Wednesday, September 19, 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 Florida Department of Corrections is the largest agency in the state. But even with a budget of $2.3 billion, Florida prisons have had plenty of high-profile deaths, disturbances and other abuses. Criminal justice reform would go a long way toward reducing prison budgets and potentially helping offenders become more productive citizens.  [Times files]

Romano: Florida’s dangerous prisons costing us more than money

Two things you need to know about Florida’s prison budget:1. It was $2.3 billion this year.2. It was still not enough.Kind of staggering when you think of it that way, huh?We keep spending more and more on housing...
Published: 09/18/18
Gov. Rick Scott is determined to leave his mark on the Florida Supreme Court by replacing three retiring justices early next year. Scott has already gotten the process rolling with his handpicked Judicial Nominating Commission.. [AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser]

Romano: Rick Scott’s do-it-yourself guide to rigging a Supreme Court

His time in Tallahassee is coming to an end. Eight years of triumph or shambles, depending on your point of view. And yet, Rick Scott’s legacy may not be written until his final minute as governor.For several years, Scott has been plotting a...
Published: 09/15/18
Scences such as this Houston street in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 are growing in frequency. The National Flood Insurance Program is more than $20 billion in debt (even after Congress wrote of $16 billion in debt) and is expected to face many more claims in the wake of Hurricane Florence. [AP Photo/David J. Phillip]

Romano: It’s too late for Florence, but not for flood reform

Sometime this afternoon, the residents who remain will start feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence along the coasts of the Carolinas.And sometime this winter, we will feel the residual effects in Tampa Bay.Please realize I am not...
Published: 09/13/18
Empty seats are a familiar sight at Tropicana Field. The Rays had the worst attendance in Major Leageu Baseball in 2017 with an average crowd of 15,670 per game. This year has been even more barren. Going into Monday night's game, the Rays were averaging 14,618 per game.  [Times files (2017)]

Romano: Do fans know the Rays haven’t moved to Ybor City yet?

Everyone, it seems, is doing their part in the Rays stadium quest.The business leaders? They’re committing millions of dollars in sponsorships and season ticket packages for a potential ballpark in Ybor City.The ballplayers? They’re...
Published: 09/11/18
Jordan Belliveau

We mourn another toddler, but will we ever fix a flawed system?

Little Jordan Belliveau had a small army of protectors.Lawyers, social workers, volunteers and officers of the court. Each with a different task, but all devoted to the idea that a 2-year-old boy should never have to live in pain or...
Published: 09/08/18
Walt Disney World recently reached a deal with its largest union to gradually increase worker wages to $15 an hour by October, 2021. The decision could have a ripple effect in Florida, where the current minimum wage is $8.25. [TNS/Orlando Sentinel]

Romano: Nothing Goofy about Disney’s $15 minimum wage

When they redesigned Tomorrowland in the ’90s, the folks at Disney World culled ideas from long-ago science fiction writers to create a retro look ahead. The Future That Never Was, they called it.Basically, it was a lot of kitsch and coasters...
Published: 09/06/18
Hillsborough County voters will go to the polls in November to decide on a referendum for a half-cent sales tax increase. Other counties have approved similar measures to help school districts.

Forget all their other election goofs, at least Florida voters got this one right

The popular narrative coming out of Tuesday’s election is that we are more divided than ever. We’ve abandoned the center lane, with everyone making sharp turns left and right.And, when you consider the philosophical divide between the two...
Updated one month ago
Romano: The far right is meeting the far left in Florida, and it’s going to be a doozy

Romano: The far right is meeting the far left in Florida, and it’s going to be a doozy

God bless their cranky souls, Republican voters do not fool around in Florida.
Updated one month ago
Police cars near the Jacksonville Landing, a riverfront mall in Jacksonville, Fla., after a shooting was reported Sunday. A gunman armed with a handgun killed two people and wounded 11 at a video gaming tournament. The shooting suspect, a gamer attending the event, then fatally shot himself, the authorities said. [Saul Martinez/The New York Times]

No matter which side you’re on, gun violence threatens us all

Somehow, we’ve lost our way. Can we at least agree on that?It seems as if half the population is scared of the people with guns, and the other half is scared of the people who want to take away their guns.Either way, we get scenes like...
Updated one month ago
A large majority of school districts in Florida chose not to allow volunteer employees to be armed on campus, as the Florida Legislature suggested. Instead, most districts hired security guards or bolstered the ranks of their school resource officers, who go through training similar to this active-shooter excercise at Nature Coast Technical High School in Spring Hill. [Alice Herden]

School is in session and — Surprise! — Florida politicians still haven’t learned

From the very beginning, the Legislature’s school guardian program seemed like a sleight of hand. A diversion to shift accountability for student safety from Tallahassee to local school districts.Lawmakers did not want to shoulder the cost of...
Updated one month ago