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Ernest Hooper, Times Columnist/East Hillsborough Bureau Chief

Ernest Hooper

Ernest Hooper is the East Hillsborough Bureau chief and columnist at the Tampa Bay Times. Hooper joined the Times in 1992 and has worked as a prep sports writer and editor, TV/radio sports columnist, NFL writer, news columnist and unofficial ambassador, representing the Times as an emcee, judge or keynote speaker at hundreds of nonprofit events and civic functions. Hooper added the role of East Hillsborough Bureau chief in 2012. He oversees news content for the Times' regional edition east of Tampa, the SouthShore & Brandon Times, and writes two columns a week. His commentaries about family, community issues and political perspectives have helped Hooper connect with readers over the years, but he's probably best known for his signature tagline: That's all I'm saying.

Phone: (813) 661-2440


  1. When given the chance, keep kids in mind

    Human Interest

    Pinellas County School District teachers and administrators gathered last week to celebrate the latest schools honored by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. During the ceremony, they offered compelling testimonies about the importance of infusing health, nutrition and exercise into school curriculums.

    Healthy kids perform better academically. The connection between reading, writing and recess are evident. As the Legislature approaches the demand that students get more play time, I hope they don't play around with letting recess substitute for physical education. You need both....

  2. Saturday's CAIR banquet is a time to show unity with Muslim neighbors



    Hassan Shibly, the chief executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations Florida, keeps a card on the desk in his Temple Terrace office.

    Someone troubled by the increasing acts of disdain aimed at the American Muslim community mailed a message of support with a small donation. He had never met the person, making the positive words more meaningful.

    Perhaps our Muslim neighbors have never needed more signs of hope and support than right now. In the wake of Donald Trump's campaign — and his political boasts of wanting to ban Muslims from entering the United States, create a registry and employ mass surveillance — emotions in and outside of the community range from indignant concern to outright fear....

  3. Hooper: Musings on sales, elves and running of the Bulls


    Random thoughts from a holiday weekend.

    I look at the cybersales numbers from Black Friday, and it makes me worry about the future of every retail center. Malls and outlets serve as town centers and economic generators. Losing them would hurt more than we realize, but it could happen. Just ask Blockbuster video. . . .

    Spotted a meme in which Elsa, the snow queen from Frozen, put the Elf on the Shelf in a deep frost. Loved it. That elf gives me the creeps. . . ....

  4. Hooper: Focus on wellness drives WellCare director


    Somewhere between various stints at hospitals around the state, Dr. Traci Ferguson began to contemplate how best to help patients.

    Ferguson, who joined WellCare in 2010 and now serves as WellCare's chief medical director for medical management, came to the realization that managed health care might help her have a larger impact.

    "I saw that I was helping one-on-one but I was only helping as many people as I could see in that day," said Ferguson, who holds a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University, a doctor of medicine degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a master's degree in business administration from Howard University....

  5. Hooper: Time to show thanks for Metropolitan Ministries

    Human Interest

    Forget about stuffing, cranberry sauce and corn casserole.

    Nothing lends more flavor to this time of the year than the love served at Metropolitan Ministries' holiday tent.

    In case you haven't heard, the nonprofit moved the location from Tampa Heights to Encore, the Tampa Housing Authority development nestled between downtown and Ybor City at 8905 N Governor St.

    Every gift to Metropolitan Ministries automatically doubles because of a matching grant, so instead of providing 20 meals, $39.20 will provide 40 meals to hungry families in need....

  6. Hooper: Students who care teach community leaders valuable lesson

    Human Interest

    I thought they would get a charge out of meeting a columnist from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Not quite.

    The teens from Community Tampa Bay stood before the crowd at the nonprofit's Evident Impact event Tuesday night to lend voice to their concerns, to speak truth to power.

    St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, St. Petersburg urban affairs director Nikki Gaskin-Capehart and Pinellas County Schools director of special projects Mary Conage joined me as "featured guests."...

  7. Hooper: It's time to stop the finger-pointing and name-calling

    Human Interest

    People need to stop asking those disappointed in the outcome of the presidential election to act like it's a sporting event. It trivializes legitimate concerns and overlooks the spate of heinous acts emerging in the wake of Donald Trump's victory. This was not the World Series. This is the most contentious, controversial election in modern times.

    People need to stop labeling everyone who voted for Trump sexist and racist. It paints with too broad of a brush, overlooks the nation's complexities as well as the flaws of Hillary Clinton....

  8. Hooper: Let's come together no matter who wins the election

    Human Interest

    It won't be time for gloating or glaring. It won't be time for talk of moving to Canada or forecasting the end of times.

    No matter who wins the presidential election Tuesday, we must be prepared to move forward by seeking common ground and promoting healing.

    Someone just scoffed.

    I recognize I'm projecting a thought rooted more in idealism than reality. I recognize that it may be more difficult than ever to bring the nation together after this election....

  9. Hooper: Empathy should be the response to bigotry

    Human Interest

    Temple Terrace City Manager Charles W. Stephenson said Tuesday at a City Council meeting that it's unfortunate a bigot-laced anonymous letter regarding council candidate Wael Odeh has received so much attention.

    I couldn't disagree more. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that."

    Someone decided to target the candidacy of Odeh, a Muslim, with a typed letter distributed in residential mailboxes that smeared him for his beliefs and heritage. It brought to light, again, the Islamophobia the Muslim community deals with on a regular basis....

  10. Glazer daughter working to strengthen team's ties to community


    From her office, which includes a panoramic view of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice facility, Darcie Glazer Kassewitz can watch all the players as they prepare for games.

    On this day, however, with the fields sitting quiet, she turns her focus to a recent encounter with children at the Jackson Heights NFL YET Center. Kassewitz, 48, begins to choke up as she reflects on what it meant — to her, to the players and team officials who were there, and especially to the kids they worked with. ...

  11. Hooper: Don't let troubling political landscape dissuade you from voting

    Human Interest

    A friend called recently, so filled with dismay about the presidential election that she was considering not voting.

    Yet it has never been more important to engage in the political process. It has never been more important to believe in our nation, its founding principles and its enduring processes.

    The troubling times have shaken the faith some have in our government, and its trail of gridlock failures certainly fuels a frustration. But frustrations can't translate to paralyzing fears or overwhelming indifference. ...

  12. Sunday Conversation: She turned her bout with domestic violence into a triumph

    Human Interest

    Jill Assalti once succeeded as a film and television actor before moving on to a career in medical sales. She thrived in corporate America, earning honors as top salesperson, but she operated in that world with a missing ingredient. "I missed the artist in me," Assalti said.

    Now she works as a motivational speaker (, calling upon the public speaking skills she honed as an actor to deliver uplifting messages about doing something every day that puts a smile on your face — instead of showing up for work feeling like it's something you have to do, not something you want to do....

  13. To suggest Amendment 1 is pro-solar is 'ka-razy'

    Human Interest

    James Brown once sang, "I don't know karate, but I know ka-razy."

    The lyric came to mind after I learned a proponent of Amendment 1 called the proposal a form of "political jiu-jitsu" and said big utilities back it because it will deceptively restrict the expansion of solar power. ...

  14. Hooper: Educators who have early influence on children deserve our admiration

    Human Interest

    The Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties staged a daylong conference this past Saturday that sought to lend wisdom and knowledge to educators while boosting the appreciation we should share for their work.

    The fact it drew 800 people — on a Saturday morning — says much about the coalition and the dedication of these early learning educators. I like to call them "Soldiers for Society" because their positive efforts impact so many facets of our world: education, law enforcement, economics and even the military....

  15. Sunday Conversation: Little Greek Fresh Grill president Nick Vojnovic


    During his 15 years as president of the Beef 'O' Brady's chain, Nick Vojnovic recalls, there was a fundraiser at the Valrico corporate store for a child battling leukemia. The event included a "Be The Match" bone marrow registry drive and Vojnovic gladly went through the process of signing up, placing a cotton swab in his mouth, and turning the sample over to officials. He had no idea if he would ever be a match....