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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: Will Florida again prevent health insurance regulators from saving you money?


    Two years ago, your state Legislature passed a law that was either remarkably foolish or remarkably cynical. Either way, it had the potential to cost you dearly.

    Lawmakers decided at the time to handcuff the state insurance commissioner when it came to regulating health insurance rates. In essence, they told him not to do his job.

    Their excuse was that the Affordable Care Act was just being implemented, and it would be better for the federal government to regulate insurance prices....

  2. Romano: If Rick Scott gets away with this, Florida is in trouble


    The words were polite and the tone was measured, but the message Gov. Rick Scott delivered in a letter to Jeff Atwater seems unmistakable:

    Kiss off.

    And while the letter was addressed to the state's chief financial officer, it might as well have gone to every politician in Tallahassee and every voter in Florida.

    For what Scott really did was draw a line in the sand and ask if anyone was tough enough to cross it....

  3. Local CPA representing Yoan Moncada, top major-league baseball free agent from Cuba

    Human Interest

    This time of year, the life of a CPA can't be easy.

    As the calendar creeps toward April 15, there are questions to be answered, forms to be filled out and regulations to be researched.

    And, in between all of those tax concerns, a good CPA still has to find time to return calls from the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers.

    Of course, David Hastings' practice might be unique on that last issue. The former Gulfport City Council member not only has his own group of faithful clients, he has also become the most popular accountant in major-league baseball in recent weeks....

  4. Romano: In Florida, politicians love school choice — but only one kind


    The governor and the reformers showed up in South Florida last week on back-to-back days, each stressing the future of education and the importance of parental empowerment.

    And at least one side actually meant it.

    I suppose that's a cheap shot, but it does have the virtue of accuracy.

    Gov. Rick Scott, along with a lot of other leaders in Tallahassee, talks passionately about the necessity of parental choice in public education....

  5. Romano: In firing of FDLE chief, it's hard to tell the liars from the wimps


    Do not be fooled by the headlines.

    This Florida Department of Law Enforcement scandal is far more complex than it seems. And before you go accusing state leaders of being bald-faced, unrepentant liars, you might want to consider all of the possible motivations and all of the potential ramifications.

    Just to review, it seems Gov. Rick Scott wanted everyone to believe longtime FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey decided to resign abruptly in December without any notice or explanation. Scott said as much when asked direct questions about it on Tuesday....

    Ex-FDLE chief Gerald Bailey says that he did not resign, but that Gov. Rick Scott forced him out, apparently without consulting his Cabinet.
  6. Romano: Phoebe Jonchuck's death requires big-picture solution, not just knee-jerk anger


    The short life and cruel death of Phoebe Jonchuck has touched us all.

    It was so unnecessary, heinous and inconceivable that we're caught somewhere between anger and grief. All we know for sure is someone has to pay, and something has to change. That reaction is natural. Certainly cathartic.

    But it cannot be the entirety of the conversation.

    Because Phoebe Jonchuck was not the first child to die at the hands of a parent in this state. She was not the first to endure an unsettled childhood....

    A photo collage of Phoebe Jonchuck, 5, who was killed, police say, by her father John Jonchuck Jr. when he threw her off a bridge near the Sunshine Skyway on Thursday, January 8, 2015. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  7. Romano: Cop killer dies in prison, but slain officer's legacy lives on


    He was never getting out of that place alive.

    They had made sure of that in the past, and were prepared to speak up again last week.

    Sammie Lee Mathis had already spent 34 years in prison for gunning down St. Petersburg police Detective Herbert Sullivan during an undercover drug deal, and Sullivan's friends would not allow a single parole hearing to pass without their voices being raised....

  8. Romano: Rick Scott 2.0 sounds refreshing — if he keeps it going


    He could have done an end zone victory dance.

    Rick Scott could have taunted critics, high-fived the zealots and spiked the teleprompter at the end of his inauguration speech on Tuesday.

    The stage was his, and the victory was too. He had survived all the snide remarks and all the polls saying he was the most unpopular governor in the land.

    So who would have blamed him if he had taken a moment to preen, gloat and talk a little smack?...

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott gives his address after being sworn in for his second term as governor of Florida on Tuesday in Tallahassee in front of the Old Capitol.
  9. Romano: Test your New Year's predictions against our columnist's

    Local Government

    Consider this a revival. Or an homage.

    Or, perhaps, just a cheesy rip-off of someone else's idea.

    For those of you who recall Times columnist extraordinaire Howard Troxler (and based on the number of disgruntled emails I receive, most of you remember him fondly and well) he often started a new year with a series of predictions disguised as a multiple choice quiz.

    In honor of Howard, we're bringing the New Year's quiz back after a six-year hiatus. And, this time, we're asking you to participate....

  10. Romano: Arrival of gay marriage in Florida ends long wait for acceptance

    Human Interest

    Close your eyes and make a wish, they would tell him.

    His family is singing and the candles are burning. It's rural South Carolina in the 1980s, and it's a perfectly festive birthday party for a teenager named Stratton Pollitzer.

    Everything is as it should be, except for what no one can know. And so the boy of the hour keeps his secret hidden from everyone nearby.

    Turns out the world can be a lonely and dangerous place for a gay teen in the conservative South, and Pollitzer feared his life was forever destined to this uneasy solitude....

  11. Romano: The Only-Somewhat-Fictional Year in Review, Part 2


    A recap of the second half of 2014 with real and not-so-real items and observations. And danged if I can tell the difference.

    • In a "tell-all'' book, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll describes Gov. Rick Scott as distant and cold. This revelation was almost as shocking as Cinderella's memoir that accused her stepmother of being demanding.

    • Norm Roche becomes the third Pinellas County commissioner to be voted out after opposing fluoride in the county's water supply, finally ending the GOP's dominance of the board. In other words, it took just a few years for dentists to accomplish what Democrats failed to do in 50 years....

  12. Hey, Bucs, try not to mess up this No. 1 pick


    Hello, old friend.

    It has been a long time. Judging by the standings, maybe too long.

    A stadium has been torn down, and the original owner has long since passed. A half-dozen coaches have come and gone, and plenty of quarterbacks have departed, too.

    And now, almost 28 years later, the NFL's No. 1 draft pick has finally returned to Tampa Bay. So let me be the first to say welcome back....

  13. Romano: A political twist on the traditional Christmas sing-along

    Human Interest

    Sung to the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:

    Marco, the loudmouthed whiner

    Had a very frequent cry.

    And if you ever heard it

    You might poke him in the eye.

    All of the other loudmouths

    Used to laugh and call him names.

    They always made poor Marco

    Shout all their bogus claims.

    Then one foggy Christmas Eve,...

    Is Sen. Marco Rubio being a loud-mouthed whiner about the United States renewing relations with Cuba? [Getty Images]
  14. Romano: Why aren't we doing everything possible to help anguished veterans?


    The phone rang on the VA hotline last Christmas Day.

    The caller was a woman, among the first wave to have served in the U.S. Navy following the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act in 1948.

    But that was long ago, and seemingly a world away. Now she was just a lonely figure, beaten down by the years and depressed by what remained.

    The crisis team at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System responded immediately. They offered counseling. Support. They set up a plan to check in on her regularly. She seemed to be doing better, and then Easter rolled around and she called again....

  15. Romano: City Council says no to Rays deal with potential development windfall

    Local Government

    The deal is off the table, and you should blame City Council members.

    You might also want to praise them.

    For, in baseball terms, they got a save.

    An issue raised by St. Petersburg City Council member Karl Nurse revealed that the terms of the city's proposed deal with the Tampa Bay Rays to allow them to look at other stadium sites may have tilted more toward the team's side than previously realized....