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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.


  1. Ruth: The high price of a setup in defending Mr. Sponge


    You could make a pretty good case that there are more gags about lawyers than almost any other profession. Try this experiment. Here's the punch line; you fill in the joke: Stephen Diaco, Robert Adams and Adam Filthaut. Cue the laugh track. See how easy that was?

    Don't you suspect Diaco has had a Matlock moment as he stands on the brink of losing his reputation, his career, his livelihood, his law firm — everything — all in the misguided service of representing professional slack-jawed radio disc jockey Bubba the Love Sponge? ...

  2. Dan Ruth: The Pier's time has passed: Move on


    This what happens when well-intentioned good faith collides headlong into St. Petersburg's Snell Isle/Old Northeast rump government.

    For 12 agonizing hours, five city residents appointed by Mayor Rick Kriseman and led by Mike Connors, the city's public works administrator who chairs the Pier Selection Committee, attempted to perform an act of civic duty by ranking the finalists to replace the pier monstrosity, which by any reasonable interpretation looms over the waterfront as a crime against architecture....

  3. Ruth: Cruz's presidential ego trip


    Well, it's official. The Elmer Gantry of the Republican Party has announced he is willing to walk away from his 20-minute legislative career in the U.S. Senate to pursue the presidency.

    What would we call the nascent presidential campaign of Ted Cruz, R-The Yellow Poseur of Texas, who barely figured out where the Senate men's room was located before coveting the White House? The hustings equivalent of speed dating?...

  4. Ruth: Legislators ignore campus concerns about guns


    It's an image that pretty much sums up the way business is done in the Florida Legislature, where a picture is worth a thousand shrugs.

    To no one's surprise, last week the Senate Higher Education Committee cavalierly approved a measure to permit the carrying of concealed weapons on the state's public university campuses. As back-room deals go, this fix was more preordained than the Black Sox scandal....

    Campus police department representatives opposed the gun bill, but their opinions didn’t matter.
  5. Ruth: Competition makes reviving Pier aquarium questionable


    Perhaps the biggest mystery surrounding the long-shuttered Secrets of the Sea Aquarium is why we need yet another fishy attraction in the Tampa Bay area.

    But there it is, once more arising from the depths of obscurity to perhaps reopen in October at the city of St. Petersburg's former 9,000-square-foot cruise terminal at 250 Eighth Ave. SE.

    For years, the modest little aquarium was housed within the dreary inverted pyramid, representing about the only sign of life at the Pier. But all that changed in 2013 when the building was closed, coming about as close to an ancient ruin as you are going to find in the city. At the time whatever aquatic life was left at the Pier aquarium was shipped off to other venues like the University of South Florida St. Petersburg University Student Center or local saloons that happen to feature fish tanks....

  6. Ruth: Toledo campaign sets low standard


    It might be worth taking a brief pause here to remind everyone this is not some high-stakes cutthroat race to the White House, or a fight to assume the Florida Governor's Mansion, or even to take a seat in the U.S. Senate or House.

    This is simply a contest to become a member representing District 6 on the Tampa City Council. And yet the face-off between Jackie Toledo and Guido Maniscalco has become a sort of Mayberry's answer to All The King's Men meets Primary Colors....

  7. Ruth: Utilities win again in Tallahassee


    At the moment, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison term following his public corruption conviction on charges of wire fraud, attempted extortion and conspiracy to seek bribes. For the same behavior here in the Slimeshine State, Blago probably would be awarded a powerful committee chairmanship in the Florida Legislature.

    The Grand Duchy of Freedonia, otherwise known as Tallahassee In Full Extended Palm of Itself, was in fine form the other day when the House Energy and Utilities Committee rejected an effort by Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, to commit the Capitol's most unpardonable of sins by calling for commonsense fairness....

  8. Ruth: Manatees are not thrill rides


    Deep within the labyrinth of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bureaucracy there has to be an office dedicated to "Regulating Really Stupid Stuff." And yes, of course, Florida plays a major role.

    The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has filed notice it intends to ask Fish and Wildlife to impose tighter guidelines to protect Florida's endangered manatees from being treated like giant thrill rides for tourists who like to get in the water to cavort and swim and otherwise annoy the mammals....

  9. Ruth: Banning the term won't stop climate change


    Contrary to popular misconception, especially in Tallahassee, Rick Scott isn't really the governor of Florida. He is, in fact, one of Monty Python's addled Knights Who Say "Ni!"

    Really now, don't you suspect that if the first floor of the Governor's Mansion was 2 feet under water due to climate change, Scott still would be holding his hands over his ears while chanting "Wawawawawawawa," all the while insisting the flooding was the result of a heavy dew?...

  10. Review: 'Believer' a candid memoir by Obama adviser Axelrod


    After many years of observing politics I have developed a carefully crafted theory that every president needs at least one or two people within the inner circle who must be completely free to remind the commander-in-chief he is a complete moron — or words to that effect.

    During the Barack Obama presidency, one of those people was Rahm Emanuel. As a boy Emanuel had lost his middle finger in an accident, which Obama once joked practically rendered his chief of staff mute. One of the others was chief political adviser David Axelrod, who played a pivotal role in helping an obscure Illinois state senator ascend to the highest office in the land....

  11. Ruth: The real error message on Florida's computers


    Perhaps it is because the state is governed by a walking motherboard that so many apparatchiks in Tallahassee's bureaucracy seem to think of the populace as automatons who bleed algorithms.

    How else to explain the indifference to Florida's schoolchildren and the unemployed who have been treated as if they were Orwellian cogs doing the bidding of Tallahassee's grand and glorious sigh tech wizards of faux pas....

  12. Dan Ruth: Back to the future for pier proposals


    Do you get the sneaky feeling this is a bit like voting for your favorite horrible vegetable? Green peas (bleh)? Or brussels sprouts (ugh)? Asparagus (gag reflex)? Or lima beans (uh, no)? Egg plant (choke)? Or turnips (brrrr)?

    That is the bitter pickle St. Petersburg residents have been asked to bite into by participating in a city-sponsored, nonbinding online vote to express their preference among the seven possible replacements for the inverted pyramid Pier, Hamlet's answer to a Rube Goldberg bucket of — nothing....

  13. Ruth: The arrogance of Clinton's secrecy


    This transcends the most rookie political blunders.

    It never dawned on Hillary Clinton — just once? — after eight years as first lady, service in the U.S. Senate on the Armed Services Committee and four years as the nation's top ambassador that using her personal email account to conduct sensitive State Department diplomatic and national security communications was the height of recklessness?...

  14. Ruth: Eat, drink and grab last check before the Legislature opens


    MARK YOUR CALENDARS and shield the children. This week marks the start of the annual gathering of Tallahassee's lobster bibs of public servants, who for 60 days will burn the midnight oil to fulfill their mandate to roll over for Florida's special interests to better ensure a generous fuzzy-wuzzy tummy rub.

    Aren't they adorable?

    But before the hard work of serving the lobbyists, the capital's statesmen of sushi will gather for a presession soiree put on by the Associated Industries of Florida, in which untold numbers of canapes will be sacrificed in the name of good government....

    Each year, Associated Industries of Florida throws a party in Tallahassee for members of the state Legislature, the media, lobbyists and staff members before the start of the session.
  15. Don't miss the chance to vote


    Brother, can you spare a measly, lousy, stinking 10 minutes?

    That's the bargain basement Kmart Blue Light Special going rate for participatory democracy. Too much? Too steep? Too tough?

    Maybe so. At least that's the opinion of grizzled politicians like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who mused the other day that the anticipated voter turnout in Tuesday's City Council elections is likely to be somewhere in the high teens. He expects fewer than 2 of every 10 registered city voters to cast ballots....