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. Review: 'Eisenhower: A Life' a too-brief biography


    See Ike?

    See Ike beat the Nazis?

    See Ike become president?

    See Ike build the interstate highway system?

    Ike was a nice man. Ike was a great general. Ike was a very good president.

    And there you have it in Paul Johnson's fawning, glowing air-kiss to the 34th president, Eisenhower: A Life, which at a mere 123 pages (not including the index) reads more like a resume than a serious examination of one of the more interesting and certainly underrated figures to recently occupy the Oval Office....

  2. Ruth: Drums of war awaken a slumbering Congress


    How fitting that House Republicans somehow managed to find a scintilla of time away from their work sclerotic to squeeze in a few moments to hear from former Vice President Dick Cheney for a pep talk on Babel-rattling.

    After an all-too-brief five-week vacation away from Washington, members of Congress returned to the oppressive grind of their job to undertake a brutal schedule of about seven legislative work days before they will take most of the rest of the year off....

    House Speaker John Boehner, leaving a meeting with Dick Cheney, has ordered members to show up a day early to cast a vote on approving military action against ISIS.
  3. Ruth: Greenlight Pinellas criticism bought on the cheap


    This certainly ought to clear up any confusion anyone had over the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum: Randal O'Toole has spoken his two bits.

    Actually it was $500 worth of bits to get O'Toole to conclude Greenlight Pinellas would be a pox on humanity. The November referendum would create a one-cent sales tax to dramatically expand bus service and begin a 24-mile light rail line throughout the county. If it passes, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will eliminate the property tax it collects....

  4. Ruth: New Hillsborough school security chief teaching, learning


    In his long and distinguished 28-year career as a member of the Tampa Police Department, John Newman pretty much did it all — patrol duties, undercover work, detective and high-ranking member of Chief Jane Castor's administration. Newman was a cop's cop.

    But Newman may well find himself facing his ultimate nemesis: the Hillsborough County School District. Busting drug rings will seem like a Roman Holiday compared to dealing with an often fractious, bickering, sniping Hillsborough School Board....

  5. Ruth: In the arena, right or wrong


    They traipse in one after another looking like conquering heroes or sheep being led to the slaughter. I have a soft spot for them all — even the ones who are wrong on just about everything.

    This is election season, which means candidates, or ripe fodder depending on a columnist's snarky point of view, make their way to a meeting with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board seeking the newspaper's recommendation....

  6. Aunt Mary joins the Greek gods for eternity

    Human Interest

    “Do you prefer a cliff, or water?" asked the owner of the lovely hotel at the foot of Mount Olympus.

    It was an important question. A question of life and, more profoundly, death.

    Several years earlier an elderly Aunt Mary had asked her niece, my wife, Angela, if, when the time came, we could spread her ashes on Greece's iconic mountain. And now the time had come.

    Yes, a cliff would be rather nice....

  7. Ruth: Broadband's bawdy breach


    Perhaps you aspire to fame and fortune, the chance to walk the red carpet at the Oscars to the cooing of adoring fans and to have gossip columnists taking note that you were seen spooling pasta at Wolfgang Puck's while canoodling with another international sex symbol.

    Career planning — it's a wonderful thing.

    But as with all matters of the cult of celebrity, there is a cautionary tale....

  8. Ruth: Where's Waldo? Corner of Scam and Fine


    There are at least 11,630 crime stories in the "Naked City" of Waldo. Unfortunately, all of them are boring and about the same.

    This was hardly a "Stop the presses!" "Get me rewrite, baby!" Johnny Deadline scoop of the century when a group of Waldo Police Department officers fessed up to what thousands of motorists, AAA, Interpol and the Visiting Nurses Association already knew.

    Yes, it's true — the Waldo constabulary has indeed been acting under strict orders to fulfill speeding ticket quotas. No! Really?...

  9. Ruth: Strap on the mudflaps


    Let the lame begin. For we who are about to sigh refute you.

    Here's the most pressing question of the 2014 campaign for governor. By the time election day arrives Nov. 4, after being inundated with negative commercials, how many of us will be reduced to basket cases curled up in fetal positions?

    This isn't going to be a campaign pitting incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott against former Republican governor-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist. The hyper-brainwashing propaganda about to hit the airwaves is going make The Manchurian Candidate look like Sesame Street....

  10. Ruth: Florida environment needs more Roger Stewarts


    In his time as a civil servant, Roger Stewart's business card may well have indicated his official position as the director of Hillsborough County's Environmental Protection Commission. In reality, he was actually the community's professional (and quite effective, too) pain-in-the-tuches.

    At the time of his death a few days ago at 89, Stewart had been out of the public eye since his retirement as the head of the EPC 14 years ago. That is a great shame, especially today with Florida led by a governor who has never met a growth management law he didn't want to pave over....

  11. Ruth: Duke Energy gives nod to solar, so why can't Gov. Rick Scott?


    You might remember the scene a few days ago when Florida Gov. Rick Scott grudgingly relented and sat down with a group of scientists for a briefing on the effects of climate change, mankind's role in the looming environmental crisis and what might be done to help the state avoid being turned into a giant flume ride in the not-too-distant future.

    A pained Scott looked like a teenager, albeit bald, being sent to detention hall. He sat for 30 minutes listening to the experts before exiting the room without asking a meaningful question. Fearful of losing the Luddite vote, Scott has assiduously run away from all things remotely linked to science — because no good politically comes from spending time with people who know what they are talking about....

  12. Ruth: Government on a need-to-know basis


    Surely there must be an underling, an apparatchik, perhaps a factotum or two within the Get Smart labyrinth of Rick Scott's inner sanctum who could gently remind him he is the governor of Florida and not the high commissar of SMERSH.

    At the rate the Scott politburo is operating in secret, the state motto ought to be: "The Kumquat Barks at Midnight."

    It should have been a tipoff early on that Scott's reign would look like the Skull and Bones society meets The Da Vinci Code when the governor proudly announced he intended his administration to be an unprecedented "transparent window into how state government works."...

  13. Ruth: Parents pay any price, bear any burden


    There are some facts and figures in life we probably don't really need to know: like when we're going to die, or how long the brother-in-law intends to stay at the house, or perhaps the final tally for the remodeled bathroom that began as a sink installation and wound up resembling one of Saddam Hussein's palace loos.

    Now comes a recent U.S. Agriculture Department report titled, "Expenditures on Children and Families," which notes that by the time Muffin or Skippy turns 18, the average middle-class family will have spent (sit down for this) $230,610 raising the little dickens....

    $230,610 to raise Skippy?
That sounds awfully low.
  14. Ruth: Appalling 'joke' merited stronger response


    On the off-chance they might have missed this minor detail over at the city of St. Petersburg's Stormwater, Pavement and Traffic Operations Department: We are currently residing in the year 2014, not 1861.

    That might come as some small relief to city employee Donald Pittman, who had the experience last year of thinking he might have been caught up in a Jim Crow time warp.

    In October, Pittman, who is black, was at work patching up a street on the city's west side when he felt something on his back, which appeared to be the letters KKK spray-painted on his work vest by — and no, I am not making this up — his supervisor, John Paquette, who is white....

  15. Ruth: Visions of sugar dance in legislators' heads


    It's merely an idea, but perhaps the oath of office for our state's elected panhandlers should be rewritten to read: "I do solemnly swear that I will support, protect and defend the sugar industry interests of the state of Florida; that I am duly compromised to hold office under the legalized bribes of various vested interests in this state, and I will well and faithfully perform the duties of a compliant shill and will to the best of my abilities follow the hunting laws of the great state of Texas for which I am about to board an airplane for an all-expense-paid trip by agricultural lobbyists to butcher unsuspecting critters, so help me (a lot!) the Republican Party of Florida."...

    Florida House Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli, left, and Speaker Will Weatherford were guests at King Ranch in Texas.