemed like none of the usual suspects, perennial candidates or ambitious sitting commissioners were going to toss their hats into the ring to take on Matti Bower. Did that mean that Matti’s populist appeal is so great that insiders think her unbeatable? Or does it mean that all of Miami Beach’s influential special interests are comfy with Matti and won’t line up behind another candidate? Hmm. Well enter into the race one Steve Berke. A comedian, bright guy, lots of entertainment industry friends – and the man can make some damn funny YouTube videos. So much for a dull election. Sure it’s quiet now in the summer. But anyone who has seen Steve’s comedy antics knows that – however serious he takes his campaign – buddy should have some colorful stuff ready for close to election time. Steve’s move into the race brightens up the drab, and makes for a potential reporter’s dream. The only question is will he make those who don’t take him seriously into clowns.

The Luther Campbell Campaign
Nee Luke Skywalker’s gig at the Miami New Times was weird enough. Like, seriously, how desperate can one corporate publication be to foster its “hip” reputation. One couldn’t help but wonder if New Times wasn’t punking the rest of South Florida. Like local politics isn’t absurd enough already. Smooth move Campbell/New Times. Sometimes the sideshow is better than the main event.

Parking Wars
A few years ago, a weird alliance between Miami Beach towing companies seemed to lead to a peaceful situation. Beach Towing and Tremont Towing were happily going along, screwing the daylights out of residents and visitors alike; the compounding it with their cash-only policy and countless other atrocious acts. Back then it was rival gangs duking it out around town. Now it’s the towers themselves. At first it was just a political mess as they positioned for city largesse. But when local attorney David Nevel, representing Tremont stakeholders, filed a $3 million lawsuit against Beach Towing and effectively claimed an unnamed Miami Beach commissioner was acting in collusion with Beach Towing interest, we entered a rare air environment promising a look into how things really work in Miami Beach. Real suit or nonsense suit? We’ll see.

What? He wants to give up some power?
Sure its all about pressure from city commissioners who hadn’t looked so good after details of some lucrative severance packages got out. But still, you have to hand it to Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez, who just this week proposed stripping himself of the authority to hand out payments to departing top executives. He’s proposing standard arrangements. You don’t see city managers often offering to surrender authority so maybe better times for the beleaguered city are on the way.

Low Overhead
It isn’t always easy to find positive things about what happens when government intrudes into the private sector. But earlier this year, in a meeting during which the successes and failures of the county’s 12 Community Redevelopment Agencies were compared, it appears that Miami Beach’s own South Point CRA has been a pretty good move. Its 2.8 percent administrative fee is far superior to other CRA’s, where the cash gets spread around to staff far more generously. Who would have guessed.

Fall Guys?
City Managers have pretty sweet deals – in good economic times. In rougher times, not so much. Whether they are fall guys for bad political choices by elected officials or if they have made legitimate errors, they do seem to find themselves in the crosshairs. Most recently it’s been in Hollywood and Lauderdale Lakes, where managers were forced out in light of bad financial news. Adding to the dubiousness of some of these moves is the fact that former Hollywood City Manager Cameron Benson actually worked his way up the ranks (as opposed to carpetbagging managers who move from city to city collecting pensions) and was held in high regard even leading up to his “separation.” Wonder how many managers a city gets to fire before voters are supposed to look at the actual policy makers?

Recall Fever
It’s already claimed a couple of local elected officials, including the big fish at Miami-Dade County, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping. Recall is the new black. It is without question the story of the year and North Bay Village is the next destination. Activists led by Fane Lozman and Mr. Al Blake made the bold move of demanding Mayor Corina Esquijarosa resign or be recalled because of inaccurate reporting on her residency and finances. The Recall Monster is rearing its head again.

The Brains of the Operation
Whoever in Beach city hall decided to bring Rebecca Wakefield onboard as chief of staff for Matti Bower should be making all personnel decisions for the city. Insiders know the sharp and slick Wakefield (formerly a SunPost columnist) has done a terrific job in tough circumstances: she often looks like the one adult in a sandbox full of squabbling children. Possibly the city’s best historic hiring, but still…who else wants to be there to see it when Rebecca finally has enough and lets loose?

Standing up for the White Elephant
The Miami Beach Convention Center might not exactly be an economic dynamo, but something has to be said for the position staked out by most leaders in Miami Beach in regard to MBCC improvements. That message: don’t link improvements with the proposed new Dolphins stadium scam. That political figures in the Beach have been able to withstand the mainland lobbying effort shows more intestinal fortitude than they are usually credited for.

Public Guts
Its funny how things change in time. When what is now known as “Urban Beach Weekend” first rolled into town, anyone who suggested that it might get out of hand was immediately dubbed a racist. Well with cops popping caps in almost too many asses to be counted – arguably beating UBW guests in terms of spent ammo for the first time in history – things are looking different. Longtime community activist and a guy who has worked for ethnic cohesion before, Herb Sosa, helped organize a demonstration to try to stop the annual shootout. That seemed to open the doors for others to speak out and now there is even a website dedicated to the cause — www.stopurbanweekendmiamibeach.com. Sometimes just being honest is a bold political move.

 TOP 10 POLITICIANS

Susan Gottlieb
They say that there are no second acts in American life, but as if a possible new Charlie Sheen vehicle isn’t enough proof, consider Susan Gottlieb. Susan had an entire career as a Miami Beach commissioner, where she was frequently the one honest face on a dais laden with masks. She was delightfully difficult to pin down in terms of allegiances and it was easy to see how she worked her way through reasoning on issues. Susan took that same commitment with her when she moved to Aventura and within a short period of time became the toney town’s mayor. Susan didn’t need to be in politics at this point in her career but her heartfelt desire to serve is as evident today as it was 15 years ago. Miami-Dade County could use more elected officials like Susan Gottlieb.

Sally Heyman
The mercurial Sally Heyman is an unlikely political powerhouse. Being from suburban north Miami-Dade County isn’t quite the power base it was before all that drug money, err, foreign investment poured in downtown and Miami Beach. Plus, his Miami-Dade County commissioner has moments during discussions at county hall where even the most ardent supports must be thinking “shhhhhh!” But Sally might be one to recognize that herself. She’s very intelligent, sassy and gutsy; and walks the line well balancing supporting her own district and the county’s overall well-being. “Stateswoman” has an awkward ring to it, but its an apt description of this dynamo.

Frank Carollo
Hear that “thud” sound? That’s thousands of readers taking note of the presence of not one, but two City of Miami commissioners on this list. We’re talking about Miami here. And no, just not having been recently indicted does not qualify one for high honors even in the City of Miami. Frank gets a nod for his occasional maverick stances that just seem to irritate all the right people around city hall. That’s high praise for a town that always seems to be teetering on the bring of another bailout or state occupation.

Marco Rubio
Every liberal Democrat on this list is likely to edit this entry out when they frame this on their bathroom wall. Yes, the freshman Republican Senator and longtime conservative powerhouse is a tea party favorite. But let’s face it, he has a compelling story that is quintessential South Florida – the son of immigrants, schooled in politics at the knees of legitimately working class relatives and the Cuban expat community; a rocketlike ascension in politics at an age when most other youngsters are still holed up in their parents garage, smoking dope and blogging about the evils of capitalism on HuffPo; and now arguably the most dynamic new young member of the US Senate. Whether you agree or not with the bright and eloquent Senator’s politics, the thing is he’s the only local pol with what looks like a darn good shot at sitting in the White House one day soon. That ain’t nothing.

Xavier Suarez
Remember the good old days of Miami? Sure it was already dirty enough that a stroll downtown required a full body sanitary wipe. And there were potholes. G-d knows there were potholes. Along comes Xavier Suarez, the so-called pothole mayor, a guy who knew the simple things were what mattered to quality of life – not grand economic development plans, stadiums and empty Mediterranean (gasp!) style condominiums. His mayoral tenure was still likely one of the best periods of Miami’s political history. Then, well, maybe things took a turn south as the X man went through a slightly nutty period. But once again…the second act thing. As much heat as has been on him – much of which he brought on himself – he’s back and at a solid fighting weight. Anyone who says that this county commissioner is anything but one of the most intelligent men to ever hold office in South Florida must be a political foe. Because he clearly is. Let’s see how this second act plays out.

Matti Bower
Let’s face it. If the idiot government and crazy finance people hadn’t destroyed the housing market, how would Miami Beach be today? There’s a lot of agita out there about Miami Beach’s mayor. But she didn’t cause the real estate market to implode, which has been the source of many of the city’s financial problems. So maybe her harshest critics should back off a little and recognize that – even with her deficiencies – Matti has presided over a pretty solid period in Miami Beach barring the real estate thing. Matti is also adept at walking the line between the special interests that dominate the city, as demonstrated by fairly light competition for another term. If you knew Matti at the start of her public career and see where she is today – it’s an impressive story.

Carlos Gimenez
Here’s the thing. Gimenez was a fairly non-descript public figure, no criticism intended. Then the revolution took place in Miami-Dade County, Mayor Alvarez got the boot and along comes Gimenez to take on the job. Like, really? You’re willing to do this given what happened to the previous county mayor, who also had a kissy-face honeymoon period. Gutsy? Courgeous? Or just plain loco. Only time will tell if he’s the man for the job or if the public tosses him onto that still smoldering pyre on which Alvarez was tossed.

Francis Suarez
Political legacies can be tricky. On one hand there is the Kennedys. And on the other hand, there is well…the Kennedys. The fact that Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez’s dad went through a rough patch a few years ago doesn’t help either. Some bright-eyed young politicians can pull off the Kennedy-esq gung-ho public service thing. Others just come off like sleazeballs driven be ego and drunk with power – a la Anthony Weiner. So far, young Francis hasn’t reached that JFK/RFK (tear rolls down face) thing. But he resembles a bit of his dad’s old-school style. And that’s admirable. With the right plays, Francis is going places and the odds are the public might even benefit from it.

Katherine Fernandez Rundle
Kathy (may we still call you Kathy?) would probably say that as Miami-Dade County State Attorney, she isn’t a politician. Technically, true. But she has become an icon in South Florida, which just doesn’t happen around here if one isn’t pretty damn clever politically. That’s just one thing to love about her. She’s brilliant, strong, charismatic and  — with all due respect to her, her family, position and talent – she is still absurdly sexy in that classic Kathleen Turner way. Damn, girl, make even a gay man go gaga. Please don’t ever leave us alone down here with all these crooks.

Luther Campbell
OK “top” and “politician” might be stretching it a little for the dude formerly known as Luke Skywalker – but at least he’s had more staying power than Marc Hamill. Hell, even “recording artist” might be a stretch come to think of it. And this whole gig with the New Times is well…pretty much a sign of the media Apocalypse. So what earns him the nod? Come on – just up and openly talking about what amounts to a bribe in any real, honest community and which looked pretty crappy for Julio Robaina – royal, buddy. Just royal.

READERS CHOICE: Steve Berke
One of the categories that crashed our server! Over 85% of SunPost readers pick Steve Berke for Top Politician. He is hoping to win the 2011 Miami Beach Mayoral Race.

 TOP TEN CITIES

Surfside
Unless you’re an uber-developer, there is little to not like about little Surfside. It’s the last beach town that has the look and feel of a little beach town. Reasonable development regulations (current controversy aside), cute main drag and gorgeous beaches. Surfside is reminder that South Florida is, technically, part of the United States with its small-town atmosphere (and good restaurants).

Biscayne Park
Some north Miami-Dade County munies don’t get the attention they deserve. Biscayne Park is barely known outside its own area, but it’s shady, handsome and well served generally by watchful police and decent government.

Golden Beach
Like, who wouldn’t want to live in what is technically a municipality but which in practical terms is a homeowners association grown out of proportion. Right? Right?

Bay Harbor Islands
Not quite as small town-y as Surfside and certainly not as glitzy as Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor is a lovely well-maintained community that features what’s best about life in South Florida – the waterway. Bay Harbor development has also been more reasonable than, say, North Bay Village, which lost its way after having been worth mention here 10 years ago.

Miami Shores
Another north county municipality that really benefits from many long-term and second- and third-generation residents who really care about their hometown. Some parts are scenic, some seedy. But the balance works, and so does Miami Shores as a legitimate “community.”

Coral Gables
We’re just going to leave traffic out of the equation for Coral Gables because so many of the best “things” about Miami-Dade County are in Coral Gables – from shopping to theater to historic sites, beautiful architecture and gorgeous landscaping. CG zoning runs to the fascist but, hey, if they had a train it would run on time. And look fabulous.

Coconut Grove
See parking note above. The Grove ain’t the hippie zone it was 40 years ago. And with all of the development it isn’t the quirky artsy town it was in more recent decades. But it has kept its charm and beautiful corners – even if it takes a little walking to find them.

Bal Harbour
Mansions, condos with better security than the TSA will ever hope to provide, millionaires, and a mall! What’s not to like about Bal Harbour if you have a few (million) dollars in your pocket? Can’t afford to live or shop there? Its still a pretty drive and you can wave at the wealthy.

Miami Beach
Sigh. For all its faults, for all its crooks, for all its godawful development, traffic, potholes, corruption and even all the fricking tourists – there’s (still) something about Miami Beach. Like Mary, she might be quirky, ADD and have bad hair days, but is there really anyplace better than a Beach café on a breezy, temperate night?

Dania Beach
Sure there are other Miami-Dade municipalities that could fill this spot. Aventura almost did, but that’s traffic one just can’t overlook. Doral has some positive aspects. But Dania Beach warrants mention way up there in the Broward hinterlands because it is groovy and scenic and it isn’t just about t-shirts that say so.

 TOP 10 PUBLIC ARTS VENUES/EVENTS

Art Basel Miami Beach
Since this sister event to the Euro-original launched in Miami Beach it has done what all the bogus talk of a “cultural destination” couldn’t do – given the city (and county for that matter) a landmark event upon which to hang its stylish hat. ABMB has become one of the nation’s – and world’s – leading visual arts celebrations. ABMB was pitched as something big, which is usually the kiss of death. But the many people involved in bringing the event and the city’s efforts to embrace it have been a rare, unquestionable success.

South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Sure, local government wasn’t involved in organizing or even expanding this other massive, internationally acclaimed festival; and until recently one wouldn’t easily classify a culinary event as “arts.” But with the lineup of culinary talent the festival brings to South Florida, it simply can’t be ignored; and since it began at Florida International University, that’s public enough for our tastes.

ArtCenter South Florida
On the other end of the spectrum from the uber fests is Miami Beach’s own longtime little gem, ArtCenter South Florida. Once upon a time it occupied a small but high-profile spot on Lincoln Road and while South Beach grew up – and massive – around it; there it remained. ArtCenter’s exhibits, programming and support of local artists make it something about which everone in the city should be proud.

Miami International Film Festival
It isn’t that the MIFF doesn’t have successful fests, some packed houses and plenty of fans. It’s that there are so many people who still haven’t gotten the word about how solid the lineups usually are, what terrific guests organizers often bring to town, and the simple fact that film can be a transformative experience when its not a sequel, superhero flick or star vehicle.

Miami International Book Fair
Admittedly it seems like this festival – an arts and culture grandpa in South Florida – at times is a little daunting. And admittedly, too many people have only taken advantage of the street festival part of it. But if one invests in some study, the schedule of readings, discussions and workshops are what really make this fair Miami’s original culture milestone.

New World Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas is a South Florida icon and the NWS an under-appreciated treasure. Hopefully their shiny new architecture will attract more attention to the wonderful young performers.

Miami City Ballet
Before there was Art Basel Miami Beach, it was Miami City Ballet that warranted the most international acclaim and it continues to captivate audiences and rake in accolades.

Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts
Here’s the thing about the Gusman (which it will always be). You might have shaken hands with Stallone there once. Maybe you saw Yo-Yo Ma perform tango. Or maybe it was youthful Russell Crowe you watched in an Australian film years before he was famous. It doesn’t matter. Watching people set up chairs would be a treat at the Gusman because it is simply the most beautiful, historic venue in South Florida. Its had its troubles with finance and appropriate use, but if it ever is lost to the community, its time to turn out the lights on local culture.

Museum of Contemporary Art
It isn’t that South Florida doesn’t have a couple of other good museums, it’s that contemporary art is the reigning king of visual arts genres and North Miami’s MoCA does the best job of integrating programming.

Florida Grand Opera
Another longtime stalwart in a once culturally-starved South Florida, FGO never earns the recognition it warrants despite plenty of longtime loyal fans. Maybe it’s the intimidation reputation of opera. Or maybe it’s the venue – a lot of South Floridians don’t even know what a Miami Dade County Auditorium is. Whatever the reasons, FGO deserves more love from South Floridians. And it deserves to be in the Top Ten.

 TOP TEN ATTORNEYS

Lucia Daugherty: Greenberg-Traurig
Land-use attorneys get bad names. Sure a lot of the lesser ones in the (cough) honored profession are just shills for developers with no interest in anything but profit. Others, though, are more interested in establishing long-term relationships with municipalities. That’s the case with Lucia, a crackerjack attorney on good terms with most elected officials in Miami-Dade County. Equally committed to her clients and to the idea of appropriate land-use and environmental management, Lucia is a smart, savvy representative of the very best of her profession.

Alfredo Gonzalez: Greenberg-Traurig
As further evidence that not all land use attorneys are blood-sucking exploiters of the public, witness the affable Gonzalez. As another Greenberg-Traurig attorney, Gonzalez walks the line between developers and the best interest of the public with aplomb. Alfredo learned his way around South Florida politics as Chief of Policy for Miami-Dade County Commissioner, Bruno A. Barreiro — and it shows.

Gerald Posner: Area 51
Miami/New York attorney Gerald Posner has had his ups and downs — from hardcore reporting on numerous topics including the merry world of Miami Beach corruption to a plagiarism scandal.  The thing is, to know Gerald and his work is to know his complete commitment to community, even if occasionally politically misguided. The fact that Gerald has a soul elevates him over many in his field. Busy today up north on issues related to the greater community, South Florida would be well served by his continued presence here.

Carter McDowell: Bilzin, Sumberg, Baena, Price & Axelrod
Roy Black: Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf
Paul Steinberg: The Senator Law Center
Parker Thomson: Hogan Lovells

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