It's been five years since county commissioners, in a politically charged vote, selected Armando Vidal as their county manager over Cynthia Curry. At the time Curry was seen as the big loser. What a difference five years can make. Today the county is racked by scandals and mismanagement. Commissioners have been arrested, department heads indicted, and Vidal, fired by the mayor who helped install him in the first place, is now working for the City of Hialeah. And Curry? Well, she is doing just fine, thank you. She came through the county manager selection process with her dignity intact and left the county to become a vice-president for business and finance at Florida International University. She was tapped by the governor to serve on the Financial Emergency Oversight Board keeping an eye on the City of Miami. She led the county's successful effort to have a portion of Miami-Dade designated as an empowerment zone, making it eligible for tens of millions of dollars in state and federal aid. And earlier this year the 43-year-old Curry left FIU to open a company with her husband, CWC & Associates, which will pursue business opportunities in South Florida. "I'm at that maturation point in my career where I need to do this," Curry recently told the Herald. "I've always wanted to be ultimately responsible, and this does it."
Forget Demolition Man. This 25-year-old reliever (a Florida native) is the unheralded star of our mediocre team. He works hard, pitches at better than 90 miles per hour, and closes games as easily as some people close their garage door. This past year he put up numbers that placed him among the National League's ten best relievers, and this year he's even hotter. The guy is a bargain by professional baseball standards -- a one-year contract worth $735,000. On top of that, he's a likable fellow. With the Marlins frequently falling behind in the early innings, new owner John Henry needs something that'll keep fans in their seats. Mantei is the man for the job.
She's 36 years old, has been a staff sports writer with Miami's Only Daily since 1983 and a columnist for the past five years. Her columns touch on all sports, at all levels of competition, and are marked by a directness and clarity of thought often lacking not only in the sports pages but throughout the paper's other sections as well. Four times she's been honored by having her work appear in the prestigious annual anthology The Best American Sports Writing, most recently in 1998 for a compelling article on the life of tennis star Venus Williams. Robertson deftly zeroed in on Williams's father:

"After declaring that 'any father who lets his daughter turn pro at fourteen should be shot,' he entered fourteen-year-old Venus in her first pro tournament just before the Women's Tennis Association raised the age of eligibility. Although he says, 'I'm holding the reins tight until she's eighteen,' he insists Venus made the decision to go pro herself.

"He preached the importance of education and a normal life for his kids while pulling them out of school and enrolling them in a tennis academy in Florida. He criticized controlling parents while supervising everything from Venus's forehand to her interviews to her trademark beaded-cornrow hair style. He lambasted parents for 'prostituting their daughters' by turning them into marketing commodities, then negotiated the contract with Reebok, rumored to be worth two million dollars."

One more sample, this from an article on Mike Tyson's reinstatement to boxing:

"We cannot resist a peek into the lives of our national bad boys, lives seemingly dictated by uncontrollable urges and self-destructive searches for risk. During Smut Summer '98 we watched President Clinton and Tyson squirm on TV, read about Clinton's grand-jury testimony and Tyson's psychiatric tests, and found out that the president and the former heavyweight champion weren't really two of the strongest men in the world.

"Those were illusions we can live without. The antihero is harder to revere, but easier to forgive.

"Tyson read Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment in jail. He figures he has paid his price. Everyone deserves a second chance. Okay, maybe a third or fourth.

"But in Tyson's case, when will we stop counting?"

The NationsBank Tower (née CenTrust Tower) is a beacon in the Miami-Dade night if ever there was one. It also illuminates a dark episode in U.S. banking history. Each evening just after sundown, the 47-story skyscraper reflects a diaphanous color du noir that ranges from orange, aqua, red, light green, and dark green to purple, pink, and white. But from where do those mesmerizing hues emanate? Dozens of powerful floodlights placed atop adjacent buildings and Metromover lines. The lofty polyhedron, designed by international architectural star I.M. Pei, was completed in 1985 and now serves as a geographic point of reference for disoriented tourists, new arrivals, and long-time residents alike. But it also hearkens back to one of Miami's most notorious moral compass problems. The bright idea for developing the lighting scheme was that of banker and CenTrust executive David Paul, whose company built the tower. Unfortunately a federal court found Paul's dealings to be less-than-glowing, and convicted him for using $3.1 million dollars of the bank's funds as his own. Paul began an eleven-year prison sentence in January 1995. The enlightened man who engineered the building's distinctive glow is Douglas Leigh, who also devised the bulbwork for the top of the Empire State Building in New York.
Henry, who took over the Marlins ball club from evil overlord Wayne Huizenga on January 13, already has two World Series rings. (He was part-owner of the New York Yankees from 1992 to 1998.) And he has owned all or part of the Class AAA Tucson Toros and the West Palm Beach Tropics. The Tropics, an old-timers team, boasted several veterans from the world champion Oakland A's, including manager Dick Williams and pitcher Rollie Fingers. Although the Boca Raton-based bond trader hasn't yet spent the necessary millions on new players, he could hardly be worse than his predecessor. And with all that series gold behind him, you gotta believe there's more ahead.
AMC likes to boast that it is changing the way South Florida sees movies. This might just be true if the amount of time spent waiting in line for tickets could be dramatically reduced. Now comes AMC's automated box office machines at Aventura and Sunset Place. Could long box-office lines be a thing of the past? Take your credit card, slide it in, select a movie and time, grab the tickets, and run. Next stop: the concession stand. Is there something wrong with this picture? We hope not.
In this town where a party is something that takes place in a nightclub, organized by a professional event planner, the spontaneous spook show on Lincoln Road is wonderfully refreshing. Drawn by little more than the fact that the pedestrian walkway is an ace spot to see and be seen, the crowds gather. Women strut in full Brazilian carnival regalia, a harness of feathers spreading over the entire width of the sidewalk. Men in Louis XV period costumes -- powdered wigs, lace cuffs, and all -- bow gracefully. Tourists gawk. No one organizes this. There is no guest list or velvet rope. You won't be asked to pay for the privilege of observing. This is an egalitarian pleasure. And the feeling of brotherhood spreads quickly. With so many conversation-starters ("Where on earth did you get that sequined codpiece?"), talk among strangers is easy. Next thing you know, rounds of drinks are bought. But alas, we fear these may be the waning days. The new multiplex and the intrusion of chain stores may make the Road less hospitable to the creative spirits who gather here on All Hallow's Eve.
He came, he saw, he didn't exactly conquer. So the pop artist is picking up and making a new start of it in Los Angeles, his hometown. The 40-year-old painter, who gained fame in New York in the Eighties, and his wife Tereza, a yoga teacher, are planning to relocate this summer with their two teenage daughters. Scharf to the Herald: "I get press, press, press, but as far as people down here buying artwork, it didn't happen." Reminders of his six-year stint here include a colorful rocket ship lifeguard station on South Beach; one-eyed mannequins in the windows of Burdines; Absolut vodka billboards scattered around town; and gobs of kitschy T-shirts, pens, backpacks, and lighters on sale in the gift shop of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami.

Best Ten-Round Fight For Women's Rights

Roxcy Bolton

Did you hear the one about the genteel Southern woman who kicked some old-boy-network butt? Roxcy Bolton has been delivering punch lines like this for decades. Her intrepid spirit and quick thinking have brought about momentous changes in the arena of women's rights in Miami. Some women work to break the glass ceiling, the systemic barriers women face in rising to traditionally male positions of power and prestige. Roxcy Bolton, true to her agricultural upbringing, was busy breaking ground, the hard, untended ground of feminism in South Florida in the late Sixties, making strides for women's basic human rights over the years by advocating, among many other things, a rape treatment center, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the right of women to nurse their babies in public. In 1996, 30 years after becoming the first Floridian to join the National Organization for Women, Bolton was inducted into Miami's Centennial Hall of Fame. Her latest groundbreaking event? The opening of the Women's Park History Gallery on March 7, 1999 (for International Women's Day). The Women's Park at West Flagler and 103rd Court, which Bolton founded, is the first of its kind in the nation. After suffering a stroke and a heart attack this past year, the 72-year-old Bolton is finally giving herself a well-deserved rest. But you can bet she'll be on the frontlines should a war between the sexes break out.
Lobbyist Chris Korge is a master ventriloquist. Just look at his most recent performance before the Miami-Dade County Commission. One of Korge's clients, BellSouth, wanted to sneak through an extension to their lucrative pay-telephone contract with the county. So Korge tapped one of his favorite dummies, Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, to make the motion. While watching Barreiro "speak" in favor of the extension, most people in the audience could barely see Korge's lips moving. Ultimately the maneuver failed, but we understand Korge is undeterred. He's working on a new act. This time he's going to drink a glass of water while making Barreiro "talk." Good luck, Chris. It won't be long before Vegas beckons you and your little buddy to open for Wayne Newton.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®