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John Romano, Times Columnist

John Romano

Records have been destroyed and witnesses have gone missing, but Tampa Bay Times metro columnist John Romano would have you believe he was a product of the Pinellas County school system and the University of South Florida. He worked at the Evening Independent and the Palm Beach Post before being hired in the Times' sports department in 1985. Showing a remarkable lack of staying power, he has worked on beats covering USF, the University of Florida, Orlando Magic, Buccaneers and Rays before succeeding Hubert Mizell as a columnist in 2001. He became the metro columnist in 2012.

Email: romano@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Romano_TBTimes

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  1. Romano: Tell the Realtor we've seen enough Rays stadium sites

    Local Government

    So Pinellas County has come up with a bunch of potential stadium sites, and the Rays have promised to carefully consider them all.

    In the meantime, here's a tip: Forget about them.

    Forget about the one in Oldsmar, forget about the cluster around U.S. 19 in Clearwater and forget about the Sunshine Speedway location. If you want to get ahead of the curve, you can forget seven yet-to-be-announced sites in St. Pete, too....

  2. Romano: Should we really diminish the First Amendment to stifle talk of the Second Amendment?

    Local Government

    She just wanted a conversation about gun violence.

    She wasn't asking her fellow City Council members to pass any laws, impose any restrictions or change any existing gun regulations in St. Petersburg.

    Lisa Wheeler-Bowman was asking only that the council consider symbolically supporting a League of Women Voters request for a legislative session on gun violence.

    And even that, she discovered, might run afoul of Florida's trigger-happy laws....

  3. Romano: If you want to be a #FloridaMan, you'd better earn it

    News

    They are coming every day, every hour, every minute.

    Some estimates have more than 1,000 people moving to Florida daily, and I don't mind telling you I'm worried about our way of life. These outsiders could ruin the very thing that has made our state so special.

    Namely, that we're nuts.

    Oh, I suppose there's bound to be some whack jobs among the new arrivals. But there's a difference between your run-of-the-mill loon and the native Florida Loon. So I'm proposing a border evaluation. An entrance exam, if you will....

  4. Romano: State laws add to the cost of being a woman in Florida

    Politics

    Depending on your point of view, this is a story about money. Or politics. Or feminine hygiene products.

    And the truth is, it involves all of those and maybe a few others. But at its core, this is about something simpler.

    This is a story about injustice.

    And it begins with a lone, 23-year-old woman from Tampa running a nonprofit organization that tries to get feminine hygiene products into domestic violence and homeless shelters....

    Carlee Wendell is a 23-year-old woman from Tampa who founded the non-profit For the Love of Woman (FLOW) that provides feminine hygiene to homeless shelters. Wendell has initiated a class action lawsuit that seeks to overturn sales taxes (and seeks refunds) on feminine hygiene products. Courtesy of Carlee Wendell
  5. Romano: Charter schools deserve a pat on the back, and a warning for the future

    K12

    School grades are in, and the results are clear:

    Charter schools across Tampa Bay performed better, on average, than traditional public schools.

    Of course, those results come with a large asterisk.

    It seems clear the reason charter schools are performing better is because they are catering to more affluent segments of the community.

    Take Pasco County, for instance.

    Six of the seven charter schools that received grades from the state last week got an A. That's great news no matter the circumstances....

  6. Romano: Why broken prisons could lead to prison breaks

    Politics

    In no particular order, this is what concerns people most about prisons:

    1. They should be built far from my home.

    2. They should be absolutely secure.

    And that's pretty much it. You might hear some protesting about inhumane conditions. You might hear someone arguing that the Department of Corrections doesn't put enough emphasis on either education or drug rehab to cut down on recidivism....

  7. Romano: A search for answers after a painful week

    Crime

    On the morning after, the cop went looking for clues.

    Something, perhaps, to reaffirm his faith in his job. His hopes. His world.

    Twelve hours and 1,200 miles away, a black man had gunned down five white police officers and wounded seven others in a crime that twisted rage with race.

    This is what drew the white St. Petersburg cop to a Police Athletic League gym buzzing with energetic black children....

  8. Romano: Who needs voters when Florida elections have fixers and frauds?

    Politics

    So there was a pretty incredible ruling by a judge in Jacksonville in June.

    Presented with evidence that a legal loophole had been used specifically to keep 440,000 voters from casting ballots in a local race, the judge basically shrugged his shoulders.

    The Legislature wants the loophole, and the state Supreme Court recently condoned the loophole. So, the judge pretty much said, it ain't the judiciary's problem....

  9. Romano: A life lost, and a city's crusade against the cycle of violence

    Crime

    It's been 23 days since Trevion Larkins' 15th birthday, and 12 days since his funeral.

    On a street corner a couple of miles from where he was murdered, his father stands alone in a crowd on a Thursday night. Music plays, people chatter and passing cars toot their horns.

    David Larkins has been talking at a furious clip, but is now gazing at something only he can see. It could be the past he thought he left behind, or a future now abandoned....

    Trevion Larkins, shot to death June 10, “loved football, he did well in school, he was a good kid,” said his father, David Larkins.
  10. Romano: Orlando shooting was a tragedy, not a political opportunity

    Politics

    On this, Democrats in the Florida Legislature are absolutely correct:

    We should be having conversations about every available method to limit gun purchases by potential terrorists. That is painfully, and mournfully, obvious.

    And yet Democrats are absolutely wrong in pushing for a special legislative session.

    Because that's not a conversation, it's a publicity stunt. And, in some ways, it's as shameful as being one of those head-bobbing, NRA puppets that Democrats are always complaining about in Tallahassee....

  11. Romano: Florida's abortion con artists put on notice by Supreme Court

    Politics

    The full Supreme Court ruling on a Texas abortion case is now available online in 107 pages filled with formal language and meticulous detail.

    The shorthand version reads something like this:

    Texas lied.

    When legislators in the Lone Star State said they were trying to make the world safer and better for women seeking abortions, they were actually doing the opposite.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a concurring opinion, went so far as to warn other states that the court will not look kindly on similar abortion laws built on bogus health claims....

  12. Romano: The one question we've never answered about mass shootings

    Public Safety

    The question seemed to arrive somewhere between innocence and incredulity. A 12-year-old voice cutting through the emotional clutter of the moment.

    "Why,'' my son asked, "does this keep happening?''

    I had a dozen possible replies, but no real answer for him. And so, as I began driving toward Orlando and the scene of America's latest mass shooting Sunday morning, it occurred to me that it was the one question most of us never seem to agree on....

    Orlando Torres, 53, of Orlando, center, is flanked by friends Alex Bermudez of Kissimmee, left, and Barb Crabtree of Gainesville, right, during a prayer vigil for victims of Sunday's mass shooting, at Joy Metropolitan Community Church in Orlando. Friends of Torres said he was injured in the neck and the right arm during the shootings at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

  13. Romano: A heartless decision by St. Pete could change workers' comp in Florida

    Local Government

    Sometimes, you get what you deserve.

    In this case, it appears the city of St. Petersburg may get a hefty legal bill, and the state of Florida could see its business-friendly workers' compensation laws blown to bits.

    And why does that feel like karma?

    Because the city turned its back on a St. Petersburg firefighter injured on the job nearly seven years ago. And because the state was too foolish to realize how much was at stake over what should have been a relatively simple negotiation....

  14. Romano: A not-so-formal complaint — Attorney General Pam Bondi scammed me

    State Roundup

    Office of the Attorney General Please return completed form to Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi Incomplete forms cannot be processed. Please write legibly Person making complaint: John Romano Complaint is against: Pam Bondi, Attorney General Product or service involved: Public Integrity Date of transaction: Nov. 2, 2010 Have you retained an attorney? No Please describe your complaint here:
    ...

  15. Romano: When believing in justice means fighting for drug dealers

    Criminal

    Two cases involving drugs. Two convictions not far apart.

    In the first, a Largo man was caught twice on tape selling less than an ounce of crack cocaine to police informants. Later, police raided his home and found a few more rocks. When added together, the total amount of cocaine involved was valued at about $2,000.

    In the second case, a St. Petersburg man got in a car with two acquaintances to discuss an $18,000 marijuana deal. The seller shot one of the men in the head and fled with the money. He was later convicted of second-degree murder....