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. John Romano: Pinellas administrator LaSala's legacy? Good hire, good fire

    Local Government

    Do not be misled by the abruptness of Bob LaSala's firing this week.

    Do not read too much into the unanimous vote of Pinellas commissioners to terminate their county administrator, and do not infer anything from the lack of debate.

    If not inevitable, this ending was entirely predictable.

    For it is probably fair to say that LaSala was clearly the wrong option in 2014 for some of the same reasons he was the perfect choice in 2009....

    Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala addresses the media after being terminated by a unanimous vote by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners at the beginning of Tuesday’s regular public meeting in Clearwater.
  2. John Romano: State's stance on education too complex for my public school brain


    Please forgive me, but I am a dim-witted product of Florida's inferior public schools. Big numbers confuse me and grandiose ideas are beyond my grasp.

    For instance, I have a difficult time following the game plan of our super-smart state leaders when it comes to public education. Try as I might, their logic escapes me.

    They insist accountability is the key to all that is magical in education, then steer students and tax money to private schools that have no formal accountability....

  3. Gun bills continue to see little resistance from Legislature


    There are few sure bets when it comes to your state Legislature.

    Education is forever a minefield, and gambling remains divisive. Dropping dead on the House floor might reignite the health care debate, but I wouldn't count on that either.

    No, if you're a lawmaker looking to increase your legislative batting average, there is really only one issue that has a guarantee of safe passage:...

  4. Romano: Political nonsense is on tap in Tallahassee


    Today's topic is beer.

    (Not really.)

    Well, maybe how the state regulates craft breweries.

    (Getting closer.)

    Okay, it's about how legislators are willing to contradict themselves, ignore their constituents and push the agendas of their campaign donors.

    (Ding, ding, ding!)

    A bill approved by a Senate committee on Tuesday will essentially force small breweries to sell their bottled or canned beer to a distributor before buying it back from the same distributor and finally selling it to you from their own brewery....

  5. John Romano: Bill would atone for man's wrongful conviction


    His fate was decided swiftly. The jury returned a guilty verdict in 84 minutes. A judge handed down a death sentence 15 minutes after that.

    But, for James Richardson, true justice arrived more slowly. He would spend 21 years in prison before his murder conviction was finally thrown out in 1989.

    As for an apology?

    He's still waiting.

    Today, nearly 47 years after the migrant farm worker was seemingly wrongly accused of poisoning his seven young children in Arcadia, the state of Florida may finally get around to offering him some version of atonement....

    James Richardson, center, leaves the courthouse with stepdaughter Jeanette Stanley and attorney Mark Lane.
  6. For mental health crisis units, is this bill a fix, or is the fix in?


    The topic is devastation. As in, if you pass this piece of legislation, you could decimate the state's mental health crisis centers.

    So say the experts standing before this Florida Senate committee. So says one senator who wonders what the motivation is for the bill. So says the senator, and former county sheriff, who worries about the impact on law enforcement. So says the senator who fears other unintended consequences. ...

  7. There's a lot of gall in Duke Energy's latest move


    Help me out here.

    There has to be a perfect word to sum up the federal lawsuit Duke Energy filed last week seeking $54 million from Westinghouse Electric.

    There has to be a phrase that accurately describes the splendid arrogance of a money-hoarding beast loudly complaining about someone else's ill-gotten windfall.

    Now I've considered a few lewd descriptions, and some snotty ones, too. Yet none adequately sums up the shamelessness and audacity of Duke's claim....

  8. John Romano: The House's hypocrisy on school vouchers — accountability


    Give them credit, your representatives in the state House. They don't know the meaning of the word "quit."

    They also don't seem to know the meaning of shame. Or hypocrisy. Or fairness. Or equality.

    Yes, after the state Senate was ambivalent about radically expanding the school voucher system, the House simply repackaged the same idea with a new sales pitch.

    And — surprise! — failed to address the gigantic flaw....

  9. Why have squatters been allowed to take over this family's home?

    Human Interest

    Near as anyone can tell, the water and electricity have been turned off for months. A tree around back has fallen on the house's roof, and rats are making themselves at home. Human waste has shown up in odd places outside, and the front door has a series of sticky notes addressed to Clearwater police.

    From that remarkably low starting point, the story still manages to go downhill.

    You see, the occupants of this nondescript house on a quiet street in a neighborhood off U.S. 19 are not the owners. Nor, neighbors say, do they have a lease....

    Guests at a Clearwater house refused to leave when the owner died in November. The heirs haven’t been able to evict them.
  10. Romano: Deborah Clark vs. Jack Latvala on voting: They are both right



    The folks in the Supervisor of Elections Office have turned Pinellas County into the envy of Florida when it comes to absentee balloting.

    By mail or dropoff, due to demographics or design, this county has been the most efficient collector of absentee ballots of any metro area in the state.

    So pop the corks, cut the cake and revel in your accomplishments.

    And then consider rethinking your good work....

  11. Romano: Florida needs to do more to stop child deaths

    Public Safety

    Some of the children were beaten to death.

    Others died of malnutrition. Suffocation. Neglect.

    Each story is heartbreaking.

    A Miami Herald report identified 477 children from troubled homes who have died since 2008 despite being on Florida's Department of Children and Families' radar.

    Their deaths are horrible enough. What's worse is the suspicion that we may have failed them. That too many of these tragedies and atrocities might have been prevented....

  12. No justification for gouging patients with sky-high trauma fees


    At the risk of oversimplifying a year's worth of investigative reporting, here is the most important takeaway from the Tampa Bay Times' recent report on hospital trauma care bills:

    When asked about the high cost of trauma response fees, the CEO of UF Health Shands Hospital acknowledged prices were out of whack with reality. He pledged to lower the trauma response cost, which is essentially a cover charge, from $10,000 to $4,000....

  13. Romano: Rick Scott will have tougher time second time around


    And so it begins again for Rick Scott. This time, a little earlier than the last.

    The governor will begin selling himself today in a brand new campaign commercial designed to make him look every bit as human as you or I.

    Now you might remember, at this point four years ago, Scott was not yet running for governor. His name recognition was practically nil, and when the first polls arrived in early May, he trailed Bill McCollum by 14 points in the Republican primary....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott was an unknown entity when he spent millions of his own money and came from behind in the polls to win the primary and the general election in 2010. He’s trailing former Gov. Charlie Crist in polls for this year’s election. But this time he’s known — and that likely is not a good thing, says columnist John Romano.
  14. Romano: Voters have a real choice for first time in 60 years


    Technically, this isn't as impressive as the Ming thing.

    It's a couple of centuries short of a dynasty and a few ZIP codes shy of an empire. On the other hand, the Ming Dynasty never had to deal with Social Security attack ads.

    And so this is where the Republican Party finds itself today. After six decades of dominance in Pinellas County's congressional district, Republicans are staring at a rare challenge....

    Swing voters, independent voters, disenfranchised voters all will matter as David Jolly and Alex Sink face off.
  15. Self-inflicted wounds slay red-light cameras in St. Petersburg


    NAME: Cameras, Red-Light

    DATE OF BIRTH: Sept. 15, 2011

    PLACE OF BIRTH: St. Petersburg

    DATE OF DEATH: March 6, 2014

    External examination: This autopsy begins at 9:30 a.m., March 7, 2014. Based on evidence originally presented, red-light cameras were killed by a simple majority vote of St. Petersburg City Council members the previous morning.

    While this conclusion is factually correct, further examination indicates death did not come naturally to red-light cameras in St. Petersburg....

    A red-light camera faces north toward the intersection of 22nd Avenue N and Fourth Street on Thursday in St. Petersburg.