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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: Rays have fans, they're just not at the ballpark

    Human Interest

    Eventually, this will again be a topic of conversation around here.

    The average attendance at Tropicana Field remains below 15,000, putting the Rays in danger of being Major League Baseball's lowest-drawing team since the 2006 Marlins.

    In many ways, it has become part of the franchise's identity. The Rays are known for pitching, a shrewd front office and a lack of fans in the seats....

  2. Romano: St. Petersburg's blue bin recycling debacle an exercise in being right

    Local Government

    Over here, city officials were expecting applause. Over there, residents were offering insults. In between lay a giant mess.

    (Albeit in bright blue, 95-gallon trash bins!)

    Yes, the recycling war in St. Petersburg continues. It has been a monthlong battle between city officials beaming about finally introducing the town to 21st century technology, and a handful of residents annoyed at the city's my-way-not-the-alleyway style of collection....

  3. Romano: Time for No Pol Left Behind reforms


    The folks involved with Jeb Bush's education foundations love grades.

    They love assigning and interpreting them. They love to praise and punish based on them. They love to preach that grades are intertwined with accountability and standards.

    All of which raises an interesting point today:

    Bush's foundations seem to have an achievement gap problem. You see, the Foundation for Florida's Future, a think tank created by Bush in 1995, recently released its 2015 grades for state legislators....

  4. Romano: Why would lawmakers kill program that helps adult with disabilities?

    Human Interest

    College for Kayley Simonsen is a single classroom in a nondescript building off Coachman Road in Clearwater. It's no one's idea of fancy, but it's every bit as meaningful to Kayley as the big-name universities her little sister is choosing from.

    And right now, her parents are searching for the right words to explain to Kayley, 24, that her "college" is shutting down because the state has decided to stop funding a program that teaches life skills to adults with disabilities....

    The state cuts end Kayley Simonsen’s life skills class.
  5. Romano: Time to take map drawing privileges away from legislators


    Follow the time line here:

    1. Voters tell lawmakers not to cheat.

    2. Lawmakers swear they won't.

    3. The Florida Supreme Court says they did.

    That's abbreviated, but it's factual. Legislators in Florida not only defied the Constitution, but defied the express wishes of most of you.

    Essentially, they made a mockery of a constitutional amendment that said voting districts should not be drawn to favor parties or incumbents....

  6. Romano: They're all about free-market competition — unless it hurts the power companies


    Let me see if I have this straight:

    The attorney general and Florida's Chamber of Commerce have both joined with mega utility companies to fight a constitutional amendment on solar power that embraces a competitive marketplace.

    Surely, that's a mistake. An oversight of some kind. Why would the state's top consumer advocate and its biggest economic cheerleader want to stifle the free market?...

  7. Romano: Flag burners overreach, repel those they most want to convince


    Sometimes, it helps to be provocative.

    In the right situation, in the proper moment, it can be more effective than a polite or subtle plea for attention.

    And, sometimes, being provocative is counterproductive.

    If you saw video or read the news accounts of a demonstration last week in Tampa, then you might understand what I mean.

    A small group of activists gathered at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to protest racism. Or violence. Or the Confederate battle flag. I'm not completely sure what the message was because it was obscured by the news that protesters burned several American flags....

  8. Gay couples at home in the Villages

    Human Interest

    THE VILLAGES — The community has a soundtrack, and it is Fox News. Take a walk through one of the bustling town squares, and you can hear it descending from the speakers — or is it the heavens? — somewhere above.

    This is the place Republican presidential candidates come to boost campaigns. The place conservative authors are rock stars, and Gov. Rick Scott comes to feel the love....

    Partners Wendy O’Donnell, left, and Peggy Garvin celebrate O’Donnell’s 65th birthday with fellow members of the Rainbow Family & Friends club in the Villages on Thursday.
  9. Romano: No shame knows no limits in Tallahassee


    The line exists. Of that, you can be sure.

    Somewhere, there is a line that our state leaders will not cross. Call it morality. Call it decency. Call it integrity. Somewhere, there is a point where shame kicks in, and their conscience finally forces them to stop in their tracks.

    Unfortunately, no one can locate that line.

    Yes, it is a remarkable thing to witness the shameless in action. To see them deny the obvious and ignore the ironic....

  10. Romano: No balloons, no speeches, but after eight years, a seat in government

    Local Government

    Someone, please, get the man some confetti.

    He is a conqueror in need of a celebration. A honcho in search of minions.

    It has been a little more than a week since Ed Montanari (sort of) won an election to the St. Petersburg City Council and the band is still waiting for its cue.

    Alas, it turned out to be a victory without a battle.

    No other candidate filed to run against him in District 1, and so Montanari happily accepted the political equivalent of a forfeit more than four months ahead of the election....

  11. Romano: In 1971, Confederate flag was at heart of St. Petersburg school's painful conflict

    Human Interest

    Two towns, two stories, two battles. Separated by miles and decades, and yet connected somehow through a bygone symbol and the passion it still incites.

    The Confederate flag controversy playing out in Charleston today is not indigenous to South Carolina, and it is not novel by any standard.

    Just ask the long-ago teenagers who were part of Pinellas County's first integrated class of students at Dixie Hollins High a couple of generations ago....

  12. Romano: There goes Florida's CEO, er, governor again


    He is always chipper, that governor of ours. Always smiling, always talking of bigger ideas and better days.

    And yet every time he walks out of a room, there seems to be more angry people than when he arrived.

    This is not accidental, and it should not be any huge surprise. It is, for lack of a better term, the Rick Scott style.

    And what exactly is that?

    It is omnipotence without a conscience....

    In the privacy of his office, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs the 2015-16 state budget, in which he vetoed $461 million worth of items. [Governor's Office]
  13. Romano: A day for unity, prayer at Mother Emanuel


    CHARLESTON, S.C. — Come, the man said, this is our house of worship.

    And so, on a cloudless Sunday morning, they came.

    They came to mourn. To worship. To comfort, and to gawk.

    They came until the 800-seat Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was filled beyond its means. And still more came. They spilled onto Calhoun Street where barricades were set up, and stereo speakers were brought outside so the sermon could be heard....

    People fill the street in front of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during the Sunday morning service, four days after nine of its members were shot to death in the basement during Bible study.
  14. Romano: Killer's crusade for white America defies logic


    CHARLESTON, S.C. — This is a city with a past, not all of it glorious. A place where history is sold by the walking tour, though some of the banter is strategically cleansed.

    The downtown is forever under the gaze of an 80-foot high statue of a man who once argued slavery was a blessing for us all. It's a place where a quiet man in a suit and tie can point to storefronts where, not so many years ago, he couldn't try on clothes because of the color of his skin. A community that has seen historically black neighborhoods disappear within gentrified streets of coffee shops and high-end rentals....

    New York Times
An image that appeared on the website lastrhodesian.com shows Dylann Roof posing for a photo with a Confederate flag.

  15. Romano: Legislators reckless in gutting program for disabled


    Sometimes, decisions made in the Legislature are nauseatingly selfish.

    Sometimes, they are fanatical. Phony. Outlandish. Cruel.

    And sometimes, they are none of those things.

    They are simply wrong.

    The state budget that was agreed upon earlier this week has plenty of fodder no matter where you reside philosophically. You can say legislators spent recklessly or you can say they skimped foolishly, and there is truth to both arguments....

    At the apparent insistence of Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, pictured above, legislators agreed to destroy a long-standing program for cognitively disabled adults. [Phil Sears | Associated Press]