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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: Judge's disgraceful actions add to domestic abuse victim's pain (w/video)


    The woman stood before the judge, sobbing.

    She had previously accused her 1-year-old's father of choking her, slamming her head against a microwave and threatening her with a knife.

    She said she had lost her home and sold her belongings. She was living with her parents and was worried her abuser would not be able to pay child support after going to jail and losing his job. She apologized for missing a court appearance to testify against him....

    Florida Judge Jerri Collins berated a domestic abuse victim.
  2. Romano: As other states move ahead, Florida is silent on physician-assisted death

    Human Interest

    Sometimes, when the music feels right and the crowd is buzzing, Rick Rivas can ignore his impending death. Standing on a cramped barroom stage and tapping out Aretha Franklin on a bass, the 61-year-old salesman gets lost in the moment and the memories.

    The meds keep him steady. His band mates keep him smiling. And the pain tickling his bones keeps him cognizant of the cancer that has metastasized from spine to skull....

    Rick Rivas, 61, enjoys a boat ride with his niece Cecilia Rivas and nephew Alex Rivas in October 2014, shortly after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  3. Romano: Bizarre Senate candidate Augustus Sol Invictus fractures Florida's Libertarian Party


    For a moment last year, they were Florida's favorite political underdogs.

    If not hip, Libertarians were at least funky. They sided with conservatives on shrinking the government and owning guns, and stood with liberals on marriage equality and ending the war on drugs.

    Palm Harbor's Adrian Wyllie went on to have the most successful third-party finish anyone could recall in a Florida governor's race, and Clearwater's Lucas Overby had the second-best showing of any Libertarian candidate for Congress in the nation in 2014....

    Augustus Sol Invictus (his full name is Latin for "majestic unconquered sun" and is not his birth name) is a 32-year-old lawyer who is running for U.S. Senate as a Libertarian. []
  4. Romano: Some history lessons as the time returns for Rays stadium talks

    Local Government

    We have reached the end of baseball's regular season, which means it is opening day for baseball's stadium season.

    Like it or not, it's a more important discussion than Evan Longoria's dwindling power or Kevin Kiermaier's growing stature. It is the one time of the year when the Tampa Bay Rays are amenable to exploring the where, when and how of their future home.

    Or, to put it another way, the St. Petersburg City Council is now on deck....

  5. Romano: Time to throw out Bush-era education reforms


    For the longest time, it seemed educational reformers could do no wrong. They had the theories, they had the platform and, most importantly, they had the power.

    So George W. Bush's Texas Miracle begat the nation's No Child Left Behind law, which was around the same time Jeb Bush's accountability crusade took hold in Florida.

    They were our models for education. They were going to revolutionize schools and rescue generations of students from despair....

  6. Romano: Tax collectors warn of online tag renewal company's extra fees

    Local Government

    She could live without the money. It wasn't that big of a deal.

    What made Lilyan Dayton angry was the cost to her pride.

    She had not been robbed, but she felt like she had been duped. And in some ways, that was far worse.

    The 86-year-old New Port Richey resident is one of a growing number of people who have paid nearly double the cost of their vehicle registration fees because they have unknowingly used a third-party vendor to order their tags online....

  7. Romano: State fails ill children, then fights a court order telling it to do better


    She had a house full of adopted children, and a heart full of hope.

    So in 2005, Rita Gorenflo was eager to join a lawsuit accusing Florida of failing to provide children on Medicaid with proper medical care.

    For nearly 10 years, the state denied, finagled and fought. Yet when the ruling finally came down last December, the judge was emphatic: Florida's neediest children were in danger, and the state was in violation of federal laws....

  8. Romano: Little Brother is now Port Richey police chief

    Human Interest

    He was undercover long before he put on a holster and a badge.

    A wayward kid in cheap, dime-store sneakers trying desperately to pass himself off as a typical middle-class student in a suburban New Jersey town near Princeton.

    He avoided cafeteria lines at school so his friends wouldn't notice the state-issued, free-lunch card that laid bare his family's financial struggles. He dug through Goodwill-style clothing bins in parking lots, looking for something that might fit, and praying to God that it wasn't a shirt classmates might recognize once belonged to them....

    Port Richey police Chief Rob Lovering, left, gets a surprise visit from Bill Patchett at the Art of Helping Children gala for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay recently. Patchett was Lovering’s Big Brother in New Jersey more than 30 years ago.
  9. Romano: Spring training plan puts more heat on Rays' decision

    Local Government

    Once, the argument was that we were running out of time on the Tropicana Field lease.

    Today, you can add we're running out of locations.

    And money, too.

    If it is the desire of the St. Petersburg City Council that the Tampa Bay Rays remain in this market — and specifically in Pinellas County — the window of opportunity is growing smaller and smaller.

    I don't say that to be an alarmist. There is little danger that the Rays are going anywhere in the next half-dozen years, and that probably includes across the bay....

  10. Romano: Scott wants credit for education budget boost but not the responsibility


    My property taxes are apparently going up, and for that I'm grateful.

    It means more money is going to be devoted to education throughout Florida, and I can think of few investments more worthwhile.

    Some of you might agree. You might think it's shameful that the latest Census figures put Florida 41st in the nation in per-pupil spending.

    Some of you might disagree. You might think the school system is already bloated and inefficient, and not worthy of additional money....

  11. Romano: Suspending driver's licenses over unpaid fees leads to unintended consequences


    Let's say you're a loan shark.

    You're tough, you're ruthless, but you're also shrewd. So, you never dole out any punishment that interferes with a borrower's ability to pay.

    Which leads me to this conclusion:

    Florida lawmakers would make lousy loan sharks.

    For the longest time, this state has waged an ill-advised war on low-income people facing traffic or court fines. What started as a threat has turned into a disaster....

  12. Romano: Let's negotiate with Grand Prix, not drive them out of town

    Local Government

    Let's begin with this premise:

    The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is a great deal for the city.

    Not good. Not worthwhile.


    Combine the tourists and money the race brings in, add the exposure and prestige it provides, and then divide by the city's relatively meager cost, and you have a return on investment that's difficult to beat.

    So, no, it's not a good idea for any City Council member to act as if the city has outgrown the race. If IndyCar racing is desirable enough for Boston and Toronto, then it's probably got a smidge of value among the skyscraper(s?) of St. Pete....

  13. Romano: If Florida's education reforms are so good, why are our SAT scores so bad?


    It was called reform but, let's be honest, it resembled a threat.

    Back in his first term as governor, Jeb Bush made an overhaul of Florida's education system a priority. He designed a school grading system that wielded new consequences, theorizing that increased accountability would lead to greater results.

    After all, back in 2000, there was certainly room for improvement. Among the 10 most populous states that typically used the SAT as a benchmark for college readiness, Florida's average SAT score ranked sixth....

    After an overhaul to the education system, Florida testing still lags behind. [
Credit: Pasco County School District]
  14. Romano: Could someone just say 'I'm sorry' and be done with it?


    I'm in the market for an apology.

    Something short. Something sincere. Something that tells me the person isn't dancing past responsibility with a faux show of regret.

    Because, it seems to me, the heartfelt mea culpa is in danger of extinction. At least it seems that way for those in public life, where apologies are more often designed to benefit the sender rather than the receiver....

  15. Antics of legislators, educational leaders have done real damage


    No offense to the folks who recently completed a $600,000 review of Florida's standardized tests. I'm sure it was a comprehensive look at these critical assessments.

    But here's the problem:

    They were not asked to measure the one thing that has become central to the entire conversation.

    Namely, the lack of trust we have in our lawmakers and educational leaders.

    This is no small matter. That mistrust is deep and is deserved. And, accordingly, it colors every debate and decision involving the state's Department of Education....