MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The year began with heart-breaking stories.

Two Miami-Dade police officers, Amanda Haworth and Robert Castillo,were gunned down in January — leaving their families and the community to grieve.

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And in February, a traffic stop on I-95 uncovered an unspeakable family tragedy.   There were more questions than answers in the death of little Nubia, the actions of adoptive parents Jorge and Carmen Barahona, and the system’s failure to see the warning signs.

In Miami, a federal investigation of the police department in the wake of shootings that left seven African-American men dead.  And after controversy, budget fights, and public feud with mayor Tomas Regalado, Chief Miguel Exposito was fired in September.

In Miami-Dade, voters were mad in 2011.  A recall drive unseated mayor Carlos Alvarez in march. Carlos Gimenez won the mayoral election in June, on a pledge to roll back taxes.

Anger also spilled into the streets.  South Florida activists took their cues from Wall Street protesters — and *occupied* Miami and Fort Lauderdale in the fall.

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There was a changing of the guard in Broward County.  School superintendent Jim Notter retired and was replaced by Chicago’s Robert Runcie.  Teachers union head Pat Santeramo resigned amid charges of financial irregularities and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper – of Anna Nicole Smith fame – hung up his lab coat for good.

Other nature wasn’t gentle in Broward.  Strong tornadoes tore through parts of Sunrise and Plantation in October followed by three days of heavy rains that made a soggy mess east of I-95.

But not all disasters were natural.  An only-in-South-Florida tale of an alleged phony doctor and tush-enhancing injections full of *fix-a-flat* dominated the airwaves during November and December.

The year 2011 went out with a fight over plans to build a mega-casino where the Miami Herald building now stands.

The battle over whether to wager South Florida’s future on big-time gambling has just begun and will likely continue well into 20-12.

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