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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

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  1. Ruth column: Don't be shocked by my campaign platform

    Columns

    Since I announced my intention to brood, meditate, mull and otherwise noodle around a potential, possible, maybe, sorta run for the Republican presidential nomination, the response from you, gentle readers, has been overwhelming, encouraging me to think, ponder and otherwise dawdle to the point of paralyzing inertia even more.

    Of course, I took that as a mandate to: a) waste even more time on a crusade of capriciousness and/or b) milk this shtick for at least one more column. How's that for rank political opportunism?...

  2. Forget Miami, Tampa would be perfect home for Cuban embassy

    Columns

    Greetings to the Cuban government: Hola, you all come on up now, you hear?

    In the wake of the Obama administration's decision to restore full diplomatic relations with Lenin's playground, the debate has been joined about where to locate a Cuban consulate in Florida. Hmmmm, where, oh, where? Decisions, decisions.

    At first blush the Miami area seemed like a logical choice. Miami is loaded with some 800,000 Cuban-Americans. And if you only followed the national news media's coverage of this story, it would be understandable to have the impression you can't get a decent cup of a cafe con leche north of Little Havana....

  3. Ruth: Pitch for St. Petersburg pier must defeat public apathy

    Columns

    Poor Kristin Brett. She is about to undertake an enterprise about the same as if the Tampa Bay Bucs attempted to pass off quarterback Josh McCown in a trade to the New England Patriots for Tom Brady.

    Brett has been hired by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman to help sell the public on the city's plans for a new pier. Officially, Brett is carried on the books as a $60,000-a-year full-time marketing consultant. Off the books, her job description is probably best listed as: "Official City Hall Patsy Should Everything Go South."...

  4. Ruth: Scott's Cabinet starts to grow a spine

    Columns

    For this week's lesson in Tallahassee science, let us consider this question: How long does it take for a member of the Florida Cabinet to grow a spine?

    Early evidence, based on the lab specimen of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, would suggest achieving a modicum of scruple density takes about a week. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam's X-ray looks to still be an evolving piece of goo, and Attorney General Pam Bondi's backbone remains marinating in the petri dish of the Capitol's den of knaves....

  5. Ruth: The governor who can't talk straight (w/video)

    Columns

    Are you beginning to get the impression if you asked Gov. Rick Scott what time it was, the response would be a Tallahassee two-step of shucking and jiving, bucking and winging and shillying and shallying? Well, it never hurts to keep those cognitive jabberwocky skills highly honed.

    Once again, Tallahassee's walking Tower of Babel was in fine rhetorical dissembling form when the capital's press corps asked Scott to explain why the long-serving head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gerald Bailey, was fired, sacked and otherwise canned after two decades with the agency, including the past eight years as commissioner....

    Rick Scott hardly bathed himself in glory by refusing to say why he jettisoned a respected law enforcement official.
  6. Daniel Ruth: St. Pete arts committee resignations lack realism

    Columns

    It's tempting sometimes to want to throw a shawl over St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's slumping shoulders, offer him some warm milk and a comforting hug and tell him not to worry, everything will be fine — eventually.

    Everybody wants a new pier. And that's just the problem — everybody wants their own pier. And just when Kriseman started efforts to renew discussions with the Tampa Bay Rays about looking for a new stadium, along comes political gadfly, Kathleen Ford, the Gladys Kravitz of the hamlet, who started kvetching about a virtual Love Canal sitting underneath Tropicana Field. ...

  7. Ruth: Not a Republican, but eager to play one

    Columns

    If you will all take your seats I can deliver my momentous comments. And just to make sure you stay put, there will be cocktails available afterward. Thank you.

    Today I am announcing that I intend to initiate the process of starting to think about beginning to ruminate over the prospect of perhaps cogitating in anticipation of musing over a possible campaign for the Republican Party's 2016 presidential nomination....

  8. Ruth: Florida Republicans pay for challenging John Boehner (w/video)

    Columns

    Those who fail to learn the lessons of knee-capping Capitol Hill are destined to be turned into political newts.

    And that explains why, as the 114th Congress begins the busy, busy work of laboring away three days a week and even sometimes a galley-slave-like four days, five Republican U.S. House members from Florida are about to discover they have contracted a case of Potomac cooties.

    There's an old saying in political life: If you are going to plot to kill the king, you darn well better actually kill the king. Kings are not amused when they are trifled with....

  9. Ruth: Even Winter the dolphin is persona non grata to Scientology

    Columns

    Like a grumpy neighbor, Scientology is there.

    Perhaps it might be a good idea to remind the church's leadership over at its Fort Harrison Avenue bunker that it sits in the city of Clearwater, not L. Ron Hubbardberry.

    There are many corporations and organizations around the country that dominate their hometown's social, political and economic life. That is certainly true of Clearwater, where since the 1970s the Church of Scientology has gobbled up real estate at a Pac-Man-like clip, to the point where today the E-meter ministers have accumulated about $184 million in property, with roughly 76 percent of the land enjoying tax exempt status....

  10. Ruth: Looking toward a time where same-sex marriages are not news

    Columns

    By now perhaps you have noticed that Florida has not been turned into a giant pillar of salt. Not even a hint, a whiff of an onslaught of boils, frogs or swamp-apes. That is a good start as the state — kicking and moping, and that's just Attorney General Pam Bondi — has been introduced to the 21st century.

    This week, Florida joined 35 other states and the District of Columbia to permit same-sex marriage, and the only scourge to occur was the plague of bloviation offered up by Florida Family Policy Council president John Stemberger. He was weeping and wailing that gay unions found to be perfectly legal by a federal judge, sanctioned by the appropriate marriage licenses and recognized in ceremonies performed by duly elected and appointed authorities weren't really marriages at all because — he said so....

    John and Shel Goldstein hug during a group wedding Tuesday in Delray Beach.
  11. Ruth: Headlines we dream of for 2015

    Columns

    When you're in the ink-stained wretch racket, a new year holds the alluring prospect of all the stories yet to come. The insane politician. The unbelievably inane rhetorical gaffe. The incredibly insipid legislation. The crazy, the incompetent, the deranged.

    And that's just the Florida Legislature. Many thanks for all of the blessings of Tallahassee's blustering class. Then there is everything else. To you, these folks may appear to be public servants. To me, it's a perpetual winning lottery ticket....

  12. Ruth: Is the next political dynasty in Kenneth City?

    Columns

    Obviously this is a bare-knuckle gambit to create a political dynasty.

    Meet the Zemaitis Machine of Kenneth City. Somewhere the late Chicago mayoral kingpin Richard J. Daley is getting misty eyed.

    Facing the end of her reign over the Camelot of Pinellas County because of term limits, Mayor Teresa Zemaitis must soon vacate her palatial office and turn the levers of unbridled power over to someone else. ...

  13. Ruth: Grounding Bondi's flights of fancy

    Columns

    Could this be the final call for Pam Bondi's reign as the attorney general of feedbags?

    For the past four years, Bondi has used her office as if it were a subsidiary of Expedia, jetting off hither and yon to attend fancy-pants soirees at resorts and hotels that were organized by the Republican Attorneys General Association. She was so good at navigating the buffet line, the group named her its president (or is it Dom Perignon-in-chief?) for 2015....

    Pam Bondi
  14. Ruth: Cuba, America reach across 90 miles (w/video)

    Columns

    It was not the warmest welcome. Arriving at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana back in 1978, the first thing I noticed were all the then-Soviet-era warplanes on the tarmac. The grim soldiers with guns in the customs area were hardly a lot of laughs.

    Then on the bus to the hotel were the multitude of billboards featuring virulent anti-American sentiments foisting Cuba's woes off on the United States. Not enough food? Blame the Yankees. No gasoline? America is the one you want. Painful hangnail? Washington's fault....

    Street vendor Edmundo Gomez walks his cart of fruit and vegetables through the streets of Havana on Friday. Gomez, 70, is retired but sells produce to supplement his government pension.
  15. Vinik's grand vision is one we should believe in

    Columns

    Eventually, if this really does happen, the Viniksiana Purchase will be a simply wonderful, game-changing moment in Tampa history — "if," of course, being the operative term here.

    There is considerable room for cautious optimism. And why not? Days ago, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik presented a sweeping in-the-works $1.1 billion vision to transform some 40 acres in downtown Tampa that could result in 3 million square feet of waterfront development, $35 million in additional tax revenues into the city's coffers, thousands of jobs and a recasting of Tampa's image and standing....