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.


Twitter: @Romano_TBTimes

  1. Romano: Dunedin Elementary case shows problem with Florida school grades


    One small problem with school grades:

    They're a sham.

    All of the money, all of the time, all of the kvetching surrounding Jeb Bush's school grading scheme is utterly worthless because the proper context is rarely considered.

    What do I mean by that?

    The single most predictive factor in a school's grade is the poverty level of the student body. You tell me how many students are eligible for the free/reduced lunch program, and I can usually tell you a school's grade....

  2. Romano: Kriseman took a risk on Holloway — but it was a smart one

    Local Government

    Mock the process, if you are so inclined.

    After all, it took the mayor six months and $15,000 in headhunter fees to discover his idea of a perfect police chief was a few miles up the road.

    And contemplate sinister plots, if you must.

    For there have been enough division, rancor and politicking surrounding the job of St. Petersburg's police chief to give conspiracy theories a legit launching point....

    St. Petersburg's new chief, Tony Holloway, has a proven track record in two cities, the unique perspective of a lifelong neighbor, and none of the inevitable baggage that comes from choosing one internal candidate over another. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  3. Romano: Corporations have hijacked education in Florida


    We don't trust our teachers.

    No way. The education of children cannot be handed to the people who spend the most time with them in the classroom.

    We don't trust our school administrators.

    Nope, they're as unreliable as the teachers. And that goes for superintendents and School Board officials, too.

    When it comes to the important stuff — the promotion of students, the job evaluations of educators, the funding of schools — we place all of our trust somewhere else....

  4. Romano: Gov. Rick Scott silent on jobs Obamacare would provide


    Once there was a businessman who wanted to be governor.

    He talked about a lot of things on the campaign trail, but there were two issues that came up with rigid regularity.

    One was health care.

    The other was jobs.

    Rick Scott, as a candidate, liked to link the two together. The Affordable Care Act, he insisted, was a horrendous idea that would kill jobs. If you listened to Scott long enough, you got the feeling that Obamacare would lead to the end of Western civilization....

  5. Pinellas has new look, fresh buzz but is still growing older

    Human Interest

    Pardon me for saying, but you're looking older.

    It's nothing dramatic, and there is really no reason to panic. After all, with age comes wisdom and discounts at Denny's. But the truth is, the years are beginning to pile up.

    Especially for you, Pinellas County.

    And you too, Hernando.

    Census figures released last week show a slight uptick in age for the entire country, but maturity is on a roll in certain parts of Tampa Bay....

  6. Romano: State failed to seek all the truth in murder case


    We trust the state to take bad guys off the street.

    Track them down, send them to trial and lock 'em up.

    In this, there can be no leeway. No pity, no uncertainty, no failure. Victory is the clanging sound of a cell door.

    But at what point does justice outweigh victory?

    And when is the truth more important than a conviction?

    You might have heard last week about the case of Paul Hildwin, a Hernando County man who has spent 28 years on death row for a murder he insists he did not commit....

  7. Another costly homeowners insurance mistake for Florida


    A moment of silence, please. Another property insurance company in Florida has gone belly-up.

    You need not weep or offer feigned condolences, but you may want to pay attention. Because, one way or another, this will likely have an impact on your wallet.

    You see the company in question, Sunshine State Insurance, has left about $36 million in unpaid claims and refunds in its wake, according to a story in Sarasota's Herald-Tribune ....

  8. Romano: Pitiful showing for legislative elections proves the case that districts were rigged


    Is it too late to submit evidence in the redistricting trial in Tallahassee?

    Maybe slip it under the judge's door after hours? Compose a random tweet? Follow him into the men's room and casually start a conversation?

    Granted, closing arguments have been submitted and a verdict is not too far away but the heart of the case was essentially proved on Friday.

    That's when the deadline for potential legislative candidates expired, and the illusion that our votes actually matter was put to rest....

  9. Romano: Trust your gut on Greenlight Pinellas

    Local Government

    Forget the cheerleaders. For that matter, forget the critics, too.

    When it comes to this fall's monumental decision on Greenlight Pinellas, it might be best to ignore the bombast and trust your gut.

    Because no matter what either side would have you believe, the feasibility of mass transit will never be as simple as yes or no around here.

    You can believe in mass transit with all your heart and still wonder if this market is too fragmented to support light rail. Conversely, you can be concerned about the size of the investment and still recognize that perpetual status quo is an invitation to decay....

  10. Romano: Rick Scott hides, dodges and ducks — and the voters don't get answers


    It's an interesting strategy the Governor's Office has adopted.

    Apparently, Rick Scott will sit down for television interviews only if his people are allowed to handpick the subjects, questions, reporters and, presumably, ferns.

    This is a bold concept, bordering on nervy. A clear don't-mess-with-me vibe.

    All of which got me thinking:

    What if you made similar demands?

    What if you told the governor that you will agree to vote for him only if he stops hiding from questions, running away from microphones and avoiding accountability?...

  11. It could get mighty quiet in the Trop this summer

    Local Government

    Typically, this is when things start picking up at Tropicana Field.

    The kids are out of school, the Rays are usually in contention and the thought of spending a hot, muggy night inside an air-conditioned big-league stadium sounds wondrous.

    But what happens when you remove the part about the Rays being in contention?

    In other words, should you be concerned that Tampa Bay's notoriously underwhelming attendance figures are going to get even uglier now that the Rays are sinking on the field?...

    Rays first baseman James Loney (21) tosses a glove to a fan after the Rays’ 2014 home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.
  12. Bulletproof backpacks, blankets are sad accessories for school shootings


    It has been 15 years since two heavily armed teens walked into Columbine High and obliterated the notion that classrooms might somehow be immune to life's horrors.

    Since then, the mayhem has only multiplied. Thirty-two killed at Virginia Tech. Twenty-six at Sandy Hook Elementary. We have read about dozens of remorseless killers and even more defenseless victims. School shootings have become so commonplace, they have seemingly lost much of their shock value....

  13. Low voter turnout enables a tiny group to topple a giant


    Scary stuff, they said. At the very least, a political wakeup call.

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's loss to a relative unknown in a Republican primary in Virginia on Tuesday supposedly unnerved every office holder in the land.

    That is, I guess, how it should be.

    But the dismay should not end there.

    You should be scared, too.

    For what happened in Virginia was not a policy mandate of any sort. It was not the vindication of a movement or a colossal shift in American values....

  14. Romano: Disabled St. Petersburg firefighter in middle of landmark case


    It's fair to say that it never should have gotten this far.

    Not to the point where attorneys in the hallways of the state Supreme Court are asking to pose for pictures with the suddenly famous disabled firefighter from St. Petersburg.

    And not to the point where legal fees completely dwarf the $30,000 or so that an attorney says the original settlement would have required.

    And certainly not to the point where a national insurance organization estimated that an appeals court ruling, later overturned, would have increased workers' compensation costs throughout Florida by $65 million annually....

  15. Mother has had it with high-stakes public school accountability tests


    Perhaps it starts with one voice.

    One passionate, concerned and reasoned voice, inspirational enough to encourage others to stand and speak, too.

    Perhaps the solution to our educational hostilities lies not in Tallahassee, not in layers of bureaucracy and not in Jeb Bush's zealotry, but in the words of one mother too disheartened to stay quiet.

    Chances are, you've never heard of Lynne Rigby, but you know who she is. She is the neighbor juggling a business and a house full of kids. She is the mom making sure homework gets done, teeth get brushed. She might as well be every parent on every street in every city in Florida....