Monday, April 23, 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.

Signs such as this one at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg were common in 2016 at the height of the city's sewage crisis. Wastewater spills have not been as common since then, but the city still has a problem when it comes to public perception with sewage issues. [LARA CERRI]

Romano: Forget the sewers, St. Pete has a crisis of trust

Imagine what kind of spin the world might have endured had St. Petersburg sewer officials been asked to explain the final Hindenburg flight.• The landing, city leaders acknowledged, was bumpy.• Some passengers chose to...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Former NRA President Marion Hammer has been looking over the shoulder of Florida legislators for decades, and usually gets what she wants. So far, 2018 has not gone as well for one of Tallahassee's most prominent lobbyists. (Times files)

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida...
Published: 04/21/18
Dual enrollment programs, such as the Student Police Cadet Program pitched by St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway to Lakewood High students and parents in 2015, can help students get a leg up on college coursework while saving tuition costs for families. [CHRIS URSO]

Romano: Florida should not make fairness a moving target

The program I want to tell you about makes perfect sense. In many ways, it is fair and compassionate. Practical and wise.It is also an excellent example of Tallahassee’s pick-and-choose style of justice.The Legislature was gung-ho on...
Published: 04/14/18
Jack Nicholson was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of no-nonense Col. Nathan Jessup in Aaron Sorkin's

Romano: You can’t handle the truth, St. Petersburg!

Because I believe everything in life can be illustrated by an Aaron Sorkin screenplay, I wonder how Col. Nathan Jessup, as played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, might break down St. Petersburg politics:"Now, are these really the...
Published: 04/12/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Republican Governor Rick Scott, talking with supporters after announcing his run for the U.S. Senate Monday at ODC Construction in Orlando, is no longer the upstart renegade he was in 2010.  [Monica Herndon]

Romano: The outsider label will be harder for Rick Scott to wear this time

Once, he looked like a true outsider.A socially awkward rich guy with little name recognition and no political experience. Eight years ago this week, headlines weren’t exactly blasting the news that businessman Rick Scott was running for...
Published: 04/10/18
Florida Gov. Rick Scott talks to the media at the Florida Capital in March after Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed a court ruling to overhaul the state's system of restoring felon rights. (AP Photo)  [Mark Wallheiser]

Romano: Rick Scott loves spending your tax dollars to fight his court battles

He promised eight years ago that no one would be more focused on employment opportunities than he would, and for at least one industry, Rick Scott has exceeded expectations.Florida’s governor has been a one-man windfall for lawyers.Pick...
Updated one month ago
Demetrius Moore, 24, helps Demetrius Moore, Jr., 2, pick out a toy to play with at Everglades Re-Entry Center on the campus of Everglades Correctional Institution on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Children of Inmates, Inc. and the Florida Department of Corrections arranged for children to reconnect with their incarcerated fathers at Everglades Re-Entry Center for about three hours for board games and lunch. [JESSICA BAL | Miami Herald]

Romano: For-profit prison video plan has a captive audience

In some ways, this is a story of money and politics. Maybe of timing and coincidence.But if you cut through all of the details and the angst, it’s really a story of mistrust.And perhaps that’s inevitable when the conversation revolves...
Updated one month ago
How much the Tampa Bay Rays and principal owner Stu Sternberg pay for a new baseball stadium in Tampa, writes columnist John Romano, depends on how much new revenue the team thinks it can make if it moves to Ybor City. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]

Romano: Rays stadium share depends on how much they make in Ybor

When it comes to the funding of a potential new ballpark in Ybor City, nothing has changed.The Rays have not offered to pay more, and they’ve not offered to pay less. The only difference is how the observations of owner Stu Sternberg have been...
Updated one month ago
Protesters converged on the fourth floor rotunda of the Florida Capitol in March to express their displeasure at a bill that would arm school employees. A version of the bill eventually passed, and now school and law enforcement officials are struggling to pay for enough school resource officers to meet the state's demand of armed guards. [Scott Keeler]

Romano: Lawmakers need to admit, and fix, their school safety mistake

Squad cars raced into the school’s parking lot just minutes before dismissal. Hernando County deputies spread out around the campus, and classrooms went into lockdown mode.For about 30 minutes, even beyond the school’s final bell, teachers and...
Updated one month ago
In their first year in the Florida Cabinet, Attorney General Pam Bondi (left) and Gov. Rick Scott oversaw a 99 percent drop in the number of felons getting their voting rights restored. [Steve Cannon]

Romano: Once again, Florida shows up as a national punch line

We can be a little goofy here in Florida, and that’s putting it politely.We specialize in screwball crimes and cartoonish politicians, and normal people across the nation tune in whenever they want to feel better about themselves.Comic...
Updated one month ago