Battered, bruised, but far from beaten, Merrett Stierheim in June will relinquish his position as the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. When he took the $210,000 job in 2001, Stierheim set out to do what he does best: reform a public agency plagued by low morale, bureaucratic ineptitude, rampant cronyism, and outright corruption. He has succeeded on some fronts; for example, hiring the district's first inspector general and exposing the blatantly political nature of career advancement. But Stierheim was only able to scratch the surface of the deeply entrenched problems that cripple the nation's fourth-largest school district. In the months preceding his announcement that he would be stepping down, Stierheim found himself under constant attack: The teachers' union bashed him during contract negotiations; he clashed with the state oversight board that controlled tens of millions of dollars in school-construction money; and small-minded, short-sighted board members never stopped harassing him. But even as he prepares to depart, Stierheim's enemies are on their toes. The veteran bureaucrat is contemplating the unthinkable: running for a seat on the school board. "I care about the school district a lot," he says, "but do I really want to do something political when I've been apolitical all my professional life?"

Battered, bruised, but far from beaten, Merrett Stierheim in June will relinquish his position as the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. When he took the $210,000 job in 2001, Stierheim set out to do what he does best: reform a public agency plagued by low morale, bureaucratic ineptitude, rampant cronyism, and outright corruption. He has succeeded on some fronts; for example, hiring the district's first inspector general and exposing the blatantly political nature of career advancement. But Stierheim was only able to scratch the surface of the deeply entrenched problems that cripple the nation's fourth-largest school district. In the months preceding his announcement that he would be stepping down, Stierheim found himself under constant attack: The teachers' union bashed him during contract negotiations; he clashed with the state oversight board that controlled tens of millions of dollars in school-construction money; and small-minded, short-sighted board members never stopped harassing him. But even as he prepares to depart, Stierheim's enemies are on their toes. The veteran bureaucrat is contemplating the unthinkable: running for a seat on the school board. "I care about the school district a lot," he says, "but do I really want to do something political when I've been apolitical all my professional life?"

The ebullient, outspoken Adler might seem a complete mismatch with tart, taciturn Edward Albee (author of The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?). Nonetheless Adler's masterful staging of Albee's provocative tragicomedy at GableStage was a perfect meeting of master minds. Adler is well known for his gutsy, go-for-broke style, but his work with The Goat was particularly risky and insightful, put together with such skill that many of his roll-the-dice choices looked as if he were using loaded bones to make point every toss.

Sure, the feng-shui foyer of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is fabulous, and the Bacardi compound is breathtaking, but county hall, anarchy's atrium, puts the public in public space. Here you can catch Metrorail, the Metromover, link to the bus system, buy El Horoscopo at a news shop, view larger-than-life-size flags from all 50 states, attend and be amused by a Miami-Dade County Commission meeting, munch on a Cinnabon. Though the hegemony of city, county, state, and federal government slouches all around, county hall, with its main gallery launching from the second floor, turns its face to the sky. Floor-to-high-ceiling windows provide a view to the weather on the sides not obscured by the elevated tracks of the Metrorail. The best thing about our government center is its devotion to functionality and lack of pretense -- anyone can go there, no velvet ropes block access, and watching the cycle of the day trundle along is free. And open to the public. In fact, the place is owned by the public.

Stephen P. Clark Government Center
Sure, the feng-shui foyer of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is fabulous, and the Bacardi compound is breathtaking, but county hall, anarchy's atrium, puts the public in public space. Here you can catch Metrorail, the Metromover, link to the bus system, buy El Horoscopo at a news shop, view larger-than-life-size flags from all 50 states, attend and be amused by a Miami-Dade County Commission meeting, munch on a Cinnabon. Though the hegemony of city, county, state, and federal government slouches all around, county hall, with its main gallery launching from the second floor, turns its face to the sky. Floor-to-high-ceiling windows provide a view to the weather on the sides not obscured by the elevated tracks of the Metrorail. The best thing about our government center is its devotion to functionality and lack of pretense -- anyone can go there, no velvet ropes block access, and watching the cycle of the day trundle along is free. And open to the public. In fact, the place is owned by the public.

He's big, strong, a double-double rock of muscle and hustle in the center of the Miami Heat's tenacious defense. He has a soft touch on his jumper and adds a dimension of assets that can't be measured by stats. The iron man (with the forgivable iron hands) can even fish fairly well, his favorite off-season hobby. But it's those natty dreads (with a Bob Marley tattoo for emphasis) which remind all that the NBA presses on with a Quaker's sense of individuality. His hairstyle grabs attention the way he grabs rebounds, to the point that the Heat sells Brian Grant dreadlock headbands so that everyone who's six-nine, built like a mountain, and one of the most reliable players in the NBA can be just like him. Sort of.

Clearwood's performance in Stop Kiss as a restless New Yorker who finds herself falling in love with another woman was a significant creative achievement and a highlight not just of the Sol Theatre Project's offerings but of the entire theater season. Clearwood delivered a grounded, honest performance, and had to do so within a mind-boggling, nonlinear narrative, alternating scenes before and after a horrible crime. In so doing, she managed to reveal a fully human heroine -- dazed, confused, hilarious, and heartbreaking.

Built by crazy dreamers who turned swampland into gold, Miami truly is a magic city. Henry Flagler was one of the greatest of our early alchemists. Merely on the sweet scent of a fabled orange blossom sent to him by Julia Tuttle, old Henry built a railroad to nowhere and fathered a unique American city. So it's fitting that the most obvious tribute to him should stand like a phallic beacon on an artificially created island in a dredged-out bay. Monument Island sits midway between Star Island and Rivo Alto Island, which straddles the Venetian Causeway connecting Miami and Miami Beach. While the memorial obelisk itself is fenced in and inaccessible, the island's shoreline is a popular spot for weekend boat parties. Flagler would have approved.

Built by crazy dreamers who turned swampland into gold, Miami truly is a magic city. Henry Flagler was one of the greatest of our early alchemists. Merely on the sweet scent of a fabled orange blossom sent to him by Julia Tuttle, old Henry built a railroad to nowhere and fathered a unique American city. So it's fitting that the most obvious tribute to him should stand like a phallic beacon on an artificially created island in a dredged-out bay. Monument Island sits midway between Star Island and Rivo Alto Island, which straddles the Venetian Causeway connecting Miami and Miami Beach. While the memorial obelisk itself is fenced in and inaccessible, the island's shoreline is a popular spot for weekend boat parties. Flagler would have approved.

Here's a lobbyist pushing age 60 who not only works hard and plays hard, but for years was lucky enough to get away with mixing the two. That is, until Miami cops busted Sisser in Coconut Grove this past September and charged him with possession of crack cocaine and a glass pipe. Thanks to our county's nurturing Drug Court, however, this elder statesman of the local lobbying community got a good deal, though not as nice as the one that earned him four million dollars for persuading school board members to choose a financially troubled company to provide health insurance for school district staff. Nor as nice as the deals he worked out with convicted embezzler and former teachers union boss Pat Tornillo to finance the campaigns of the very school board members who later voted for that juicy insurance contract. The Drug Court judge dropped charges against him on condition he suffer through a 30-day detox program in Arizona, after which he was to urinate for the court twice a week. But at an appearance before the judge in early January, Sisser confessed that his pee wouldn't be clean that week, for he had been playing too hard again. The judge threw the book at him: More detox, but this time 60 days!

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®