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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

Email: ehooper@tampabay.com

  1. Hooper: It takes two — care and collaboration — to make things go right


    The big-hair, gold-chain, skinny-tie, Members-Only-jacket styles of a long-ago decade may seem to have little bearing on making today's community better, but WDAE-AM 620 personality and former Buc Ian Beckles makes the connection work.

    Beckles officially launches his foundation with an '80s theme party Thursday at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. It sounds as promising as the foundation's mission, which is meeting the needs of various nonprofits....

  2. Hooper: Encouraging ideas emerge in wake of 'Failure factories' report


    Ron Diner, the director of strategic community partnerships for Raymond James, believes businesses could do more to help Pinellas' most troubled public schools.

    With Lunch Pals, the company's mentoring program, 87 employees had weekly lunches with students at Mount Vernon Elementary last year. Choosing a school near the company's location minimizes time. Kids get a stable force in their lives; mentors get a greater understanding of the challenges....

  3. Hooper: Promoting messages of positive self-image is beautiful


    Miley Cyrus — crass, crude, vulgar and shocking — has my attention.

    And maybe my heart.

    Cyrus, who first rose to fame as Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel, recently told Marie Claire magazine that having to live up to Disney-prescribed standards of beauty contributed to a sense of body dysmorphia: a disorder in which individuals experience tremendous difficulty seeing past their perceived physical flaws....

    Miley Cyrus, who first rose to fame as Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel, recently told Marie Claire magazine that having to live up to Disney-prescribed standards of beauty contributed to a sense of body dysmorphia: a disorder in which individuals experience tremendous difficulty seeing past their perceived physical flaws. (Photo by Rob Latour/Invision/AP, File) NYET101
  4. Tampa Bay's 'band of basketball brothers' competing for titles at Disney


    Jim Sweeney went looking for a pickup basketball game, never realizing he was picking up much more.

    He started at Woodgate Park near Clearwater's Countryside High School, looking to stay in shape, longing to compete like he did as a Boston College standout and loving the chance to sustain his passion. He talked to guys. He learned about better games, better players, and eventually he found his way to weekend workouts at Frank T. Hurley Park in Pass-a-Grille....

    Jim Sweeney, far right, has built friendships around the world competing in masters basketball tournaments, including a 2013 FIMBA tournament in Greece. Also pictured are Tarpon Springs High School basketball coach Jerry Woodka, one of the nation's best masters players, former Orlando Magic center Mark Acres, Slovenian Slavko Kotnik and former Australian and European pro Emory Atkinson. (Photo courtesy of Jim Sweeney)
  5. Hooper: It's time to act on failures of Pinellas County School District


    It's time. In the wake of the unvarnished report by Times staffers Cara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gartner and Michael LaForgia on how the Pinellas County School District is failing black students, it's time to act.

    It's not time for the status quo. Anyone who believes this crisis doesn't demand a sea change isn't paying attention.

    It's not time to lay all the blame on past and present superintendents and board members, but they certainly share in this failure....

  6. Hooper column: A well-lived life is worthy of celebration


    The son came to this country from Cuba in 1960, watching as his family gave up everything to give him freedom.

    He responded with a steely determination in school, giving his all at Tampa's Jesuit High School and performing so well that classmates got mad when he kept setting the grading curve. His ambition ultimately helped him return the support to his parents.

    The husband met his wife at a high school dance after actually bringing her sister to the party. The Cuban native forged his love for the Irish lass with affection that sometimes went unspoken but never misunderstood. If they fought, the argument always ended with a promise to see each other again. So began a marriage that has lasted for 45 years....

    Jose Alvarez possesses a legacy that includes the Alvarez Award, annually given to the county's top high school soccer players. In 2013, Tampa Prep's Shaddy Douidar and Plant's Caroline Bado pose with Alvarez after receiving the award. Alvarez, a local accountant and soccer enthusiast, has sponsored the award since its inception in 1985. Times file (2013).
  7. Hooper: On the issue of school reserve funds, look to the future

    Human Interest

    It's almost as if we need a ban on using her name.

    The one who used to be Hillsborough schools superintendent ended up in the headlines again after current superintendent Jeff Eakins raised alarms about the district dipping into its reserves to the tune of $200 million over the past four years. Big number.

    A rightful discussion needs to occur about why it happened, but only to ensure that it doesn't happen again, not point fingers....

  8. Hooper: Longtime members cherish Beulah Baptist on its 150th anniversary


    Back in the day, at the old Beulah Baptist Institutional Church, Mary Franklin Gadsden sat in the balcony with all the other children.

    Rev. W.M. Davis, not one to tolerate misbehaving, called out children. By name. And don't you know, on more than one Sunday, he called down Gadsden and her good friend Martha Ulmer from the balcony.

    "I told her he called us because our names were the ones in the Bible," laughed Gadsden, now 72. "Mary and Martha."...

    Beulah Baptist Institutional Church ,at 1006 W. Cypress St. in Tampa, will celebrate its 150th anniversary this month.
  9. 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....

  10. 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....

  11. 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. ...

  12. 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 says he is still as passionate about serving others as he was when he first started.
  13. 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....

  14. 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....

  15. 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.