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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

  1. Romano: Rigged redistricting — it would be funny if it weren't so appalling


    Funny story:

    So a bunch of voters get together to essentially tell Florida lawmakers that they don't trust them.

    Don't trust them to be honest. Don't trust them to be fair. Don't trust them to be, I guess you could say, trustworthy.

    These 3 million voters pass two constitutional amendments to make sure voting maps will never, ever be drawn to favor incumbents and political parties....

  2. Romano: As Obamacare legal battle rages, remember the people it helps


    They say there are legacies on the line. A president's. A chief justice's. Even the reputations of a forgettable collection of congressional leaders might hang in the balance.

    They all await the outcome of a Supreme Court decision regarding a critical component of the Affordable Care Act. In the months to come, the story will no doubt be divided along the lines of political winners and losers....

  3. Lost hope in undeveloped St. Petersburg land hurts more than lost money

    Local Government

    His neighborhood was being torn down around him in the name of progress.

    Sitting on his front porch with a baseball cap on his head and memories on his mind, the elderly gentleman told a reporter the story of planting the giant oak that was now providing their shade. He talked of the big-name acts that had passed through the doors of the Manhattan Casino across the road on 22nd Street S.

    And he scoffed at the idea that progress was on the way....

  4. Romano: Education 'reformers' want choices for parents — except in public schools


    Apparently, the new buzz word in education is customization.

    Jeb Bush used it the other day. So did state Sen. John Legg, who was the education committee chairman the past two years. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wrote about customization, and so did Patricia Levesque, CEO of Foundation for Excellence in Education.

    It is part of a philosophy that says parents should be calling the shots when it comes to the education of their children. That means more charters and more voucher money. It means home-schooling and virtual schools. Essentially, it means parents know best....

  5. Romano: Lots of excuses, little real message in Florida Democrats' playbook


    Democrats in Florida are putting together another election task force.

    Republicans in Florida are laughing hysterically.

    That's the simplified version of where we are in state politics today. Democrats continue to look for something that Republicans keep parading in front of them.

    Call it messaging. Or vision. Or a dang clue.

    You might have heard that Democrats are whining about all the money spent by Gov. Rick Scott in the final days of the campaign. And I'm sure it did have some effect....

  6. Romano: Will red-light camera legal battle come back to haunt cities?

    Local Government

    One court case is still not final, and the other may have been filed prematurely.

    So don't get too excited and, for heaven's sake, don't start spending money that will probably never reach your bank account.

    However …

    Various cities and counties across the state may have a teensy problem with their red-light camera programs. And, by teensy, I mean they could be on the hook for millions of dollars in refunds to drivers who were nicked by violations in the past few years....

    With 7,762 red-light camera citations issued in 2010, the intersection of Bruce B. Downs and Fletcher Avenue was the most ticketed location in Hillsborough County. Of the six intersections in Hillsborough County with cameras, this intersection also had the most cameras — three.
  7. Romano: Thanks for calling Pam Bondi. Press 1 to donate, 2 to book a trip


    Thank you for calling the office of Pam Bondi, attorney general for the great state of Florida.

    Please listen closely to the following message so we may direct your call to the appropriate department or outside agency.

    If you are calling to report a case of consumer fraud, please check first with the attorney general's list of campaign donors to determine whether this is a case our office might be likely to dismiss or ignore....

    Questions dog actions by Attorney General Pam Bondi.
  8. Romano: 90-year-old man's arrest for feeding homeless is silly response to real problem

    Local Government

    The man is guilty. Of this, there is little doubt.

    Police watched, recorded video and apprehended him in the act.

    He was, after all, pretty conspicuous. When you're on the lookout for a 90-year-old World War II veteran wearing a chef's uniform and hat, Arnold Abbott is hard to miss.

    Making matters worse for the accused was all the available evidence. Pasta with cubed ham. Lots of it. And, quite brazenly, a white onion celery sauce, too....

    Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old man who heads Love Thy Neighbor, along with other volunteers, helps feed homeless people in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, Nov 5. 2014. [Michael Clary | Sun Sentinel via MCT]
  9. Romano: Good grief, how could Democrats lose Florida elections so badly?


    The statistics, Schroe­der tells Charlie Brown, have something to say. It seems their baseball team was outscored 3,040-6. They got 11 hits and gave up 4,900. They made 300 errors. They … "Tell your statistics,'' Charlie Brown interrupts, "to shut up!''

    In case you were confused, Democrats are this season's Charlie Brown.

    Hapless, hopeless and oddly passive. They didn't just lose an election, they had the ballots pulled out from under them....

    Democrats are this season's Charlie Brown, John Romano writes. Hapless, hopeless and oddly passive. They didn't just lose an election, they had the ballots pulled out from under them.
  10. Romano: Close Florida elections are just part of our heritage


    Elsewhere, they might call it a travesty.

    From a distance, they might call it incomprehensible.

    Around here, we simply call it Election Day.

    It is that special day when Floridians come together to perform their sacred duty as citizens, and then sit back and wait for the Supreme Court to tell us what happened.

    Maybe your vote will count, and maybe it won't. Maybe your candidates will be elected, and maybe they won't. What's important is not whether you win or lose, but whether you've made enough campaign contributions to stay in the attorney general's good graces....

    If the Charlie Crist-Rick Scott gubernatorial race is as close as polls indicate, it could take a lot of time, and even more lawyers, to sort this mess out. [AP photo]
  11. Romano: Proposal for state of South Florida simply mirrors reality


    For Alex Sink, the idea arrived four years too late.

    In case you missed it, the city of South Miami recently adopted a resolution suggesting Florida be split into two states. Drawing a crooked line from Pinellas to Brevard, the 51st state of South Florida would pretty much keep the largest metro centers from having to associate with more-rural neighbors to the north.

    The South Miami commissioners were motivated by the perception that the counties upstate enjoy the benefits of oversized tax revenues from their southern brethren while refusing to acknowledge the dangers climate change poses to South Florida....

  12. 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]
  13. 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....

  14. 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....

  15. 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.