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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. Tearing things down is easy; what world needs is more builders

    Human Interest

    In the HBO film All the Way, which debuted over the weekend, Bryan Cranston reprises his Broadway role as President Lyndon B. Johnson with a performance best described as riveting.

    In the film, Cranston repeats a quote from mentor Sam Rayburn: "Any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a good carpenter to build one."

    The quote so reminds me of what passes for leadership today. Whether it's how our Legislature continues its assault on public education or special interests who oppose substantive local transportation planning, we have too many who simply knock down the barn....

  2. Hooper: Fallen sports stars deserve more than derision


    Music and memories intertwine in my mind like vines wrap around an oak.

    These days the song My Boo creates new moments for kids because it's surprisingly linked to the hyper-kinetic dance moves of college basketball players, other athletes and even two guys stuffed inside a life-sized zebra costume.

    I'm not making that up.

    It's called "The Running Man Challenge" and the viral video craze has propelled My Boo to No. 27 on the latest Billboard Top 100 Chart....

    In 1996, Donald Caldwell threw for 2,626 yards and rushed for 966 yards in leading the Jefferson High School Dragons to a 13-2 record. Times file
  3. Sunday Conversation: Yvonne Fry has not yet begun to fight


    In a breakout session at last year's Florida Association of Chamber Professionals convention, Yvonne Fry prepared to speak about engaging women in leadership. In a concurrent session, another speaker prepared to speak about economic development. Fry couldn't help but notice that almost all the women at the conference were in her room, and all the men were in the other session. "I said, 'We need to flip-flop this,' " Fry said. "Men need to have an awareness and understanding of their role in making all of our communities; women need to be at the economic development table." That's not a surprising stance for Fry, past chair of both the Hillsborough Commission on the Status of Women and the Florida Commission on the Status of Women....

    Yvonne Fry, business owner, leader and advocate for women, is producing a show for Bay News 9 called Common Ground.
  4. Hooper: Salute to cancer survivors raise spirits, money for battling the disease

    Human Interest

    SARASOTA — Make your mess a message.

    Lucimarian Roberts instilled those inspiring words in her daughter, so Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts did just that, sharing her medical battles — breast cancer in 2007, a rare blood disorder in 2011 — with her admiring viewers.

    "Everything I shared, it was only in the hopes of helping others, to put a face on living with cancer," Roberts told nearly 1,000 supporters at Friday's Dick Vitale Gala at the Ritz-Carlton....

  5. Bethune-Cookmanraises itsambitions



    Don't call it a dorm.

    Bethune-Cookman University officials insist on labeling one of the newest buildings on campus a "residential life center." It may sound like a bit of fancy marketing, until you talk to one of the students.

    "I love the lounge and the group study room," said Ayisha Smith, a 20-year-old junior who graduated from East Bay High School before moving on to the historically black university....

  6. Hooper: Despite praise of our diversity much bridge-building remains

    Human Interest

    Tampa Bay ranks No. 2 nationally in being most similar to the rest of the nation, according to a blog recently published by the FiveThirtyEight blog.

    The story, which examines cities that most closely mirror the nation's demographic averages in terms of age, educational attainment and race and ethnicity, makes for a rousing endorsement of our diversity.

    But too often, we continue to allow cultural silos to exist instead of building bridges. Next time you're at a party or social gathering, measure the diversity and ask yourself if it could be more inclusive. We have to live it. …...

  7. Hooper: For readers new and old, we are here to serve

    Human Interest

    I love the Tampa Bay area.

    It's my home.

    When I first moved here in 1988, I never thought my fondness for its historic districts, its scenic vistas, its heart-warming diversity and its tantalizing food would grow so great. In my mind, Tampa would serve as just another way-stop in my burgeoning journalistic career.

    Now I can't imagine living anywhere else.

    So with that in mind, a part of me will always be grateful to the Tampa Tribune for delivering me to my forever home. I've devoted the bulk of my career — 24 years, but who's counting? — to the Times, but it's the Tribune where I spent four years first learning to love this area, its charms and its quirks....

  8. Hooper: Gridlock Gang is part of Tampa Bay's transportation problems

    Human Interest

    Call them the Gridlock Gang.

    We have a group in this community whose protests against every meaningful transportation plan is rooted in either self-interest, personal rivalry or the foolish belief that public transit is just another needless entitlement.

    They interject with ill intentions all while suggesting they want a transportation plan, but they aren't willing to truly lead....

  9. 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.”
  10. 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 …...

  11. 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....

     Alexi Longo, Sickles High School: Alexi, 17, serves as an officer in the Key Club and relishes the opportunity it has given her to work on projects and become more aware of community needs. She matches her successful academics (Science National Honor Society) with athletic participation, playing on the lacrosse team and cheering on the varsity squad.
  12. 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....

  13. 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....

  14. 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....

  15. 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....