Pity the poor Orange Bowl parade. After 62 years the annual nighttime procession up and down Biscayne Boulevard now teeters on the brink of irrelevance. What once was a national spectacle that reached 12 million television viewers has devolved into the nation's largest small-town parade. At the most recent event the mayor and the police chief rode by atop a convertible on loan from a local auto dealer. The state-championship high school football team waved from fire engines. Marching bands from local high schools and middle schools paraded past in not-quite-lockstep. Municipal workers donated time to construct funky floats that would not be out of place in a suburban high school homecoming parade. Yet despite the low-rent atmosphere, the Orange Bowl parade remains the Magic City's most magical night. It is one of the few times in Miami that Anglos, blacks, and Hispanics smile while mingling. During this past parade, a Nicaraguan family grinned when an Anglo neighbor sublet his shoulders to a tiny black girl in need of an elevated viewing perch. In this context the provincial nature of the parade is not a drawback. It is endearing. Miami never feels more accessible and friendly.
Named president and CEO of Union Planters Bank of Florida this past year, Adolfo Henriques oversees a financial institution with more than two billion dollars in assets. But it is his involvement in the community that earns him the most respect. As chairman of the Financial Emergency Oversight Board for the City of Miami, he helped see that troubled municipality through its money woes. As chairman of the Beacon Council he has worked to recruit new businesses and jobs to Miami-Dade County. And as first vice-chairman (now chairman) of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, he promoted this community around the world. The 45-year-old, Havana-born Henriques is one of the leading fundraisers for the United Way, serves on the boards of the New World Symphony and Florida International University, and is a member of the Florida Board of Regents. Friends and colleagues of Henriques (who is married and has three teenage children) marvel at his ability to take on so many responsibilities and handle them all so well.
If it was in the news, José Quiñon was on the case. In fifteen years as one of Miami's top criminal defense attorneys, Quiñon defended a dizzying roster of Miami marauders. From Operation Court Broom to Operation Greenpalm, from Gutman to Gary, from oft-indicted Hialeah potentate Raul Martinez to Cuban American National Foundation president Pepe Hernandez. For a short while Quiñon even represented the defrocked basketball team at Miami High School. Then he had to go to a Grove nightclub and share margarita-flavored kisses with Esther Hernandez, wife of high-profile client Humberto. The illicit relationship cost "Q" at least $242,000 in legal fees paid by the former Miami city commissioner, and an awful lot more in reputation. It could even lead to his disbarment. Along the way it produced this joke: Why did Esther Hernandez cry when her husband was convicted of voter fraud and money laundering? Because her boyfriend lost the case.
Tough couple of years for the 36-year-old Hialeah native. Now that she's awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in April to federal corruption charges, the great irony is this: She's in a tight spot, facing up to ten years in prison, because some of her pals wanted to help her out of a tight spot. After being elected to the Hialeah City Council in 1993, Rovira earned a reputation as a close ally of Mayor Raul Martinez. Sadly her third marriage ended with a contentious divorce in 1996; she got custody of her two children but lost her banquet-hall business. In July of that year she got a job with the Port of Miami, for $39,799 per year, as an "international trade specialist." But as the investigation of former port director Carmen Lunetta heated up, Rovira's post was revealed to be among the alleged "no-show" jobs Lunetta had doled out as favors to his political allies. In mid-1997, then-County Manager Armando Vidal fired her. Her fourth marriage went into the crapper in early 1998. In her search for new work, she turned to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, applying for a teaching position (with a résumé that included the port job). She was hired as a replacement social studies teacher for the 1998-99 school year, but federal prosecutors cut short her teaching and political careers in November, arresting her as part of the port scandal. The school district allowed her to resign, and the governor suspended her from the city council. A phrase Rovira might want to incorporate into her lexicon once she gets out of the slammer: "Don't do me any favors!"
There is little doubt that losing in 1994 made Jeb Bush a better candidate for governor in 1998. It also may have made him a better person. Bush worked hard this past year to broaden his appeal to the people of Florida, reaching out to black voters and listening to their concerns. He also tempered his rhetoric, talking less about hot-button social issues such as abortion and school prayer, and concentrated instead on education and criminal justice. Needless to say, the voters responded. Bush's victory over Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay was resounding, and the early days of his administration have shown promise. Bush always said he left Texas and came to Miami in the Eighties to make a name for himself and to create his own opportunities. He's done that. Now it's time to see what he'll do with them.
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."
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.
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.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®