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Daniel Ruth, Times Columnist

Daniel Ruth

Daniel Ruth has been scribbling away for four decades as a reporter, film critic, television critic and columnist for the Tampa Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Tampa Bay Times. He also has worked as a radio talk show host as well as an adjunct professor for the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Columbia College in Chicago. Daniel is a Peter Lisagor Award recipient for his columns in Chicago and has been honored by the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union with the Irene Miller Vigilance In Journalism Award.

Email: druth@tampabay.com

  1. Ruth: Scott should explain clemency decision


    Here is today's lesson for Law and Order 101. When a prosecutor offers you a plea deal, especially one involving zero time behind bars, grab the offer, kiss him on the cheek and run as fast as you can for the door.

    Or consider the sad case of Orville "Lee" Wollard, who will be sitting in a Florida prison cell until 2028 because he: a) did something really dumb, and b) rejected a nice offer to stay out jail by insisting on going to trial....

    Orville Wollard, 60, will likely 
be in prison until 2028.
  2. Ruth: Jeb Bush has problems on home turf


    Imagine Mike Tyson being described as not looking very intimidating — while standing next to Elmer Fudd.

    It is bad enough that former Gov. Jeb Bush has been steadily slipping in the Republican presidential primary polls. It has to be annoying to him to have Donald Trump suggesting he has the energy of a sloth. And it is probably not fun to pretend that while George W. Bush, R-Mission Accomplished, may well be his brother, they barely know each other....

    “He seems kind of like a marshmallow,” one resident of the Villages said of Republican candidate Jeb Bush, above.
  3. Ruth: The pope's message falls on deaf ears


    There's an odd axiom in American politics about how we regard our politicians. Is the candidate someone you would want to have a beer with?

    To be honest, I can't think of too many presidential wanna-bes I'd want to spend time with at the bar. Donald Trump? Ugh. Hillary Clinton? Brrrrrr.

    But Pope Francis? Yeah, that would be interesting.

    Pick a reason why Francis is so beloved, as we have seen from the massive adoring crowds during his trip to Cuba and the United States last week, and you would be right. We need more religious figures like this unpretentious 78-year-old Argentinian. More political figures, too....

  4. Ruth: The reality of fantasy leagues


    You'll recall just a few short years ago how the state's law enforcement community went ballistic over the emergence of Internet cafes, which were little more than thinly veiled gambling operations.

    The coppers were shocked — shocked! — to discover illicit wagering was afoot in the cafes, which claimed to be nothing more than "sweepstakes" charitable enterprises benefiting veterans (let the eye-rolling begin) while offering good, clean fun for the unsuspecting dupe who had the misfortune to wander through the door....

  5. Ruth: Time to cut GOP field down to size


    There's a temptation to gaze out over the Republican presidential candidates and see our GOP choices to lead the (cue some amber waves here) United States resemble the Little Rascals led by the Spanky of Mar-a-Lago.

    What would our founding fathers think of turning the presidency over to the political equivalent of Johnny Carson's sleazy used car dealer Art Fern?

    Admit it. If you are of a certain age, every time Donald Trump opened his mouth Wednesday night during the Republican presidential debate, didn't you expect him to crack a joke about the Slauson cutoff?...

  6. Ruth: St. Petersburg's opposition to Grand Prix runs logic in reverse


    This may come as a surprise to the St. Petersburg City Council, but staging an IndyCar road race is not the same thing as one of those old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies where someone shouts, "Hey I've got an idea! You get the cars. I'll get the drivers! We'll drop the checkered flag this weekend! It'll be great!"

    But there was the City Council last week reveling in all its bumptious naivete, suggesting the annual Grand Prix of St. Petersburg ought to be put out for competitive bid, as if there are legions of folks who know how to do this stuff....

  7. Ruth: Your sewage dump is worse than mine


    It's come to this? Really? Who can lay claim to being the bigger icky-poo-poo city?

    Many cities engage in a friendly, and at times not so friendly, competition. St. Petersburg prides itself on its thriving arts community. Tampa responds with a hearty raspberry that it is the superior sports town. St. Petersburg points to its trendy waterfront restaurant scene. Tampa boasts of its rightful epicenter of more drunks per square foot....

  8. Ruth: The 'enemy is us' in the Florida House


    By his reckoning, Florida House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran is the high-toned Thomas Aquinas of Tallahassee — tanned, rested and ready to take on the pernicious influence of the capital's lobbyists.

    And yes, you can make that check out to either Corcoran's re-election campaign or one or both of his political action committees. You're too kind.

    There are many reasons why the Florida Legislature is the Best Little Whorehouse in Tallahassee. Think of the speaker as the Miss Kitty of Robert's Rules of Order....

  9. Ruth: The dangers of dark money


    Perhaps Florida's former governor might want to rethink his preoccupation with punctuation and re-brand his presidential campaign Jeb$$$$$.

    Bush has been no slouch in raising money, with more than $100 million glommed from his supporters to fuel a political juggernaut polling somewhere between Occupant and What's-his-name.

    Perhaps this suggests that not even $100 million can buy you an election. But that certainly hasn't prevented plenty of other White House aspirants from taking advantage of a morally corrupt — and perfectly legal — campaign finance system that essentially plays all of us for chumps....

  10. Ruth: Clinton's identity crisis


    It now appears that standing in line with the great unwashed to order a burrito bowl at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in April has come up just a pinch shy in establishing Hillary Clinton's bona fides as the grand dame of populism.

    Or consider that after nearly 30 years in the public eye, eight years as first lady, eight years as a United States senator, four years as secretary of state and for the past six months a presidential candidate, Clinton's brain trust has concluded they need to re-introduce her to the American public as a remade June Cleaver with a Secret Service detail....

    Hillary Clinton’s latest reimagining portrays her as a fun-loving scamp.
  11. Ruth: Rhetoric, reality don't match on student tests


    Only in Flori-la-dee-da-la-dee-da would the results of a $600,000 study portraying the state's computerized standardized school testing program as a sixth-world boondoggle be hailed by Education Commissioner Pam Stewart as "welcome news."

    You have to wonder if Stewart would also regard an outbreak of the plague as merely an unfortunate case of the sniffles gone horribly awry.

    If you have a kiddo in public school, you know the litany of problems experienced by students who attempted to take the Florida Standards Assessment test online. Hackers infiltrated the system and interrupted the test, often knocking students offline and making it difficult to log back in. As a result, a study conducted by Alpine Testing Solutions concluded just about every aspect of the test was riddled with problems including "suspect scores" and a testing rubric that fell far short of "normal rigor and standardization." ...

  12. Ruth: Norman betting voters have short memories


    A political campaign may have a smidgen of a public relation problem when the candidate has been reduced to producing a lie-detector test to convince voters he has not done anything wrong.

    So it has come to this for former Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman, who treated his oath of office as if it was written on a cocktail napkin.

    Can you imagine the Norman campaign yard signs? "Never indicted!"...

    Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman is positioning himself for a 2016 run.
  13. Ruth: Big Macs, Whoppers and world peace


    With apologies to John Lennon, can't we please give peace a chance — but hold the onions?

    And the answer to that question apparently is an abrupt, snarky "No," with an internationally recognized hand gesture thrown in for good measure.

    Under the phony guise of peace, Burger King bought a full-page ad in Wednesday's New York Times, inviting McDonald's to participate in a one-off joint venture on Sept. 21, which is International Peace Day, to create something it called The McWhopper, with all of the proceeds going to support love and brotherhood....

  14. Ruth: Deal with HART could drive common sense into Uber feud


    It has to royally rankle the oh so self-important Victor Crist to be taken so lightly by his arch nemesis, the ride-sharing company Uber.

    As the chairman of the Public Transportation Commission, Crist rants. He raves. He pouts. He threatens Uber as an arrogant unregulated company that illegally operates in Hillsborough County. Uber essentially shrugs with a blase, "Yeah, well, whatever."

    The Hillsborough County commissioner has accused Uber of being unresponsive to the PTC, uncooperative and little more than a bully. But it is hard to say if any of this is true, since Uber simply ignores the PTC and its fuming chairman....

  15. Ruth: The Legislature that can't draw straight


    There is a very simple reason why the Florida Legislature proved incapable of meeting a court-ordered mandate to redraw the state's congressional districts.

    Completing such a complex task would have required due diligence, fairness, intellectual honesty and a commitment to fulfilling their oath of office, especially the silly part about, "I will well and faithfully perform the duties of (the office) on which I am about to enter, so help me God."...