Best New Law 2016 | Broward Decriminalizes Marijuana | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida

Proving there are ample ways to define the phrase "no-brainer," Broward County decriminalized marijuana last November. Though the county can't make the drug legal (that power rests with the state and federal governments), the County Commission unanimously voted to let cops choose whether to issue citations or make criminal arrests in certain pot possession cases. Now, it's possible that instead of being hauled off to jail for a wee bit of ganja, nonviolent offenders just open up their checkbooks and pay: $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second, and $300 for a third.

In the spring of 2015, when Bernie Sanders' candidacy was but a gleam in left-wing eyes, Hillary Keyes was on the case in Palm Beach County, drawing the faithful together under the banner of Progressive Democrats of America. She put meat on the notion's bones, troops on the ground, and cash in the drawer. Working outside the Vermont senator's national organization and in the face of an indifferent Palm Beach County Democratic Party (its leadership having been Clintonized), Keyes organized backyard and living-room meetings that snowballed into a volunteer corps of phone bankers, two "Bands for Bernie" benefit concerts, and other outreach efforts. How did Bernie do in the mid-March Florida Democratic Primary? Lost to Hillary Clinton two-to-one. Did more than half a million Floridians support a Jewish, atheist, socialist for president? Yes, they did. For your share in that miracle, take a bow, Ms. Keyes.

Eleanor Sobel spent much of this past year doing what few Florida politicians seem willing or able to do: defending abortion providers. In a year when Gov. Rick Scott, Voldemort incarnate himself, signed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, Sobel stood strong and tried to amend the bill to save funding for those who'd become pregnant by rape or incest. (She was effectively booed from the floor and withdrew the amendment.) In addition, Sobel pushed hard for — and eventually got — money to hire 160 new mental-hospital employees in a state that may have the most dangerous mental wards in the nation. Oh, and she took some time to repeal that silly law that made it illegal for unmarried couples to live together. Here's to cohabitation!

LaGrone earned her platitudes this year for putting together a series of stories that included one thing absent from most TV newsreels: nuance. Working in tandem with the Palm Beach Post, WPTV's LaGrone studied every shooting by Palm Beach County cops since 2000. Even in today's post-Ferguson world, the results were shocking: Deputies were cleared of wrongdoing in a whopping 97 percent of fatal shootings. Investigations, the report said, are geared, from the start, to favor police. Objective evidence, like videos or key witness testimony, is routinely ignored. But the package was also remarkable for the breadth and scope of its video content: In one harrowing clip, Vincent Tuzeo, the last Palm Beach County Police officer to be charged with shooting a civilian (in 1993), stares at the ground as he apologizes for killing a man. "Do I regret it?" he says. "No. Am I sorry? Of course. Who wouldn't be sorry for taking somebody's life? You can't not be sorry."

It's hard to believe, but Fox Sports Sun's Eric Reid has been calling the Miami Heat's play-by-play action since 1988. He's become our very own Vin Scully. You simply can't watch a local Heat game without Reid's voice calling the action. It's just a part of life. Reid, known for his staccato cadence, his sharp suits, and his "Kaboom!" catch phrase after every made Miami three-point shot, has established himself as a local institution. Over the years, he has worked Heat games with basketball giants such as Dr. Jack Ramsay, Mike "The Czar" Fratello, and Ed Pinckey. In recent years, Reid has teamed up with former Heat Assistant Coach Tony Fiorentino as his color commentator, forming a likable odd-couple dynamic that makes Heat broadcasts must-watch TV. And this year, the franchise celebrated Reid when he called his 2,000th game — a milestone that's become more and more rare in a time when giant sports networks like ESPN and NBC are snatching up talent and plugging them into their nationally televised games. Eric Reid is ours. And he's gunning for 3,000 games. That's a lot of "Kabooms!"

You know those Twitter memes that make you laugh, then blow up by being shared 1.4 thousand times and get retweeted with commentary like "I'm dead fam!" and "Who did this??" Chances are that a good number of those memes were created by @DanGnajerle. Only you don't know it. Because most of his memes have been stolen and co-opted by other Twitter users passing them off as their own. When LeBron James broke the Miami Heat's single-game scoring record, @DanGnajerle pasted a goofy LeBron face onto the iconic Wilt Chamberlain 100 points picture. The meme was then shared more than 2,000 times. When the Mets lost the World Series last October, @DanGnajerle Photoshopped the infamous "Crying Jordan Face" onto the Mets' home-run apple. This got more than 5,000 retweets, and the meme even got a mention on CNN. Every single time, @DanGnajerle was never given the proper credit. But here we are, giving credit where credit is due. Some of Twitter's best memes are coming from a local guy named Danny who loves the Miami Heat, the Teenage Ninja Turtles, and Full House and goes by the name @DanGnajerle. Give him a follow. And when he tweets out a meme that you find amusing, hit the retweet button, for Pete's sake.

Producing a radio show might seem like a cakewalk when you have on-air talent as strong as sports journalist Dan LeBatard and his cohort, Jon "Stugotz" Weiner. Really, though, the sports-talk biz is crazy competitive, and as the hosts improvise and adjust their patter, curve ball after curve ball is thrown in producer Mike Ryan's direction on an hourly basis. Yet he consistently gets a bat on the ball and knocks it completely out of the park. He jumps on air, managing to function both as the young guy and the voice of reason. He sings parody songs, butts into conversations at the right time, and perfectly represents the bipolar Miami Heat fan. Sure, the hosts are great — but this sports radio show wouldn't be the same without this particular producer.

Between 2005 and 2010, when Channing Crowder was busting skulls for the Miami Dolphins as their middle linebacker, fans knew he was a character. Crowder's stint with the Fins was a brief one, but he left a lasting impression as a guy who would mix it up by getting under the skin of the opposing players, plus give the media a crazy postgame sound bite. His inability to filter himself turned into highly entertaining radio interviews, during which he revealed that he used to urinate in his pants during games and gave nebulous accounts of possibly selling football jerseys while in college. This led to good things for fans in Crowder's post-NFL career as 560 WQAM's nuttiest sports-talk personality — first as a midday host of his own show and now as the third man on Marc Hochman's afternoon-drive show. Crowder has made QAM must-listen radio, as he spouts off his opinions on pretty much everything under the sun and regales listeners with goofy stories from his playing days. All in all, Crowder the man remains the same. He's as funny, crazy, and unpredictable as ever, which is why he's the best thing going on local AM radio.

Readers' choice: Steve O & Rene

Ethan Skolnick has had himself one hell of a season. Skolnick, who has covered South Florida sports for various outlets since 1995, returned to the Miami Herald this season to cover the Heat, but that wasn't his biggest move of the year. In addition to his impeccable blog and newspaper coverage, Skolnick took on the daunting task of replacing longtime 790 the Ticket afternoon-drive hosts Dan LeBatard and Stugotz — and the results have been extraordinary. Skolnick has thrived in the station's 4 to 7 p.m. slot alongside Chris Wittyngham. For three entertaining hours, Skolnick brings together his unparalleled Heat coverage and entertaining interaction with callers and members of #HeatTwitter.

Morning-zoo radio hosts are kind of cliché. When spouting out their 3,000th fart joke doesn't work, they hit silly sound-effects buttons. They're dumb, they're annoying, and they're the last thing you want to be stuck with while driving to work in rush-hour traffic. Then there's Paul Castronovo. He's been hitting the South Florida morning airwaves for 26 years with his buddy "Young" Ron Brewer — and he's still entertaining. Castronovo knows his audience and is for-real funny, not fart-joke funny (although he'll occasionally dabble in some off-color humor). Castronovo is at his best when he's snarky and loves to mix it up with callers who are less than intelligent. More than anything, however, Castronovo has the rare gift of making you want to hang with him. There's not a single loyal listener of the Paul & Young Ron Show who wouldn't kill to go fishing with Castronovo in the Keys or hit up a Dolphins game with him. Paul Castronovo is like your cool cousin, and he makes that morning commute bearable.

Readers' choice: Paul Castronovo

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