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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: How long before you take a selfie in front of pier art?

    Human Interest

    You go to Harvard to study art. You move to Hong Kong and Bali to further your education. You are invited by the Fulbright Scholar Program to lecture about art in India.

    Finally, you return to the United States where you are asked to produce a sculpture that will serve as the centerpiece of a large city park in a thriving downtown in the American West.

    And someone says it resembles cow poop....

  2. Romano: Sex is not the only scandal in Florida's Capitol


    When did dysfunction become our default?

    Or is it normal for the first day of a legislative session to begin with everyone peering through a peephole, then bowing their heads for a two-minute prayer on the House floor?

    Really, is this what we've come to expect?

    Have politics become so nasty in Florida that we find ourselves choosing between the lesser of two sleazes? Do you condemn the state senators seemingly caught in an extramarital affair, or direct your disgust at the anonymous creeps who broadcast a pinhole-sized video of the couple's rendezvous?...

  3. Romano: I don't miss Jack Latvala — yet


    Here's a snippet from a column I wrote three weeks ago:

    " . . . and it's hard to feel much sympathy for Jack Latvala.''

    The point I was making is whether you believe his resignation from the state Senate was warranted, his behavior had clearly left him open to the sexual misconduct complaints made against him.

    And, as a new legislative session begins without him today, my feelings have not really changed. It's still hard to feel a lot of sympathy for Jack Latvala....

  4. Romano: A mayor's wish at the start of his second term

    Local Government

    His workday is just beginning, and is nearly 12 hours from ending.

    And with a wide smile, he'll tell you he loves nearly every minute of it.

    In the first week of his second term, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has seemingly put the stink of a sewer crisis behind him and has emerged largely unscathed from a bitter mayoral race.

    This is his time, this is his city.

    But what is his destiny?...

  5. Romano: Terms limits are for voters who don't trust themselves


    Happy 25th anniversary, Florida.

    Now, let's talk about a divorce.

    Seriously, this arrangement is no longer working. To be perfectly honest, it's never worked at all.

    I'm talking about Amendment 9, which Florida passed with great exuberance 25 years ago. If you don't recall, this was the amendment specifying eight-year term limits for the state House and Senate.

    At the time, it seemed like the thing to do. There was a movement all across the nation to rid politics of the same old faces, and encourage civic-minded neighbors to run for office....

  6. Romano: Minimum wage fight doesn't have to be all or nothing in Florida


    In case you missed it, the minimum wage went up in Florida this week.

    Admittedly, it wasn't headline-grabbing news. An extra 15 cents an hour is not going to dramatically help employees or harm their employers. It's simply an incremental boost tied to a cost-of-living index that works better in theory than reality.

    The more important issue is this: Where does Florida go from here?

    Because attorney John Morgan is gearing up for a constitutional amendment in 2020 that would raise the state's minimum wage to $15. This notion makes liberals giddy, and drives conservatives insane....

  7. Romano: Betting on the biggest stories of 2018 in Florida


    To listen to us, you would think we have the world figured out.

    That goes for politicians, pundits, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between. We are all so enlightened on Facebook and so self-sure on Twitter.

    And yet, a year ago, who identified Doug Jones as the next senator from Alabama?

    Or, for that matter, state Sen. Jack Latvala as the embodiment of a Lothario?

    The truth is, we all know a little, but not as much as we think....

  8. Romano: Watching a family's love grow at Christmas

    Human Interest

    No matter how much we might plan, love is rarely on time. And so the family in the hallway is startled when the elevator doors slide open, and they see their daughter for the very first time.

    She neither runs to them, nor they to her. Instead, it is an awkward dance of translated introductions and tentative hugs in an orphanage waiting room in the Guangdong province of China.

    It is mid-November and Natalie and Jeff Brandes are some 9,000 miles from their St. Petersburg home. As of that moment, so is the 8-year-old girl standing before them....

  9. Christmas carols for the angry elf


    (Sung to the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas)

    We wish you would clean up this mess

    We wish you would clean up this mess

    We wish you would clean up this mess

    Cuz it's Putnam we fear

    We would vote for you

    And buy you a gin

    We need you for this mess

    As gov'nor next year

    We all hope John Morgan's coming

    We all hope John Morgan's coming...

  10. Romano: One more lesson from Latvala on his way out the door


    In the end, Jack Latvala had to go.

    Even he recognized that.

    Unfortunately, he still doesn't understand why.

    That's clear from his resignation letter, which was long on defiance but short on remorse. He blamed political correctness. He blamed his enemies. He blamed everyone but himself.

    And so a career that should have ended with appreciation and applause is instead hustled out the back door one step ahead of pitchforks and prosecutors....

  11. Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard


    Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It's a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of their choice.

    And you can safely bet that a majority of the Republican caucus will vote in favor of this suspicious bill should it reach the House floor....

  12. Romano: Come to Madeira Beach for the sand, sun and scorn

    Local Government

    Forgive the folks in Madeira Beach for not yet updating the FAQs portion of their website. They've been quite busy lately, which might explain why three of the five commissioners listed are no longer in office.

    Or maybe it's just a nod to less complicated times.

    You know, before the lawsuits.

    And mid-meeting resignations.

    And ethics complaints.

    And recall petitions....

  13. Romano: Fighting the man to the tune of $16 million

    Local Government

    This is a story of lawsuits and precedents. Developers and politicians. It's a story of one staggering court award, and one stupefying reversal.

    But we're going to ignore all of that for a moment, and instead go to what the story is really about.

    To a January morning in 2014 at a Board of County Commissioners meeting in Pinellas County. The room is jammed with residents from Safety Harbor. They are there to beg commissioners to fight an administrative law ruling allowing an out-of-town developer to build a 246-unit apartment complex on the outskirts of their funky, waterside town....

  14. Romano: Like him or not, Latvala deserves a fair hearing


    At some point, the truth has to matter, right?

    Evidence, due process, all of that?

    No matter how you feel about Sen. Jack Latvala personally (and I've never been a huge fan) or how you feel about the overzealousness of his defense (which I criticized earlier this week), we all have an obligation to follow the facts and truth of the sexual harassment charges brought against him.

    So why are so many people rushing to judgment?...

  15. Romano: Asking Longoria to come through for the Rays one more time

    The Heater

    Evan Longoria gave the Rays hope when they had none. In 2008, he was the homegrown prospect that helped turned a franchise's fortunes for the first time.

    In the years since, he has given the Rays loyalty. Consistency. Dignity.

    And now it's finally time for him to give the Rays a better future.

    It's time to trade Evan Longoria.

    This will not be a popular idea. If it happens, folks will call the Rays cheap. They will complain this is everything that is wrong with modern baseball. They will announce they are swearing off the Rays forever....