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: Extreme rhetoric in medical marijuana debate obscures real people affected

    Elections

    He arrived nonchalantly late, the way any good rock star should.

    Famed attorney John Morgan sized up the other Amendment 2 panelists on the high school stage in Lakeland, and then quickly made his way to greet Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

    The crowd waved signs, their voices thundered, and the evening had the emotional charge of a pep rally instead of a medical marijuana forum.

    Meanwhile, Cathy Jordan sat in a wheelchair near her husband, Bob, in the first row. The frivolity of the crowd was not lost on either of them....

  2. After cancer isolates her from the world, teen to get a taste of freedom

    Life

    The bruised face of a teenage girl stares into the camera. This is what passes for a selfie in the life of a quarantined cancer patient with a hospital room for a last known address.

    Ashley Krueger was supposed to don a surgical mask and head home that very day. No stops in between; just her North Port home. Such is life for a 19-year-old confined to bedrooms, hospital rooms, and examining rooms for what seems like an eternity....

    Courtesy of the Krueger family.
  3. After cancer isolates her from the world, teen to get a taste of freedom

    Human Interest

    The bruised face of a teenage girl stares into the camera. This is what passes for a selfie in the life of a quarantined cancer patient with a hospital room for a last known address.

    Ashley Krueger was supposed to don a surgical mask and head home that very day. No stops in between; just her North Port home. Such is life for a 19-year-old confined to bedrooms, hospital rooms, and examining rooms for what seems like an eternity....

    Courtesy of the Krueger family.
  4. Largo city commissioner's attitude is far more offensive than the dirty jokes on his iPad

    Local Government

    So, it's a small scene in a grander Seinfeld episode.

    Jerry, it seems, is convinced that his dentist has converted to Judaism simply so he can tell Jewish jokes with impunity. Exasperated, Jerry finds a priest to share his suspicions.

    "And this offends you as a Jewish person?" the priest asks.

    "No, it offends me as a comedian," Jerry replies.

    Which brings me to the Largo City Commission....

    Largo City Commissioner Curtis Holmes has hired an attorney.
  5. Romano: Does the Florida in Rick Scott's TV ads have any vacancies?

    Politics

    The time has come for me to move on.

    I have discovered a new and spectacular locale that defies belief. It is a place where the economy is bustling, and the problems are inconsequential.

    People are always smiling, the environment is pristine and no one seems to care about, or need, health insurance of any type.

    No doubt about it, I want to live in Rick Scott's commercials.

    Seriously, it looks like everyone has a job in Commercial Florida. And they don't seem to mind if the job is only part-time or that they are being paid minimum wage....

  6. Romano: Florida's write-in loophole shows disdain for voters

    Elections

    For 14 years, you have been the victim of a scam.

    Maybe not directly, and maybe not persistently, but there is little doubt you have been affected. What's worse is this scam is an open secret and has thrived with the tacit approval of lawmakers who sometimes benefit from it.

    Its basic premise?

    To prevent roughly half of the electorate in any given district from being able to vote in specific races....

  7. Romano: At Al Lang, not quite baseball, not quite soccer

    Local Government

    Let's be clear on a couple of points:

    No. 1, Bill Edwards is absolutely right.

    It's time for St. Petersburg to stop thinking of Al Lang Field as a baseball stadium.

    The place has not been the permanent home of a minor-league team since the Class A St. Petersburg Devil Rays were sold off in 2000. And it has not had a regular spring training tenant since the Rays moved to Port Charlotte in 2009....

    Once firm in the opinion that baseball should always have a place at Al Lang Stadium on  St. Petersburg's waterfront, city officials now agree with the Tampa Bay Rowdies owner that soccer should reign supreme at the former spring training mecca. [stpete.org]
  8. Romano: John Thrasher isn't the first politician to flirt with FSU

    College

    They're trying to find a new president to run Florida State University, and darned if the whole thing hasn't gotten political. If I had to pick a turning point, I'd go with 1993.

    In other words, the argument itself is not a new one.

    Academic credentials or political connections?

    Back in '93, the Board of Regents went with the politician, and Sandy D'Alemberte performed to pretty rave reviews. Nine years later, FSU chose another former politician, and T.K. Wetherell also had an admirable run in the president's office....

  9. Romano: A stand against school testing is long overdue

    K12

    The voice of the revolution is calm. It is kind. It is the voice of a 59-year-old kindergarten teacher who cares more about her students than her paycheck.

    This is why Susan Bowles is refusing to give a standardized computer test to a class of 5-year-olds at a Gainesville school this month, a stance that violates her contract and puts her three-decade teaching career in serious jeopardy....

  10. Could Florida be where the momentum stops for medical marijuana?

    Elections

    Know this:

    Florida's medical marijuana amendment should pass.

    Most polls say so. Momentum across the nation says so. The gut-wrenching visuals of patients in pain say so.

    And yet I have doubts.

    For as many successes as medical marijuana has enjoyed on state ballots since 1996, it is facing some unique circumstances in Florida.

    Convincing a majority of voters, as you probably know, is not good enough here. Passing a constitutional amendment in Florida requires approval on at least 60 percent of the ballots. And how likely is that?...

    FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2009 file photo, a worker at the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Clinic prepares packets of marijuana buds for sale in San Francisco. Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in California would sharply drive down prices for the drug, causing more people to use pot while possibly undercutting the tax windfall that supporters have touted, according to a study published Wednesday, July 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, file) FX101
  11. Some charter schools can't even last a day; taxpayers are the losers

    K12

    Think of yourself as a stockholder in the corporation known as Florida.

    You're not getting a cash dividend from your investment, but your tax dollars theoretically bring returns in other, perhaps less quantifiable, ways.

    Which leads to this bit of unfortunate news: Your money is being flushed away.

    Routinely. Unapologetically. And with the gleeful assistance of your state leaders....

  12. Romano: Minimum wage debate isn't simple, but the realities are stark

    Human Interest

    Here, on the street corner, the volume is turned up.

    Chants and shouts giving way to curses and confrontations. Activists protesting poverty-level wages are blocking an access road to a Temple Terrace shopping center.

    Standing a few feet clear of the ruckus, a minimum-wage worker named Anthony Moore holds a protest sign aloft. Not in defiance, but to block the sun from 2-year-old daughter Taytay, who is trying to nap on his shoulder....

    Protestors stand on the sidewalk Thursday in front of the McDonald’s at 11707 N 56th St. in Tampa to protest against low minimum wages. Union organizers in more than 100 cities across the country organized a strike by fast-food workers.
  13. Romano: Rick Scott's principles depend on the politics

    Gubernatorial

    So the governor is upset about a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's ever-expanding school voucher system.

    Fair enough.

    Rick Scott believes in vouchers. Supports vouchers. And so he's eager to ignore a previous state Supreme Court ruling that vouchers violate the Florida Constitution.

    "It is unconscionable that trial lawyers and unions have ganged up to use these children as a political ploy,'' Scott said while blasting the legal challenge. "Quite simply, this careless action could have terrible consequences on the lives of Florida's poorest children, who with the help of this program have a chance to escape poverty."...

  14. Romano: Video of man's arrest in St. Petersburg shows two sides of distrust

    Public Safety

    This story has no heroes, of that I am certain.

    The question of whether a villain is involved is far more complicated.

    It begins on the night after Christmas as former U.S. Marine Curtis Shannon picks up a pizza after work and heads home to his family.

    Somewhere along Dr. Martin Luther King Street S, a St. Petersburg police officer decides Shannon is driving carelessly and puts on his lights to pull him over outside his apartment complex....

    Curtis Shannon was arrested in St. Petersburg in December.
  15. Romano: Rick Scott gets it all wrong about student testing

    K12

    It sounds really, really good. Sounds decisive. Sounds American.

    Gov. Rick Scott on Monday put out a campaign brochure disguised as an educational policy statement that blasted federal government intrusion in schools and hinted that local districts have gone overboard testing your children.

    Like I said, it sounds good.

    If only it wasn't misguided.

    The governor deserves credit and praise for his request to increase school funding to record levels next year, but the rest of his proposal is little more than pandering. ...