A slightly built fellow with shockingly red hair and an engaging manner, Kaplan is the guy who gets to answer the same question again and again: What's wrong with Miami voters? As spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, Kaplan is courteous, helpful, and prompt. And he doesn't go home early. Which is good, because ever since the elections department moved from downtown to Doral, it's a pain to get out there and see him.

A slightly built fellow with shockingly red hair and an engaging manner, Kaplan is the guy who gets to answer the same question again and again: What's wrong with Miami voters? As spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, Kaplan is courteous, helpful, and prompt. And he doesn't go home early. Which is good, because ever since the elections department moved from downtown to Doral, it's a pain to get out there and see him.

As leadoff hitter, Alabama-born center fielder Juan Pierre set the pace for the 2004 Florida Marlins and helped slay giants (and Cubs and Yankees, oh my). The main artery in a world championship team filled with heart, Pierre gave his all to hitting, base running, and fielding. He almost always put himself in the right part of the outfield at the right time to make the play. On those rare occasions where his positioning failed him, Pierre compensated by flying rather than diving to get to the rock and leave hitters feeling robbed. That speed served him around the bases as well. Clocking in at 3.6 seconds from home to first, Pierre led the National League in steals. And who can forget the team's first at-bat in World Series play, when Pierre tapped the ball into a dead zone in the Yankee defense, showing again that even in the age of steroids and home run kings, it's the small things that make champions. That and giving it your all.

Where do nightlife promoters go when the lights are turned on? Capponi, who leveraged South Beach party promotion into a small fortune without ever actually having to own a nightclub (thus avoiding all those pesky liabilities), has segued from making sure the dance floors are packed to partnering up with the starchy Ritz-Carlton South Beach as its "nightlife ambassador." But that's not the deal that impresses. This past year he hooked up with developers Gregg Covin, Chad Oppenheim, and Armin Mattli, who are building Ten Museum Park, the upscale high-rise condo in downtown Miami. Smart move. Capponi's contact list is filled with people who have too much money in their pockets, too much time on their hands, and a desire to keep the party going. Purchasing a condo in a Capponi-approved project means buying into a lifestyle of VIP passes, celebrity DJs, and the lure of lithesome beauties by the pool -- or at least the illusion of such. Ten Museum Park sold 95 percent of its units just nine days after going on the market.

Where do nightlife promoters go when the lights are turned on? Capponi, who leveraged South Beach party promotion into a small fortune without ever actually having to own a nightclub (thus avoiding all those pesky liabilities), has segued from making sure the dance floors are packed to partnering up with the starchy Ritz-Carlton South Beach as its "nightlife ambassador." But that's not the deal that impresses. This past year he hooked up with developers Gregg Covin, Chad Oppenheim, and Armin Mattli, who are building Ten Museum Park, the upscale high-rise condo in downtown Miami. Smart move. Capponi's contact list is filled with people who have too much money in their pockets, too much time on their hands, and a desire to keep the party going. Purchasing a condo in a Capponi-approved project means buying into a lifestyle of VIP passes, celebrity DJs, and the lure of lithesome beauties by the pool -- or at least the illusion of such. Ten Museum Park sold 95 percent of its units just nine days after going on the market.

If the Miami Dolphins can conjure up a quarterback and an offensive line, Ricky Williams will set rushing records for years. Combining speed and agility with Riggins-esque old-school muscle, Williams was the only moving part in the Dolphins' offensive engine last season. Williams's personality also makes him more interesting than your average hunnerdtenpercent-givin' jock: The 230-pound Heisman winner has dealt with social anxiety disorder all his life, and at one point only consented to interviews while wearing his helmet and Vaderlike visor. The eerily soft-voiced bruiser was also, for a time, unable to leave his house for fear of having to interact with people who recognized him. But a well-documented recovery (thanks to therapy and medication) and a trade from New Orleans to Miami in 2002 have resulted in a more confident Williams, on and off the field. Now all the Dolphins need to do is fire their coach, shore up the defense, and bring in the aforementioned QB and offensive line.

The Florida Panthers are a mediocre team with an outstanding goalie. Despite tepid group play all around him, Luongo has been stellar this season, racking up six shutouts by late February, when he led the National Hockey League in saves and was second in the league with a stingy .934 save percentage. Luongo has gotten better over three seasons with the Panthers, turning himself into one of the league's top goalkeepers. Unfortunately (and like Miami's biggest sports star, Ricky Williams) Luongo isn't getting a lot of help from a young, inexperienced Panthers defense. Part of Luongo's one-step strategy for filling up the net: Be big. At six feet three inches and 205 pounds, there's simply not much space to squeeze a puck around him.

Good & Funky may well live up to its own hype as "Miami's hippest charity." In the thrift store's "premium" department you'll find designer bags, little black dresses, and Fifties modern lamps. But if you're looking to give rather than get, Good & Funky still is a good stop. Proceeds earned from the sale of your donations go to Grubstake, the nonprofit organization that runs the shop. Its mission: "To help women in distress establish a new home and make a new start." Your rarely worn suit could help a recovering addict land a job. That pair of pajamas you never mailed to your nephew up north might comfort a little tot reunited with his mom fresh out of rehab. Grubstake accepts furniture, computers, and cars as well -- anything that might help a woman and her family get back on their feet. But Good & Funky doesn't discriminate. Some women in distress might remain that way for a while, but they still need clothes. So there's a chance you might see last New Year's Eve's lamé camisole out on Biscayne Boulevard adorning a working girl who hasn't yet quite got up the gumption to quit. Drop off your goods or call for pickup.

Good & Funky may well live up to its own hype as "Miami's hippest charity." In the thrift store's "premium" department you'll find designer bags, little black dresses, and Fifties modern lamps. But if you're looking to give rather than get, Good & Funky still is a good stop. Proceeds earned from the sale of your donations go to Grubstake, the nonprofit organization that runs the shop. Its mission: "To help women in distress establish a new home and make a new start." Your rarely worn suit could help a recovering addict land a job. That pair of pajamas you never mailed to your nephew up north might comfort a little tot reunited with his mom fresh out of rehab. Grubstake accepts furniture, computers, and cars as well -- anything that might help a woman and her family get back on their feet. But Good & Funky doesn't discriminate. Some women in distress might remain that way for a while, but they still need clothes. So there's a chance you might see last New Year's Eve's lamé camisole out on Biscayne Boulevard adorning a working girl who hasn't yet quite got up the gumption to quit. Drop off your goods or call for pickup.

With 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline to protect, it's nice to know the United States Coast Guard has more than 200 years' experience doing its job, especially considering that the Turkey Point nuclear plant and the sprawling, wide-open Port of Miami offer tempting targets to terrorists. Since 9/11 the Guard has mobilized reserves, mounting its largest defense since World War II. Miami is receiving extra attention, and not just because historically we've been a swinging door for smugglers and migrants. The main reason Miami gets bonus protection -- more cutters, more Port Security Units, more helicopters -- is that so many desperate souls try to sneak into South Florida from their native lands of Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere. With all that going on over the years, the Guard has had ample opportunity to practice the tricky business of monitoring the open ocean and the nearly infinite approaches to the mainland. Local Coasties were ready to take on terrorists even before the jihad began in force. No wonder the Department of Homeland Security celebrated its first anniversary at Bayfront Park.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®