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: School lemons leave a sour and alarming taste

    K12

    As Hardy once said to Laurel, "Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into."

    If you are a parent of a Hillsborough County student, chances are you send the little munchkin off to classes each day aboard a yellow bus without all that much thought the vehicle is quite possibly in worse shape than the Joad family jalopy.

    While recent news events ought to give every parent pause that an act of violence might occur on school grounds, the odds of something untoward happening remain very, very, very slim....

  2. Ruth: It takes two to tango on the debating dais

    Columns

    Poor Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. After months on the job performing his official duties rearranging Gov. Rick Scott's sock drawer, untangling the governor's Christmas tree lights and alphabetizing the governor's Johnny Mathis record collection, at last the state's No. 2 was actually given a public task to perform — only to have Charlie Crist rain on his charade.

    Lopez-Cantera was shadowing the former Republican governor-turned-Democratic gubernatorial candidate Monday at a lunch speech in West Palm Beach when the hunter became the deer-in-the-headlights himself....

  3. Ruth: Sure, LaSala was a curmudgeon, but who wouldn't be?

    Columns

    There's a reason why the chief administrators in big locales such as Pinellas County are so well compensated. How else are you going to find anyone to take on such a miserable job ultimately doomed to failure?

    After being forced out of his job, this much was pretty certain: Dead man administrating Bob LaSala deserved every lousy, stinking penny of his annual $225,000-a-year paycheck — and that was just for having to put up with Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche....

    Here’s a question for some of Bob LaSala’s commission critics: How long would you last in the job before you wanted to punch someone?
  4. Ruth: The house that inanity built

    Columns

    How inspiring and uplifting it is to know that those stout-hearted members of the Florida House treasure children, who represent our future and most certainly our yada, yada, yada and, of course, our blah, blah, blah. Touching, is what it is. • Last week the Florida House voted to make it more difficult for women to get an abortion, voting 70-45 to pass a measure banning doctors from performing the procedure if the fetus might be viable outside the womb. A companion measure that would impose penalties on anyone convicted of a crime that harms a fetus also passed, 74-42....

  5. With machines, bad news still comes in threes

    Columns

    During his standup comedy days, Woody Allen once observed that whenever he left his apartment he was convinced all the appliances would get together to conspire against him. There's no small measure of truth to this.

    Like that old axiom that famous people die in threes, don't you have a sneaking suspicion the various devices we depend upon in life also tend to go on the fritz in triplicate?...

  6. Ruth: The kids are all right but I'm a little shaky

    Columns

    Please consider this an old fogey spoiler alert. But I've just about had it up to here with all this technology stuff.

    It's not as if I don't appreciate and use many of these newfangled gizmos at my disposal — an iPhone and an iPad, which come in handy when taking silly pictures of the dog wearing funny hats. I email and even occasionally text the Marigold of Marathon to ask what she wants for dinner....

  7. Ruth: Lure of the campaign becomes an addiction for Alex Sink

    Columns

    “If you all will take your seats we can begin this week's meeting of Politicians Anonymous. As you can see, we have a new member joining us tonight. Would you care to introduce yourself? Don't be shy."

    "Hi, my name's Alex and I'm an addicted politician."

    "Everybody now — Hi, Alex! And welcome. Acknowledging your dependence on concession speeches is a good sign on your 12-step road to recovery. Would you care to tell us your tale of woe?"...

    Alex Sink, with daughter Lexi McBride, revels in her last victory, as CFO of Florida in 2006.
  8. Ruth: Georgia, we're going to out-goober you

    Columns

    By now, it is pretty much a certainty that anytime a state goes completely off the rails by passing some harebrained law, it is only a matter of time before Florida quickly moves to catch up with something even loopier. • For as Arizona and Georgia go, so goes Florida — the woebegone land of the misbegotten. We do have a national reputation for Tallahassee stupidity to maintain, you know. • Days ago the Georgia legislature passed one of the most sweeping pro-gun laws in the country. It allows weapons to be brandished virtually everywhere in the state, with one of the lone, rare exceptions being the Georgia legislature itself. Go figure....

  9. Review: 'Mad as Hell' tells story of 'Network' and the rant heard 'round the world

    Books

    If you are a budding movie buff, there are certain essentials required for your education. Here are just a very, very few: Casablanca, Singin' in the Rain, Lawrence of Arabia, Citizen Kane, Annie Hall, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Wizard of Oz, Chinatown, Duck Soup, the works of Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Martin Scorsese and, yes, probably Gone With the Wind (but only once will do just fine)....

    Peter Finch won a best actor Academy Award posthumously for his portrayal of TV newscaster Howard Beale in the 1976 movie Network.
  10. Ruth: Legislators roll over, fetch for big utilities

    Columns

    A recent study concluded that, contrary to popular misconception, dogs actually have absolutely no sense of shame. The same might well be said of the Florida Legislature, which is one giant kennel of panting beagles, snout down in the trash bin foraging for checks.

    And that explains why you, gentle reader, are no match for an elected Tallahassee grifter eager to roll over to have his or her tummy rubbed by the capital's influence peddlers....

    “I just don’t see the need to continue to expand the incentives and underwriting of solar,” said Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne.
  11. Ruth: School bus drivers deserve respect

    Columns

    There are certain jobs where having a disgruntled employee on the payroll is more problematic than others. Would you really want a brain surgeon in a foul mood? A peeved electrician charged with rewiring your house? Not good.

    Or how about an annoyed, frustrated, distracted school bus driver responsible for making sure your little dickens gets to class and back home safely? Rut-ro.

    But that appears to be the case as growing numbers of Hillsborough County School District bus drivers are coming forward with tales of woe and rage of being ignored and disrespected on the job....

  12. St. Petersburg's visioner-in-chief is something to see

    Columns

    About the only thing missing from the moment was some meditative Ravi Shankar sitar refrains and a bit of incense wafting over the assembled crowd gathered at the Mahaffey Theater to set just the right tone for Guru-In-Chief Rick Kriseman and his Deputy Grasshopper Kanika Tomalin before the city's civil servants.

    The event was billed by the High Priest of St. Petersburg as a chance to define his "vision" for Camelot-on-the-Bay, as well as to unveil a new city slogan — "The Sun Shines Here," as if that wasn't already self-evident....

    Kanika Tomalin
  13. Ruth: Taking a toll on Scott's campaign (w/video)

    Columns

    It is something of a toss-up as to what is really the worse sin here: that the various hapless coat hangers in the employ of Gov. Rick Scott's re-election bid are such tone-deaf toadies? Or that they are so transparently inept in their phoniness?

    It was just days ago that Mike Fernandez, one of the Scott's top-tier re-election fundraisers, charged that some staff minions had engaged in "culturally insensitive" remarks regarding Hispanics, including indulging in some bad, really bad, attempts to mimic a Mexican accent....

  14. Ruth: Buccaneer Mike Williams should invest in babysitter (w/video)

    Columns

    When we last checked in with the domestic adventures of Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Williams, the lad had been invited to leave his rented domicile at the tony Sanctuary subdivision in scenic Lutz in the wake of numerous visits by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office concerning the exuberant bacchanalia occurring at all hours of the day and night.

    Apparently Mr. Williams had installed a stripper pole in the middle of the residence, which was a tart too far for the neighbors....

  15. Ruth: Horse-and-buggy crowd blocks tracks of progress

    Columns

    There are moments when it seems the grouchy, get-off-my-lawn mugwumps who haunt various corners of the community would prefer to see a Pinellas County where the order of the day would include doyennes in hoop skirts, horse-drawn carriages and John Philip Sousa Sunday concerts in Williams Park.

    This isn't merely the party of No! It's a small but vocal cabal bent on being the party of woe. If these folks had their way, they would be inveighing against electricity as not only a passing fad but a communist conspiracy....

    The future of Greenlight Pinellas depends in part on how much you love a good traffic jam.