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: 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....

  2. 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]
  3. 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....

  4. 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....

  5. 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
  6. 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....

  7. 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.
  8. 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."...

  9. 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.
  10. 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. ...

  11. Romano: Duke Energy billing switch is latest sign it doesn't care

    Energy

    Sticking customers with about $1.5 billion in bills for a nuclear plant in Levy County that everyone knew would never be built is pretty bad, I'll admit.

    And, yes, socking customers with another $1.7 billion or so for the Crystal River nuclear plant that was closed due to self-inflicted wounds is pretty sketchy, too.

    But I'm starting to wonder if Duke Energy has taken greed, deceit and ruthlessness to new heights with its latest scheme to weasel its way into your wallet....

  12. Crist's lieutenant governor choice would cause outrage, if anyone cared

    Gubernatorial

    This column is (sort of) about outrage.

    I say (sort of) because it's really a column about the duties of Florida's lieutenant governor, a topic leading scientists have actually discussed as an antidote to outrage.

    If it will help, think of Florida's lieutenant governor as the fire extinguisher on the shelf in your garage. You don't want to be caught without it in case of emergency, but you could go years without ever remembering where you left it....

    Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Annette Taddeo addresses supporters this month at a campaign rally in Orlando. At left is her running mate, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist. [KATHLEEN McGRORY   |   Times/Herald]
  13. Romano: Medicaid expansion creates jobs, saves money, but Florida still doesn't care

    Politics

    At some point, facts have to matter, right?

    Conspiracy theories and partisan hooey might be great for radio shows and message boards, but shouldn't elected officials be basing their decisions on real data?

    Because, I've got to tell you, it seems our leaders in Tallahassee are either too dense or too ideologically crazed to accept what is quickly becoming overwhelming evidence on the benefits of Medicaid expansion....

  14. Romano: VA health care mess is a sin not easily forgotten

    Veterans

    The apology was long overdue. It was insincere and poorly executed.

    In other words, it perfectly matched the level of competency we have come to expect from the Department of Veterans Affairs in this nation.

    The VA apologized to Congress a few days ago for "inadvertently'' causing "confusion'' when it mixed and matched dates and numbers to make it appear that far fewer veterans were dying because of lengthy delays in medical care....

    Too often, the VA health system has left veterans and their families walking alone.
  15. Romano: It's time to repay a lifetime of service by the man they call Jet

    Human Interest

    The note does not include a name, just a room number at a local hospital.

    Of course, it would be nicer to have a little more info to work with, but Thomas Jackson isn't one to complain. He's been given a place to go and told of a person in need.

    Really, what else does a compassionate man require?

    For the better part of forever, this is how things have worked around St. Petersburg's recreation department. If you need help — help beyond schedules and equipment and the mundane — you turn to the man they call Jet....

    Thomas “Jet” Jackson has worked for the city of St. Petersburg for 50 years.