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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. 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. …...

  2. 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....

  3. 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....

  4. 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....

  5. '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.
  6. Hooper: Do right by Tampa Heights Civic Center

    Human Interest

    There is what is legal, what is allowable and what is right.

    It may be legal and allowable for the Florida Department of Transportation to expand Interstate 275 and demolish the Tampa Heights Civic Center — an old church that has undergone a $1 million renovation — but it's not right.

    The initial interstate highway construction helped devastate urban centers some 50 years ago, and that history can't be allowed to repeat itself....

  7. Hooper: A mayor's words matter


    He's a sexist.

    He's a bully.

    He's out of touch.

    I don't agree with those hyperbolic assessments of Bob Buckhorn, but in the four-plus years he has served as Tampa's mayor, the critics have never been as vocal.

    Friends and colleagues have asked, almost demanded, that I call out Buckhorn for comments they've deemed out of bounds.

    Much of the criticism stems from a comment Buckhorn made after an assailant gunned down Edward "E.J." Harris, 14, after he played basketball at the city-owned Woodland Terrace Park....

  8. Hooper: Much to admire around Tampa Bay

    Human Interest

    Elected officials and notable leaders came to Allen Temple AME Church on Sunday to praise Delano Stewart on entering his 50th year as an attorney.

    They lauded Stewart, 79, for his groundbreaking achievements, including becoming Hillsborough County's first black assistant public defender. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the city is a better place because of Stewart.

    But Stewart hasn't dedicated his life to service to earn a place among the elite. He wakes up every morning hoping to help the least of his brothers and sisters. It's why I call him a friend and mentor. His is a legacy to be admired. …...

  9. Hooper: Teen Achievers program lights paths for students


    GIBSONTON — The Eisenhower Middle School students I recently spoke to proved engaging and attentive.

    They asked more questions than some other student groups and appeared genuinely interested in my ramblings about career and life.

    At the end, I asked them what they wanted me to write about their school. They threw out some suggestions and as I concluded, I passed out my business cards and told them if they had more ideas, send me an email....

  10. Hooper: This minority business expo promises to be different

    Human Interest

    No presentations masquerading as Ambien. No daylong efforts that result only in your business' name being added to a spreadsheet that goes unused.

    Glynis and Hilton Ross-Munro insist the 2015 Tampa Bay Diversity Business Expo they will stage Wednesday will not be like past events for minority- and women-owned businesses. They start with the fact that their event will include more than 80 businesses including lead group Tampa General Hospital, Beck, Skanska, Austin Commercial and Hillsborough Community College....

  11. Tampa needs to address demand for downtown parking


    When business starts to pick up at Frank Grebowski's European Wax Center in downtown Tampa, some of his best employees pick up and leave.

    They have to.

    One of Grebowski's peak periods is 5 to 8 p.m. on weekdays, but many of his staffers have to park in a lot several blocks east of his tidy Brazilian wax studio at 105 E Jackson St. If an event is taking place at the Amalie Arena, the staffers have to move their cars by 5:30 p.m....

  12. Hooper: Churches should offer more love, less brimstone

    Human Interest

    A Pew Research Center study indicates the number of Americans who don't identify with any religion rose from 16.1 percent in 2007 to 22.8 in 2015.

    The group, which includes atheists, agnostics and those who answer "nothing in particular," is a mix of secular folks and those who practice a do-it-yourself spirituality.

    Meanwhile, the Christian share of the population declined 8 percent over the same period....

  13. Helen Gordon Davis' life an example for a new generation


    Helen Gordon Davis died Monday, leaving an indelible legacy as a fighter for women and minorities.

    But who will continue the fight?

    Even when Davis welcomed her induction into the inaugural class of the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame in 2011 — long after her days as an elected official — she displayed a feistiness, using the occasion to call out critical decisions made by Gov. Rick Scott and the state Legislature regarding women's rights and voting rights....

  14. Hooper: Good can be found in every school

    Human Interest

    When I participated recently in a Van Buren Middle School career day sponsored by the Tampa chapter of Links Inc., I asked one of the girls, "What should I write about Van Buren?"

    "That we have good students here who are working hard."

    I sensed the same sentiment at St. Petersburg's John Hopkins Middle during a journalism awards ceremony last week. J-Hop has taken some publicized hits this year, but I witnessed dedicated students, caring teachers and admirable work....

  15. Love of deviled crab is in the details


    The boasts, the dares, the trash talk rose to such an epic level we knew the argument could only be settled one way.

    A battle. A showdown. A classic faceoff for bragging rights. A loser-leave-town bout like they used to have on Championship Wrestling from Florida.

    So with a steely stare and an arsenal sure to win the day, I eyed her from across the room. My opponent, a Times colleague with her own allegiance, arrived with her weapons for the clash, equally confident....