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.
The symbolic heart of Little Havana once again is beating strong, thanks to an infusion of new blood from artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. The old landmarks are still there. The smells of café cubano and oven-roasted pork still emanate from El Pub. Domino Park remains the site of some of the fiercest domino games and political conversation anywhere. And the historic Tower Theater has reopened as a neighborhood cinema. But what's really put this strip back on the map is its growing arts scene, a collection of studios and galleries that has turned the area into Miami's cultural district. The best way to get acquainted with all that's new -- and old -- on Calle Ocho is to attend Viernes Culturales, Cultural Fridays, a neighborhood open house and street festival held the last Friday of every month.

Who will ever forget those images of well-dressed young men with neatly cropped hair pounding on the doors of the Miami-Dade County Elections Department during the height of the presidential recount? And when a few of them erroneously thought county Democratic Party chairman Joe Geller was trying to steal ballots, they pounced on him like he was the last piece of Brie at a wine-and-cheese social. Initially television viewers must have thought the hooligans were local citizens, but anyone living in Miami knew right away this wasn't a hometown horde. For one thing there wasn't a single guayabera in the crowd. Sure enough it turned out this rabble was imported from out of state, many of them the aides to Republican congressmen from around the nation. Eventually the roving band of Republican thugs was forced to disperse, but not before they caused Miami-Dade County to cancel its recount and ensure a victory for George W. Bush.
Led by Mayor Julio Robaina, the City of South Miami passed an ordinance last year requiring gun owners to place safety locks on all weapons. The measure is intended to reduce the number of accidental shootings, especially those involving children. "We're trying to protect the safety of the children of this community," Robaina declared. "And this is just the beginning." Despite heavy pressure from the National Rifle Association and a lawsuit attempting to derail the law, Robaina and the South Miami City Commission have remained steadfast in their support, mounting an aggressive gun-safety education campaign in addition to handing out free gun locks to any individual who asks for one. During the kick-off celebration of the campaign last August, city officials distributed more than 300 locks. Individuals who do not comply with the law will be subject to a $250 fine for their first infraction, $500 for their second. Already the South Miami ordinance is being copied by cities and counties around the nation.

True, animal-rights activists are up in arms about it, but it's difficult to resist the experience of actually getting into a tank and splashing around with the Seaquarium's dolphins. Shooting through the warm water like a, well, dolphin, watching them leap above and around you is a kick for kids and adults alike. But it's titillation with a price. You'll pay $125 per swimmer. And if you're allowing your kid to do it but want to watch, that's an extra $32. And children are required to have a guardian present, so consider that fee mandatory. Fortunately the money buys you some safety and reassurance as well: Four trainers are in the tanks along with three to five dolphins per session. Just one warning: Raw sardines may be a treat for the dolphins, but it's doubtful you'll find them as tasty.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®