BEST CAR WASH South Beach Finest Hand Car Wash 1229 Eighteenth Street

Miami Beach

305-604-9282 Do you feel dirty? I mean really dirty? Then you need to have some fine young men and women scrub you down from top to bottom, inside and out, including your tires. With no monstrous machines to smack you around and bend your antenna, you'll be rubbed and caressed until you shine like the day you rolled off the lot. While you enjoy your day at the spa, your owners can relax in the air-conditioned lounge or keep an eye on you from the outdoor patio. A detail wash will set them back only $14 ($17 for SUVs and $20 for trucks and vans), so there will be extra cash to fill you up with the good gas. Do you have a lady driving you around? Tell her Wednesdays are her days to receive a twenty percent discount -- maybe she'll spring for the (regularly priced) $35 wax job.

Readers´ Choice: Busy Bee Car Wash

BEST CAREER MOVE Alberto Ibargüen He may have been sincere in telling his colleagues at the Miami Herald Publishing Company -- from reporters to advertising reps to pressroom workers and anonymous midlevel managers -- that he will miss them greatly. But in fact he couldn't be happier. No longer struggling with a whittled-down, anemic version of a once-proud newspaper under the life-sucking, soul-crushing financial thumb of parent company Knight Ridder and its pinhead CEO Tony Ridder, 61-year-old Ibargüen snagged what must be one of the best jobs in the land -- president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. There he'll be facing a very different, and much more appealing, challenge: how best to dole out some $90 million each year in grants to improve journalism and strengthen the social fabric in communities across the nation.

BEST CHEAP THRILL Miami Jai-Alai 3500 NW 37th Avenue

Miami

305-633-9661

www.miami-jai-alai.com Who needs slots? For the lousy buck gamblers throw away on spinning fruit, spectators can be treated to the real action: four or more hours of the fastest game on earth. Watch as these international athletes hurl a rock-hard ball at speeds up to 180 miles per hour. (The goatskin ball travels at such velocity it has cracked bulletproof glass.) What could be more thrilling than gasping as the players stand directly in the line of fire with only a helmet and a wicker basket for protection? For a little more money (a lot more for the addictive personalities), place a small wager and feel the adrenaline rush. Even a novice can turn a few quarters into some big bucks simply by playing the odds, which are conveniently posted along with each player's statistics. If you're lucky, this thrill will be so cheap it will actually make you money.

BEST CHILDREN'S ADVOCATE Carol Marbin Miller Miami Herald reporter Miller has been single-minded in her efforts to force the state's Department of Children and Families to change itself from a backward, inefficient, corrupt institution into a somewhat less backward, less inefficient, and less corrupt institution. Since her byline first appeared in the Herald in 2000 (she had previously been at the St. Petersburg Times), Miller has written more than 900 stories, most dealing with DCF and its former chief, Jerry Regier. In 2004 alone she reported and wrote more than 200 stories chronicling crisis after crisis at DCF: "Child Welfare Flaws Exposed"; "Agency Pressured to Aid Connected Client"; "DCF Misuses Funds"; "Two Quit in DCF Ethics Breach"; "How to Explain Why Regier Is Still at DCF"; "DCF Chief Resigns Amid Scandal." It'd be nice to say DCF has cleaned up its act and we can now trust it to look after the state's most vulnerable children. It would be nice, but it wouldn't be entirely true. Thanks largely to Miller, however, DCF is slowly but surely moving in the right direction.

BEST CHUTZPAH Jeffrey Berkowitz For some unfathomable reason, developer Jeffrey Berkowitz wants to inflict on South Florida more so-called art from Romero Britto, as if Britto's infantile decorations weren't already ubiquitous. Berkowitz and partner Alan Potamkin are about to begin construction of a cramped shopping mall and parking garage at the main entrance to Miami Beach -- Fifth Street and Alton Road. A big project like that will spin off substantial money intended for the city's Art in Public Places program (AIPP). Normally the AIPP committee would decide how that construction surtax would be spent and where the resulting art would end up. Berkowitz had a better idea: He'd commission Britto to produce a monumental piece of "art" for his project, which would become the de facto welcoming symbol for visitors to Miami Beach. Not surprisingly the AIPP committee cried foul. Berkowitz sneered: It's my project and my money and I'll do what I want with it. And if the city doesn't like it, tough. Tough indeed. Berkowitz had made a deal whereby he'd sell the potentially lucrative parking garage to Miami Beach at cost. But the committee's snobbish, elitist resistance to Britto led the developer to threaten to break that deal, keep the garage himself, reduce its size, and add more retail space. How's that for (infantile) chutzpah?

BEST CITIZEN Kimberly Green www.greenff.org Kimberly Green is what Miami desperately needs: a native daughter who has applied all of her intelligence and ambition to make this a better place. She is the thirtysomething daughter of former Samsonite CEO Steven Green, who created the Green Family Foundation with his wife Dorothea in 1991. Kimberly took over the foundation in 1997 with a sense of purpose that threatens to swamp anyone who comes in contact with her. No posh South Beach fundraisers for her, no hobnobbing with the rich and powerful. Green took her money to the ghetto, helping fund HIV clinics in Liberty City, computer-literacy labs in Little Haiti, and early-childhood-development programs for underprivileged families throughout the city. She became seriously involved in funding Project Medishare's clinic in Haiti and even spent three years producing a documentary about the lack of healthcare in that country's rural provinces. In a city where narcissism and triviality too often guide the privileged, Green's devotion to improving the lot of others is inspiring. As she likes to say, quoting Seneca: "He who gives when he is asked has waited too long."

BEST CRIMINAL CONVICTION IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS

Philip Gratz

BEST CRIMINAL CONVICTION IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS Philip Gratz Hey, dummy, stop shaking your head in wonder at how wise guys end up with million-dollar homes, luxury cars, and extravagant vacations. Here's how: They spend other people's money. Feel stupid? At least you weren't among the boneheads across the country, three of whom resided in South Florida, who sent some $8.9 million to purported stock investor Philip Gratz from 1998 to early 2003. (Apparently they weren't aware that in 1995 Gratz was convicted of scheming to inflate the stock price of a Miami-based luxury-boat-rental company by falsifying its financial records.) Operating out of suburban New Jersey, Gratz lured his victims by promising unbelievable profits: 25 to 50 percent. He lived the good life until his arrest in January 2004. According to the 24-count indictment, he "misappropriated" more than three million dollars in investor funds for a fancy home, real-estate investments, two Mercedes Benzes, artwork, jewelry, watches, home furnishings, a vacation in St. Barthelemy, cruises, limousines, restaurants, designer clothes, retail purchases, and more. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hong persuaded a Miami jury to convict Gratz. This past November a local federal judge sentenced the 40-year-old hustler to a little more than seven years in prison and eight million dollars in restitution. Seven years of splendor in exchange for seven in prison and a ton of cash. Not a great investment. Now who's feeling like a dummy?

BEST DEFENSE AGAINST TERRORISM P. Diddy When Sean Combs lived in Manhattan during the Nineties, he was beset with 99 problems. P. Diddy had a tempestuous romance with J.Lo and a highly publicized feud with Death Row Records, was accused of severely beating Interscope Records executive Steve Stoute, was present during a shooting in a nightclub, and eventually faced charges for illegal possession of a firearm. In 1997, after a period spent mourning the death of colleague Notorious B.I.G., Combs emerged from seclusion with his most successful album, No Way Out. He won a Grammy. And he moved to Miami Beach. Here he led a quiet and unassuming life until the fall of 2001, when, mistaking him for Public Enemy's uniformed, militant, and subsequently banished Professor Griff, South Florida called upon P. Diddy's familiarity with Islamic fundamentalism and knowledge of firearms and kung fu to protect citizens in treacherous times. P. Diddy manifests his protective schemes in many low-key ways. He came out with a line of so-called urban clothing called Sean John, the bagginess of which conceals its true purpose, that of bestowing upon the wearer the ability to don bulletproof under-gear. He shared the secrets of the video-surveillance company he employs to observe his abode with a local doughnut shop franchise. He even organized a team of specially trained penguins. Note to Homeland Security: Sign this guy up.

BEST DISAPPEARING ACT Alex Penelas Who would've thought I could've vanished so completely. And so quickly! Believe me, it hasn't been easy, which you'd understand if you had spent your entire adult life seeking the public spotlight. It happened so fast I didn't even have time to take an unhurried victory lap to bask in the glow of my many legacies. You know, like my environmental legacy. Remember the sprawling commercial airport I pushed for down in Homestead? Talk about vision. You can't say I wasn't down with spending millions in county resources trying to help some of my biggest supporters get that job done. And didn't I lend a big hand to Mickey Arison so we could preserve the last tract of undeveloped public waterfront land in downtown Miami? You bet I did. My transportation legacy definitely deserved more recognition. Who else could have smoothly funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the hands of loyal friends as part of our 1999 "Transit Not Tolls" campaign. Am I bitter that voters rejected the plan? No. It was worth the effort. But I am still steamed that the media claimed the public didn't believe we could be trusted with the money. I'm telling you, all of my damn people got paid. And what about my human-rights legacy? Who else but the mayor was there for little Elian 24/7? People seem to forget that the issue wasn't whether I threatened the president of the United States; the issue was life and liberty in America or living hell in Castro's Cuba. No regrets. And of course there's my political legacy itself -- a staunch Democrat who survived in a sea of Republican Miami Cubans. Don't listen to Al Gore. He's a loser.

BEST DISPLAY OF WEALTH Leonard M. Miller family The current building and real-estate boom has been very good to Miami-based Lennar Corporation, the nation's premier home-construction company, which is now pulling in more than six billion dollars in annual revenues. This past December the family of company founder Leonard Miller, who died in 2002, donated a whopping $100 million to the University of Miami's medical school, now renamed the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. It's the biggest gift in UM's history, and it says "We're filthy rich" in a very classy way.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®