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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. Ernest Hooper: Modern times demand new commitment to tradition of media literacy


    Every day I receive emails critical of my columns, and sometimes I find them jarring not because readers object to an opinion but because they don't seem to have a grasp of basic journalism principles.

    Many will protest the inclusion of opinion in my columns, not understanding that as a columnist, it's my job to opine. In my 16 years as a columnist, my editors have told me, more than once, I need to be more opinionated....

    High school media adviser Mark Newton, with his students from Mountain Vista High School in Colorado, urged teachers during a speech in Dallas to emphasize the vital role of a free press in the American democracy. [Courtesy of Mark Newton]
  2. Ernest Hooper: Effort to revive Urban League can fill a void in Tampa

    Human Interest

    A former U.S. Marine, Tampa businessman Stanley Gray knows all about a few good women and men.

    Now he's looking for a few good corporations to help revive the Tampa-Hillsborough County Urban League. The chapter disbanded in 2006 after its efforts to revive a historic West Tampa building ran over budget.

    Gray is part of a group looking to bring back the league and help boost the community through inclusion-focused efforts....

    A Salute to Black Veterans during 2005 is an example of the work once done in Tampa through the help of the Urban League. An effort is underway to revive the local organization, disbanded in 2006. [Times file]
  3. Sunday Conversation: Tona Bell invites customers to enjoy a 'digital detox'


    Like so many small businesses, Saturday will represent a special day for Paper Seahorse owner Tona Bell. Bell's cozy bungalow business at 211 S Howard features paper and stationery, specialty pens, vintage typewriters and crafts classes. It will offer a number of specials for what's officially dubbed "Small Business Saturday" after the more retail-giant driven "Black Friday."

    But every day at the Paper Seahorse represents a special day to escape and enjoy life's more relaxing pursuits and lost arts. Bell says writing letters, embracing paper crafts and learning to crochet or knit allows her customers to enjoy a "digital detox" and escape the never-ending demands of the cell phone and the laptop....

    Tona Bell traces her fascination with writing, pens and stationery back to her childhood. She now owns the Paper Seahorse in SoHo.
  4. Ernest Hooper: Tampa Bay transit woes hold us back in more ways than traffic jams

    Human Interest

    I met with HART chief executive Katharine Eagan earlier this year and she laid out a thoughtful, cogent, articulate presentation of the challenges facing the transportation agency and the strategies her staff developed to address the problems and its financial shortfalls.

    And then I looked at her and asked, "How long before you leave?" Eagan quickly brushed aside such talk.

    But last week she announced she would leave in January to lead the transit agency in Pittsburgh. I ain't mad at her....

  5. Ernest Hooper: A salute to the students who walked out in support of teachers


    When I was in grade school, I landed in the principal's office and they called my mom down to the school.

    She arrived and delivered one stern warning: "If I have to come down to this school again, you're going to be in trouble."

    "But, but, but ..."

    "But nothing. And I mean that thing."

    That moment shapes my parenting perspective today, one in which I work to openly side with teachers and school administrators even if I might privately disagree. I'm the dad who likes to back the district in its efforts to instill rules and maintain order....

    Students at Jefferson High School in Tampa left class Wednesday 11/08/17 in support of teacher pay raises. Hundreds of students at Hillsborough high schools joined the walkout  [News 10 WTSP]
  6. Ernest Hooper: After heated mayoral election, blacks should bridge divide

    Human Interest

    He's not a St. Petersburg resident, but like so many in Tampa Bay, the city's mayoral race has caught the attention of former state Rep. Ed Narain.

    From his vantage point, Narain worries far more about how the election has divided the black community than who will win.

    "We can no longer afford to simply elect someone and wait four years to hear from them when they need our votes and are paying surrogates to divide and conquer our community again," he wrote in a Facebook post....

  7. Sunday Conversation: Trinity Cafe's Mandy Cloninger revels in her 'year of abundance'

    Human Interest

    As the executive director of the Trinity Cafe, Mandy Cloninger is thrilled to combine her professional work with her personal passion for providing basic needs for people.

    She works tirelessly to help the cafe's two locations serve nearly 500 meals a day (with dignity) to the homeless and food insecure. With the help of volunteers and a dedicated staff, the cafe even managed to serve its guests through Hurricane Irma....

    Trinity Cafe executive director Mandy Cloninger often serves and sits with the homeless and 
food-insecure guests who come to the cafe every day. She is “happy to see their growth and their support and have their friendship through service.”
  8. Inspiring Old Glory Relay will conclude 4,600-mile trek on Veterans Day at Westfield Brandon


    In California, a team from the U.S. Army's Fort Irwin National Training Center drove four hours to help carry the U.S. flag from Laguna Beach to Oceanside.

    In National City, Calif., outside San Diego, a group of Las Vegas residents ran with the flag just days after the Mandalay Bay shooting that took the lives of nearly 60 people. The group carried it across the state line and into Yuma, Ariz....

    Schoolkids in Gulf Breeze greet the Old Glory Relay team, expected to be in Brandon on Saturday (Nov. 11).
  9. Viera drives effort to bring 'sensory friendly' park to New Tampa

    Human Interest

    NEW TAMPA — Tampa City Council member Luis Viera vividly recalls growing up with a brother with developmental disabilities and autism.

    As a child, his family left its Catholic church in Tampa and joined a Baptist church in Brandon because it offered a special education ministry for his older brother Juan. They needed a place that made them feel that they matter.

    "Having an organization or local government really means the world," Viera said. "My brother is still involved with that church. You go where the accommodation is."...

    City Council member Luis Viera recalls his brother’s childhood.
  10. Hooper: Tampa Pig Jig expands its recipe for success

    Hooper: Tampa Pig Jig expands its recipe for success

    Hooper: Tampa Pig Jig expands its recipe for success



    Start with various forms of barbecue, add some heaping helpings of spirited competition, toss in a few cups of trash talking and mix vigorously with college football, live music, friendship and a good cause.

    It's a recipe that's yielded some tremendous results for the Tampa Pig Jig, so much so that organizers have decided not to limit the fun to one day in October.

    Of course, they had me at barbecue....

  11. Soul Circus Cowboys hope 'Believe It' video launches movement

    Human Interest

    BRANDON — In the wake of the Pulse night club shooting in 2016, Soul Circus Cowboys lead singer Billy McKnight posted a Facebook Live message called "Pause for Peace," asking anyone who would listen to pause or pray for 20 seconds every day at 7 p.m.

    The gesture has ballooned into a following with thousands taking the moment to come together and reflect on the world we live in today....

    The Soul Circus Cowboys hopes the premier of its "Believe It" video tonight (Nov. 1) will bring new attention to its "Pause for Peace" movement. | TIMES FILES
  12. Ernest Hooper: In Ybor, plan with the heart, not with the greed

    Human Interest

    It's all about planning.

    When it comes to a potential Rays stadium in Ybor City, much of the planning has focused on the needs of the team and providing a boost in property tax revenue.

    Yet I know the big-hearted folks leading the team share a concern about displacing the 1,100 people living in Tampa Park Apartments.

    A new stadium and the rising real estate values could make the Tampa Park property too valuable for rent subsidies. But keep in mind, this is about more than just relocating people. The upheaval could disrupt the lives of kids who need a stable educational and after-school foundation....

  13. Brandon Regional to debut new pediatric emergency room


    BRANDON — Dr. Subhankar Bandyopadhyay has spent a good part of his career working in pediatric emergency medicine, often teaching residents the finer points of caring for children.

    Now, as the relatively new director of pediatric emergency medicine at Brandon Regional Hospital, Bandyopadhyay will officially take over a 16,000-square-foot, kid-friendly center on Monday.

    He's excited to take over a purpose-driven facility that dwarfs other centers he's worked in....

    Brandon Regional Hospital director of pediatric emergency medicine Subhankar Bandyopadhyay, known as Dr. Bandy, poses with Candice Ramesar, vice president of emergency service, inside the new pediatric emergency room at the hospital.
  14. Jameis Winston proud to launch Dream Forever Foundation


    Nearly 200 people came out to TPepin's Hospitality Centre Monday night to help Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston launch his new nonprofit.

    Jameis Winston's Dream Forever Foundation will seek to help some of Tampa Bay's neediest children.

    Winston said he was amazed so many people — including sponsors like Candy and Eddie DeBartolo, Northwestern Mutual and restaurateur Michael Stewart (Ava, 717 South) — came out to help him impact the lives of financially disadvantaged children....

    Jameis Winston's Dream Forever Foundation will seek to help some of Tampa Bay's neediest children. [ERNEST HOOPER | Times]
  15. Dynasty talks about her one-woman show, growing as a rapper and more


    Tampa hip-hop artist and actress Dynasty takes her career into a new direction Saturday at Stageworks Theatre with her first one-woman show: A Star in Life's Clothing : Life. Love. Language. Lyrics.

    Not only does the New York native promise a mix of music and monologues, but she says the show provides, "A glimpse into what it's like to win, fail, love, lose and ultimately land in your own divine space."...