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: Rick Scott's principles depend on the politics


    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."...

  2. 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.
  3. Romano: Rick Scott gets it all wrong about student testing


    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. ...

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


    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....

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


    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]
  6. Romano: Medicaid expansion creates jobs, saves money, but Florida still doesn't care


    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....

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


    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.
  8. 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.
  9. Romano: Has Gov. Rick Scott seen the light? Or the polls?


    There's nothing wrong with this state that a yearly governor's race couldn't solve.

    Oh, sure, it would be disruptive — costly, time-consuming and counterproductive, too.

    On the other hand, it could almost make Rick Scott seem pleasant.

    Yes, our panderer-in-chief has behaved like a different man with an election looming before him. He still hides and still distorts, but his familiar zealotry has been toned down to a more moderate level....

  10. Charlie Crist's stance on candidate debates is 'grand hypocrisy'


    Charlie Crist's coronation as the top Democrat in the state is fast approaching.

    The assumption is he will breeze through the primary in another three weeks, and officially become the liberal voter's answer to Gov. Rick Scott in November.

    His ascension to the top of his new party's ticket has seemed a fait accompli for so long, it's easy to forget that he has done very little to actually earn it....

  11. Big sugar bagged some big ones w secret Texas hunting trips


    In some quiet town in southeast Texas, business must be looking up.

    Trophies from King Ranch, a nearby hunter's paradise, are presumably arriving daily at all the best taxidermy shops. And these are not your run-of-the-mill mounts.

    We're talking exotic game. Prized targets.

    We're talking about the coveted House Speaker of Florida. A preening Agricultural Commissioner. Even the elusive Florida Governor, a breed more skittish than most....

  12. Romano: Big Sugar bagged big names with secret King Ranch hunting trips


    In some quiet town in southeast Texas, business must be looking up.

    Trophies from King Ranch, a nearby hunter's paradise, are presumably arriving daily at all the best taxidermy shops. And these are not your run-of-the-mill mounts.

    We're talking exotic game. Prized targets.

    We're talking about the coveted House Speaker of Florida. A preening Agricultural Commissioner. Even the elusive Florida Governor, a breed more skittish than most....

  13. Romano: Dunedin Elementary case shows problem with Florida school grades


    One small problem with school grades:

    They're a sham.

    All of the money, all of the time, all of the kvetching surrounding Jeb Bush's school grading scheme is utterly worthless because the proper context is rarely considered.

    What do I mean by that?

    The single most predictive factor in a school's grade is the poverty level of the student body. You tell me how many students are eligible for the free/reduced lunch program, and I can usually tell you a school's grade....

  14. Romano: Kriseman took a risk on Holloway — but it was a smart one

    Local Government

    Mock the process, if you are so inclined.

    After all, it took the mayor six months and $15,000 in headhunter fees to discover his idea of a perfect police chief was a few miles up the road.

    And contemplate sinister plots, if you must.

    For there have been enough division, rancor and politicking surrounding the job of St. Petersburg's police chief to give conspiracy theories a legit launching point....

    St. Petersburg's new chief, Tony Holloway, has a proven track record in two cities, the unique perspective of a lifelong neighbor, and none of the inevitable baggage that comes from choosing one internal candidate over another. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  15. Romano: Corporations have hijacked education in Florida


    We don't trust our teachers.

    No way. The education of children cannot be handed to the people who spend the most time with them in the classroom.

    We don't trust our school administrators.

    Nope, they're as unreliable as the teachers. And that goes for superintendents and School Board officials, too.

    When it comes to the important stuff — the promotion of students, the job evaluations of educators, the funding of schools — we place all of our trust somewhere else....