Best Political Miscalculation 2013 | The David Rivera Extravaganza | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

The David Rivera campaign scandal was not only a mind-boggling blunder of mammoth proportions but also sheer madness. As it unfolded, Rivera's tale read like a piece of heavy-handed political fiction, something from an episode of House of Cards. Rivera's insane or inane corruption ranged from creating a dummy Democratic campaign to running a Cutler Bay hotel night worker, Justin Lamar Sternad, as a straw-man candidate. The plot became ever stranger. He even funded Sternad with more than 81 grand in illegal, under-the-table contributions, all in order to take votes away from Rivera's actual Democratic rival, Joe Garcia, who won anyway. David, did it not compute that this was possibly one of the most moronic pieces of political espionage since Watergate? Perhaps you simply felt you should represent the proud constituency of Miami. In any case, your masterful piece of inept skulduggery and half-crazed ambition was our number one! Congrats, caballero!

There are scant reasons for anyone in Florida to ever feel jealous of Texas, which outperforms the Sunshine State only in executions, cow patties, and cowboy hats. That's why it hurt so badly to admit the truth: Until this year, Florida was the largest state in the union never to have elected an openly gay legislator to state office. Even the Lone Star State broke that barrier back in the early 1990s. Enter freshly minted Rep. David Richardson, who beat three opponents to snag a seat that opened up in Miami Beach when Richard Steinberg stepped down after a sexy text-message scandal. Richardson, along with a fellow freshman from Orlando, became Tally's first out LGBT face. He hasn't rested on that achievement alone either, using his platform to fight for a foster care bill that would offer greater protections to gay kids and earning awards from groups like SAVE Dade for his advocacy.

When it comes to redemption stories, Kat Stacks dug herself a hole deeper than most. The bubble-breasted hip-hop groupie made her name by bedding just about every rapper to have ever set foot in South Florida and then bashing those same rappers in videos posted on YouTube. Gudda Gudda "pees on the bottom bunk," she revealed. And the Young Money Entertainment rap crew members are apparently some "dirty-ass-carpet-living-ass apartment" dudes. She was also arrested on grand-theft and concealed-weapons charges back in 2009. But in the past six months, Stacks has shed some of her prickly hip-hop persona. Stacks, whose real name is Andrea Herrera, recently revealed that her road to becoming a foul-mouthed rapper's nemesis wasn't exactly voluntary. Instead, she was forced into stripping and prostitution at age 14 until her pimp impregnated her. Stacks also became an unlikely advocate for immigration reform when she was arrested at the Nashville airport and nearly deported to Venezuela, where she was born. But when the judge found out about her horrific childhood, he took pity on her. "Shout outs to all my #DREAMers !!" she tweeted after her release. "Stand together to achieve Justice!" She even hosted a Twitter forum about immigration reform. Stacks now says her days of sleeping around are over, and she is penning a book on her bizarre, border-breaking, booty-popping, rapper-roasting life. "Damn, is the world ready?" one of her half-million Twitter followers recently asked. Her reply: "They better buckle up."

Few nuclear-powered rockets originate in tiny South Miami City Hall, a strip-mall-size edifice wedged between South Dixie Highway and Sunset Drive. But that's the unlikely launching pad for the Tea Party-wooing, Charlie Crist-dismantling, immigration-reforming, cheerleader-marrying, GOP-slaying cruise missile that goes by the name of Marco Rubio. Just a little more than a decade ago, Rubio was a fresh-faced lawyer on the tiny municipality's commission. Then came an election to the Florida House, the crafty ascent to speaker, and the stunning coup de grâce: The shocking 2010 beatdown of Crist to represent the Sunshine State in the U.S. Senate. Since then, Rubio has taken on the mantle of the Republican's Great Brown Hope, a Hispanic face who can talk about immigration without scaring the base. And he's an early favorite to snag a presidential nomination in 2016. Time magazine made it official this past February, gracing its cover with a stark portrait of Rubio and a headline that said it all: "The Republican Savior."

When 20-year-old Karlie Tomica got in her car this past January 29 after working a bartending shift at Nikki Beach, she was probably giggling and waving goodbye to her friends. But life for this self-proclaimed "party princess" would be forever changed when she allegedly hit and killed Stefano Riccioletti, who was on the way to his job as executive chef at the Shore Club. While that's bad enough, Tomica is also accused of leaving the scene of the accident. Turns out a Good Samaritan, Jairo Fuentes, who witnessed the accident, chased her down over 20 blocks to her luxury apartment and phoned police while Riccioletti lay dying in the street. Later, toxicology reports found that Tomica had three times the legal limit of alcohol in her blood. She was charged with DUI manslaughter. At a court appearance, Miami-Dade Judge Migna Sanchez-Llorens told Tomica, "In life, you make choices, and you clearly made choices that night. You made choices to drink. It's indicated that your levels were beyond anything ordinary." Maybe Karlie Tomica isn't really a "bad" girl. But she did make "bad" choices. And her predicament serves as a cautionary tale for all of us who think we're fine to drive home after having a few too many.

Until 2013 rolled around and the bell struck midnight for America's portliest bass-voiced faux-thug, Rick Ross seemed to be protected by some sort of superhuman, scandal-deflecting force field. How many other rappers could base an entire public persona around an image as a modern-day, coke-slinging Tony Montana — only to have journalists uncover his true past as a — gulp — prison guard? When that bomb dropped in 2009, Ross combed his prodigious beard, popped a bottle of 'Dre, and kept dropping verses. But the past 12 months have dumped a Champagne bath of reality on the Bawse. The problems started because the Carol City native name-dropped Larry Hoover, the Gangster Disciples founder, in a few songs. Some real-life GDs responded by uploading videos to YouTube, letting Ross know they'd put a price on his head. Unlike Ross' publicity-hounding rap beefs, this was the real deal. In December, he had to cancel a tour because of the threats of violence. And then in January, real lead flew on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. Ross crashed his Rolls into a building when a gunman blasted at him, though he amazingly emerged unharmed. Even Uncle Luke warned Ross in a column to get his act together before his story ended like Biggie's.

In Dante's Inferno, murderers are submerged in a scarlet river of boiling blood and fire. It seemed appropriate, therefore, that Joel Lebron appear in a Miami-Dade County courthouse dressed in a prison-issued jumper of virtually the same hue. All January long, a jury heard the heart-wrenching details of how Lebron and four accomplices kidnapped a teenaged couple as they strolled along the South Beach sand during spring 2002. Lebron was the ringleader, prosecutors showed, who ordered Nelson Portobanco's throat slit. The gang dumped his body alongside I-95 and then gang-raped his girlfriend, Ana Maria Angel, in the back of a truck. Finally, Lebron dragged Angel into a ditch and, as she prayed for mercy, buried a bullet in the back of her skull. Miami's most cold-blooded killer might have never been convicted if Portobanco hadn't miraculously survived to testify. Judge William Thomas wept as he sentenced Lebron to death for his crimes, but the 33-year-old killer just glared coldly around the courtroom. The conviction was a decade overdue, but it was justice: You kill an angel, you deserve to burn in Hell.

Just months after Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria screwed this city in epic fashion — selling the star players he had promised in exchange for that $2 billion pustule of a stadium — Stephen Ross had the billionaire balls to go for sloppy seconds. The Miami Dolphins owner is worth $4.4 billion by last count, but that didn't stop him from requesting more than $380 million in corporate welfare from taxpayers to fix up Sun Life Stadium. It was "unfair" for him to use his own money, he argued. This is the same man who used federal bailout loans to refinance his football team, even as he was snapping up private banks. The Dolphins sent out fliers to every household in the county, emotionally and economically blackmailing voters to support the stadium renovation by threatening to leave South Florida and bragging about the construction jobs. When Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford finally betrayed the billionaire by refusing to allow a vote on the deal, Ross pretended to be worried about the little people. "It's hard to understand why [Weatherford] would stop an election already in process and disenfranchise the 40,000 people who have already voted," Ross whined. "The speaker single-handedly put the future of Super Bowls and other big events at risk for Miami-Dade and for all of Florida." If he really wants to give us another Super Bowl, Ross could fix up Sun Life in a snap using his own cash. Instead, he's butt-hurt because he can't pull a Loria and use our money to make himself richer.

Miami is known as the Magic City, but it could just as easily be called "the playground of psychopaths." After all, it's been home to more deposed Latin American leaders, genocidal generals, and African despots than anywhere outside the Hague. Want to wall yourself up behind a phalanx of bodyguards and busty babes for hire? Bienvenido a Miami, señor. Want to snort and drink away your guilty conscience? You've come to the right place. So it was no surprise, really, that millionaire antivirus inventor turned international fugitive John McAfee showed up on South Beach back in December. Brilliant but bonkers, he had escaped from Belize to Guatemala after his neighbor was found murdered. He claimed his fight against corruption had drawn the ire of bad cops, who whacked his neighbor and were coming for him. Belizean authorities, however, said they suspected McAfee not only of the killing but also of manufacturing meth. So he fled to Guatemala, where he was caught and deported to Miami. New Times spent a day with him as he ate sushi, rambled about love and courage, and hit on anything with a vagina. McAfee spent most of the afternoon talking about how his ex-girlfriend had attempted to kill him. As he tried on sunglasses on Ocean Drive, the most interesting man in America casually turned and said, "Women are always trying to stab me in the eyes with needles."

If Miami restaurants have a star maker, it's Larry Carrino. As a partner in Brustman Carrino Public Relations, he is the person whom nearly every restaurateur in Miami has turned to at some point for advice. This guy also holds the key to the Emerald City (also known as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival) and access to all the celebrity chefs who come to play in the sun. Reporters and bloggers love him. Carrino and his stable of beautiful and intelligent public-relations associates (we aren't sucking up, really) have helped to place Miami's culinary scene squarely on the world map.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®