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: Why you don't have to worry about the Rays moving to Montreal

    Local Government

    I would like to say rumors of the Tampa Bay Rays moving to Montreal are nonsense, but I cannot. The rumors are likely real. The talk is probably out there.

    It is the actual possibility of a move that is nonsense.

    The rumors exist because it is in the sport's best interest to perpetuate the notion that a large, baseball-hungry market is just a moving van away. We should know, because Tampa Bay played that wanna-be role to great acclaim in the 1980s and '90s....

    SP_335969_BORC_rays (9/27/2011) (St. Petersburg, FL) A smattering of fans sit in the 137 section at first pitch during the Rays game against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011.   [JAMES BORCHUCK, Times]
  2. Romano: St. Pete's parking rules are unconstitutional — and goofy

    Local Government

    The word the judge used was "unconstitutional."

    Pretty important word. Pretty damning word for government types.

    And yet Judge William Overton agreed that was the correct description of an ordinance governing parking spots in downtown St. Petersburg.

    From my limited knowledge of constitutional law, I think there are a few other words the judge actually could have chosen. They probably wouldn't have sounded as impressive or scholarly, but they would have been just as descriptive....

  3. Romano: Clean up student testing mess before imposing consequences


    Here is all you need to know about the absurdity of education in Florida:

    For several months, dozens of school boards across the state have implored our leaders in Tallahassee to hit the brakes on high-stakes testing.

    And then on Monday, a state senator stood before School Board members in Lake County and implored them to hit the brakes on high-stakes testing.

    Get it?

    Everyone seems to recognize that our educational model is broken, and yet nothing is being done to fix it. Lawmakers blame educators, educators blame lawmakers and our education commissioner waits with a rubber stamp in her hand....

  4. Romano: And the better debater award goes to … absolutely no one


    And now, the inevitable hangover.

    The lonely nights, the epic yearning and the feeling of lost potential.

    Yes, the 12-day gubernatorial debate season is completed, and television in Florida will never be the same. Just like with the Captain & Tennille, we might be waiting forever for that Rick Scott and Charlie Crist reunion show.

    Oh, but what a legacy they leave behind. Three hours of debate fun that raised our eyebrows and lowered our standards....

    Democratic candidate Charlie Crist, left, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott shake hands before their third and final debate Tuesday. 
  5. Romano: A moral to the St. Pete Beach legal fiasco

    Local Government

    Just so you know, this story has a moral.

    That's important to remember because it's easy to lose in the avalanche of details, accusations and years involved.

    It might go unnoticed when you get to the part about St. Pete Beach wasting more than $2 million of taxpayer money on attorney fees in the past decade.

    And it almost certainly will get overlooked if you dare delve into the inevitable conflicts of redevelopment dreams versus status quo desires in a beachfront town....

  6. Romano: Don't be fooled by anti-Amendment 2 hysteria


    If you trust the polls, medical marijuana in Florida is losing. Or, to put it another way, hysteria is winning.

    Turns out, it's a pretty simple equation. The more outlandish the accusations get for opponents of Amendment 2, the less likely common sense will prevail Nov. 4.

    Please, don't misunderstand me. There are plenty of commonsense reasons to oppose the amendment. Perhaps enough reasons to convince you to vote no....

  7. Sophia the shepherd gives Iraq vet a chance at a normal life

    Human Interest

    He understood danger. Knew its responsibilities and rhythms. Live long enough beside it, and danger becomes routine in a soldier's world.

    It was the mundane that spooked Ron Flaville. He might panic if a Walmart aisle got too crowded. Or he could freak out in a restaurant with too many windows.

    Therapy didn't help. Booze and meds were not the answer. Medically retired from the Army, Flaville found it easier to simply stay locked in the house. This was his universe before salvation arrived with its wagging tail....

    Mary Peter with her dog Shasta. Partners for Patriots, a nonprofit organization in Brooksville, provides training, and sometimes dogs, for veterans suffering from PTSD.
  8. Romano: Debate between Scott and Crist just a lot of unanswered questions


    Scenes from third grade, circa 1961:

    Little Rick Scott listens thoughtfully to the teacher's question before answering in a soft, yet sincere, voice.

    "If a boy delivers 150 newspapers in his housing project each day, seven days a week, at 1 cent per paper,'' he says, "he'll be earning more than $40 a month.''

    "That's wonderful,'' the teacher replies, "but the question was how many planets are in the solar system.''...

    Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during a televised debate.
  9. Romano: A dog bite dispute in Pasco County gets 'Judge Judy' justice

    Human Interest

    This is a story of justice disguised as entertainment. Or maybe entertainment disguised as justice. Either way, it's about a woman bit in the face by a neighbor's dog.

    It starts routinely enough on an April day in a nondescript neighborhood in New Port Richey, where Melody Kelly was waiting outside for her husband, along with her Shih Tzu named Molly.

    From two doors down, a neighbor's dog came charging toward them. Fearing for her own dog, Kelly, 50, said she picked Molly up as the other dog began circling them....

    Photo of Melody Kelly, 50, of New Port Richey at a hospital after being bitten by a neighbor's pit bull in April.
  10. Romano: The curious case of Pam Bondi vs. Common Sense








    Appellant, Common Sense, claims to have been ignored by Attorney General Pam Bondi when she chose to challenge court rulings that had overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages. Common Sense raises numerous issues on appeal, including constitutional freedoms, growing public acceptance and Bondi's own selective enforcement of Florida's laws....

    Common sense claims to have been ignored by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi when she chose to challenge court rulings that had overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriages, John Romano writes.
  11. Romano: A little more compassion, a little less politics needed in Pasco immigration debate

    Local Government

    Such a thankless job, these poor members of the Pasco Planning Commission have.

    Paperwork and hearings. Business and residential concerns. Zoning out the wazoo.

    And now, darn it all, they have to solve America's immigration problem.

    In case you haven't heard, that appears to be the opinion of a handful of residents who have descended on the Planning Commission like a swarm of jingoistic locusts....

  12. Romano: Lawmakers find their voice on Duke Energy — right before election


    My, my, my.

    Such outrage. Such indignation. Such a load of bull.

    The past few weeks have brought a parade of elected officials stumbling over one another for a chance to snipe and sneer at one of the local power companies.

    And, make no mistake, their whining had an impact.

    With a growing crew of politicians backing them for the first time since the discovery of the kilowatt, the invertebrates on the Public Service Commission actually stood up for consumers on Thursday and ordered Duke Energy to provide a $54 million refund....

  13. Romano: A bus ride shows the risks and possibilities of Greenlight Pinellas


    So, the skeptic and the businessman hop on a bus bound for nowhere special.

    The businessman (St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce chief Chris Steinocher) has been asked to convince the skeptic (me) of the virtues of the Greenlight Pinellas referendum.

    We begin at midday on a half-filled bus idling near Williams Park in St. Petersburg. The driver has yet to close the doors, and Steinocher is already in high gear....

  14. Romano: Extreme rhetoric in medical marijuana debate obscures real people affected


    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....

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


    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.