Make us your home page

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

Email: ehooper@tampabay.com

  1. Ernest Hooper: Flooding highlights need for drainage investment

    Human Interest

    To be honest, I'm afraid to drive in South Tampa when it rains. And I don't have that much courage about driving in other parts of the city during a thunderstorm.

    But are taxpayers willing to pony up what it would take to help alleviate the problem on a rain-averse, flat peninsula where water can easily pool?

    If you look at the $35 million combined price tag of two of the latest pumping stations — Alline Avenue and Duck Pond-Doughnut Pond — it's clear there's no easy fix....

  2. Vacationing volunteers just part of the story at Trinity Cafe


    He could have ridden the daunting dips and climbs of Gwazi at Busch Gardens instead of riding over to Nebraska Avenue, armed with large bags of rice and buckets of fresh vegetables.

    He could have donned a pair of Mickey ears instead of a pair of vinyl gloves. He could have sat by the gulf with an umbrella drink instead of sitting with the guests as a volunteer at the Trinity Cafe, where more than 280 hot, nutritious meals are served every day....

  3. Black community, police need joint action to find solutions

    Human Interest

    We're going to get a real sense of where the Tampa Police Department stands with the African-American community at a forum being staged by the family of Arthur Green Jr. from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hope Center, 4902 N 22nd St.

    The family has filed a suit against the Police Department, alleging the police encounter with the 63-year-old Green, who was suffering from a diabetic seizure, resulted in his death because officers ignored his worsening condition, handcuffed him and pinned him to the ground. ...

  4. Maj. Hill: Not just a law enforcer, a peace keeper


    He was so young when he started his career, his father had to purchase his service revolver.

    Alan Hill was only 19 when he joined the Temple Terrace Police Department and became a rookie cop fresh out of King High School. He worked with officers much older and wiser, and that made Hill a sponge, eager to soak up lessons about law enforcement.

    Yes, the veteran cops showed him that the job involved flashing lights and chasing bad guys, but they also shared how it went beyond the excitement you see on television....

    Maj. Alan Hill of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office signs in before heading to a meeting at Sheriff’s Office headquarters this week. Hill returns to where he started his career in 1989.
  5. Hooper on Confederate flag: Educate rather than eradicate

    Human Interest

    I'm ready to compete.

    When it comes to the Confederate flag, I'm ready to enter into the marketplace of ideas — armed with Article 1, Section 9, No. 4 of the Confederate constitution and an array of other past and present facts — and challenge those who suggest the flag isn't a symbol of hate and oppression.

    But outside of governments, which must represent all the people, I don't want to deny the right to fly the stars and bars. Let's not steal into people's yards and take their Confederate flags. Let's not take down Confederate memorials. Let's compete....

  6. Hooper: Under a water tower, local luminaries mingle to honor the humble crab

    Human Interest

    Throw a party under the West Tampa Water Tower and you're bound to attract a crowd.

    State Rep. Janet Cruz staged the inaugural Deviled Crab Throwdown on Saturday at her N Himes Avenue office — yes, just under the water tower — and drew more than 200 people, including four city council members, the public defender, the Hillsborough Property Appraiser, the Clerk of the Circuit Court and a Hillsborough county commissioner....

  7. Hooper: Helping prepare young people for new lives, new careers


    In her past: the earthquake that ravaged her homeland of Haiti, journeying to the United States and leaving behind a mother she hasn't seen in five years.

    In her present: classes at D.W. Waters Career Center, a 1-year-old daughter and a new home at Alpha House, where she receives safe housing and lessons on self-sufficiency.

    It's the future of 19-year-old Merline Exantus, however, that inspires, a future fueled not only by Alpha House but also the opportunities fostered by the Hillsborough Education Foundation....

    Strawberry Crest High senior Teddy Verra spent time with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue driver engineer Ragon Frost, learning about the agency’s dispatch department.
  8. Hooper: The Spring's new addition offers soothing words along with a safe home


    Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.

    — Lucille Ball

    Officials and supporters of the Spring of Tampa Bay reveled over all the accoutrements of its new residential facility Tuesday.

    The Nunnally Farrior House not only adds 26 beds for the domestic abuse shelter, but it includes a family area, tastefully decorated by Ikea, a multipurpose classroom, an office for the United Way Shelter University program, a mini kitchen and an enclosed laundry room (the Spring previously had an outdoor laundry area)....

    Photos and inspiring quotes from famous people, including Rosa Parks and Ann Landers, adorn the hallway at the Spring.
  9. Hooper: Burning flags only clouds the real issues

    Human Interest

    A man jogged along Clearwater Beach on the Fourth of July carrying an American flag and wearing red, white and blue swim trunks and a Santa Claus hat.

    At the same time, I sat on the sand reading a newspaper article about a group of protesters who burned flags during a demonstration at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Friday night. The juxtaposition struck a chord.

    While the protesters have the free-speech right to burn the flag — and our nation remains a place with flaws that need to be mended — the incendiary act only fuels more anger and clouds their words....

  10. Who serves the best deviled crabs in Tampa? We'll soon have an answer

    Human Interest

    The long debate soon will be settled — at least for a year.

    State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, will hold the inaugural Deviled Crab Showdown at 11:30 a.m. July 18 at her district office on 2221 N Himes Ave. As Cruz rightfully notes, the deviled crab has become ingrained in Tampa's unique culinary history, but there's been much debate about who serves the best.

    The contenders have yet to be determined, but after raising the issue in a recent column, I get to be a judge. Yes, there is a method to my madness. …...

  11. Hooper: Don't feed on religion click bait


    A team of volunteers gathered in my neighbor's yard one recent Saturday and took on the arduous task of removing a dying oak tree.

    As a widow, she needed the help.

    With ropes and saws and toil and sweat, they took down the towering tree — even though a branch hit my neighbor's roof and did some minor damage (they came back and fixed it.)

    I appreciated the gesture. But I thought it even more magnanimous when I learned the team came from Bay Life Church. The Brandon church utilizes volunteers to follow the biblical principle of caring for widows and orphans....

  12. Hooper: A simple lesson from dad — being there matters

    Human Interest

    When we stood in front of the Majik Market next to Tallahassee's Capital Stadium, or outside the Jake Gaither Recreation Center, the car always arrived.

    My father never failed to show.

    When I get together with my childhood friends these days, they always remark about how my father drove us to and from dances and games during our early high school days. After working all week as an art professor at Florida A&M, he still found the energy to chauffeur us....

  13. Hooper: A 50+ man walks into a mall …

    Human Interest

    Random thoughts while visiting International Plaza …

    Ten years ago, Urban Outfitters was the coolest store on earth. Now it's the most pretentious place on the planet — said the increasingly curmudgeonly man. …

    Wouldn't Haagen-Dazs and Great American Cookie make more if they were next to a big and tall shop instead of Fit2Run? …

    The woman at the Dead Sea kiosk — who said I looked like I was from New York — almost convinced me I need to have smoother skin. But then I imagined telling my wife I spent $139 just to have smoother skin. …...

  14. Hooper: Early education builds the military


    TAMPA — Retired Rear Adm. Casey W. Coane delivered a calm, data-driven speech to a group of business leaders Tuesday, but his message screamed like an air siren warning of an impending attack.

    Coane is a member of Mission: Readiness, a group of more than 500 retired generals and admirals concerned about the nation's education system. He was the perfect keynote speaker for the United Way's Early Literacy Initiative luncheon and the core of his message was simple: Add national security to the list of reasons we need to improve education and convince state leaders to create a quality preK program....

  15. 'Soul Crooners' at Straz Center aims to stir the soul with classic songs


    The songs are as familiar to Nate Jacobs as a family quilt.

    He wraps his most cherished childhood memories in the lyrics.

    So maybe his fellow singers shouldn't have been surprised when Jacobs began crying during one particular rehearsal for Soul Crooners. As tears streamed down his face, he stopped singing Sadie, the 1974 ode to mothers by the Spinners.

    "I really felt the essence of my (late) mother," Jacobs said. "My whole mother's essence came into the studio. The essence of my mother touched me."...

    Nate Jacobs and his new production company will present classic 1970s hits.