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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: An investment in bureaucracy over kids


    Money can't buy you love. But you can certainly load up on a buck- passing of bureaucrats.

    Perhaps you indulged in a bit of naivete in assuming that when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a $100 million grant to the Hillsborough County School District in 2009, this unexpected windfall would do wonders in improving the education of our little darlings.

    It appears the wonders never ceased. Instead of pouring the Gates money into improving troubled schools, enhancing classroom teaching tools, underwriting reforms and teacher compensation, the moolah appears to have paid for one giant bacchanalia of paper-pushing....

  2. Daniel Ruth: From shadow mayor to Congress?


    Think of this as the 19th Hole Theory of Political Viability.

    This is the phenomenon of the politician-in-waiting sitting around the clubhouse bar after a round a golf where a bunch of other pals pat him on the back as they encourage the poor soul to run for office.

    Sometimes, they actually win. That is how we wound up with an ill-prepared Gov. Rick Scott, who admitted when he took office he had no idea that signing death warrants is part of the job....

  3. Ruth: The bears had no chance


    It was not a good weekend to be either: a) a bear and/or b) the English language, both of which came in for some very rough treatment in Florida.

    Sitting between two extremely dead furry critters, Rick Sajko of Valrico seemed happier than Elmer Fudd after finally bagging Bugs Bunny.

    "I've been waiting 20 some-odd years to kill a bear in Florida," Sajko beamed before a gaggle of reporters. Well, dreams are a wonderful thing, especially when they come true. And although Sajko had killed bears in Pennsylvania and Canada, the thrill of shooting a bear on Florida soil had eluded him....

  4. 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.
  5. 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....

  6. Ruth: Stalemate on Rays stadium compromise requires new tactics


    If this well gets poisoned any further, the relationship between the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Petersburg City Council is going to make the Ukraine dustup look like a neighborly spat over a borrowed lawn mower.

    Recently the council jibber-jabbered about finding a way to help underwrite a new Rays stadium somewhere in the city, which, if you think about it, might help resolve the Pier renovation debate, too. The council also remains reticent about signing off on a proposed memorandum of understanding between the team and Mayor Rick Kriseman, which would allow the Rays to investigate possible stadium sites in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties....

  7. Ruth: The high cost of expensive jewelry on the campaign trail


    By all accounts, it would seem when she wed Jeb Bush more than 40 years ago, a very young Columba Garnica Gallo didn't quite grasp she was marrying into a dynastic political machine, not to mention her whimsical brother-in-law George's penchant for wedgies.

    But she certainly understands the family business now.

    As the former Florida governor prepares for an all-but-certain 2016 campaign for the White House, attention is also ramping up over one of the intangibles of any presidential run — the candidate's family and, especially, the quintessentially reticent and publicity-averse First Lady-In-Reluctant-Waiting....

    Columba Bush: reticent and publicity-averse, but about to enter the public spotlight.
  8. Ruth: With a docket full of problems, judge should stay off bench


    Someone needs to remind Hillsborough County Court Judge Eric Myers that when someone appears before the bar of the court they are not there for a gin and tonic.

    About the only things missing from this tale of torts gone awry are a lava lamp adorning Myers' chambers, with Barry White crooning Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe, bailiffs dressed as Chippendale dancers and the judge ditching the robes for a leisure suit. Velvet Elvis painting, optional....

  9. Ruth: College campuses no place for concealed weapons


    Leave it to the National Rifle Association's Marion Hammer, the Martha Stewart of Smith & Wesson, to gin up faux hysteria over the debate to allow concealed weapons on the state's college campuses by suggesting ISIS is practically advancing on the gates of Florida State University's Doak Campbell Stadium.

    "The plain truth," Hammer prevaricated, "is that campuses are not safe. They are gun-free zones where murderers, rapists, terrorists, crazies may commit crime without fear of being harmed by their victims."...

    A poster for students to sign sits outside the Robert Manning Strozier Library at Florida State University days after a fatal shooting that took place in building.
  10. Ruth: Florida voters have no way to recall Gov. Rick Scott, Cabinet


    It came into this world at 11:21 a.m. on Feb. 16, 2011, a happy, bouncing bundle of hope and idealism. It died lonely, forgotten and neglected at 2:07 a.m. less than four months later, a victim of Tallahassee double standards and incumbent political tokus protection.

    For the past several weeks, as disclosures have mounted over Gov. Rick Scott's abrupt dismissal of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, questions have popped up about whether there is any way for voters to remove a Florida governor from office....

  11. Ruth: The dangers of cosmic calls to strangers


    There probably hadn't been a gathering of pocket-protectors this big since Galileo last dined alone.

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science recently held a conference in California and spent several days talking about slide-rule stuff most of us can't spell, much less comprehend.

    That was until Douglas Vakoch decided to go all "Klaatu barada nikto" on everyone.

    Vakoch is the director of interstellar message composition for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which means he may be the only man in the country whose phone never rings. Think about a job where every night he gets home from the office and his wife asks him, "Anything happen at work today, honey?" and poor Vakoch has to say, "Not really."...

    The Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the world’s largest single antenna, has a million-watt transmitter.
  12. Ruth: Taking fun out of fundraising — but not the wine


    Who says there isn't a scintilla of scruples among Tallahassee's Great White Grifters?

    After adjusting his halo for just the perfect fit, future Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran took the bold Sir Thomas More position that nevermore will he condone members schlepping off to some godforsaken corner of Texas to blast away at unsuspecting critters courtesy of the state's all-too-sweet sugar industry interests....

    Fundraising trips to King Ranch may be off limits for some Republican state officials, but the gang has plenty of other options, including visits to Napa Valley in California''s wine region.
  13. Ruth: First skitching can be the last


    If we all look back on our lives, no doubt we will recall moments when we engaged in some ill-considered behavior that thanks to the vagaries of fate resulted in only embarrassment or a bruised ego.

    Austin Demauro was not so lucky.

    The 15-year-old St. Petersburg youth was laid to rest days after a skateboarding stunt gone horribly awry. Sad. Tragic. Heart-breaking — and totally avoidable....

  14. Ruth: Veterans Hall of Fame is for U.S. vets


    When a proposal was made to erect a monument on a state park honoring the 2,000 Union soldiers who died at the 1864 Battle of Olustee just west of Jacksonville, it didn't take long for Rep. Dennis Baxley to complain.

    Baxley, a muckety-muck in the Sons of the Confederacy, contended last year that paying tribute to fallen patriots who defended their country in Florida's most deadly Civil War battle was a terrible idea, adding: "My biggest concern is that this is revisionist history and that these decisions are being made by park officials and not an elected body."...

  15. Review: Norman Lear's memoir reveals TV icon's personal side


    Norman Lear was not only present at the creation of the Golden Age of Television in the 1950s, he was one of the key architects of broadcasting's second coming in the 1970s, leaving a legacy of creative energy, taboos broken and icons created that continues to define and challenge the medium to this day.

    Not bad for a scrawny Jewish boy from Connecticut who initially only aspired to be a glib public relations executive. And it is that long journey from a dysfunctional, emotionally scarred childhood to the pinnacle of power and fame in Hollywood that Lear explores in his compelling autobiography, Even This I Get to Experience....