Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

A day in South Florida can be stressful: Billboards. Traffic. Hooters girls who haven't updated their uniforms since 1983, still wearing bright-orange shorts and pantyhose. You need a place where you can go to chill out and catch a sunset. Enter the Loxahatchee River Historical Society: You've got them to thank for maintaining the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, a 105-foot-tall landmark overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the wilds of Jonathan Dickinson Park to the west, visible from 18 miles away. A venture up the stairs and a look-see from the 360-degree platform is breathtaking any time of day, but on the last Wednesday of the month they offer sunset tours.

A 1998 charge of disorderly intoxication didn't stop Fitzroy Salesman from winning election to the Miramar City Commission in 2003. And a 2005 DUI charge resulted in just a 20-month suspension from his official duties. So it's stunning that this battle-scarred politician would have his career toppled by a single brush with 18-year-old Lazavius Hudson. Last Thanksgiving eve, Hudson and his friend were buying sodas at a Winn-Dixie market when they heard Salesman's threats to "shut this bitch down" if management didn't open an express lane. Not to be intimidated, the young men refused to move to the express lane, which triggered Salesman's temper, Hudson's invitation to settle the matter "outside," and, finally, Salesman's pulling a .45-caliber pistol from his waistband. The commish found himself charged with aggravated battery and suspended from his post, which has since been filled by an unarmed commissioner. Maybe it's time Hudson considered a career in politics — he's already proven he's willing to fight official corruption.

A few years ago, selecting Bober as the best anything would have seemed unthinkable. He was, after all, just a weak Hollywood city commissioner ebbing and flowing with Mayor Mara Giulianti's political tide. But a funny thing happened to Bober on the way to mediocrity: He grew a pair. First he got the upper hand over Mara with his ethics reform crusade, and then he took her seat away from her in the January elections, knocking off Hollywood's reigning queen of mean and jolting her lobbyist-led political machine. Instilling hope in his beaten-down city earned Bober big respect, but the real question is what he'll do with his new powers. Too often political upstarts have come in with grand promises only to disappoint mightily (recently ousted Pompano Mayor Kay McGinn comes to mind). Along with the people of Hollywood, we'll be watching.

Pardo is one of those rare politicians who has done more good before gaining elected office than most officials do in their entire careers. Pardo, of Riviera Beach, basically saved the municipal beach at Singer Island from developer Dan Catalfumo and his giant Ocean Mall project: She led the signature-gathering effort to bring about the referendum for a five-story height limit on the beach. The people passed the measure, dooming Catalfumo's plan, which had been approved by a rubber-stamp commission. After beating the commission, Pardo decided to join it; she was elected over incumbent Jim Jackson in March. If she's half as effective in office as she was on the sidelines, great things are in store.

Out in the open, on the dais, is Stacy Ritter, a powerful Broward county commissioner. Slithering behind the scenes is her husband, Russ Klenet, a well-heeled lobbyist who is most famous for selling the commission a lousy touch-screen voting system that wasted millions of taxpayers' dollars. Together they are pretty darn powerful. And awfully damn corrupt. Ritter voted for Vista Health to receive the county's health insurance contract. At the same time, Klenet's firm was working for Vista. While Ritter publicly favored the county's airport manager, URS, Klenet counted them as a former client and internal company records showed he continued to assist the company in its lobbying efforts even after his wife was elected. It's so romantic, really, the way they take care of each other at their respective workplaces. It may not be a priceless marriage, but it's worth something.

The best public restroom in South Florida is a marvel. It's got a gorgeous view of the ocean and is very near to all of Fort Lauderdale's best beach bars. It's a quick walk from both BeachPlace and Las Olas Boulevard. It's also robotic — self cleaning, if you can dig it — and runs on a timer to keep the pissers on task. Also: it doesn't exist. The Fort Lauderdale city commissioner's harmless toilet scheme was derailed last year thanks to a series of harebrained comments from Mayor Jim Naugle, who claimed that the timer-equipped toilet would be used to keep gay men from shagging in the loo. This naturally raised the ire of the non-loo-shagging gay population (which is, you know, pretty much all of them), who were quick to recount all the times their own psyches were irreparably damaged when they stumbled upon heterosex in the city's many non-robotic stalls. And so a debate was had, ugly viewpoints were aired, and Mayor Jim's ceaseless fanning of the flames finally exposed him in public for the attention-hogging, dirty-minded parasite he is. Which means Fort Lauderdale Beach's non-existent toilet is maybe the single greatest shitter in the land — with the possible exception of a very real john in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

This year we have a quote that not only deeply impacted South Florida, but was heard 'round the country. It came from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, via the Sun-Sentinel. What would you expect from a raving right-wing nut-job who calls himself a Democrat? The man once told New Times that he welcomed high housing prices because poor people could make a living taking care of wealthy homeowners' pets. Here, let's play a game. Guess which of these actual Naugle quotes we chose as the very best:

1. "Who's against tapping someone's phone if they are talking with al Qaeda? Only a crazy, wacko liberal."

2."I'm supposed to subsidize some schlock sitting on the sofa and drinking a beer, who won't work more than 40 hours a week?"

3."I don't use the word 'gay,' I use the term 'homosexual.' Most of them aren't gay. They're unhappy."

And the answer is... Number 3. And the reason it's at the top of the list is that, along with his crusade against the phantom menace of man-on-man bathroom sex, it created such an outrage that Mayor Jim got national attention and has become officially marginalized. Any hope of a decent legacy is dead. Naugle will forever be remembered as "that homophobic mayor." Hope he's happy (or "gay," if that's his preference).

This year we have a quote that not only deeply impacted South Florida, but was heard 'round the country. It came from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, via the Sun-Sentinel. What would you expect from a raving right-wing nut-job who calls himself a Democrat? The man once told New Times that he welcomed high housing prices because poor people could make a living taking care of wealthy homeowners' pets. Here, let's play a game. Guess which of these actual Naugle quotes we chose as the very best:

1. "Who's against tapping someone's phone if they are talking with al Qaeda? Only a crazy, wacko liberal."

2."I'm supposed to subsidize some schlock sitting on the sofa and drinking a beer, who won't work more than 40 hours a week?"

3."I don't use the word 'gay,' I use the term 'homosexual.' Most of them aren't gay. They're unhappy."

And the answer is... Number 3. And the reason it's at the top of the list is that, along with his crusade against the phantom menace of man-on-man bathroom sex, it created such an outrage that Mayor Jim got national attention and has become officially marginalized. Any hope of a decent legacy is dead. Naugle will forever be remembered as "that homophobic mayor." Hope he's happy (or "gay," if that's his preference).

South Florida is the perversion capital of the nation, and life here is never boring. Our bungled elections have thrown the entire universe into a death spiral. We kill fat and aging widows with no talent and send them to the Bahamas to be buried. We are blessed with a giddy Democratic party that responds to the plight of yesteryear's disenfranchised voters by guaranteeing that the voters of tomorrow will all be disenfranchised equally. We sell more sketchy human growth hormone than any other state in the union, and our mayors are shameless shills for corporate developers. One of the few that isn't corrupt is a blatant homophobe who presides over one of the gayest cities in the nation. Soccer moms' Yorkies are eaten by alligators as the world's ugliest homes and strip malls encroach on the most biodiverse ecosystem in North America. And while all of these weird historical currents mosey along, the biggest newspaper in two counties devotes its front page to the cuteness of puppies and minor consumer skirmishes. If it were a movie, South Florida would be a dystopian laugh riot with the subtlety of Idiocracy, the self-awareness of Pleasantville, and the denouement of Soylent Green. We live in interesting times.

Oh sure. You got a killer deal on that home in Sunrise — so good that it was a little easier to endure the long commute back and forth from the job that lies east. Then gas prices hit $3 and headed for $4. So now you can't afford to circumnavigate this quagmire. Besides, I-595 is a parking lot. The westbound roads on either side are clogged with commuters from Margate and Coral Springs. No, the least of all these traffic evils is to get off at Oakland Park Boulevard and venture straight into the belly of the beast, inching through intersections that during prime time take 15 minutes apiece. Which is why if you're not one of those poor schmucks and you have the choice, you must avoid this street after five; and if you don't have the choice, well...you have plenty of time to sit in traffic and calculate whether you spend more at the fuel pump than you do on the mortgage.

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