Best of Miami®

Best Of 2001

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Best Of :: People & Places

Best Joyful Miami Herald Writer

Oh, how many, many times have we heard the complaints: You newspaper people only care about bad news. Everything you print is so negative. Why can't you ever write about the good things? How about being uplifting for a change? Well, we are delighted to announce that someone has been listening. Someone who cares. Someone who works at the malevolent Miami Herald, of all places. In his role as the paper's television critic, Terry Jackson can be as viciously snarky as they come. But once a week he parks his mean streak. Every Thursday, in the "Wheels and Waves" section, he pens a column called "Behind the Wheel," in which he test-drives and reviews new automobiles. We have it on good authority that the column represents Jackson's quiet effort to bring some sunshine to the otherwise gloomy pages of Miami's Only Daily -- despite what cynics say about the influence of automobile dealers and their advertising dollars. No, for his determination to utter nary a discouraging word, for his selfless service to the community, Jackson deserves praise and a reprise of some typical headlines from the past twelve months: Luxury in a pickup? The nimble Sierra C3 suspends our disbelief. •Escalade a classy SUV competitor. •Extra-roomy, redesigned Le Sabre gives families alternative to minivans, SUVs. •SC430 convertible coupe is eye-catching. •The new explorer is better in every way: handling and ride vastly improved. •Toyota takes a fun mini-SUV and makes it larger, better. •Nissan aims for cutting edge in reviving the Z. •Interior makes Lexus LS430 a ride in lap of luxury. •Chrysler's minivans improve on success. •Acura's MDX meets demand for luxury SUV. •Volvo's XC: Wagon for a new age. •Fast and stylish, Lexus IS 300 a top performance sedan. •Performance is a plus for redesigned Aurora. •Breakout designs mark a new course for Cadillac. •New SUVs look like performance vehicles. •Pickups keep on truckin' -- new models far from basic. •Going topless is the secret of Pontiac Sunfire's success: fun convertible shows less is more.

Best Miami Herald Writer

The lady has cojones, which is more than we can say for the rest of the editorial page. Krog spends most of her time writing unsigned editorials, typically on the subject of county government. But she also pens signed opinion columns, which are sassier. For instance in a recent column she blasted Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas for opposing the hiring of Angela Gittens as the county's new aviation director. "For his political gain, Penelas is making it nearly impossible for MIA -- and therefore the public he purports to serve -- to get the strong, experienced management it needs," Krog wrote. "You have to wonder from whom Penelas is taking advice and counsel these days. I'd suggest he fire their butts."

On another occasion Krog was equally blunt toward the newest member of the school board. "It wasn't that I expected new Miami-Dade School Board member Jacqueline Pepper to start her public life with a quick display of leadership or anything," Krog allowed. "She's a political newcomer, after all, and has a lot to learn on the job. But I sure thought that for starters she'd do something smarter than hire her husband as a staff aide. It's legal, says Pepper. Sure, but it's not right."

And on the nomination by President George W. Bush of Linda Chavez as secretary of labor, Krog had this to say: "If Chavez is a victim of anything beyond her own bad judgment calls, it isn't the Beltway's witch-hunt atmosphere as she claims, but Bush's unwise selection of her in the first place."

Krog's strongest column of the past year, however, was far more personal. She wrote about the death of her father: "A few words about this man: He called dry cereal “pop-nuts-scrummies.' He took in strays -- both the two-legged and four-legged varieties. He baptized a basset hound that wandered onto the place and became his adoring shadow “Soupbone' for its sorry shape. He had only one usable arm after polio but played basketball, touch football, and softball with his kids on summer evenings after a long, hard day of farm work. He never whined, never complained, never looked back with regret, always leaning slightly forward into life, which he embraced and accepted for what it was -- and for what it could be."

Best About-Face

What a difference a year makes. Back then Miami-Dade County was snubbing the Latin Grammys. Now Mayor Alex Penelas and Cuban American National Foundation chairman Jorge Mas Santos are rolling out the red carpet for the awards show. Why? Technically it's because a U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively nullified the county ordinance that barred groups that do business with Cuba from using county-owned facilities. But the real reason is simpler: Penelas, Mas Santos, and others in the Cuban-American community finally awakened to the fact that they were losing the public-relations battle for the hearts and minds of the American people. Rather than seeming sympathetic, Cuban Americans were viewed as intolerant, especially following the Elian Gonzalez affair. And Miami, rather than being the vaunted Capital of the Americas, was becoming increasingly isolated. Opening the doors to the Latin Grammys is the first step in a long-overdue effort to reverse that trend.

Best Airport By Default

The smart flier used to love Fort Lauderdale's airport. Whereas Miami's airport is chaotic and crowded, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International was almost shockingly easy to navigate. Short-term parking was easy to find, so picking up and dropping off were a breeze. Long-term parking cost only three bucks per day. But Broward officials have made the tragic decision to buff up their airport, to make it more "world class." So far they've succeeded in making it more closely resemble MIA or even LaGuardia in its unwieldiness. Traffic now snakes around pylons erected to support a new terminal. Parking prices have increased across the board. Unwelcome stress has been added to the pickup and dropoff process. And inside the place, ceiling tiles are missing and escalators are shut down as workers labor to redesign terminals that were just fine the way they were. So forget it. From now on we're just taking a cab to MIA.

Best Argument For Craig Robins's Continued Professional Success

When asked about his New Urbanism-inspired development now under construction on Allison Island in Miami Beach -- a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood of moderate-height homes and townhouses -- Robins said what anyone offended by the condo canyon rising around South Beach longs to hear. "Everybody," he told the New York Times, "wants to build a 40-story building and sell you your shoebox in the sky without taking any responsibility for what effect a high-rise has on its surroundings."

Best Argument For Craig Robins's Continued Professional Success

When asked about his New Urbanism-inspired development now under construction on Allison Island in Miami Beach -- a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood of moderate-height homes and townhouses -- Robins said what anyone offended by the condo canyon rising around South Beach longs to hear. "Everybody," he told the New York Times, "wants to build a 40-story building and sell you your shoebox in the sky without taking any responsibility for what effect a high-rise has on its surroundings."

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Best Joyful Miami Herald Writer: Terry Jackson

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