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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: Is this a new way for people to take back the power in state government?


    People occasionally say the political process in Florida is broken.

    Not to sound disagreeable, but that's a wimpy euphemism. As if we accidentally dropped Tallahassee on its head.

    The problems of this state were not born of fluke or chance. The corruption of Florida was planned. Carefully. Deliberately. Cynically.

    The process didn't just break.

    It was rigged.

    How else do you explain elected officials who hold their constituents in such contempt? Legislators who defy the electorate, and a governor who routinely makes up bogus facts?...

  2. Romano: Traffic geeks crash cars in the name of science and justice


    The pedestrian, wearing sunglasses, a baseball cap and headphones, is not moving. The car, closing in on 40 mph, is not stopping.

    The collision is inevitable, which explains all the law enforcement types sitting nearby in bleachers and lawn chairs with notebooks and cameras in hand.

    Welcome to another day of mayhem and mathematics at the Special Problems in Traffic Crash Reconstruction conference in Pinellas Park and Clearwater Beach this week....

    Visitors gather at the Showtime Speedway, Pinellas Park, 5/19/15, to view several simulated crashes involving buses and sedans. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, in association with the Institute of Police Technology and Management IPTM, conducted crash tests to gather information for law enforcement and other technicians on crashes.
  3. Romano: If only we could vote for Alex Trebek


    This is … Jeopardy!

    With your host, Alex Trebek!

    Trebek: Thank you, Johnny. Welcome contestants, let's get started, and please remember to frame your responses in the form of a question.

    Contestant one: I'll take Hypocritical Oaths for $200, Alex.

    Trebek: At his 2011 inauguration, this Southern governor said his state was accepting too many "handouts from the federal government" at the expense of its grandchildren, yet in 2015 this governor sued the federal government for more than a billion dollars in additional handouts....

  4. Romano: Addiction ensures drug battle, tragedies never end


    Read a recent report from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, and you will learn all sorts of trends and conclusions about drug overdoses around the state.

    You will discover communities where prescription pills are still a problem, and areas where heroin has exploded. You will see which drugs are being mixed with others, and which age groups are at greater risk in cocaine deaths.

    And, ultimately, you will learn that this collection of numbers, charts and summaries will still somehow fall short....

  5. Romano column: Did Gulfport official's boob joke cross the line? Or is it just free speech?

    Local Government

    The argument would sound a whole lot better if the subject matter were more profound.

    If, for instance, this was a politician fighting for voting rights. Or equal pay. Or antidiscrimination laws. Or any number of weighty topics.

    Except, in this case, it's a debate about boob jokes.

    And the guy has a point.

    "I refuse to give up my constitutional rights just because I'm an elected official,'' Gulfport City Council member Michael Fridovich said. "I'm going to be who I am.''...

  6. Romano: Her kids, her dog — Mom spoiled us all just the same

    Human Interest

    So the dog is giving me a dirty look. Something between disappointment and disgust.

    And what exactly is his problem? I wish I knew.

    Perhaps I skimped on his share of my meatloaf. Or maybe I rushed his after-dinner walk. Or, as my wife often suggests, it could be he's just an #@$%!*&.

    Not that I begrudge his bad attitude. He's a 50-pound lab mix who is pushing 17 years old. He's got lumps in all the wrong places, a face full of gray hair and a poodle's sense of entitlement....

    Here's John Romano's mom, Anne, with his children Megan and Sean on Sean's ninth birthday. [Romano family photo]
  7. Romano: A brief oral history of the St. Petersburg Pier

    Local Government

    Usually, it's money that divides us. We tend to get loopy over the origin and the destination of every dollar that passes through the doors of City Hall.

    And that's what makes the ongoing Pier debate in St. Petersburg so unusual. For this battle did not begin in earnest until the money was already counted and secured.

    It was back in April 2005 that St. Petersburg leaders persuaded the Pinellas County Commission to extend the life of a downtown tax district, and thus provide $50 million to complete whatever grand plan the city could come up with for the Pier....

    In April 2005, St. Petersburg leaders persuaded the Pinellas County Commission to extend the life of a downtown tax district, and provide $50 million to complete any plan the city could come up with for the Pier [SCOTT KEELER    |    Times]
  8. Romano: You think Rick Scott is bad? Check these guys out


    Let's start with the racist:

    Sidney Catts, a Baptist minister who had never before held public office and was the nominee on the Prohibition ticket, was antiblack, anti-Jew and anti-Catholic. Somehow, he persuaded Florida voters to elect him governor in 1916.

    Later, there was Gov. Haydon Burns. The Democratic former mayor of Jacksonville was elected governor in 1964 after labeling his white opponent "the NAACP candidate.'' His first term went so well, his re-election attempt never got out of the primary....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott addresses a joint session of the Florida Legislature, on March 3 during his State of the State address. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  9. 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]
  10. 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. 
  11. 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....

  12. 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.   
  13. 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}
  14. 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.
  15. 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.