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Ernest Hooper, Times Columnist/East Hillsborough Bureau Chief

Ernest Hooper

Ernest Hooper is the East Hillsborough Bureau chief and columnist at the Tampa Bay Times. Hooper joined the Times in 1992 and has worked as a prep sports writer and editor, TV/radio sports columnist, NFL writer, news columnist and unofficial ambassador, representing the Times as an emcee, judge or keynote speaker at hundreds of nonprofit events and civic functions. Hooper added the role of East Hillsborough Bureau chief in 2012. He oversees news content for the Times' regional edition east of Tampa, the SouthShore & Brandon Times, and writes two columns a week. His commentaries about family, community issues and political perspectives have helped Hooper connect with readers over the years, but he's probably best known for his signature tagline: That's all I'm saying.

Phone: (813) 661-2440


  1. A chance to spread some happiness through jazz


    For jazz improviser Fred Johnson, every performance is an opportunity to create a special moment.

    "Words can really empower people to feel good," Johnson told Studio 10 Live's Stephanie Webb last week. "When you go to a concert you feel great. My journey is to help people experience that more often."

    Johnson joins Dick Rumore's Jazz Underground Orchestra to provide another moment on Saturday at the RCS Grande Gala benefit at Clearwater's Banquet Masters Speakeasy, 13355 49th St. N. The Roaring '20s-themed party promises to be, well, grande. ...

  2. Ernest Coney Jr.'s legacy is to build a better communities


    Ernest Coney Jr. stepped to the lectern before 500 people at TPepin's Hospitality Center on Tuesday and laid out his vision for the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa.

    "How is a destiny of a community determined? How is the destiny of a person determined?" asked Coney, the corporation's CEO and president. "Some talk about the direct and indirect correlations: educational achievements of parents, the ZIP code you live in, the college you were admitted to, the socioeconomic status of your family....

  3. Ernest Hooper: On the absurdity of a fight and heartwarming charity

    Human Interest

    To the people who recently came to blows at a Temple Terrace grocery store, know this: Fighting in a Publix is like fighting in a church. This is our store, founded in Florida. It's not a chain, it's an institution. C'mon, man.

    I'm just glad the combatants didn't resort to gunplay. These days, that's always a worry. …

    When it comes to philanthropy, a lot of companies keep sending money back to corporate headquarters instead of investing here....

  4. Hooper: F.A.I.R. breaks barriers for people with disabilities, community


    In the 25 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act went into law, we've seen employment opportunities, accessibility, safety and economic benefits all rise for people with disabilities.

    We live in a better world today because of the ADA.

    Laws, however, don't always change attitudes. Just ask Becki Forsell, founder of Yes! of America United Inc. and a tireless advocate for people with disabilities....

  5. Hooper: Wondering about the good and bad around us

    Human Interest

    I wonder if Tampa's Paul Avery realizes how much admiration he earns when he speaks about his commitment to funding research for a cure to Friedreich's ataxia, a disease that attacks the nervous system.

    I wonder if he recognizes how his love and passion shines through when he speaks of his daughters, Allison and Laurel, and their courageous battle against FA. I wonder if the Avery family knows how they inspired the hundreds of people who lent support to the cause at the FARA Energy Ball Saturday. …...

  6. Hooper: Politics needs more female leaders


    You can have a pretty good argument about whether women or men make better leaders.

    U.S. Sen. John McCain, for example, credited six female Senators (three Democrats, three Republicans) for helping Congress reach an agreement on the debt ceiling and reopening the federal government in 2013.

    "Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily from women in the Senate," McCain said. "I am proud that these women are stepping forward. Imagine what we could do if there were 50 of them."...

    Renee Dabbs, founder of the Women Empowering Women in Legislation and Leadership (WEWILL), wants more women to become engaged in politics. 

Photo courtesy of Renee Dabbs.
  7. Hooper: MacDonald Training Center empowers people with disabilities


    MacDonald Training Center provides a transcendent energy more kinetic than the electricity that flows through its buildings.

    The work it achieves for its business partners like SunPass underscores the center's efficiency, the encouraging words staff uses to fill the halls radiates warmth and the artwork produced by its clients fuels inspiration. Most of all, MacDonald empowers by giving people with disabilities the job skills to gain employment and the life skills to live more independently....

  8. Hooper: Gov. Scott, tell women to lean in, ask for Rashid's resignation


    This is the moment Gov. Rick Scott can send a message to the rising number of female executives and entrepreneurs.

    As much as he works to make Florida a welcoming state for business, he can't pass on this opportunity to show it's welcoming for men and women.

    The jobs governor must do his job and ask Sam Rashid to resign his position as a board member on the Hillsborough Aviation Authority. After calling female public relations consultant Beth Leytham a "tax-payer subsidized slut" in a Facebook post, Rashid has said he would resign if the governor asked....

  9. Working Women networking group reaches out to build up


    Any conversation about women in the workplace eventually leads to a discussion about glass ceilings, gender pay gaps and sexual discrimination.

    Then someone invariably blurts out: "But women can be their own worst enemies."

    In fact, when Tampa Bay Business Journal publisher Bridgette Bello feted award recipients at the journal's annual BusinessWoman of the Year dinner last week, she said "there's a special place in hell" for women who refuse to help and mentor other women in the workplace....

    Jessica Rivelli, founder and executive director of Working Women Tampa Bay, will host a statewide conference at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 10-11.

credit: Kathleen Hall
  10. Oxford Exchange launches #Tampadeservesbetter campaign to stop apartment project

    Real Estate

    NORTH HYDE PARK — Zoning disputes between residents and developers are nothing new. But Oxford Exchange's Blake Casper has taken his opposition to a new luxury apartment complex to the Internet.

    Casper, who owns the trendy south Tampa restaurant and hangout spot, has thrown his considerable heft behind blocking a proposed luxury apartment project that would go up across from his Oxford Exchange at 504 Grand Central....

    The proposed Altis Grand Central project on Grand Central Avenue in North Hyde Park will have an eight-floor parking garage nestled between two apartment buildings.
  11. Hooper: It takes two — care and collaboration — to make things go right


    The big-hair, gold-chain, skinny-tie, Members-Only-jacket styles of a long-ago decade may seem to have little bearing on making today's community better, but WDAE-AM 620 personality and former Buc Ian Beckles makes the connection work.

    Beckles officially launches his foundation with an '80s theme party Thursday at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. It sounds as promising as the foundation's mission, which is meeting the needs of various nonprofits....

  12. Hooper: Encouraging ideas emerge in wake of 'Failure factories' report


    Ron Diner, the director of strategic community partnerships for Raymond James, believes businesses could do more to help Pinellas' most troubled public schools.

    With Lunch Pals, the company's mentoring program, 87 employees had weekly lunches with students at Mount Vernon Elementary last year. Choosing a school near the company's location minimizes time. Kids get a stable force in their lives; mentors get a greater understanding of the challenges....

  13. Hooper: Promoting messages of positive self-image is beautiful


    Miley Cyrus — crass, crude, vulgar and shocking — has my attention.

    And maybe my heart.

    Cyrus, who first rose to fame as Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel, recently told Marie Claire magazine that having to live up to Disney-prescribed standards of beauty contributed to a sense of body dysmorphia: a disorder in which individuals experience tremendous difficulty seeing past their perceived physical flaws....

    Miley Cyrus, who first rose to fame as Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel, recently told Marie Claire magazine that having to live up to Disney-prescribed standards of beauty contributed to a sense of body dysmorphia: a disorder in which individuals experience tremendous difficulty seeing past their perceived physical flaws. (Photo by Rob Latour/Invision/AP, File) NYET101
  14. Tampa Bay's 'band of basketball brothers' competing for titles at Disney


    Jim Sweeney went looking for a pickup basketball game, never realizing he was picking up much more.

    He started at Woodgate Park near Clearwater's Countryside High School, looking to stay in shape, longing to compete like he did as a Boston College standout and loving the chance to sustain his passion. He talked to guys. He learned about better games, better players, and eventually he found his way to weekend workouts at Frank T. Hurley Park in Pass-a-Grille....

    Jim Sweeney, far right, has built friendships around the world competing in masters basketball tournaments, including a 2013 FIMBA tournament in Greece. Also pictured are Tarpon Springs High School basketball coach Jerry Woodka, one of the nation's best masters players, former Orlando Magic center Mark Acres, Slovenian Slavko Kotnik and former Australian and European pro Emory Atkinson. (Photo courtesy of Jim Sweeney)
  15. Hooper: It's time to act on failures of Pinellas County School District


    It's time. In the wake of the unvarnished report by Times staffers Cara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gartner and Michael LaForgia on how the Pinellas County School District is failing black students, it's time to act.

    It's not time for the status quo. Anyone who believes this crisis doesn't demand a sea change isn't paying attention.

    It's not time to lay all the blame on past and present superintendents and board members, but they certainly share in this failure....