Best Gadfly Miami 2000 - Daniel Ricker
"Have Character, Will Travel." So reads the business card of Daniel Ricker, self-appointed "citizen advocate," who spent the past year attending county commission meetings, city commission meetings, school board meetings, and Public Health Trust meetings, all in an effort to better understand how government operates. He even sat through the public-corruption trial of former county Commissioner James Burke so he could hear firsthand how deals are made at the county level. Why did he do it? Ricker, who made his fortune managing international companies that sell coronary pacemakers, says he became so disgusted with the sleaze and corruption of politics in South Florida that, rather than withdraw into apathy, he became hyperactive in the community. He took a year off work and dedicated himself to his task. A man of limitless patience (a necessary attribute in order to sit through some of those meetings), he says he never became bored and always found the working of government fascinating and important. Simply knowing that an informed member of the public was attending those meetings, watching every move they made, undoubtedly had a sobering effect on Miami's less-than-trustworthy politicians and bureaucrats.