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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: Changing the rules on Florida's death row, one prisoner at a time


    Three times, the killer has been sentenced to die for the same murder.

    At his first sentencing, in 1993, he mocked the family of his victim by giving them a thumbs-up sign.

    The second time, in 1997, he took a swing at a bailiff and was hog-tied as he was carried back to his cell.

    The third time, in 2004, he barely seemed to notice that the judge had spoken.

    And now, there is at least a reasonable chance that Troy Merck could get a fourth shot at avoiding the death penalty. At least that seems to be the direction death row cases are heading in Florida....

  2. Romano: How complicated can building a soccer stadium be? Don't ask

    Local Government

    For now, talk of a renovated stadium for the Rowdies is mostly a rumor in Tampa Bay.

    The question is whether it will soon become a referendum in St. Petersburg.

    Weeks after the minor-league franchise confirmed it was moving to the United Soccer League next season, the Rowdies have promised a "historic" announcement next week.

    One popular assumption is the team will unveil plans to renovate and expand Al Lang Stadium, which is something owner Bill Edwards has been discussing — and showing artists' renderings of — for months....

  3. Romano: A message for the morons on our roads


    To be a tow truck driver is to trust in the basic decency and intelligence of your fellow man. Around here, that's getting harder and harder to do.

    Three times in the past nine months, tow truck operators have been killed while working on roads in Tampa Bay. Statistically speaking, that's an outrageous number. Realistically, tow truck drivers say it isn't necessarily shocking.

    By its very nature, the job is high-risk. You're often working on the side of a road with little room to spare. When passing cars do not slow down or move over, the risk is increased. When passing motorists are eating or on the phone, the risk is increased. When they've been drinking, the risk is insane....

  4. Romano: TyRon Lewis street sign — a contrived protest that sparked an overwrought reaction


    Last time I checked, the street sign was still visible at TyRon Lewis Avenue. So was hypocrisy, faux outrage and misplaced priorities.

    In case you're confused, there isn't really a TyRon Lewis Avenue in St. Petersburg. That's just the name chosen by activists for the street corner at 16th Street and 18th Avenue S.

    They say it's a memorial.

    It feels more like a stunt.

    The sign is a nod to the riots of 20 years ago. It's a reminder that relations have not always been smooth between black residents and St. Petersburg police. Basically, it's a way to shake a fist at City Hall....

  5. Romano: A gesture of hope in a time of increased racism

    Human Interest

    The handwriting looks playful, with small flourishes and a lopsided heart. There are the usual abbreviations of the smartphone generation, and the breezy manner of a teen.

    The incomprehensible element is the message itself.

    It's as if it were born of another era. Of a darker, more sinister America. A time when white privilege was handed down like a birthright, and hate-filled language seemed frightfully apropos. ...

  6. Romano: Winless candidate in Seminole still hoping for a Hail Mary comeback

    Local Government

    In a pew at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, the candidate prays for votes that may not exist.

    He's not deceiving himself; he knows the odds are not in his favor. But when you have waited as long as Tom Christy has for a happy election result, showing up daily for Mass is a comforting way to start a morning.

    Not that this was supposed to be part of his campaign routine. In his previous attempts to win a seat on the Seminole City Council, Christy has mostly taken his losses in stride, and moved on after Election Day....

  7. Romano: Neither the time, nor the place, for a football player's protest


    Here are two tales of freedom.

    They have nothing, and everything, in common.

    On a Sunday afternoon in Tampa, a stadium of people stood for the traditional playing of the national anthem before a Buccaneers football game. Unbeknownst to many, a lone player refused to rise.

    Mike Evans would later say that his silent, and defiant, gesture was his way of protesting the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States....

  8. Romano: Keeping lawmakers (relatively) honest with amendments


    Let's see, we have 160 lawmakers representing us in Tallahassee.

    We've also sent a hefty congressional delegation to Washington, D.C., along with all the senators and representatives from 49 other states.

    And guess what?

    It's not enough.

    The truth is, you and I are the legislators of last resort.

    Voters in Florida, and a lot of other states, are flexing their muscles when it comes to ballot initiatives....

  9. Romano: America has spoken, but is anybody listening?


    America screwed up.

    Not on Election Night — that actually went exactly the way it was designed even if the result was not what you would have preferred.

    No, America's leaders screwed up long before that when they failed to recognize just how much anger and frustration had come to exist behind the picket fences.

    Suburbanites were angry. Soccer moms were frustrated. Blue-collar, middle-class citizens were tired of feeling as if nobody was sticking up for them....

  10. Romano: Farewell to the one congressman willing to compromise

    State Roundup

    There were no TVs in the ballroom to highlight the unhappy results.

    No balloons waiting to fall from the rafters, and no staffers handing out victory banners or signs. Just a man at a podium, struggling to keep a grip on his runaway emotions.

    This is what it looks like when hope dies.

    For it wasn't just the GOP that lost a reliable seat in Congress on Tuesday night. And it wasn't just David Jolly conceding his first election defeat to Charlie Crist....

  11. Romano: Checking in with the attorney general for another good laugh


    This is exactly what we needed.

    In the final hours of an interminable election, we were due for a little comic relief. A chuckle amid the rancor. A giggle to relieve the tension.

    Yes, we absolutely needed Pam Bondi to show up.

    Florida's attorney general is the whim beneath our wings. She talks; we laugh. Everybody wins.

    In case you missed it, Bondi was on Fox News on Sunday to discuss FBI director James Comey's announcement that there was nothing in the renewed Hillary Clinton email inquiry that would warrant charges....

  12. Romano: Hillsborough County is the nation's no-partisan zone


    Turns out, Main Street USA is not just a marketing ploy at Disney parks.

    It exists a few blocks from the neighborhood where they've rolled Cuban cigars for more than a century. It's near a bay, close to strawberry fields and down the road from a collection of strip clubs.

    It looks diverse, it sounds moderate and it feels increasingly relevant.

    So where is Main Street USA?

    Apparently, somewhere in Tampa....

  13. World Series: The baseball immortality Corey Kluber is flirting with

    The Heater

    The Cubs are chasing history. The Indians are not far behind.

    And on the mound when Game 7 starts tonight will be a pitcher flirting with his own bit of baseball immortality.

    Indians righthander Corey Kluber has a chance to become one of a handful of starting pitchers, and the first in 48 years, to win three games in the same World Series.

    Why is it so rare?

    Well, first of all, there have not been a lot of Game 7's in recent history. And, since the 1970s, most teams have gone to five-man rotations, so it's highly unusual for a pitcher to start three times in nine days even in the postseason. ...

  14. Romano: Did I mention that Amendment 1 is a no-good, dirty scam?


    Your wallet is sitting here.

    And your electric company is over there.

    Now, how safe do you feel leaving one with the other?

    Because, when you cut through all the misleading commercials and all the phony sound bites, that's the gist of Amendment 1. The state's largest power companies want you to trust them to essentially be the lone providers of solar energy and its expansion in Florida....

  15. Romano: Who is going to protect us from ourselves?


    It has been several days, and I still can't stop thinking about the children.

    Maria Murillo was 10, her brother John was 9. They went to church with their mother Wednesday night in Tampa and then climbed into a minivan for the ride home.

    The idea that they never made it there is tragic.

    The reason why is soul-crushing.

    It was not evil that killed them, nor was it a fluke of nature. Instead, if preliminary reports are accurate, two beautiful children lost their lives because someone was showing off in another car....