Best Of :: People & Places
A handsome man with a slim figure and kind face, Dean Trantalis in many ways represents the new Fort Lauderdale. In a city where the mayor is openly homophobic, Trantalis in March 2003 defeated the wife of County Commissioner John Rodstrom (also homophobic) to win a seat on the City Commission. He became Fort Lauderdale's first openly gay commissioner. He won, thanks in part to his career of fighting for gay rights. In 1990, Trantalis successfully lobbied the Broward County Commission to pass a human-rights ordinance protecting gays from discrimination. Seven years later, he coordinated an unsuccessful effort to stall the passage of a Florida law banning same-sex marriages. Yet Trantalis stands up for more than gay rights. A successful attorney who has studied in England, Eastern Europe, and Russia, the commissioner has proven in his first year on the job to be a thoughtful, deliberative man unwilling to make rash decisions. He refuses to sacrifice natural beauty to fatten developers' wallets, frequently voicing his belief that Fort Lauderdale Beach, in particular, should be protected from overdevelopment. And when every elected official in Fort Lauderdale seemed to want to blame former City Manager Floyd Johnson for the fiscal crisis, Trantalis kept his blade sheathed, loathe to strike the wounded scapegoat. But maybe that also speaks to Trantalis' greatest political fault: He's too kind. In the rough-and-tumble world of politics, nice guys don't last. But we hope Trantalis does. Readers' Choice: US Rep. Clay Shaw
We know that a lot of guys, including mayors, enjoy some Internet porn. And there's nothing wrong with that as long as you play by a couple of rules. First of all, you gotta keep your wanking rate below that of the average zoo monkey. And second, you need to hide your tracks. Everybody knows it's going on, but that doesn't mean anybody wants to see evidence of it. And it's that second part where long-time Pembroke Pines Mayor Alex Fekete screwed up in a big way. He sent his personal laptop computer to the city techies to have it repaired for a virus and left, oh, about 23,000 pornographic photos on there for all to see (which makes us wonder if he also didn't break rule number one, as well). And see the smut, city employees did. Then they sent it to the State Attorney's Office for an investigation. Thankfully, there were no charges, since there was no child porn in the mix. I'm not sure, but if you've got 23,000 dirty pictures on your computer, it's no wonder you picked up a virus. Fekete, in his defense, insinuated that some saboteur had infected his computer with the porn. Yes, the dreaded evildoer Pornman struck again. Now this was all a major-league F-up, but it's not even his biggest gaffe. Hell, it happened three years ago, and somehow Fekete escaped media scrutiny. No, where Fekete really whacked himself, so to speak, was by bringing up his little pornodrama at a political function in February. To a group of retirees, no less. It was a pathetic attempt at damage control, since the Herald and Sun-Sentinel jumped on the story. Well, to make a long story a little longer, Fekete isn't the mayor anymore. The disturbed retirees voted him right out of office in March. The good news: Now he has plenty of time to pursue his other, um, interests.
Not even those overwrought 1980s prime-time soap operas -- like Dallas and Falcon Crest -- ever came up with a better script than what's been happening at our public health system. It begins with Austin Forman, the scion of the county's most powerful family. J.R. -- I mean Austin -- rigged a sweetheart deal with the tax-subsidized North Broward Hospital District to build a medical office building. With the help of district CFO Patricia Mahaney, he and a couple of partners stood to make $100 million on the public's dime. But then Alexis -- I mean Mahaney -- who'd gone on an exotic vacation to Africa with Forman, got too greedy and was busted by the feds for embezzling NBHD money. A federal grand jury has since convened to investigate the deal -- and the scandal leads all the way to the governor, who happens to be the president's brother and heir to the White House in 2008. This one hasn't played out all the way yet, so we can't wait for the next episode. Readers' Choice: Miriam Oliphant
Um. Oh. Well. Uh. Shit. You're younger than you think you are.
You don't so much listen to Jim "Mad Dog" Mandich as you rubberneck him. He's a loud, obnoxious, full-of-himself, loutish, often-wrong boor. In other words, he's perfect for that abrasive medium called radio. What's more, Mandich is perfect for sports, especially since he's a former jock himself, having played several seasons as a mediocre tight end for the Dolphins. With his sports pedigree, Mandich has a special insider quality that somewhat tones down the repulsive nature of his character. (Though he could never touch the smarm level of his WPLG-TV (Channel 10) television partner Jimmy Cefalo, another former Dolphins receiver). Mandich doesn't just talk about sports; he's liable to ramble on about the hangover he has from freebie cocktails he drank the night before or provide an anecdote that reveals his lecherous nature. You never know what this train wreck of a man is going to say next -- and that's what really makes him hard to ignore. Readers' Choice: Neil Rogers
Pretty much the Sentinel's bite-size version of Jim DeFede, Mayo's heart is in the right place. The former sportswriter has a conscience and a Jimmy Breslin-like way of reporting issues rather than just commenting on them. He zeroes in on controversial topics and provokes meaty debate. Willing to cast a withering sidelong glance at the folly of our ways, Mayo pisses people off, and that's good. A recent misguided letter-writer complained that the columnist "should be more objective," because, "after all, honesty and objectivity are the only things that distinguish you from the tabloids." Hey -- we resemble that remark! As a columnist, Mayo is paid to spew his opinion hose over anyone who gets close to it. You know you're soaking in it.