Um, $145 billion. Yeah, that's with a b. That's how much this husband-and-wife team won for their clients in July 2000. The astounding award was the culmination of a seven-year legal battle against the nation's tobacco industry, and it all played out in the Miami courtroom of Judge Robert Kaye. The Rosenblatts' argument was deceptively simple: "My key strategy was to show that these people have knowingly sold ... a product they 100 percent knew will kill a certain number of their customers. And that they didn't give a damn," Stanley told the National Law Journal. The jury bought it. The victory for their estimated 500,000 clients is all the more impressive in light of the fact that these two local advocates faced a veritable army of high-priced attorneys hired by the tobacco giants. Faced them down and kicked their butts.

Baby Huey became the poster child for the Clinton pardon scandal when it was revealed he had received more than $400,000 to work on a pair of clemency petitions, both of which ultimately succeeded. A former public defender, Rodham seemed to spend all eight years of the Clinton administration trying to find ways to cash in on being the First Lady's brother. He ran a laughable campaign for the United States Senate in 1994 and later attempted to become a captain of industry by cornering the hazelnut market through contacts in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. That last venture caused all sorts of problems for the U.S. State Department. But if his prior attempts to exploit his family name were oafish, his profiteering in the pardon scandal was downright obscene, and proved to be a major embarrassment not only for former President Clinton but also for Rodham's sister, Hillary, the newly elected senator for New York, who ordered her brother to return all the money. Perhaps most embarrassing were the television images of Rodham in the days after the scandal broke. He refused to speak to the media, so news footage frequently showed him running back and forth from his car to his house wearing flip-flops, baggy shorts, and a T-shirt that was just a little too tight for his globular frame. Not a pretty picture.

This past December, when NBC named 35-year-old Miami native Jeff Zucker as the head of its entertainment division, he was not only one of the youngest hotshots to fill such a high-profile slot, he also was the first executive with a news background to take over the company's entertainment arm. And he's one of us: North Miami Senior High, class of 1982. "Hey, I'm a Miami boy," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer, explaining a style quirk. "Wearing shoes without socks is very Miami." The word wunderkind is used so frequently in describing him it's almost become his middle name. After joining NBC Sports in 1986 as a researcher/writer, he moved on to the Today show, where he rose to become executive producer at the tender age of 26. Critics give him full credit for imbuing that program with a news edge it previously lacked, and more important, for guiding it to unprecedented popularity and prosperity. He's also been the driving force behind many of NBC's highest-rated news specials. Moving from New York to Los Angeles may be just as shocking as going from presidential interviews to sitcom scripts, but he's a hearty lad who likes a challenge. No further proof is needed than his success in battling colon cancer -- twice.
When songwriter Robert "Raven" Kraft made a New Year's resolution in 1975 to jog along the Miami Beach shore every day for a year, he didn't think he'd attract a following. But after 26 years of late-afternoon runs (even through gale-force hurricane winds), and after logging 76,500 miles, the man was bound to get attention. A coterie of locals, old-timers, and snowbirds gathers daily at the Sixth Street lifeguard stand for a casual eight-mile jog with Raven. Dressed in his trademark black running shorts, black headband, and single black glove, Raven leads his pack with a slow, methodical chug. (He reportedly is one of the nation's top "streak runners," people who literally never miss a day of jogging.) Through the years more than 200 individuals, from financiers to corrections officers, have trotted with the man in black. Complete a run and you're part of this quirky gang. Membership is free, plus you'll be christened with a funky nickname such as Tangerine Dream, the Plantain Lady, and Chapter 11.

It was a harrowing fall. Before: Helps lead a successful zoning fight to keep denser housing out of suburban Hialeah Gardens. Touted as first Latina mayor in the United States when elected in 1989. Divorces Angel Ramos, loses seat in 1993, marries Angel Ramos again, becomes mayor again in 1995. Wears miniskirts with blazers.

After: Swept up in storm of anonymous letters accusing her of lascivious, corrupt acts at city hall. Jailed in June 2000 on charges she conspired to kill her ex-husband in order to collect $45,000 in insurance money. Also charged with voter fraud. Convicted a month later and sentenced to four years and eight months in prison. Gov. Jeb Bush removes her from office. Touted as Women's Detention Center inmate No. 0053063. Released on $100,000 bond pending appeal. Denies wearing miniskirts with blazers. Former city employees file a harassment lawsuit against her for lewd and lascivious remarks.

Once she was just another young, attractive woman on South Beach. A student assembling a portfolio at the Miami Ad School, a part-time employee at Books & Books on Lincoln Road. Browsers who even noticed her behind the register probably never realized they were in the presence of "America's Sweetheart," as Bryant Gumbel would soon anoint her. Yet the cutest member of the cast of the first Survivor, the spectacularly popular television show she joined almost by accident, shed her anonymity forever by lasting until the show's final six contestants. An entire nation fell in love with her voice, her spirit, and her fresh look. Suddenly a celebrity, Haskell maintained a healthy attitude about the fame thrust upon her. "All the publicity is a complete joke," she told Detour magazine soon after her island banishment was broadcast, "and I don't know how long this phenomenon is going to continue." Long enough for her to take on an agent, cash in on an endorsement contract with Blistex, and win a role as a love interest in a major Hollywood movie, due out in June. Through it all Haskell appears completely in control of her ride, perfectly sane about the hype, lovelier now than when she left us.
New Yorkers have Miss Liberty towering above their harbor. Washingtonians have the noble Pocahontas perched atop the U.S. Capitol. And Miamians have a 21-foot-tall, virtually naked Tequesta Indian blowing into a conch shell on the grounds of the Three Tequesta Point condominium tower at the mouth of the Miami River. He stands on a nineteen-foot coral-rock pedestal surrounded by palm trees. Historians believe the last Tequesta died in the 1700s from diseases borne by the dreaded Spaniards, but this big bronze one will be impervious to such calamities. Commissioned by the Swire Group, which has developed most of Brickell Key (also known as Claughton Island), the statue, whose Spanish name translates to Sentinel of the River, was created by Cuban-born sculptor Manuel Carbonell and unveiled in July 1999. (Another Tequesta statue by Carbonell adorns the nearby Brickell Avenue bridge.) Our sentinel doubles as an ersatz lighthouse. The conch, which he holds pointed skyward, glows at night. The work is best seen from Biscayne Bay by boat, though it is visible from the northern seawall of the river near the Hotel Inter-Continental.

Winds blows, storms flood, drought plagues, citrus canker rages, Elian goes home, Warshaw goes down, MIA radar goes down, Shalala arrives, Reno returns, Stierheim's out, juice bars are out, pirate radio lives, Bicentennial Park lives, Emilio Milian dies, Frosene Sonderling dies, Milt Sosin dies, Brickell Key gets built up, South Beach gets built up, Performing Arts Center still not built, Tom Tomlinson takes off, Angela Gittens touches down, Cuban spies pervade, chads hang, ballots get counted, ballots get recounted, Homestead Air Force Base goes down for the count, Reboredo steps down, musicians strike, Marlins strike out, sewage spills out, oil spills onto beaches, beaches disappear, Cuban ballplayers defect, Cuban doctors defect, Brickell Emporium closes, Body Positive closes, WAMI closes, Hurricane Debby fizzles, Latin music sizzles, cops and drugs, cops and hookers, priests and hookers, educators and hookers, hookers and killers, killer tires, killer trains, killer canals, kids kill, rip currents kill, light poles kill, lobbyists survive, Stiltsville survives, GableStage survives, Margarita Ruiz dies, Wayne Brehm dies, Heberto Padilla dies, Morris Lapidus dies, South Miami locks guns, Carollo gets locked up, insurance rates go up, Cuban politicos get violent, Gables politicos get the boot, Boy Scouts get the boot, traffic clogs, drought persists, Alfonso Sepe goes to jail, Gilda Oliveros goes to jail, Noriega stays in jail, Latin Grammys go, Latin Grammys arrive, City of Miami Lakes arrives, Versace's mansion gets sold, Madonna's mansion gets sold, SoBe nightlife gets old, and just when the magic seems to have vanished from the Magic City, a minor miracle occurs: The address of little Elian's Miami home, 2319, pays $5000 in the Florida lottery.
It goes without saying that in South Florida it's rare to find politicians who don't betray themselves and their constituents within 30 minutes of taking the oath of office. But the newest Miami City Commissioner, a quick study and a hard worker, has remained true to his beliefs: Always be honest and straightforward, keep citizens' interests first, no backroom funny business. Winton's rectitude was most evident in his handling of the site-selection process for the Florida Marlins' proposed stadium. Citizens and activists who feared the Marlins were going to steamroll the city into accepting its demand that the stadium be located in Bicentennial Park found a champion in Winton. While most of Miami's established power structure believed it was a foregone conclusion that the team would usurp the park, Winton countered that the city commission had formed a task force to explore ways to reinvigorate that neglected parcel of land and turn it into a jewel. He argued that it was wrong simply to brush aside those efforts so the Marlins could place a concrete behemoth on the water. His willingness to speak out in a forceful manner galvanized public opinion against the Marlins and forced the team to accept an alternate location.
The array of lights illuminating the 47-story Bank of America Tower quite literally provides a beacon in a city that too often seems to lose its way. Public officials are hauled off in disgrace at an alarming rate. Racial and ethnic tensions threaten to boil over at any moment. Cold-war passions still dominate civic life. But on any given night we can glance up at the Miami skyline and see the tower bathed in soothing bands of colors: red, white, and blue on the Fourth of July; red on Valentine's Day; orange and green to salute UM's football squad; icy blue with giant snowflakes at the winter holidays. We gaze upon it and instinctively our mood softens. Beyond that, the structure's history entails the kind of bumpy ride that is the Miami experience. Designed by famed architect I.M. Pei, it was inaugurated as the headquarters for David Paul's CenTrust Savings Bank in 1987. CenTrust collapsed, and Paul went to prison for gutting the institution. The Resolution Trust Corporation has sold it twice since then. Current owner is National Office Partners, which considers the building's illumination to be a serious matter. "We view this as a civic-pride thing, really," says property manager Jay Windsor. Two workers require nearly four hours to change the colored lenses on nearly 400 1000-watt lights. But one glance at the incandescent glow over a darkened Biscayne Bay and you can see it's clearly worth the effort, a reminder that no matter what else, we live in a beautiful place. Sometimes that's enough.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®