Thursday, November 15, 2018


John Romano, Times Columnist

John Romano, Times Columnist

Records have been destroyed and witnesses have gone missing, but Tampa Bay Times metro columnist John Romano would have you believe he was a product of the Pinellas County school system and the University of South Florida. He worked at the Evening Independent and the Palm Beach Post before being hired in the Times' sports department in 1985. Showing a remarkable lack of staying power, he has worked on beats covering USF, the University of Florida, Orlando Magic, Buccaneers and Rays before succeeding Hubert Mizell as a columnist in 2001. He became the metro columnist in 2012.

The mean score for a Florida student on the SAT last year was 1,014, which was well below the national average of 1,068. Only 35 percent of the state's students reached the benchmark on both portions of the test, which was also below the national average of 47 percent. []

SAT scores still lag in Florida, which means politicians are still failing

When it comes to public education, the Florida Legislature has famously decided that test scores are the ultimate barometer of success and that waiting for better results is not an option.This is why lawmakers instituted mandatory school...
Published: 11/10/18
President Donald Trump, shown greeting Ron DeSantis and his wife Casey at a campaign rally in Fort Myers on Oct. 31, was not on the 2018 ballot but his presence still loomed large in Florida during the election. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]

Voters clearly stood up to incivility and cynicism. Not in Florida.

So, that was an enlightening election. Not just the results, but the implications.Basically, these midterms say that Florida is a purple state in theory only. The truth is you live in a Republican stronghold, and it is folly to argue otherwise.
Published: 11/07/18
The three retiring justices on the Florida Supreme Court include the only women and the only African-American members of the court. Now that the court has ruled that those justices will be replaced by the next governor, and not Rick Scott, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause are asking that the pool of applicants be re-opened. [Scott Keeler]

Rushing ahead with Florida Supreme Court interviews is a great idea for one demographic

Well, this is kind of awkward. The state Supreme Court recently ó and emphatically ó ruled that whoever wins todayís gubernatorial election gets to name three new justices to the court next year.And later this week, the court will consider...
Published: 11/06/18
Florida gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis (left) and Andrew Gillum, seen shaking hands after an Oct. 21 CNN debate, will likely be separated by no more than 1-2 points no Election Day matter what the polls say. {AP Photo/Chris O'Meara]

Romano: Fear not Tampa Bay, this election is still yours to decide

In case you missed it, Barack Obama dropped in on Miami on Friday afternoon.A day later, Donald Trump planned to hang out with the good folks in Pensacola.Naturally, these appearances indicate the importance nationally of the...
Published: 11/03/18
Updated: 11/05/18
Florida voters will have a chance in the next few days to vote in favor of criminal justice reform with Amendment 11, but they will also have to accept two unrelated prosposals bundled in the 
amendment. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]

Romano: An amendment that could fix years of injustice

The law was awful, and pretty much everyone knew it.It was so bad, in fact, that lawmakers voted 157-0 to change it in 2016, and Gov. Rick Scott agreed to sign the bill that removed aggravated assault from the stateís mindless 10-20-life...
Published: 11/01/18
Lisl Porges and her littler brother Walter  were 10 and 6 when this photo was taken in Austria in 1938. Later that year they were forced to flee, without their parents, to England to avoid Nazi Germany's crusade against Jews. The entire family was not reunited until 1945 in New York. (Courtesy of Lisl Schick)

One shooter in Pittsburgh expresses a world of hate

It was springtime in Vienna, the kind of morning when hope didnít seem naive.Lisl Porges was 10 years old in 1938 and attended a Catholic school with a crucifix prominently displayed on the classroom wall. That she was Jewish mattered not at...
Updated one month ago
Cliff Griffin, master police officer with Tampa Police Department, poses for a portrait while wearing a body camera on his shoulder in front of Tampa Police Department headquarters earlier this year. TPD is one of the few departments utilizing body cameras in Tampa Bay, although not all of the officers are wearing them. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA]

Romano: Cops should get body cameras before cell phones get them

Itís happened again. Another snippet of video. Another Florida cop being questioned.This time, itís in Coral Springs, and the cop is punching the midsection of a 14-year-old girl who is pinned on the ground with two cops above her, and her...
Updated one month ago
Lakeland police say that Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn shot and killed Christobal Lopez as Lopez tried to leave the Vets Army Navy Surplus store on Oct. 3 without paying for a hatchet. This is a screen grab of a store surveillance video released by police on Monday. [Lakeland Police Department]

Romano: Has ‘stand your ground’ made Florida more tolerant of deadly force?

In another era, in another state, the video might be too unsettling to watch.
Published: 10/20/18
Updated: 11/02/18
A dozen proposed constitutional amendments will make this one of the longest ballots in Florida in the last 20 years, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that hard. The motives and manipulations behind some of those amendments makes them automatically unworthy, according to one columnist. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times]

Some of these Florida amendments arenít worth your time

For such a sacred document, we seem to give little thought to scribbling on, erasing and haphazardly expanding the Florida Constitution.Since a revised version was established in 1968, Florida voters have been asked to consider more than 175...
Updated one month ago

John Romano: Liberals are dreaming when it comes to holding on to Floridaís Supreme Court

This was a smackdown, no doubt about it.The state Supreme Court just rendered the judicial equivalent of a loud guffaw regarding Gov. Rick Scottís claim he is entitled to replace three retiring Supreme Court justices before he leaves...
Updated one month ago