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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: For Mayor Buckhorn, sorry seems to be the hardest word

    Local Government

    I fear the mayor of Tampa has a problem.

    Maybe it's pride. Maybe it's political ambition. Maybe he simply has an issue with reading comprehension. Whatever the cause, he presumably read a critical 84-page report of his city's Police Department and seemed to view it as some type of exoneration.

    The report, produced by a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, looked at the Tampa Police Department's habit of stopping, and ticketing, black people on bicycles....

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn offered no apology over a police report.
  2. Romano: 11 students, an unpaid teacher and decades of history mark one special schoolhouse

    Human Interest

    It's barely 10 a.m., and the school day is already starting to unravel.

    The landowner behind Duette Elementary has just offered to stop by with some high school students from Future Farmers of America to check out the school's garden.

    A visitor is monopolizing the principal's time so the lunch bell — if the school actually had a lunch bell — will be sounding a little later today....

    Donna King, Duette Elementary School principal and lone teacher for most of the past 23 years, reads to the entire student body on Thursday. “I don’t live in this community but my heart is in this community,” said King, 68.
  3. Romano: The 22 seconds of silence heard 'round Florida

    Blog

    Call it hubris by the governor. Call it a revolt by the Cabinet.

    Or just call it an enlightening 22 seconds of silence in the Capitol.

    In a second attempt at hiring a state insurance commissioner, the Cabinet listened to four candidates speak for a little more than an hour on Tuesday.

    When the interviews were wrapped up, Gov. Rick Scott took a few moments to thank all of the candidates, and then immediately launched into a prepared statement that nominated Jeffrey Bragg for the post....

  4. Romano: The 22 seconds of silence heard 'round Florida (w/video)

    Politics

    Call it hubris by the governor. Call it a revolt by the Cabinet.

    Or just call it an enlightening 22 seconds of silence in the Capitol.

    In a second attempt at hiring a state insurance commissioner, the Cabinet listened to four candidates speak for a little more than an hour on Tuesday.

    When the interviews were wrapped up, Gov. Rick Scott took a few moments to thank all of the candidates, and then immediately launched into a prepared statement that nominated Jeffrey Bragg for the post....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott nominated a state insurance commissioner on Tuesday without success. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  5. Romano: Court calls out lawmakers for sneaky abortion bill

    Politics

    So, this is an amusing story.

    You know, in a truth-defying, irony-producing, only-in-Tallahassee kind of way.

    It seems our two latest House speakers — the outgoing Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and the incoming Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes — were both mighty peeved about the state Supreme Court suspending, at least temporarily, a new law requiring a 24-hour waiting period for abortions....

  6. Romano: A 30-year-old bill is coming due at Tropicana Field

    Local Government

    The promise still lingers, like a taunt never to be forgotten.

    Once upon a time, homes were razed, businesses shuttered and a community was assured that building a baseball stadium would spread riches all around.

    That stadium is now considered all but obsolete, and the residents who were scattered in the name of progress are once again being told of the virtues of redevelopment.

    Nowadays, they hear planners use phrases such as "adaptable infrastructure" and an "emergent millennial workforce." They hear their old neighborhood described and defined as an incubator, an accelerator and a potential technology sector....

    The gas plant and surrounding neighborhood as seen from Graham Park Towers at Ninth St. and Third Ave. S. in April of 1979. The area was razed to make way for the dome which eventually was named Tropicana Field. (Times Files 1979)
  7. Romano: If you don't like this column, I blame my spokesperson

    Politics

    Et tu, Patrick Murphy?

    You're a U.S. Senate candidate with a name recognizable in roughly 7.4 percent of Florida homes, and already you're hiding behind a spokeswoman's written statements?

    Granted, I understand the embarrassment of preaching against our campaign finance system while your rich dad pours money into a super PAC supporting your campaign.

    But you know what's worse than a hypocrite?...

    U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is getting an early start on letting a spokesperson do his talking for him.
  8. Romano: Yes, please, I'd like the Rays stadium in my back yard

    Local Government

    So you might have heard talk of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties getting together to build the Rays a stadium near Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar.

    And, being the astute observer that you are, you might have wondered if the concept was as loony as it sounds.

    Actually, no.

    So does that mean there's a chance it will happen?

    Heck no.

    The idea has some vague appeal, but far too many downsides, not the least of which is nobody builds a stadium in the suburbs without an interstate or rail system nearby....

  9. Romano: State regulators play hot potato with 'Farm to Fable' revelations

    Blog

    In its first 48 hours online, a riveting expose by Tampa Bay Times food critic Laura Reiley had already been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

    From the Tampa Bay Rays clubhouse to National Public Radio, it seemed the revelation of how restaurants and food vendors used misleading and deceptive claims to entice customers elicited opinions from everyone.

    Except, apparently, the people in a position to stop it....

  10. Romano: The wimps who allow Farm to Fable to exist in Florida

    Agriculture

    In its first 48 hours online, a riveting expose by Times food critic Laura Reiley had already been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

    From the Tampa Bay Rays clubhouse to National Public Radio, it seemed the revelation of how restaurants and food vendors used misleading and deceptive claims to entice customers elicited opinions from everyone.

    Except, apparently, the people in a position to stop it....

    Boca Kitchen Bar Market, Tampa. With the tagline "Local, simple and honest," Boca was among the first farm-to-table restaurants in Tampa Bay, one of the first menus where the assertion "we use local products whenever possible" meant much. But many of the sources listed on their chalkboards claim they do not or never did sell to Boca. On this board, Captain Kirk Morgan is listed as a supplier of red snapper and grouper. The St. Petersburg commercial fisherman says he is not licensed to sell direct to restaurants, has never sold Boca any fish and only catches sheepshead, mullet and jacks. [LAURA REILEY | Times ]
  11. Romano: Even a dummy could pass Florida's solar energy test

    Energy

    By most accounts, Florida has been a slacker in solar energy production.

    Despite having enormous potential, Florida trails colder and less obvious states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey in producing solar energy.

    When it comes to jobs in the solar field — Hello, Gov. Scott! — Florida has a fraction of the number it should based on this state's population.

    Simple question No. 1:...

  12. Romano: Pull up a bar stool and meet the Gulfport mayor

    Local Government

    By normal beach bar standards, the night is young. The band has hit its groove, and last call is still hours away.

    And yet, from the outdoor stage on the patio of Salty's Gulfport, lead singer Sam Henderson says it's time to start winding the music down. No sense tempting fate — and the local police department — if outdoor noise ordinances are kicking in at 11 p.m.

    It might sound a little courteous for rock 'n' roll, but it's perfectly mayoral....

    Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson is also a bartender.
  13. Romano: Florida scores high on hypocrisy and low on integrity in school tests

    K12

    She cannot speak, nor can she feed herself. She gets nourishment through a tube, and the medications she takes for cerebral palsy impede cognitive abilities. She uses a wheelchair, has the use of only one hand, and communicates by pointing to symbols on an iPad. She will never go to college, never hold a job and never live on her own.

    And yet, because she is enrolled in Sarasota's school system, 15-year-old Maddy Drew must take one of Florida's infamous standardized tests. State officials insist on it....

    The state is insisting that Maddy Drew, 15, a Sarasota girl with cerebral palsy, take one of its standardized tests. With her are her sister Delaney and brother Jack.
  14. Romano: Rick Scott gets frustration and anger to go at Starbucks

    Gubernatorial

    The comeback is everything. When you've been insulted, particularly in public, the comeback you choose sets the tone for your entire line of defense.

    Let's say, for instance, you're in a coffee shop (Maybe a Starbucks.) And let's say you're a public official. (Maybe a governor.) And let's say some unhinged person has just called you a nasty name. (Maybe an a- - - - - -.)

    You could:...

  15. Romano: Juvenile car thieves need to feel the love, and the fear

    Criminal

    By the time the car drove off the cemetery road and into a murky pond in near-complete darkness, any hope of rescue was lost for the three teenage girls inside.

    And that tragedy will only worsen if we can't figure out a way to save the next set of teenagers long before they get behind the wheel of another stolen car.

    For the rescue must begin before the crime goes too far. It must begin at the earliest signs of trouble. Based on conversations with law enforcement officials, it must begin with a re-examination of how we are dealing with juvenile felony arrests....