When the clock strikes midnight December 31, kiss your loved ones, pound some champagne, and give 2016 a big, hearty middle finger on its way out the door. This year has seriously sucked. Prince and David Bowie died. Donald Trump won the presidency. Racist Twitter eggs will soon dictate our national policy.
In Miami-Dade County, plenty of locals also did their part to ensure that 2016 will go straight into the Garbage Year Hall of Fame. They debased democracy, stole from taxpayers, flip-flopped their way to the U.S. Senate, and straight-up lied to voters. They shot unarmed citizens, spat on the idea of justice, and wrecked our favorite sports franchise.
So how better to ring in 2017 — which can't possibly be worse than the past year, right? — than by heaping a little of that shame right back onto their laps? Behold this year's Dirty Dozen:
Everything you need to know about professional ratfucker Roger Stone's repugnant worldview is stenciled in black right on his back: Wedged between his shoulder blades is a vividly smiling tattoo of his hero, Richard Nixon. Stone cut his teeth in the '70s pulling dirty stunts for Tricky Dick like giving cash to a GOP rival in the name of a socialist organization and then leaking the info to a newspaper. Now Stone has turned his dark arts to serve a new master: Donald Trump. Stone never met an insane Clinton conspiracy he couldn't sell to his tens of thousands of Twitter and YouTube followers; he coauthored a book accusing Hillary Clinton of sexual abuse, reheated cold lies about Clinton-orchestrated murders and bastard children, and gleefully amplified the fake-news torrent that boosted Trump into the White House. Lately, Stone has shamefully spread the false Pizzagate tale, which inspired a gunman to fire an assault rifle inside a D.C. pizza parlor. Don't expect Stone to apologize. Tricky Dick always loved a good lie.
Florida Power & Light, everyone's least favorite utility monopoly, gets itself wrapped up in awful environmental scandals annually. This year alone, FPL was caught leaking waste into Biscayne Bay and trying to store radioactive material under our drinking water supply. But voters got a measure of schadenfreude thanks to Sal Nuzzo, the vice president of the James Madison Institute — a "free-market think tank" that exists solely to drum up support for its corporate financial backers' most nefarious plans. And, boy, did FPL have an evil scheme this time. The company spent $8 million backing Amendment 1, which claimed to give voters the right to install solar panels at home. But voters already had that right, which made the amendment's central claim a full-blown lie. In fact, the measure's fine print would have given energy companies more power to crush the budding solar industry. That fact became boldly evident thanks to Nuzzo, who was caught on tape at an industry conference bragging about how he and his cohorts had used the "savvy maneuver" of turning solar's popularity against it. Sadly for Nuzzo, the tape leaked to the media, and voters demolished Amendment 1 at the polls.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
For a woman who helped the nation slide into Diet Fascism, a Dirty Dozen nod isn't punishment enough. But ex-Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents parts of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, worked really hard over the past year to hamstring the Democratic Party, throw rocks at Bernie Sanders' upstart campaign for president, and ram Hillary Clinton down the throats of the American populace, choice be damned. Before 2016, Wasserman Schultz had a long history of political foot-in-mouth disease, a resumé that revealed her as little more than a political ladder-climber. She's always had a worrying fealty to major Wall Street and Big Sugar campaign donors. But it all came to a head this year: Wasserman Schultz, a noted Clinton fan, was repeatedly accused of stacking the Democratic debate schedule in favor of Clinton during the primary. After Sanders lost, a WikiLeaks hack revealed that Wasserman Schultz had, in fact, tried to put her thumb on the scale and conspired (albeit only slightly) to take down Sanders. She resigned from the DNC in disgrace and took a job with the Clinton campaign. That has worked out well for her!
Even for a spineless slug who has built an accomplishment-free political career out of cynical opportunism and a handsome smile, Marco Rubio's re-entry to the Senate race this summer was extremely gross. Rubio promised again and again that he wouldn't return to the Senate. "I've only said it a thousand times," he sneered at one point. But then Donald Trump pummeled him like a drunken frat kid who took a swing at a star football player at a kegger. His White House dreams were dashed, and the Senate suddenly didn't look so bad anymore. But how to reenter a race without looking like a total rat? Enter the Pulse nightclub massacre, where 49 innocent LGBT partiers were murdered in cold blood. With a straight face, Rubio cited the carnage as his reason for reentering politics. Never mind the fact that he has opposed gun control at every opportunity. Never mind that he has fought gay marriage and done nothing to protect LGBT rights. Worst of all: It worked. Rubio won the primary and later the general. How did he celebrate? By speaking to a virulently anti-gay Christian group in Orlando. Slugs gonna slug.
Donald Trump, how do I despise thee? Let me count the ways.
I hate thy ridiculous Twitter chatter.
And thy policies that make your rich friends fatter,
Thy "nasty woman" attacks were but cheap shots,
And thy Russian-inspired attacks were done by bots.
In the debates, you drew my ire,
You're like a kid who calls "fire, fire, fire."
Your cabinet in Washington will ruin our health
Wrecking the environment, hurting the poor
Both in obvious ways and by stealth.
While acting loud and ugly, you're a lecherous boor.
With my lost saints, I hate thy breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but despise thee better after death.
It's the holidays, so what do you give a dead guy who has everything, like El Dictador, who finally shuffled off this mortal coil November 25 at 90 years old? Could we send him a bodyguard? The guy killed thousands and sent away so many people that they created their own damn city in the swamp. But, nah, it's too late for that. Caviar? After all, he manipulated the Russians for years. They made up 80 percent of Cuba's foreign trade. But then, in 1988, Russia pulled its support. No dice on that gift. A good cigar? Wait, didn't the CIA poison a batch of his stogies with botulinum toxin in 1960 but failed to deliver them? Bad gift. Bad taste. An alumni T-shirt from West Dade's Belen Jesuit Preparatory School? Well, he was Class of 1944, but that would never do. The Yankee dogs moved the school to Miami after the revolution. And besides, what would a dead guy do with a T-shirt? Let's just let him lie.
Pat Riley is undeniably one of the greatest sports figures Miami has ever seen. Constructing three Miami Heat championship teams over a seven-year period cemented that status. For a man Heat fans refer to as "the Godfather," there is almost nothing he could do to flip that narrative. Almost nothing. To say 2016 was bad for Riley would be like saying the Democrats didn't have the best 12 months. Riley's inability to keep legendary Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade in town will forever tarnish his legacy. It was a monumental blunder that even he admittedly regrets. What's worse, Riley pushed away Wade in favor of a fleeting pursuit of Kevin Durant, whom everyone but Riley knew would never come to Miami. Making it even worse, Riley also alienated the brilliant Chris Bosh as the star player fought a second bout of blood clots. Riley's communication was so bad that Bosh found out from his wife that he would never again wear a Heat uniform. To cap it all off, Riley followed up those hamfisted moments by putting together one of the worst Heat rosters we've ever seen at the American Airlines Arena.
For years, this black-robed gremlin could have shown fairness and compassion. Instead, he doled out extremely harsh and seemingly random sentences. Destry "doesn't see the humanity of poor people," says Howard Finkelstein of the Broward Public Defender's Office. The judge once revoked a woman's plea deal and sentenced her to ten years after she attempted suicide and missed her court date. He gave a 22-year-old first-time offender ten years for dealing $50 of crack. His lack of judgment goes both ways. He also sentenced a man who'd raped a 15-year-old to only a year in jail and another who raped a middle-school girl to two and a half years. Destry has tweeted from the bench, arrived hours late to court, and held sessions until midnight. In November 2015, he sentenced 23-year-old Herbert Smith to 60 years in prison after he broke his probation. That ignited a viral online petition calling for Destry's ousting. So Destry let the young man go free. Finally, the judge lost his seat in the August primary and stepped down 11 weeks early after the state Judicial Qualifications Committee filed formal ethics charges for "the appearance of quid pro quo." It turns out Destry had met with a campaign supporter about Smith's criminal case without notifying anyone. The good news is that now he'll likely never hand out another unjust sentence again.
Even when there's video, most police shootings exist in a gray area of public opinion. But when North Miami Officer Jonathan Aledda shot Charles Kinsey, an unarmed behavioral technician, not even the most pro-cop Twitter accounts could back him. That's because bystander video showed Kinsey was lying flat on the ground with his arms raised, screaming for police not to shoot, when he was hit. The whole situation would be comical if it weren't so infuriating: On July 18, someone had called police to report that Kinsey's autistic client appeared to be holding a gun in the street. As plainly seen in that bystander's footage, the object was actually a toy truck. Still, Aledda fired three shots toward Kinsey, who is black, striking him once in the leg. Shamefully, the president of Aledda's police union tried to defend him by saying the officer intended to shoot the autistic man — who, again, was simply holding a toy. No one seemed to buy that explanation. "I'm absolutely disgusted with the defense you've given," one caller said on the department's community hotline, which was set up to field complaints. "Everyone knows that's an absolute load of baloney."
Social media might be the worst thing to have happened to famous people. Sure, they are able to connect with fans on a more personal level, but it also allows celebs to say whatever is on their mind without the finesse of a press agent. For every DJ Khaled there is a Lena Dunham — someone who thinks that because he's a celebrity, everyone wants to know what's on his mind. Trick Daddy is like Dunham on heavy drugs. He proved that not once but twice this year. In June, he took to Facebook Live to threaten an unknown woman who'd posted a comment on his page. During the two-minute tirade, he told the woman: "I'll spit in your face when I see you, bitch" and "Tell that bitch to keep my name out your mouth, bitch, before I stick a pistol in your mouth, pussy-ass ho." He kept his promise by spitting directly at his phone. Then, in October, he returned to the interwebs, this time taking his rant to Instagram, where he went into a semicoherent sexist and racist diatribe. After addressing the beauty of "Spanish and white hoes," Trick told black women to "tighten up." Please, somebody take T Double D's phone away from him.
Often erratic and always contrarian, Raquel Regalado challenged incumbent Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez with all the finesse of a sprayed roach. Throughout the campaign, the school board member — and daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado — excelled at the impossible task of being less likable than Gimenez by constantly criticizing the two-term mayor while failing to push forth her own ideas. He supported a county grant to Tri-Rail? She opposed it. He allocated $1 million for police body cameras? She called them "an example of poor spending." Then, in August, she was caught claiming an improper Homestead exemption, enjoying a tax break that didn't apply to her. That was far from the only head-desk moment of her campaign. In September, her opportunism reached Rubio-esque levels when she used her platform to openly pander to opponents of naled, a toxic pesticide that was being aerially sprayed in Wynwood and Miami Beach to combat Zika-carrying mosquitoes. In the end, voters found her far too thirsty. A judge dismissed Regalado's last-ditch lawsuit to oust Gimenez from a runoff election, and then Gimenez bested her with 56 percent of the vote. But don't expect her to go away just yet: Some say the race was just a warmup for Regalado to replace her father as city mayor in 2017.
We've all been there. It's late, you've had a few too many, and, maddeningly, your incoming Uber hasn't moved a block in the past couple of minutes as you stare at its progress on your iPhone. But it's safe to say most of us haven't reacted like Anjali Ramkissoon. The aspiring neurologist attracted worldwide scorn in January after she was caught on camera hijacking someone else's Uber in Mary Brickell Village, where she assailed the driver and then trashed his car when he refused to take her. The 30-year-old Jackson Health System resident kneed the driver in the nether-region, screamed at him, and then hopped into his car, all while bewildered onlookers watched in shock. "Get the fuck in the car, you fucking piece of shit!" she shrieked at the driver. When he didn't, she began hurling his belongings — piles of paper, an iPhone, and, randomly, a pair of scissors — through the window and into the street. Ramkissoon later apologized to the driver, but she was hounded by internet trolls who harassed her online and by phone. She went on an apology tour after the video went viral, contritely telling George Stephanopoulos on national television that she'd had a bad night: Her dad was hospitalized, and she and her boyfriend of two years had just broken up. "I made a huge mistake — the biggest mistake of my life — and that person is not me," she said. But no amount of apologizing would save her job. Four months after the drunken rampage, she was officially fired from Jackson.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.