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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: Tampa mayor courts China, stiff-arms Cuba


    What might we call this historic foreign policy moment? Buckhorn Goes to China?

    Okay, so it doesn't quite have the Nixonian panache to it.

    But there was Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn spending last week cavorting across China on a goodwill/economic development trip, raising mai tai umbrellas in the spirit of international cooperation with government and health science officials to further stronger bonds between the city and Beijing. Oh, the Camelot of it all....

  2. Ruth: Mosaic apology about sinkhole much appreciated


    If you are one of those ungrateful whiners who don't appreciate what an honor it is to live near the Mosaic phosphate fertilizer plant in Mulberry, here is the most important thing to know.

    The Mosaic suits feel lousy about the huge sinkhole that opened at the plant in late August. And the company is beside itself with remorse that neither it, nor federal, nor state environmental officials bothered to inform the general public that 215 million gallons of contaminated water had seeped into the Floridan Aquifer. ...

    Environmental Consulting & Technology Inc. field tech Bob Harrison collects a sample of water from a well near Lithia.
  3. Daniel Ruth: Don't blame former mayors for St. Pete's sewage mess


    It is not a bright idea for a mayor to blame his predecessors for a massive sewage spill long after they have left office. To paraphrase Harry Truman: the sludge stops here — right on top of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's desk.

    Memo to Kriseman: You're going to need a bigger bucket.

    In the wake of Hurricane Hermine, the city of St. Petersburg discharged about 150 million gallons of partially treated sewage or mostly treated wastewater into the bays. The enormity of the spill was exacerbated by a decision made by a 2011 City Council vote to shut down the Albert Whitted wastewater treatment plant, and there were plans to transform the facility into a fish farm. ...

  4. Dan Ruth: Crist and Jolly are ambitious twins of opportunity


    There are many sins incumbent Republican Rep. David Jolly can lob against his opponent, Democrat and former Gov. Charlie Crist in the race for the 13th Congressional District seat, but being ambitious would be a bit of a stretch.

    This is a political campaign, which will land the victor in the midst of the most fractious, ego-driven cabal of chest-thumpers since Donald Trump last dined alone. It's not a contest for the Thomas Pynchon Recluse of the Year Award....

    U.S. Rep. David Jolly, right, looks on as Charlie Crist speaks during their debate Monday at the Palladium in St. Petersburg. They are running for the 13th Congressional District seat.
  5. Ruth: Yearning for old-fashioned spying


    This is what world domination is supposed to look like? So very disappointing. This is like discovering Dr. No leading an international criminal conspiracy to rip off mattress tags.

    It seems Russian hackers have managed to wheedle their way into former Secretary of State Colin Powell's email account, in which the retired general expressed some not too kind comments about Hillary Clinton (consumed by "hubris"), Donald Trump ("racist"), and former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz ("idiots")....

    Moscow’s Red Square is dominated by the Kremlin’s Spassky Tower, a symbol of the Cold War era.
  6. Ruth: An unhealthy fight over medical records


    For starters, we could all agree that based on our medical histories, most of us would be disqualified from becoming president. There's that old saying: We're all dying of something. It's only a matter of time.

    Judging from all the hand-wringing over Hillary Clinton's apparent semi-collapse over the weekend, one would think the poor woman is at death's door.

    If irrefutable robust health was demanded of those seeking the White House, one of the few people who would be up to the job would be Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. You have to admit, watching her entry to deliver the State of the Union would be incredible....

  7. Daniel Ruth: Spending money to fix sewers isn't sexy


    Think of this as the public administration equivalent of ignoring the "Check Engine" light on your car even while the jalopy sputters and wheezes and spews black smoke from the tailpipe. At least it's still running. And you would rather spend your money on a fancy high-definition television so you can more fully enjoy the poetic artistry of Duck Dynasty.

    It is perfectly understandable that St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has a lovely wish list of many things he wants to do to make his city more attractive, more beckoning to investment, more artsy-smartsy. He's a mayor. That's what mayors do....

  8. Ruth: Trump, Bondi dance around the facts


    Let's state for the record that Attorney General Pam Bondi cannot be bought off with a $25,000 campaign contribution. Tut-tut. However, the 25 large does make for a very nice down payment when one wants to purchase some scruples on layaway.

    This is Florida, after all, widely recognized as one of the most politically corrupt states in the country. If you are going to attempt to compromise the state's chief legal officer, it darn well better at least include a free ride on private jets, room service at a swanky resort and some tasty Dom Perignon. The motto of the Florida Attorney General's Office ought to be: "I'm Pammy, Ply Me!"...

  9. Ruth: Let troops smoke cigars


    For the sake of argument, let's assume you are a soldier fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. And after a hard day of having really bad people trying to kill you, you make it back to base in one piece. It would be nice to be able to chill out for a few hours before your next patrol when more bad people will try to kill you again.

    Perhaps you would like to enjoy the simple pleasure of a stogie that has been sent to you courtesy of Tampa's J.C. Newman Cigar Co., or maybe the Thompson Cigar Co. In a war zone, modest comforts are hard to find and after a long day putting one's life on the line, a brief respite to puff on a Panetela hardly seems an excessive perk of the job fending off al-Qaeda, ISIS and Hezbollah....

  10. Daniel Ruth: Florida Senate 19 results show every vote counts


    It is one of the oldest, most shopworn axioms in political life: Every vote counts. You may now yawn.

    If you have any doubts about the power of a single vote, just ask President Al Gore. Or perhaps not.

    But as we learned from Florida's primary election, every vote certainly did count, especially those 73 ballots that were cast giving Rep. Darryl Rouson a skin-of-his teeth victory over Rep. Ed Narain to win the Democratic primary for the Florida Senate District 19 seat....

  11. Ruth: Paid so much to do so little in Congress


    Tanned, rested and ready after almost two months on vacation, Congress returned to WORK!!!! Tuesday to commence a brief but brutal schedule of activity that will involve great impassioned speeches, purposeful striding back and forth across the Capitol rotunda and, of course, an unrelenting pace of schmoozing for bribes, er, make that campaign donations.

    Oh, the Parris Island Spartan-like rigor of it all. So many canapes. So little time....

  12. Ruth: Lessons from Florida's primary election


    Long ago on an election night when the political prankster Dick Tuck found himself losing badly in a California state Senate race, he responded with a phrase few other politicians would dare to utter: "The people have spoken, the &^%$#&!"

    Or words to that effect.

    And with the campaign balloons having lost their air and the patriotic bunting hauled away after Tuesday's primary elections, the Florida voters have indeed spoken, offering a few lessons....

    Jim Norman had name recognition — that was the problem.
  13. Ruth: How to pitch transit by pushing sports


    Eureka! At last, I have finally figured out a way to solve our long-standing transportation thing. It will involve just a pinch of deception.

    The Hillsborough County Commission has voted to select the contractor who will develop a massive sports complex near Falkenburg Road and U.S. 301. It will be huuuuge, with 16 soccer fields, snazzy lighting, spaces for 1,200 cars, accommodations for locker rooms and food trucks. It's gonna be the cat's pajamas for jocks — all for $12.9 million. Such a deal....

  14. Daniel Ruth: Common sense could have spared Pinellas palms


    You might want to think of this as the Pinellas County Public Works Department version of that WKRP in Cincinnati episode where for Thanksgiving, the hapless radio station general manager dropped live turkeys out of a helicopter over a packed shopping mall, wrongly believing the birds could fly.

    In what should have been a routine maintenance assignment in March, workers were supposed to remove four sabal palmetto trees along Joe's Creek, which runs through several St. Petersburg neighborhoods and Kenneth City. Seems simple enough....

  15. Ruth: Feds need to investigate corruption in Florida


    You would think if you were an ambitious federal prosecutor eager to pursue public corruption cases, you would yearn to be assigned to an office in Florida — any office — where the pickings are riper than a Plant City strawberry field.

    So many greased palms. So few scruples.

    After all, the official state motto really ought to be: "You Have the Right to Remain Silent."

    When it comes to all manner of measures like the quality of education, or transportation, or medical care for the poor, Florida often ranks somewhere between Dante's Inferno and Palau....

    Longtime U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, who was indicted in July, lost
in the Democratic primary election Tuesday.