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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: Churches should offer more love, less brimstone

    Human Interest

    A Pew Research Center study indicates the number of Americans who don't identify with any religion rose from 16.1 percent in 2007 to 22.8 in 2015.

    The group, which includes atheists, agnostics and those who answer "nothing in particular," is a mix of secular folks and those who practice a do-it-yourself spirituality.

    Meanwhile, the Christian share of the population declined 8 percent over the same period....

  2. Helen Gordon Davis' life an example for a new generation


    Helen Gordon Davis died Monday, leaving an indelible legacy as a fighter for women and minorities.

    But who will continue the fight?

    Even when Davis welcomed her induction into the inaugural class of the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame in 2011 — long after her days as an elected official — she displayed a feistiness, using the occasion to call out critical decisions made by Gov. Rick Scott and the state Legislature regarding women's rights and voting rights....

  3. Hooper: Good can be found in every school

    Human Interest

    When I participated recently in a Van Buren Middle School career day sponsored by the Tampa chapter of Links Inc., I asked one of the girls, "What should I write about Van Buren?"

    "That we have good students here who are working hard."

    I sensed the same sentiment at St. Petersburg's John Hopkins Middle during a journalism awards ceremony last week. J-Hop has taken some publicized hits this year, but I witnessed dedicated students, caring teachers and admirable work....

  4. Love of deviled crab is in the details


    The boasts, the dares, the trash talk rose to such an epic level we knew the argument could only be settled one way.

    A battle. A showdown. A classic faceoff for bragging rights. A loser-leave-town bout like they used to have on Championship Wrestling from Florida.

    So with a steely stare and an arsenal sure to win the day, I eyed her from across the room. My opponent, a Times colleague with her own allegiance, arrived with her weapons for the clash, equally confident....

  5. Hooper: Real government reform starts with public service

    Human Interest

    My friend Mortimer Brown says government reform will be best if we can create a system that requires candidates to be competent in "public service, humanitarian ideals, respect for minority views and other marks of an enlightened society."

    He's so right, because now it seems they need be competent only in raising money. C'mon state House, Gov. Scott, prove us wrong. …

    Seen on a bumper sticker: The System Isn't Broken. It's Fixed. …...

  6. At Community Stepping Stones, Sigrid Tidmore made an impact

    Human Interest

    I pride myself on not being envious, but when Sigrid Tidmore showed me photos of her future home — a modern two-story abode with ocean vistas overlooking Ecuador's beautiful blue seas — my eyes turned green.

    Tidmore, a longtime Tampa artist whose latest effort involved serving as executive director of Community Stepping Stones, will soon cast off for this enchanted land and spend her days painting nature pictures, crafting book cover illustrations and enjoying time with her sons and grandchildren, who already reside in Ecuador....

  7. Hooper: Could it be a done deal for Pier Park on Thursday?

    Human Interest

    Pier Park's popularity rises as we move closer to the St. Petersburg City Council's vote on Thursday. Excitement rises as the process appears ready to be finalized.

    So why am I so worried about the vote and the negotiations that will follow? Please folks, don't blow this. …

    WEDU joins Tuesday's parade of philanthropy by dedicating 24 hours of broadcast time on WEDU's digital channel (check your local listings) to GiveDay Tampa Bay. Coverage of the online nonprofit effort will include live broadcasts from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at its studios, 1300 N Boulevard, Tampa. …...

  8. Hooper: Amid racial issues, asking the right questions will provide answers


    It's not about having all the answers. It's about asking the right questions.

    As riotous scenes from Baltimore played out on television Monday night, Baltimore resident and noted commentator Jeff Johnson conceded his heart and his head were back in his hometown and not really with the audience waiting to hear his keynote speech at the George Edgecomb Bar annual scholarship dinner at the Marriott Waterside....

  9. Hooper: Next St. Pete pier catches eye of young professionals

    Human Interest

    A group of six young professionals in St. Petersburg cheered as the pier selection committee chose Pier Park as the design for the reimagined project.

    Some of the group's members spoke in favor of Pier Park at the committee meeting and although the impact of their influence can be debated, you can't deny how great it is to see the next generation get engaged. …

    Integral Energy's Anddrikk Frazier continues to make a mark in the world of clean energy....

  10. Hooper: TIA restaurateur lifts himself up, and others


    As a child, George Tinsley, Sr., sported such an optimistic outlook that folks in his impoverished Louisville, Ky., neighborhood, known as Smoketown by locals, looked out for him.

    An elderly woman, an amputee with only one leg, adopted Tinsley as a 7-month-old and raised him in a 10- by 10-foot room with no running water. The struggles were ever-present, including wearing the same clothes for five or six days and sharing a bed with someone until he went to college. But his pride and hope never dimmed....

    George Tinsley Sr.’s company is the majority partner in the TGI Friday’s in the main terminal of Tampa International Airport.
  11. Lightning Community Heroes program honors great achievers

    Human Interest


    When the Tampa Bay Lightning opened its series against the Detroit Red Wings last week, images of Tamara Davis flashed on the Amalie Arena's gigantic video screen.

    The narrator, Lightning veteran Ryan Callahan, explained how Davis overcame an abusive marriage, custody battle, homelessness and a residence lost to fire to earn a home as a Habitat for Humanity Pinellas client.

    Callahan continued, explaining how Davis now volunteers for the nonprofit and serves as a board member. And thanks to the Lightning Community Heroes Program, she's now one of its newest donors after receiving $50,000 to give to the charity of her choice....

    In 2011, Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, congratulated Ben Carpenter, 17, the first of 41 residents to be recognized as a Lightning Community Hero.
  12. Hooper: Bill on diabetic emergencies may make something good out of tragic event

    Human Interest

    State Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, hopes a bill requiring law enforcement to get continuing education for diabetic emergency recognition training passes both chambers this week.

    The bill, with companion legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, comes in the wake of the death of Arthur Green Jr., who suffered a diabetic seizure during an encounter with Tampa police. The family has sued, contending the police's actions led to Green's death. Police have stated Green was combative....

  13. Decision on property gives Seffner a chance to build community

    Local Government

    As a resident of Seffner, a suburban enclave halfway between Tampa and Plant City and just north of Brandon, I hold one certainty.

    We can be more.

    We can be — a place.

    We can be a place where we ask the county government to do more than just fill potholes, collect trash and provide public safety.

    We can be a place where we gather to bond and share fellowship. We can be a place that holds character and possesses a defining quality. We can be a place where we do more than just let the days go by....

  14. Brandon Walmart to close for six months


    BRANDON — The Walmart Superstore at 1208 E Brandon Blvd closed Monday because of plumbing issues and is not expected to reopen for six months.

    "As part of an effort to ensure all of our stores are fully serving the needs of our customers, we regularly assess the conditions of our stores," Walmart spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement. "Due to ongoing plumbing issues that will require extensive repairs, we are temporarily closing the Valrico/Brandon store." It will reopen as soon as all of the plumbing issues are resolved, she said....

  15. Hooper: Schools need to identify, help homeless teens

    Human Interest

    The Hillsborough County school district says it has identified 3,400 students — or the equivalent of two average-sized high schools — grappling with homelessness.

    The problem is that the actual number may be as high as 11,000 and those students are going without available services.

    That was one of the more interesting facts revealed during a WEDU community discussion last week after the screening of the PBS documentary, Homestretch, which airs at 10 p.m. tonight....