Monday, May 21, 2018

Writers

John Romano, Times Columnist

John Romano, Times Columnist

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.



A Supreme Court ruling has paved the way for states to open sports books, such as this one at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but it's not likely that Florida will go down that road anytime soon. A constitutional amendment in November could put the question of future gambling expansion in the hands of Florida voters. [Bridget Bennett/The New York Times]

Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

It is the middle of the day and the beginning of the off-season at Tampa Bay Downs. That means the action is limited to simulcast wagering, and that means the televisions outnumber the bettors.The parimutuel industry is long past its heyday in...
Published: 05/19/18
Gibbs High School students hold hands earlier this year during a moment of silence for the victims of the Feb. 14 Parkland school shooting. Local officials have been struggling with how to finance and meet deadlines for the state's hastily passed school safety laws. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves

I said it two months ago, and itís only become more obvious since then:The bipartisan school safety proposal passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor had more to do with protecting the rear ends of politicians than the lives of...
Published: 05/16/18
With the days winding down on the governor's final term, Rick Scott's administration has been hiring loyal Scott employees for state government positions they are not necessarily qualified to hold. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

To: The Honorable Gov. Rick ScottDear Governor,It has come to my attention that your administration has recently made some, dare I say, innovative hires for important government positions in the months before you leave office.At...
Published: 05/14/18
Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Mike Grego addresses an audience during a 2015 discussion. He announced a plan to expand the school district police department from about 18 officers to nearly 100 by the end of the 2018-19 school year to comply with the state's new school security law. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]

Pinellas to dramatically expand school districtís police force

The sheriff wanted deputies on school campuses. So did the superintendent, the chairman of the Pinellas County Commission and probably a lot of concerned parents.When it came to safety, this was the obvious choice.It was also the most...
Published: 05/09/18
Faced with a budget crisis, the state's Department of Corrections has slashed substance abuse and prison re-entry programs. That means more addicts will be housed in prisons and will not receive intensive drug counseling. Experts say substance abuse programs reduce recidivism and save money in the long run. [JAY NOLAN  |  Special to the Times]

Romano: Locking up addicts will cost us far more than rehab

The other day, I turned this column over to other voices. To those who will be most...
Published: 05/07/18
SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
WestCare GulfCoast Center resident and US Marine veteran Taylor Wilkerson, 28, talks about his opioid addiction after he served in Afghanistan. He joined other residents at theWestCare GulfCoast Center, St. Petersburg. The Florida Department of Corrections is cutting down on the number of beds for substance abuse centers; that means nonviolent drug offenders are now more likely to go to jail instead of getting into a rehabilitation program.

Romano: Creating convicts instead of results in Floridaís ongoing drug war

By now we should know the most effective way to handle drug addiction ó in terms of cost, crime and human life ó is through rehabilitation and not incarceration. And yet, the Department of Corrections slashed the budget for substance abuse treatment...
Updated one month ago
The Tampa Police Department acquired about 60 body cameras for a pilot program several years ago but, citing costs, has not outfitted more officers. TPD's reluctance is not unusual when it comes to Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies. [Alessandra Da Pra]

Romano: Forget the excuses, cops in Tampa Bay need body cameras

Iím old, white and live in the suburbs. Undoubtedly, that shapes the way I look at the world.Take cops, for instance. I trust them. Respect them. I know theyíre not all perfect, but I was raised to believe law enforcement was a noble...
Updated one month ago
Former Congressmen Patrick Murphy, left, and David Jolly shared the stage during a forum at the University of South Florida in October, and are now discussing whether to make a bipartisan run for the Governor's Mansion in Florida. [Photo by Tom Wagner]

Romano: What are the odds Florida can lead in a good direction for once?

We swear we are better than this.Better than the extremes, and better than the barbs. Too many of us sit atop high horses and claim Americaís divisiveness is the fault of the fringes, both left and right.Itís a wonderfully satisfying and...
Updated one month ago
More than 50 years after Mel Brooks first wrote and directed The Producers as a motion picture, a musical adaption is still getting big laughs at the expense of Adolf Hitler. Left to right: James LaRosa as Leo Bloom, Gretchen Bieber as Ulla, and Matthew McGee as Max Bialystock. [Scott Keeler]

Romano: Sorry, but a dancing Adolf Hitler can be pretty freaking funny

Hard to pinpoint the exact moment when decorum departed for good. It could have been the toe-tapping chorus line of Nazi showgirls, or the parade of Adolf Hitler imitators. Then again, it just might have been when an effeminate Fuhrer began singing,...
Updated one month ago
More than 50 years after Mel Brooks first wrote and directed The Producers as a motion picture, a musical adaption is still getting big laughs at the expense of Adolph Hitler. Left to right: James LaRosa as Leo Bloom, Gretchen Bieber as Ulla, and Matthew McGee as Max Bialystock. [Scott Keeler]

Romano: Sorry, but a dancing Adolf Hitler can be pretty freaking funny

Hard to pinpoint the exact moment when decorum departed for good. It could have been the toe-tapping chorus line of Nazi showgirls, or the parade of Adolf Hitler imitators. Then again, it just might have been when an effeminate Fuhrer began singing,...
Updated one month ago