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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.


Twitter: @Romano_TBTimes

  1. Romano: A shameful week in Tallahassee, with blame for all


    This is bad: Republicans in the state House turned their backs on Floridians by shutting their doors in order to make a political statement on Obamacare. This might be worse: Democrats in Florida chose to widen the divide by immediately turning the House rift into a campaign issue through mailers and robocalls.

    • • •

    Somewhere along the line, our leaders lost their way....

    Senate President Andy Gardiner, R- Orlando, Garrett Richter, R- Naples, Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton, and Tom Lee, R- Brandon, huddle Wednesday in the Florida Senate. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. Romano: Providing the answers in need of questions

    Local Government

    Emails I wish you had written to me:

    You: Should I feel guilty that I didn't care what pier was chosen as long as it wasn't the favorite of the snobs of Old Northeast?

    Me: Yes, you should feel guilty. Also giddy.

    You: The Rays had sparse crowds at Tropicana Field for six games against the Red Sox and Yankees. Should we be worried about attendance?

    Me: The short answer is yes. We get so accustomed to small crowds, the temptation is to grade Tampa Bay's attendance on a curve. That's a mistake....

    The Tampa Bay Rays are again at the bottom of attendance among Major League Baseball teams. 
  3. Romano: Once again, state lawmakers meddle in local control of schools


    They are so gosh darned good to us, I don't know how we stand it.

    From the moment they arrive in Tallahassee, our state legislators insist on sending back unnecessary gifts. Fancy-sounding laws we neither asked for, nor need.

    It's too much. Really. Please, stop.

    Take this new schools bill (HB 1145) the House passed on Friday. It is crammed full of unrelated educational items that no one seemed to be clamoring for....

  4. Romano: Rick Scott accuses feds of bullying — then threatens senators over budget


    It's probably fair to say the governor was fed up.

    He was incredulous. He was angry, and he was appalled.

    Appearing on Fox News last week, Rick Scott looked straight into the camera and blasted the White House for what he called coercion tactics in the health care debate.

    "This is The Sopranos," Scott said forcefully. "They're using bullying tactics to attack our state. It's wrong. It's outrageous that they're doing this."...

    Appearing on Fox News last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott blasted the White House for its tactics in the health care debate. “This is The Sopranos,’’ Scott said forcefully. “They’re using bullying tactics to attack our state.’’ It turns out, Scott knows something about coercion tactics.   
  5. Romano: Tampa police trading integrity for busts of those 'biking while black'

    Public Safety

    For the most part, I believe cops deserve more praise than you and I.

    I believe they are more selfless. More heroic. More noble.

    I believe any community is better served when its residents are united in their respect, support and faith in their local law enforcement officials.

    And that's why I believe the Tampa Police Department has screwed up.



    As meticulously detailed by Times reporters Alexandra Zayas and Kameel Stanley on Sunday, police in Tampa have zealously, and disproportionately, singled out poor, black residents for relatively insignificant bicycle infractions....

    Herbert Johnson rides his bike from West Fortune Street Fish Market on W Main Street in Tampa on April 2, 2015. Johnson who commutes to his job from his home on his bike about 2 miles away remembers he was stopped by a Tampa police officer for not having proper lights. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times}
  6. At long last, Rays' Tim Beckham shows signs of success

    The Heater

    You learn things when you're a teenage star.

    And you learn a few more when the crowds stop calling your name.

    So Tim Beckham knows better than to sound bitter, and he knows better than to sound cocky. He has a pretty good idea of what the baseball world thinks about him, and he isn't going to offer unnecessary ammunition with ill-chosen words.

    So instead of dissecting the past or predicting the future, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft is focused on today. And, as it turns out, that ain't so bad....

    Tim Beckham, right, gets a high-five from Evan Longoria after homering against the Blue Jays, one of two this season for the Rays rookie.
  7. Romano: Florida House Republicans — Trust no one but us


    Here's what you need to understand about how Republicans in the state House of Representatives view themselves:

    They are right.

    Always and only.

    A dispute with the federal government over tax money?

    Trust the House.

    A dispute with local school districts over testing?

    Trust the House.

    A dispute with the Senate over the budget?

    Trust the House.

    There is no middle ground, no shades of gray, no extenuating circumstances. They know what is best for you, and no one else can be trusted to do what is moral and smart....

    Florida House of Representatives say the Pledge of Allegiance during the official opening of the Florida Legislative special session at the Florida state capitol. 
[CHRIS ZUPPA | Times] 

  8. Romano: Perhaps not courageous, but at least it's a step toward gun sanity


    It took a little time. And it probably involved some partisan gamesmanship.

    But the bottom line is the Florida Legislature may finally be getting serious about ridding residential neighborhoods of backyard gun ranges.

    One month after a bill proposed by Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, was killed, the issue has come to life again as an amendment tacked on to an unrelated bill in the Senate....

  9. Five reasons Bob Dylan is a god (or something like that)

    Music & Concerts

    He's not, of course. A god, I mean.

    But heaven knows there has been an inordinate amount of time spent in the last 50 years or so trying to classify, quantify and otherwise demystify Bob Dylan's impact on society.

    He's a poet. No, he's a prophet! He changed pop music. No, he changed America in the 1960s! He's the voice of a generation. No, he's the voice of every generation.

    Dylan, 73, has churned out around three dozen studio albums since 1962, and probably twice as many books have been written trying to interpret and explain them all....

    Bob Dylan performs at the Olympia Theatre in Paris on May 24, 1966, his 25th birthday. Associated Press
  10. Romano: Marco Rubio was ambitious from the very beginning


    The freshman representative had been on the job for barely a month.

    He had come to Tallahassee in a special election, so he had little time to prepare for the legislative session, and could rely on none of the all-for-one camaraderie of a typical incoming class of lawmakers.

    Maybe that explains why, as he stood to address the House tourism committee in early March of 2000, the 28-year-old Republican made the mistake of announcing his proposed bill was his "maiden voyage'' in legislative politics....

    Sen. Rubio waves to supporters after announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  11. Romano: Things lawmakers love now are the very things they used to hate


    One of the prerequisites of being a big shot in Tallahassee is having a pocketful of ideas. You simply cannot expect to make a name for yourself in state government without them.

    On the other hand, short-term memory is not required.

    Neither, apparently, is a sense of irony.

    For in recent months we've seen a parade of ideas, policies and strategies that seem to defy previous philosophies adopted by some of these very same idea-rich people....

  12. Romano: We must be stupid to put up with Tallahassee's Medicaid shenanigans


    Folks, it's time we face facts.

    And the glut of evidence suggests that residents of this glorious state are now intrinsically linked by this one simple truth:

    We are morons.

    You, me and everyone else.

    We are morons for allowing a handful of selfish, egotistical, politically driven hucksters to waste billions of our tax dollars while also playing games with people's lives....

  13. Steven Souza Jr. the key to Rays' offensive improvement

    The Heater

    Spring training has been a distraction for Rays fans.

    It has forced them to worry about forearms, shoulders and elbows. It turned visas and passports into a daily irritation and pneumonia into a crisis.

    Headache after headache have caused you to fret about the starting rotation, the one area of the team that was supposed to be worry-free.

    And it has distracted you from 2015's real concern:...

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) connects for a two-run homer in the fourth inning during the Spring Training game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 19, 2015.
  14. Romano: Love or hate him, give Vince Naimoli the credit he's due

    Human Interest

    The fighter is older, and more frail than you know. His time in the spotlight has passed, and his greatest accomplishment has been relegated to history's back pages.

    Instead, the stories now told of Vince Naimoli are often derisive — comical and demeaning recollections of his time spent as the owner of the woebegone Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    Mind you, those tales seem limitless and are forever entertaining. But the truth is they paint an incomplete picture....

    Vince Naimoli will throw out the first pitch Monday at the Tampa Bay Rays opening game.
  15. Romano: Voter registration legislation focusing most on who gets a ballot


    We are days away from the anniversary of Congress affirming George Washington as the first president of the United States on April 6, 1789.

    History tells us Washington was chosen unanimously by 69 electors representing the 10 colonies that had ratified the Constitution.

    What history often neglects to mention is there were supposed to be 81 votes. Two electors from Virginia and two from Maryland failed to cast their ballots, and the entire eight-man contingent from New York was too busy feuding to actually vote....