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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: Let's celebrate diversity more often

    Human Interest

    A soulful serenade, a moving musical tribute and melodic Latin music highlighted the 2016 Florida State Fair's Diversity Wall of Fame Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, leaving me with only one thought.

    Let's do this more often.

    The event honored deserving recipients: former Florida A&M University president Walter L. Smith, local engineer Hung Mai, Plant City police Officer Priscilla Clark and the late statesman Doug Jamerson and La Gaceta founder Victoriano Manteiga....

  2. Hooper: State fair entertainer Dennis Lee takes pride in his love connections


    When it comes to love connections, people can signup for Match or eHarmony or ChristianMingle.

    Or they can just pick up an instrument and join the Dennis Lee Band.

    Lee and his music mates continue their engaging daily shows at the Florida State Fair today through Feb. 15. The performances will contain all the aspects that have made him a four-decade favorite at fairs and festivals across the country: music, comedy, patriotism and family fun....

    Dawn breaks at The Florida State Fair grounds early Thursday morning 2/6/14. The 2014 Florida State Fair opened to day with new rides and Governor Scott attending.
  3. Hooper: SouthShore growth raises traffic, infrastructure concerns


    Hillsborough County's SouthShore area continues to lead Tampa Bay in new home starts, but those of us who witness the daily toll wonder if it contains the infrastructure to absorb the booming growth.

    Tampa Bay Times senior correspondent Susan Taylor Martin expertly detailed the trend in a recent story about the area's resurgence.

    But anyone who lives in East Hillsborough can testify to once wide-open Interstate 75 now slowing to a crawl south of Brandon and State Road 60 during rush hour. Traffic even backs up onto the Selmon Expressway as cars exit on to U.S. 301....

  4. Hooper: Wake up to teachers' laments


    On a blustery day best suited for curling up in bed and listening to old school Prince while rain pelted the roof, more than 60 teachers trudged through the storm for a daylong, "Content Literacy Mini Expo."

    Did I mention this was a Saturday morning?

    Yes, instead of nodding off with Pink Cashmere or If I Was Your Girlfriend playing in the background, they got out of bed and made their way to Memorial Middle School....

  5. Retired Lykes executive John Brabson Jr. honored by Leadership Tampa Alumni


    TAMPA — When John Brabson Jr. arrived in Tampa in 1975, a prominent business leader encouraged him to get involved with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and its upstart program Leadership Tampa.

    The guidance Brabson received came full circle Thursday when he received Leadership Tampa Alumni's prestigious Parke Wright III Award, an honor named for the man who gave him that initial advice....

  6. Hooper: Compliments catch on, brighten the day

    Human Interest

    I woke up Sunday morning to a personalized Twitter compliment from PDQ restaurant.

    So did everyone who follows PDQ on Twitter.

    A friend noticed all of the compliments and expressed a bit of playful jealousy. So I complimented her. She, in turn, complimented her colleagues. They, too, passed it on.

    And now I know Jan. 24 is National Compliment Day. Such concepts seem cheesier than a Wisconsin dairy farm, but in this case, it actually resulted in a lovefest. We can make kindness contagious. …...

  7. Hooper: When it comes to MLK events, tomorrow more important than yesterday


    TAMPA — Tampa native and African Methodist Episcopal bishop A.J. Richardson Jr. devoted his speech Monday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Breakfast to "Generation Next," imploring it to understand the sacrifices of the civil rights movement and overcome the hopelessness of its current challenges.

    I just wish more of the young men and women of that generation had found their way to the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs event. Yes, the Men of Vision and the Kappa League of Tampa Bay brought members who escorted guests. Yes, other teens and children held seats among the crowd of nearly 1,000....

  8. Hooper: Best spot for Rays may still be in Pinellas

    Human Interest

    The Rays appear convinced their future lies in Hillsborough County, and they know more than I do about what's best and what's possible. But if you review the possible Hillsborough sites, it can be argued the best choice is a site closer to Tampa but in Pinellas.

    Pinellas should make a valiant effort. Minds can change. . . .

    Longtime civil rights activist Dick Gregory speaks at the Black Heritage Festival Leadership Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the University Area Community Center Complex, 14013 N 22nd St. On the same day at 8 p.m., provocative rapper "Killer Mike" Render speaks at the University of South Florida's Marshall Student Center....

  9. Hooper: Gandy residents deserve an audience with the governor


    Gov. Rick Scott came to town Wednesday on another jobs tour, this time joining USAA as it christened its campus just off the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway near Brandon.

    It's a beautiful new building that currently employs 800 people with the potential to go up to 1,200. The governor is right to champion job growth as we continue to climb out of the economic recession.

    I look forward, however, to when the governor comes to town to do more than celebrate jobs, jobs, jobs. I long to see the governor in a genuine town hall meeting, giving people the chance to express concerns on a wide array of issues....

  10. USAA's new location marks continued growth for Hillsborough's eastern half


    TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott made the christening of USAA's new 260,000 square foot Crosstown campus part of his, "Million Miles for a Million Jobs" tour on Wednesday and boasted about how Florida has beaten Texas in job growth for eight consecutive months.

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn spoke about Tampa's continuing success in attracting jobs, and USAA vice president Yvette Segura noted her company's expansion already has brought 400 new jobs to the area....

    Stuart Parker, president and chief executive officer of USAA, speaks at the company's new Crosstown office in Brandon on Wednesday, one of  Gov. Rick Scott's job tour stops. The company has created more than 400 jobs in the area since 2013 in anticipation of the 260,000-square-foot office at 9527 Delaney Creek Blvd. USAA is and American financial services provider which has served military families since 1922. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times

  11. Hooper: Trinity Cafe extends its mission with unconditional love

    Human Interest

    In its first 14 years of existence, the Trinity Cafe served more than 1 million meals to the homeless and food-insecure. But it won't take it that long to reach the 2 million mark.

    That's because the cafe, located on Nebraska Avenue just north of Columbus Drive, will expand its services to a second location in March: the First Church of God at Busch Boulevard and 22nd Street in north Tampa....

  12. Hooper: Former radio host Ian Beckles embraces new challenge


    Like a tightrope walker, Ian Beckles always balances his life between various pursuits and interests: sports, fitness, fashion, food, music, business and his foundation.

    People have never been able to define him solely as a former Bucs offensive lineman and sports nut. But now, Beckles will perform his balancing act without the financial safety net of his sports talk job at WDAE-AM 620.

    Beckles, 48, walked away from his WDAE role last month after 14 years with the station, 12 spent as co-host of the midday show with Ron Diaz....

    Former radio host Ian Beckles will launch a webcast, “Flavor of Tampa Bay.”
  13. Hooper: Make kindness contagious in 2016

    Human Interest

    In the days leading up to the new year, a friend told me everyone should resolve to make kindness contagious. I'm glad some folks got an early start.

    Consider Tampa native and Southwest Airlines flight attendant Anissa Charles, who took it upon herself to comfort the 9-month-old son of Heather Gooch — holding him and walking him up and down the aisle — on a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Islip, N.Y. Gooch took to Facebook to compliment the flight attendant and find her name....

  14. Hooper: You haven't really lived in Tampa Bay until …


    You must include a few givens on any list about this area's best and brightest highlights and troubling lowlights: Cuban sandwiches, traffic woes, deviled crab, inept legislative actions, grouper and making out in the balcony at the Tampa Theatre.

    But as we review 2015, there's always room for additions that help define what it means to be a Tampa Bay resident. Without further ado, here's my annual list....

    A group plays giant Jenga at the Getaway, a tiki bar on Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg that has become a must-do for Tampa Bay locals.
  15. Noteworthy people in 2015 from whom to expect more intrigue next year

    Human Interest

    Once again, I'm rounding up the 10 personalities who made 2015 a fantastic voyage of intrigue.

    While some, including community activist Dianne Hart, artist Bryant Martinez, Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward and do-it-all tech promoter Jennifer Whelihan, just missed the cut, we've got a provocative passenger list as we head into 2016.

    Jeff Eakins and Michael Grego. No two men will wield greater influence over Tampa Bay in 2016. The school superintendents for Hillsborough and Pinellas must guide their respective districts through a set of challenges with, quite frankly, a Legislature that does more harm than good. We need Eakins and Grego to succeed with earnest efforts that solve problems, not hide them. Good luck, gentlemen....