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 son of Cheap Trick, Robin Taylor is ready to make his own music

    Human Interest

    SAFETY HARBOR — Drawing from a mix of personally penned tunes and covers that included Oasis and Coldplay, prodigious singer Robin Taylor regaled the small but engaged audience at Brady's Backyard BBQ with an effortless voice and remarkable expertise on the piano and guitar.

    On one particular song, the folks sitting in the back of the room heard a soft, harmonious vocal underneath his singing. For a moment, they thought Taylor had recorded a faint backing track to support his vocals....

    Robin Taylor, son of Cheap Trick lead singer Robin Zander, and a hard-working, gifted musician in his own right, recently played at Brady’s Backyard BBQ.
  2. Hooper: Empathy for opposing views can help foster change

    Human Interest

    Empathy may be the most difficult emotion to teach our children and elicit from adults.

    Condemnation, anger and fear rule the day on so many issues. But if you look at history, those emotions prove fleeting and ineffective when bringing about real change. It's man's ability to understand and share the feelings of another that will guide us in the right direction on issues such as immigration, equal pay and domestic violence....

  3. Changes needed in Florida's complex family laws

    Human Interest

    As she tries to envision her son — see his smile, recall his voice, remember his touch — tears fill her eyes.

    She wants what any mother would want: a chance to see her son play with his younger half brother, enjoy rides at Disney, hug his grandmother — as the court ordered.

    She longs to pick him up after school, check on his homework and meet his friends — as the court ordered....

  4. Hooper: With social media, there is no privacy online

    Human Interest

    I hear people use the phrase "my personal Facebook page," and I just laugh.

    Nothing is personal about Facebook, regardless of who you choose to friend or your so-called settings. It's a public forum.

    As we learned last week when Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri cautioned his deputies about online activity after learning about a detective's racially charged posts, Facebook and Twitter can come back to haunt....

  5. H'Attitude Awards honor Tampa Bay's African-American achievers

    Human Interest

    Sometimes the connection between the past and the present gets distorted, like a bad cellphone call.

    Memories, like signals, can fade. Deeds, like parts of a conversation, can get distorted. Every once in awhile, the call gets dropped.

    New St. Paul AME pastor Karen Jackson Sims says the inaugural H'Attitude Awards are all about making sure young African-Americans don't get disconnected from the achievements of their most recent predecessors. The awards program takes place at 11:30 a.m. Saturday during a brunch at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and will recognize key contributors in various categories including business, civil rights, education, arts, medicine and legal....

  6. Karaoke event folks sing for a cause: pediatric cancer

    Human Interest

    Whether it's a stiletto strut across the stage a la Tina Turner, swaying in front of the microphone stand like Aerosmith's Steven Tyler or emulating the high-energy high jinks of a certain Rolling Stones frontman, everybody wants to be a rock star.

    Everybody wants to move like Jagger.

    For the third consecutive year, the nonprofit Because of Ezra will give people that opportunity with Karaoke for the Kure: Solid Gold on Sept. 12 at the Orpheum in Ybor City. At the end of last year's event, people were still waiting to get their turn on stage with Rockaraoke, a Seattle-based band that plays live for singers and brings a 600-song catalog to every show....

  7. Hooper: What do School Board candidates think of MaryEllen Elia?

    Human Interest

    As we head toward November, voters should make a point of asking Hillsborough County School Board candidates where they stand in terms of superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

    Elia hasn't been perfect, but this district stands as a state leader under her guidance. When you talk to people who have dealt with this district and other school districts, they praise Elia for being comparably better....

  8. Mike Brown's death should push both sides to find new approach

    Human Interest

    On a hot summer afternoon back in 1979, my teenage friends and I sought to negate the boredom of those times — no fancy home video games back then — by searching for a diversion.

    We lived just a mile from Florida State University and often went down to campus to find some fun. Imagine our surprise when we stumbled upon a cheerleading camp at Osceola Hall, a private dormitory. Teenage boys randomly finding a collection of 200-plus girls was like Capt. Jack Sparrow stumbling upon buried treasure....

  9. Hooper: Shift talk from problem of Ferguson shooting to prevention

    Human Interest

    Weekend rallies in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota reflect the anger and anguish rippling out of Ferguson, Mo., over the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown.

    Debate rages over whether it was justified, but at some point the focus has to move toward how we prevent this from happening again. Too many want to dismiss the loss of life as just the way it goes, but no parent of young black people, myself included, should be willing to accept such a fearful status quo....

  10. From Gulf High sports to SportsCenter, Sara Walsh revels

    Human Interest

    A simple task awaited Sara Walsh when she arrived at ESPN headquarters last week.

    Shoot hoops with hip-hop star Lil' Wayne.

    "I hate to say this, but sometimes I feel like I don't have a job," Walsh said later with a laugh.

    To go from three-sport star at Gulf High to SportsCenter anchor and Fantasy Football Now commentator makes Walsh the envy of a lot of aspiring sportscasters and sports fans....

    “I hate to say this, but sometimes I feel like I don’t have 
a job.” SportsCenter anchor Sara Walsh, on how much she enjoys her job
  11. ALS ice bucket challenge deserves tidal wave of support

    Human Interest

    I can't understand why some people want to dump water on a good idea.

    The positives that have poured out of the ALS ice bucket challenge far outweigh the negatives. In case you've missed this Internet sensation, let me explain.

    Social media networks have filled with people dumping ice water on their heads and challenging friends to donate to the ALS Foundation or accept the challenge. They have ranged from celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake to athletes including Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy....

  12. Hooper: Fight bigotry and racism in the Tampa Bay area

    Human Interest

    A predominantly black church in Tampa cancels a gay man's funeral.

    A Hillsborough School Board candidate of Indian descent is smeared with a mailer so vile and racist she called a news conference to respond.

    A St. Petersburg worker remains bitter about a white supervisor spray-painting his safety vest with KKK — largely because the supervisor remains employed and in charge.

    As a community, are we learning from the past and evolving as a society? For every action we've taken against bigotry and racism lies an opposite reaction that suggests such adverse attitudes have simply gone underground....

  13. Hillsborough supervisor confident about his first official 'Election Day'


    Craig Latimer and I have something in common.

    Like all journalists, I strive to report the news and not be a part of it. It's much the same for Latimer, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.

    If all goes well on Aug. 26, results will roll in, complaints will be minimal and the fact that this is Latimer's first election as supervisor will be a mere footnote.

    But if Latimer ends up answering more questions about technical gaffes than turnout, he will be singing Oh, What A Night for all the wrong reasons....

    Craig Latimer is Hillsborough’s elections supervisor.
  14. New digital town hall hopes to unite Sun City Center residents

    Human Interest

    SUN CITY CENTER — Doug Arnold is going to build a town hall in Sun City Center, a place where people can come and exchange ideas and interests like back in the good old days.

    And he's not going to use bricks, mortar or any construction materials to erect this center.

    He's going to use the Internet.

    Arnold, a Sun City Center resident, announced plans for the Sun City Center Citizens Network last week. He's currently beta testing the site at with the hopes of creating a digital town hall that will help residents in the retirement communities connect on a better level....

    Creator Doug Arnold wants to connect neighbors in a world that feels increasingly disconnected.
  15. Hooper: Visit Tampa Bay exec reaches out to multicultural markets

    Human Interest

    When the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shriners held its first council session in Tampa in 2010, Visit Tampa Bay national sales manager Sherri Brown asked the then-potentate which cities had wowed him during his 42 years as a member.

    "None of them," he said.

    Brown made it her mission to make Tampa the city with an attention to detail and gestures both big and small. One of those small gestures turned out to be decisive. When the Shriners chose a new potentate, Don Parks, Brown gathered up nearly everyone in the bureau — about 40 employees — and had them greet the new leader with applause as he exited a ballroom....

    The Prince Hall Shriners Imperial Council Parade will follow Seventh Avenue in Ybor City on Wednesday.