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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. Hooper: A tip of the raspberry beret to an amazing local artist

    Human Interest

    You might not know it now, but Alexandra Obar is a star.

    Obar, a 17-year-old senior at Palm Harbor University High School, won the annual student photo contest staged by the nonprofit Frameworks. As she stood next to her winning entry — a poignant self-portrait — at the Frameworks luncheon last week, she courageously shared she's battling mental illness.

    Obar said someone once told her she's too pretty to be suicidal. The statement illustrates the lack of sensitivity so many must endure....

    A photo illustration by Alexandra Obar, representing the positive she has found in her mental illness, took top honors in the Frameworks photography contest for high school students. Wrote Obar: “Although we might have scars; they create stories, strength, emotion, and showing that we may be broken but we are survivors.”
  2. Hooper: Don't delay, give that special person kudos today

    Human Interest

    Kudos to the Women's Conference of Florida, coming to Tampa on May 19-20. The event has an impressive list of speakers, including Today show financial editor Jean Chatzky, former New York Times editor Jill Abramson and Randi Zuckerberg, founder/CEO of Zuckerberg Media.

    More than 1,200 people are expected to attend, and I'm all for empowering women. Learn more at …...

  3. Hooper: Athena's Young Women of Promise already making their mark


    Academy of the Holy Names junior Elizabeth Dolan looked out from a stage at the 400-plus participants gathered for the Cross Out Cancer 5K fundraiser her new nonprofit organized last fall and saw so much more than a group that helped her raise nearly $50,000 for the families of cancer patients at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

    As one of the Athena Society's 2016 Young Women of Promise, Elizabeth explained to a room full of Tampa's most prominent and successful business women on April 7 that she witnessed a gathering of caring people who would inspire her for years to come....

     Mary Deschler, Steinbrenner High School: Mary, 17, envisions a career as an advocate for child protection services, women’s rights and environmental preservation. She serves as president of her class as well as four other student organizations. She will participate in Girls State in Tallahassee this year. Her community involvement includes serving on three different Relay for Life teams.
  4. Hooper: Both the protester and the governor took the low road

    Human Interest

    When an angry patron confronted Gov. Rick Scott at a Gainesville Starbucks last week, I felt a degree of sympathy.

    Just as I so often lament insulting comments about President Barack Obama — like the congressman yelling "You lie" during a State of the Union address — I cringed at Cara Jennings hurling obscenities at Scott because it showed no respect for the office....

  5. Hillsborough school district reorganization plan is no laughing matter


    I've never seen myself as a comedy writer, but I'm certain I crafted the perfect line for Hillsborough County Schools superintendent Jeff Eakins.

    At last month's Excellence in Education Awards ceremony, I told Eakins when he announces the first recipient, he should open the envelope and say, "The winner is — wait for it — Miss Colombia."

    Funny, right?

    Eakins, however, played it straight, and not because he feared copying Steve Harvey....

  6. Hooper: Keep trying to help teens make good decisions

    Human Interest

    Rich, poor, black, white — it doesn't matter — teenagers can make horribly bad decisions, no matter how often we explain that sometimes consequences can't be reversed.

    But we can't stop trying.

    St. Petersburg police say a joyride in a stolen car for teens Laniya Miller, Ashaunti Butler and Dominique Battle ended in a tragic crash last week that leaves only memories.

    I would give anything to jump into the Royal Palm North Cemetery pond where the car landed, pull the girls to safety and give them a second chance....

  7. Hooper: Emerging songstress deserves a boost on journey to the big time

    Human Interest

    Karlea Lynne' Boswell-Edwards put music's transformative powers on full display at last week's Excellence in Education Awards.

    When Boswell-Edwards, the Blake High jazz band soloist, began to sing, I closed my eyes and magically moved from the outdoor patio at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts to some long-ago posh jazz nightclub.

    The 18-year-old's smooth stylings belie her age and have caught the attention of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where she earned a $20,000 scholarship after winning the college's Jazz Singers Showcase. But that award represents only a portion of what she will need to attend the Boston college....

  8. Hooper: Obama's embrace, baseball game do little to dispel hatred for Castro regime

    Human Interest

    Few people do a better job of distilling the raw emotion of those opposed to normalizing relations with Cuba than ESPN's Dan Le Batard.

    The network will televise the Rays' exhibition game against the Cuban national team Tuesday, but Miami-based Le Batard won't attend, citing the feelings of his Cuban mother and others forced to flee the island nation.

    "My mother's uncle was in jail for a decade, body rotting, and she was touched inappropriately every time she would visit him in jail. He didn't do anything," Le Batard said on his show....

  9. Hooper: Even if you have to hold your nose, get out and vote

    Human Interest

    Discontent and dismay continue to infect the enthusiasm for voting, but it has never been more important to engage in the political process.

    Some will stay home on Tuesday because this candidate has never done anything for their people or that one won't win in the general or this one is scary. Some say not voting is a vote.

    Balderdash. If we don't care who wins, the winner won't care about us after getting into office. Apathy can't yield solutions....

  10. Moffitt forum at USF helps men focus on health


    Back in the 1990s, when H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center vice president B. Lee Green had hair — his words, not mine — he lived in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and frequented a barber shop where everyone shared stories.

    One particular patron often boasted about his model car hobby. Green and the other customers not only hung on the man's every word, but also ventured out to look at his latest work....

    B. Lee Green, of the Moffitt Cancer Center, says helping men recognize the importance of their health can be pivotal in prevention.
  11. Hooper: Society can't laugh off Trump's campaign of hate

    Human Interest

    It's not funny anymore.

    Donald Trump's blunt and often insulting talk about minorities fuels an atmosphere where separatists can start conversations about white supremacy.

    The Washington Post recently reported on the trend, noting that separatists use Trump's campaign as, "a great outreach tool." Trump disavowing the KKK hasn't slowed the movement.

    We can't ignore those who perpetuate bigotry and long to drag us back into the darkness of hate....

  12. Hooper: Encore beckons experienced workers


    What if you're boarding a plane and you get to choose your pilot: do you pick the one with 30 years of experience or the fresh-out-of-school rookie, who's more comfortable with the latest technology as a millennial who grew up in the digital age?

    Both bring value, both can do the job. But these days, some employers fail to see the value in the veteran worker despite all the institutional knowledge that person possesses....

  13. We deserve lawmakers who champion diversity

    Human Interest

    Laila Abdelaziz, the Council on American–Islamic Relations' legislative and government affairs director for Florida, says when she stepped onto an elevator in the state Capitol last week, a legislator said, "Is it safe to ride the elevator with you?"

    The tasteless joke proved even more cruel, Abdelaziz wrote on her Facebook page, when others on the elevator — Democrat, Republican, white, black, old, young — laughed....

  14. Three cheers for the very, merry strawberry


    PLANT CITY — Singing sisters, harmonizing brothers and Oreo-chasing pigs.

    Magic shows and milking shows.

    A hall of fame football player and a hall of fame rock band. A classic country diva and a young diva who only sings classic country. Christian rap and country rap. Golden boys and gold-colored robots. Get-down R&B and get-up gospel.

    I could go on. The question isn't, "What can you find at the 2016 Florida Strawberry Festival?"...

  15. Hooper: Jeb Bush's lack of swagger cost his campaign

    Human Interest

    A Republican insider quoted by Politico described the GOP presidential contest, "as a year of personality, not message."

    Nothing greater explains Jeb Bush's stunning failure to mount a viable campaign after raising $150 million. Sure, you can point to strategic factors — underestimating Donald Trump, mishandling attacks on Marco Rubio — but the former Florida governor never exhibited the swagger to capture a real following. ...