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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

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  1. Romano: Perhaps not courageous, but at least it's a step toward gun sanity

    Crime

    It took a little time. And it probably involved some partisan gamesmanship.

    But the bottom line is the Florida Legislature may finally be getting serious about ridding residential neighborhoods of backyard gun ranges.

    One month after a bill proposed by Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, was killed, the issue has come to life again as an amendment tacked on to an unrelated bill in the Senate....

  2. Five reasons Bob Dylan is a god (or something like that)

    Music & Concerts

    He's not, of course. A god, I mean.

    But heaven knows there has been an inordinate amount of time spent in the last 50 years or so trying to classify, quantify and otherwise demystify Bob Dylan's impact on society.

    He's a poet. No, he's a prophet! He changed pop music. No, he changed America in the 1960s! He's the voice of a generation. No, he's the voice of every generation.

    Dylan, 73, has churned out around three dozen studio albums since 1962, and probably twice as many books have been written trying to interpret and explain them all....

    Bob Dylan performs at the Olympia Theatre in Paris on May 24, 1966, his 25th birthday. Associated Press
  3. Romano: Marco Rubio was ambitious from the very beginning

    Politics

    The freshman representative had been on the job for barely a month.

    He had come to Tallahassee in a special election, so he had little time to prepare for the legislative session, and could rely on none of the all-for-one camaraderie of a typical incoming class of lawmakers.

    Maybe that explains why, as he stood to address the House tourism committee in early March of 2000, the 28-year-old Republican made the mistake of announcing his proposed bill was his "maiden voyage'' in legislative politics....

    Sen. Rubio waves to supporters after announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  4. Romano: Things lawmakers love now are the very things they used to hate

    Politics

    One of the prerequisites of being a big shot in Tallahassee is having a pocketful of ideas. You simply cannot expect to make a name for yourself in state government without them.

    On the other hand, short-term memory is not required.

    Neither, apparently, is a sense of irony.

    For in recent months we've seen a parade of ideas, policies and strategies that seem to defy previous philosophies adopted by some of these very same idea-rich people....

  5. Romano: We must be stupid to put up with Tallahassee's Medicaid shenanigans

    Politics

    Folks, it's time we face facts.

    And the glut of evidence suggests that residents of this glorious state are now intrinsically linked by this one simple truth:

    We are morons.

    You, me and everyone else.

    We are morons for allowing a handful of selfish, egotistical, politically driven hucksters to waste billions of our tax dollars while also playing games with people's lives....

  6. Steven Souza Jr. the key to Rays' offensive improvement

    The Heater

    Spring training has been a distraction for Rays fans.

    It has forced them to worry about forearms, shoulders and elbows. It turned visas and passports into a daily irritation and pneumonia into a crisis.

    Headache after headache have caused you to fret about the starting rotation, the one area of the team that was supposed to be worry-free.

    And it has distracted you from 2015's real concern:...

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) celebrates a two-run home run in the fourth inning during the Spring Training game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 19, 2015.
  7. Romano: Love or hate him, give Vince Naimoli the credit he's due

    Human Interest

    The fighter is older, and more frail than you know. His time in the spotlight has passed, and his greatest accomplishment has been relegated to history's back pages.

    Instead, the stories now told of Vince Naimoli are often derisive — comical and demeaning recollections of his time spent as the owner of the woebegone Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    Mind you, those tales seem limitless and are forever entertaining. But the truth is they paint an incomplete picture....

    Vince Naimoli will throw out the first pitch Monday at the Tampa Bay Rays opening game.
  8. Romano: Voter registration legislation focusing most on who gets a ballot

    Elections

    We are days away from the anniversary of Congress affirming George Washington as the first president of the United States on April 6, 1789.

    History tells us Washington was chosen unanimously by 69 electors representing the 10 colonies that had ratified the Constitution.

    What history often neglects to mention is there were supposed to be 81 votes. Two electors from Virginia and two from Maryland failed to cast their ballots, and the entire eight-man contingent from New York was too busy feuding to actually vote....

  9. Romano: Be confident, St. Pete! Let the Rays look

    Local Government

    The owner is frustrated, the mayor is weary and a deadline may be slipping past.

    Chances are increasing that the agreement to allow the Rays to search around the Tampa Bay area for new stadium sites may not get done in 2015.

    The Rays have generally avoided discussing stadium-related issues once the regular season begins, so it's possible the next meeting or two could be the last opportunities for the mayor's deal with the team to be approved by the current City Council....

    Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg wants the team to be able to explore possible stadium sites outside St. Petersburg, while the City Council clings to the Tropicana Field stadium use agreement that forbids such a move. 
  10. Romano: Will the Legislature be courageous on backyard gun range bill?

    Politics

    Today we get to gauge the courage of some of our state lawmakers. Are they fearless? Are they gallant? Are they bold and principled?

    Or are they afraid of one lobbyist in the gallery?

    At 1 this afternoon, the state House's criminal justice subcommittee will discuss a bill that addresses the growing concern over homemade gun ranges in neighborhood yards.

    Nearly everyone agrees it is dangerous and foolhardy to shoot guns in the general direction of a neighbor's nearby home, and yet legislators seem loath to fix a vague law that discourages local police from preventing this type of insanity....

  11. Romano: Pier decision complicated by (necessary) move to punt

    Local Government

    Like the inverted pyramid itself, the pier selection process has been turned on its head.

    The latest delay came Friday evening in a bloodless coup d'blah. The mannered mob arrived not with pitchforks, but with polls. And by the time they were finished fussing, the pier selection committee was in full retreat.

    Call it power to the people. Call it democracy in action. Or just call it St. Petersburg....

    The St. Petersburg pier selection committee was ready to pick the Alma option, until residents began to speak up at Friday's meeting.
  12. Romano: The Koch brothers say solar energy will flop; Georgia says they're wrong

    Energy

    He'd heard the accusations before, in another time and place.

    Support solar energy, and you will support higher electric bills. Less reliability. More tax subsidies and unwanted government interference.

    This is what the critics said in Georgia in 2013, and they're saying it again in Florida today.

    "Total foolishness," Georgia Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald said Wednesday. "We have no state subsidies, and there has been no upward pressure on rates. If anything, it's held down the cost of fuel....

    Entrenched energy companies and their supporters are fighting hard to keep solar energy from hitting the mainstream in Florida, using messages and raising concerns that have been discredited in Georgia.
  13. Romano: Scathing audit? What scathing audit? It's all good!

    Politics

    Here's the gist of an audit of the state's high-tech, high-priced computer system for processing unemployment claims:

    Blech!

    There were also some details. Stuff about design documentation, operational processing, data integral controls and timely automated claim notices.

    But mostly, blech!

    It seems the computer system didn't do what it was designed to do, took too long to get money to people in financial distress and may have unnecessarily exposed the Social Security numbers of a lot of Florida residents....

  14. Romano: Will the distrust, disconnect on both sides ever end?

    Human Interest

    Every conversation begins years before the first word is spoken.

    It begins with the experiences that shape us, and the lessons that instruct us. It begins with our own biases, and the unique point of view that we bring to every discussion.

    And so the continuing conversation of Ferguson, Mo. is not necessarily about the death of Michael Brown last year, nor the shooting of two police officers at a protest last week....

  15. Romano: Only so much to learn from public survey on St. Pete's next pier

    Local Government

    The people have spoken. Or maybe they've just cleared their throats.

    It's kind of hard to tell the difference when you consider the miniscule number of voices heard in the recent St. Petersburg pier survey.

    In a city with nearly 230,000 eligible voters, only 9,631 verified residents bothered to weigh in. To put it another way, pick any crowd of two dozen people in St. Petersburg and chances are 23 of them did not offer an opinion on the city's next pier....

    Destination St. Pete Pier, pictured, received the most votes, followed by Pier Park and Blue Pier.