Best of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of 2006


  • + Beaches
  • + Boca Raton
  • + Boynton Beach
  • + Central Dade
  • + Coconut Creek
  • + Cooper City
  • + Coral Gables
  • + Coral Springs
  • + Dania Beach
  • + Davie
  • + Davie/West Hollywood
  • + Deerfield Beach
  • + Delray Beach
  • + Florida Keys
  • + Fort Lauderdale
  • + Glades
  • + Gulf Stream
  • + Hallandale Beach
  • + Highland Beach
  • + Hillsboro Beach
  • + Hollywood
  • + Jupiter
  • + Lake Worth
  • + Lauderhill
  • + Lighthouse Point
  • + Margate
  • + Miramar
  • + North Dade
  • + North Lauderdale
  • + North Palm Beach
  • + Oakland Park
  • + Ocean Ridge
  • + Out of Town
  • + Outside South Florida
  • + Palm Beach
  • + Palm Beach Gardens
  • + Parkland
  • + Pembroke Pines
  • + Plantation
  • + Pompano Beach
  • + Riviera Beach
  • + Sea Ranch Lakes
  • + South Beach
  • + South Dade
  • + South Miami
  • + Sunrise
  • + Sunrise/Plantation
  • + Tamarac
  • + Treasure Coast
  • + Unknown
  • + Wellington
  • + West Dade
  • + West Palm Beach
  • + Weston
  • + Wilton Manors
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Best Of :: People & Places

Best Meet-Up Group

Better-organized than the pagans, more regularly scheduled than the belly dancers, and more committed than wine enthusiasts, poets, or people with ADHD, Broward County atheists have a meetup group to be reckoned with. With 104 members and a weekly meeting that hopscotches around various pubs and restaurants in Davie, the group is part secularist society, part singles get-together, and part homegrown church substitute for the godless. Its members promote "logic and reason as basis for beliefs" and entice newbies with offers of "drink, some good food, and lively conversation." At their weekly non-Sunday meeting (usually held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays or Wednesdays), Broward Atheists form a lively community where potlucks are shared, anti-God (and anti-Bush) harangues are aired, and non-God-oriented group activities such as highway litter cleanups are planned. The group has even spawned its own website, While some might suspect that the Broward Atheists are merely a cover for closeted Democrats to mingle with like-minded folk without revealing their political affiliations, the atheists themselves say that they are simply creating a haven for freethinkers of all stripes in a land that's obsessed with God. But whatever their underlying motives, their success in the world of meetups is clearly unparalleled.

Best Local Girl Gone Bad

This Best Of marks a New Times fall from grace for Cynthia Berman-Miller. Three years ago, in our 2003 Best Of issue, Berman-Miller, then director of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, received a "Personal Best" nod. She talked to New Times about her love of reality TV. But after that issue, Berman-Miller became ambitious, and things went terribly wrong for the artsy lady. After taking a job with the City of Hollywood as director of the newly created Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Berman-Miller became responsible for promoting arts in Hollywood and for raising funds for the taxpayer money pit that is ArtsPark. But Berman-Miller then tried to create a taxpayer-funded golden parachute. While a city employee, Berman-Miller led the creation of a private organization called the Greater Hollywood Arts Foundation. She helped GHAF receive $480,000 in seed money from Hollywood taxpayers at the same time she expected to become a paid staff member of the organization. But it didn't stop there. Also while a city employee, Berman-Miller submitted two separate development proposals to the city. For one proposal, she partnered with state Rep. Ken Gottlieb to ask for roughly $8.2 million in development incentives. Of course, she didn't mention that she received her real estate license a month before she submitted the proposals. Conflicts of interest? Berman-Miller says everything is on the up-and-up. She says she's just working hard for a city she loves. Tsk, tsk.

Best TV News Reporter

Derek Hayward has a way with words. A general-assignment reporter with WSVN-TV (Channel 7) since 1991, the English-born Hayward has an uncanny ability to drop phrases that only he could get away with. Our favorite: When police were looking for a murder suspect recently, Hayward told his audience that the boys in blue were looking to have a "wee chat" with the man. An old-school, shoe-leather television reporter, Hayward is known for his casual, disarming style with sources behind the scenes and a beat-on-the-door-for-a-comment approach to on-camera journalism. He's the guy you see in front of the courthouse or police station when big news breaks. Heck, he's often one of the first reporters on the ground when big news happens. And that hard work has paid off for Hayward, who has won three Emmy Awards for journalism in South Florida and, before that, Jacksonville. But Hayward is also a regular guy. Unlike some TV reporters, Hayward hates pretension. In the off hours, it's not uncommon to happen across Hayward at a pub, his jacket and tie in the car and hand cradling a pint of beer. Sit down with Hayward, buy a pint, and have a wee chat. After all, whether he's on camera or off, Hayward is always one of the good lads of South Florida journalism.

Best TV Station

This is no contest. In terms of local programming, WPBT kills the competition. For local politics, you've got Issues with Helen Ferré. Sure, Ferré's show is low-key, but you usually learn something when you watch the area's politicians, educators, and journalists yap about important, um, oh yeah, issues. Listening to Broward County Mayor Ben Graber talk about how he thinks the commission gets a bad rap for corruption is priceless. It's not just local politics, though. Capitol Update takes you to Tallahassee for the latest from that little cesspool of special interests. The station also has the only local newsmagazine out there. New Florida is a well-produced show that features two classy (and lovely) hosts in Debra Ball and Hunter Reno. If that's not enough, then turn to Florida Crossroads for homegrown documentaries. What's amazing about these shows is that they offer a lot more than your average -- and so often boring -- public television tripe. The shows have solid reporters who know how to tell great tales. They pull you in to the Florida that's around you -- and that's worth the price of admission right there.

Personal Best: For the Love of Lizard

Joe LaRue has achieved renown by ingesting large quantities of food -- pancakes, corn on the cob, hamburgers, hot dogs -- better and faster than almost anyone else. He is South Florida's foremost competitive eater. To watch the six-foot-eight LaRue down Nathan's Famous at the annual hot-dog-eating contest in Coney Island (where he placed 14th last year) is a wondrous sight, a rarely viewed natural function, akin to watching a python swallow an alligator. This has absolutely nothing to do with LaRue's choice of snakes and lizards for pets (actually, living in an apartment, he couldn't have a dog or cat) or with his selection of Pet Paradise on Hiatus Road in Sunrise as his favorite mom-and-pop establishment. The friendly little pet store is where LaRue, who owns three pythons and a leopard lizard, goes to do his reptile thing. Paradise is where LaRue gets the rats to feed the pythons and the crickets and worms for the lizard. It's also where he gets knowledgeable advice from Paradise's proprietors, Robert and Patricia Kesselman. Like, what kind of heating system should you get for your python terrarium? The Kesselmans will school you. It's all for love. Reptiles can be surprisingly personable, LaRue contends. "They actually do have personalities," he says. "It's hard to find them, but they're there."

Best Hurricane

She began humbly as Tropical Depression 12, dawdled for a bit over the Bahamas, and eased over to South Florida in the last week of August. Around the time she breached our shore, she graduated from a tropical storm to a full-blown hurricane, although with sustained winds no faster than your grandma drives on I-95. But it was just enough to snuff your electricity and blunt your weekend. Candles and Jameson and Scrabble came out of the cabinets; milk and meat went into the garbage -- c'est la vie, welcome to Florida. The storm passed, FPL made its rounds, TVs awoke, news spread: Our kitten of a 'cane killed 14 people in Florida, then swelled in the balmy Gulf to a 175-mph, 902-millibar, Category 5 civilization-stopper of a storm. We then watched her go all Old Testament on Louisiana and Mississippi. It was horror. And as we gaped and grieved and beheld a thousand dead and a million homeless and $200 billion in destruction, we could feel at least a tingle of providence, knowing that for us, at least, the jazz-hating, Superdome-wrecking, family-killing cycloptic scourge that was Katrina could have been much, much worse. At least we got to say we knew her when.


Best Meet-Up Group: Broward County Atheists Weekly Meetup Group


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