Sailboats and small pleasure craft float in front of historic Twenties and Thirties homes. Neighbors enjoy leisurely sunset walks along the water. One of South Florida's myriad gated communities? Try again. An affluent, private residential island sandwiched between Miami Beach and the mainland? Nope. Would you believe unincorporated Miami-Dade County? It's true. This eight-square-block area, located between NE 87th and 91st streets, NE Tenth Avenue and Biscayne Bay, offers a unique twist on waterfront living. Instead of facing the bay, homes sit on "Lake Bel Mar," which according to folks in the area is the only canal in Miami-Dade County located in front of a row of homes. The place is so charming, secluded, and quiet that residents begged us not to tell people about it. Sorry.
We know he's duller than dirt. Hell, he knows it. And as soon as he loses a game and/or doesn't win a national championship, New Times, shallow and fickle publication that we are, will hold it against him. But until then, Larry, congrats: You da man!
The Center for Positive Connections
Positive Connections was unique seven years ago and remains one of the nation's few comprehensive support centers for HIV-positive heterosexuals. In 1995 Sheri Kaplan, newly diagnosed with HIV and feeling out of place at existing resource centers mainly catering to gay men, decided to start her own support group. Today Positive Connections, with the help of grants and donations, has grown into a one-stop hub that anyone with HIV or AIDS can benefit from. Whether your concern is finding a physician, a financial planner, or a dog groomer, Positive Connections can steer you in the right direction. The center itself offers a diversity of free classes and workshops covering everything from Reiki and acupuncture to past-life regression and art therapy. There are regular heterosexual support groups for English-, Spanish-, and Creole-speaking men, women, and their families and friends. Also a group for gay men recently started.
Casa Casuarina
Zachary Fagenson
It's the train-wreck effect. No one walks by without slowing down, turning their heads. They lean in close to each other and whisper. "Versace," "shot," "steps." Casa Casuarina, now the property of North Carolina telecommunications mogul Peter Loftin, sits in ostentatiously grand Mediterranean style in the middle of Ocean Drive, awaiting its transformation into an unaffordable boutique hotel. Orange tape surrounds the grand fence. Landscapers stride in and out. But no passersby look beyond the steps where the fashion mogul was gunned down on July 15, 1997. And that's where the tourists pose, in twos and threes and fours, in bikinis and shorts, smiling broadly for each others' cameras. After all, nothing says Miami like a murder site.

It's Cultural Friday over on SW Eighth Street, except there isn't really any culture. For that you need to go north a couple blocks and find this eclectic building. Upstairs: lab6 art gallery, showing new and alternative works, usually by locals. Downstairs: PS 742 performance space, featuring new and alternative productions from here and afar. On the sidewalk outside: alternative types looking for camaraderie or a place to drum or strum for the evening. Both upstairs and downstairs accommodate such desires, usually after 10:00 p.m. Next door: artist Carlos Alves's quirky studio and Adalberto Delgado's 6g music studio. The all-white, 3000-square-foot space at lab6 is new. Owners Carlos Suarez de Jesus and Vivian Marthell moved up in October after closing their appropriately titled show "Intimate Addictions: Living Large in Tight Spaces." PS 742 moved into the old space, which director Susan Caraballo transformed into a black-box theater and began presenting Surreal Saturdays and other nights of dance, song, and show. A highlight of the year: Upstairs and down joined together in celebrating Babalu Aye, or San Lazaro, the patron saint of healing, which brought together all alternative forms of Miami for a nightlong bash.
In a town where far too many public servants graduated from the school of corruption and incompetence, Merrett Stierheim stands out as a beacon in the darkness. Since 1959, when he began his career as an assistant manager with the City of Miami, Stierheim has kept an able hand on the tiller of our biggest and most complex governments, often called up on deck just as the ship was about to hit the rocks. By dint of his reputation as a fixer of big problems, he has become an almost mythic figure in his own lifetime. In 1967 he left for Florida's west coast but returned in 1976 to become Dade County's manager during a most difficult period (the Mariel boatlift, riots, cocaine cowboys) until his retirement in 1986. In the early Nineties Stierheim became Miami's chief cheerleader as president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Then in 1996, as the City of Miami faced a financial meltdown amid political scandal, Stierheim was coaxed out of his second retirement to become the pro bono city manager. In no time he discovered a $68 million shortfall in the city's general fund and led the beginning of a long recovery effort. In 1998 he was again tapped to become county manager as Miami-Dade reeled from scandals and corruption at the airport and the Port of Miami. He retired in early 2001 when it became clear Mayor Alex Penelas wanted a less independent and forceful manager. Stierheim kept himself busy through the spring and summer by becoming interim manager of newly incorporated Miami Lakes and leading another emergency recovery team through Homestead's shaky finances. In October 2001 Stierheim took on what is arguably his most challenging and important job yet -- superintendent of Miami-Dade County's mammoth public-school system. The school district is a magnified version of the bureaucracies Stierheim had wrestled with earlier: unwieldy, riddled with corruption, and filled with a demoralized workforce. But with the future of 370,000 children in his hands, the stakes are much higher. Stierheim has already begun to heal an ailing bureaucratic culture. Only time will tell whether he can successfully complete the job.
In Miami-Dade County, Steve Spratt was always a little shocking. Low-key, competent, respected -- what could be more shocking in a county employee? Spratt was not only thoroughly informed but able to relay that information without lying, obfuscating, or double-talking. He was a budget expert who wasn't afraid to call a scheme a scam. Surely it was too much to ask someone like Spratt to stick around forever. But he did last a remarkable 25 years at county hall before departing in December 2001 to become the Pinellas County administrator (their version of county manager). Now 47 years old, Spratt began his government career in 1976 as a lowly complaint-taker in the Dade County manager's office, eventually moving to budget director and finally to assistant county manager. Known for his directness and impartiality, Spratt did what he had to do, even if it meant recommending the suspension in 1999 of parks director Bill Cutie, who was later indicted in the famous "missing trees" caper, in which the county paid $1.6 million for 4200 palm trees that were never accounted for.

Radio Carnivale is the first Haitian-owned radio station in the nation (not counting pirate stations and two so-called FM subcarriers that can be picked up only by a specially tuned radio). The Kreyol-language station went on the air in early 2001 after last-minute complications: a name and call-letter change and the resignation of its general manager. But more than a year later Radio Carnivale has proved to be an ever-strengthening presence in South Florida's Haitian community. It's starting to make inroads on the traditional brokered-time programming arrangement that has always ruled the Haitian airwaves, and which has always meant a few powerful programmers are licensed to tell the Kreyol-speaking public anything, including slanderous lies about people they dislike and who may have no way of replying. But Radio Carnivale is a genuinely professional operation featuring music, news, and talk shows. The station is attracting more advertisers, and though it has not been able to avoid brokering (selling) some airtime, it has raised the level of Kreyol discourse in Miami.
Adriana+Carvalho%27s+%3Ci%3EInsomnia%3C/i%3E
He's received this award before. He deserves it again. Not that Snitzer is alone these days in promoting the new, the local, the quality art. No indeed. Genaro Ambrosino's gallery, transplanted to North Miami, continues to showcase just that, as do those gallery-homes that stole much of the scene recently. Still if you only visited one gallery and it was Snitzer's, you would have caught almost every interesting vibe Miami is creating. Passing through his walls, ceilings, floors: the very young Hernan Bas and Bert Rodriguez; the very local Purvis Young; the very Cuban José Bedia and Glexis Novoa; the very diverse Lynn Golob Gelfman and Mette Tommerup; and many many others. Snitzer has also been integral to some of the most exciting art events we've ever seen, such as the site-specific and ephemeral Freedom Rocks and Espirito Santo Bank exhibitions, energy and insight from which continue to reverberate throughout his own space. It's a lot to take in -- thank goodness.

When Doug Yoder went to work for the county in February 1971 he was fresh out of Cornell University and full of youthful idealism. At the age of 24 he sincerely believed in the notion of public service. And guess what? Thirty-one years later he still does. Yoder has been with DERM since July 1977. In that time he has seen county managers and agency chiefs come and go, but he's still there, worrying about air pollution, water quality, and dump-site contamination while fielding citizen queries and complaints and serving on several national boards, including the Urban Consortium Environmental Task Force. Yoder is beginning to think about retirement in the next few years, but that does not mean he's slacking off. He returns phone calls, brown-bags his lunch, pays attention at boring budgetary meetings and hearings on airborne particulates, and recognizes that he is a servant of the taxpayers. Good man.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®