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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.

Email: romano@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Romano_TBTimes

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  1. Romano: Hunting for a deadly needle in the Seminole Heights haystack

    Crime

    During the day, you hear from the psychics and the kooks. The well-intentioned tipsters, and the unsolicited profilers. This is all part of serial killer spillover, a sort of cottage industry of macabre.

    It gets tougher at night when you're hounded by your own doubts. When you lie awake in bed at 2 a.m., wondering if there is any possible strategy or clue you've missed.

    For some reason, they never include these details in the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit research projects on serial killers. If you look closely, the FBI studies even tell you they have "little utility in helping identify an unknown offender during an active serial murder investigation.''...

    Tampa police, FDLE, FBI and ATF agents and the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office are all investigating the four Seminole Heights murders.
  2. Romano: Flood insurance rates still going up? Um, thanks?

    Real Estate

    Bless their scheming little hearts, they tried.

    The folks in the U.S. House of Representatives got together and crunched numbers, weighed data, negotiated differences and came up with a flood insurance plan that hardly anyone likes.

    And that includes some of the people who voted for it.

    That's more of an observation than actual criticism. Because, heaven knows, flood insurance is not easily solved. Not when it is perceived to be too generous and, simultaneously, too expensive....

    Heavy rain from Hurricane Hermine caused flooding in west Pasco County in 2016. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  3. Romano: Sorry teachers, you simply can't win this one

    Education

    When it comes to your principles, there is no shame in putting up a fight.

    You can fight City Hall, and you can fight the power. According to the song, you can fight the law. You can even fight the good fight, whatever that means.

    But you cannot fight reality. Not if you want to win.

    And I'm afraid that's what Hillsborough County teachers are doing right now.

    If you haven't followed recent headlines, educators in Hillsborough are pounding their desks over the news that the school district will not come through with scheduled pay raises for thousands of teachers....

  4. Romano: Wasting money and lives in Florida with foolish sentencing laws

    Criminal

    Take a bow, Florida.

    When it comes to drug sentencing laws, the experts say you are tougher than most. You lock up more people, and you keep them behind bars longer than just about any other state.

    You also waste more taxpayer money, create more career criminals and fail to treat more addicts than most other states, too.

    But those are just details, right?

    Well, thankfully, a pair of legislators from Tampa Bay have decided that you can still be tough on crime while also being smart on crime. Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, have filed separate bills (SB 694 and HB 481) known as "safety valve'' laws that would give judges more discretion in minor drug cases under certain conditions....

    A 2017 Reason Foundation report found that of the 2,300 inmates serving time for hydrocodone or oxycodone trafficking, nearly 1,500 had not previously been incarcerated.
  5. Romano: How ya feeling about Donald Trump today, Gov. Scott?

    Politics

    Once upon a time, a political newcomer took advantage of a president's upside-down approval ratings and rode that tea party outrage all the way to the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee.

    Now, all these years later, we're about to find out if political karma can be a glitch.

    Plotting a new path toward the U.S. Senate, Gov. Rick Scott has suddenly come face-to-face with the realization that, this time, another president's unpopularity could eventually drag him down....

    President Donald Trump listens to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, during a meeting with U.S. Mayors and Governors for an Infrastructure Summit in the State Dinning Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  6. Romano: Great job, Mayor Kriseman, now don't blow it

    Elections

    The crowd was chanting, a Tom Petty song was playing and the re-elected mayor of St. Petersburg was expressing heartfelt thanks from the center of the stage.

    This is what victory looks like.

    In another four years, we'll know if it's also what vindication looks like.

    This is your time, Rick Kriseman. Even more so than your first mayoral victory four years ago. That election started you on a new path, and this election will determine where you end up....

    Voter Larry Biddle, left, greets St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman outside of the Coliseum on Tuesday. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  7. Romano: Can someone please give us a good review on Amazon?

    Local Government

    Here's what the critics have to say about Tampa Bay:

    Nothing.

    Not a snark, not a critique, not a peep.

    The websites, magazines, Realtors and bankers who have been breathlessly handicapping the Amazon headquarters sweepstakes haven't even bothered to insult Tampa Bay. Apparently, we are that inconsequential. If this were Casablanca, we would be Peter Lorre to Amazon's Humphrey Bogart....

  8. Romano: Tell the critics to shut up, Election Day has arrived in St. Pete

    Local Government

    For months, everyone else has been telling you what's important in the St. Petersburg mayoral race.

    The candidates and their intermediaries. The editors and the columnists. The faceless PACs and the political parties.

    Naturally, all those folks are entitled to their own points of view, but in the final hour it's up to you to decide which issues are most important in your world. And that hour is rapidly approaching....

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker, pictured during a July debate, will compete for votes in the St. Petersburg mayor's race Tuesday. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  9. Romano: Those in charge of public schools seem to hate public schools

    K12

    Imagine this:

    A constitutional amendment that would allow communities in Florida to create alternative police departments that bypass a lot of the pesky regulations the state usually insists on.

    As you may know, some neighborhoods have more crime than others. And instead of holding lawbreakers responsible, maybe we should be questioning the performance of police. After all, if they can't eradicate crime, maybe taxpayers should demand a private group of cops....

  10. Key to Rays stadium? Location, location, location. (Also money, money money.)(w/video)

    Local Government

    Well, that was a stinker of a bombshell.

    The formal announcement of Hillsborough County's proposed site for a Rays baseball stadium in Ybor City seemed a few octaves shy of harmonious on Tuesday.

    Where were the Rays?

    Where was Tampa's mayor?

    Where were the Cracker Jack and Ybor City cigars?

    And, if you want to be a real stickler, where was the $700 million?

    All good questions, and no good answers....

    The area Hillsborough County is pitching as the sire for the Tampa Bay Rays Channel District-Ybor City park. Pictured is the area just east of the roundabout off Channelside Drive at E. 4th Avenue looking south and east with the Selmon Expressway pictured on right.  [Dirk Shadd   |   Times]
  11. Romano: Why flood insurance might not be enough to save your home

    Local Government

    Irma is gone, and Maria never came.

    And yet this is as good a time as any to worry.

    Because if recent storms have taught us anything, it is that Tampa Bay homeowners are at risk not just from flooding but from the regulatory hurdles that inevitably follow.

    They're learning that today in Jacksonville. And in Miami. And in every other community that saw floodwaters rise as Irma cut a path through the middle of the state last month....

    Justin Lyons' room in his Valrico house that was flooded following Hurricane Irma on September 20, 2017. Lyons lives near the Alafia River and had to evacuate his home about a week before, in the middle of the night, as the waters rose. Lyons has been staying at the house because he doesn't want his family's remaining belongings to be stolen.
  12. Romano: C'mon Rick Baker, tell us how you really feel about Trump

    Local Government

    A brief timeline of presidential politics in St. Petersburg:

    In 2007, Mayor Rick Baker was named co-chairman of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in Florida. Later, in 2008, he made appearances on behalf of the McCain-Palin ticket.

    In 2011, Baker was one of four state chairmen for Herman Cain's presidential campaign in Florida. When that fizzled, in 2012, Baker was named a senior adviser on urban policy for the Romney campaign....

    Rick Baker, center,  waves to drivers while holding a sign that reads "Thank You" along with his family and supporters.
  13. Romano: Love to hear your Nazi speech, but I'm washing my hair

    Human Interest

    A year ago, he was racism's favorite twerp.

    Just another silly troll with a smattering of online followers.

    He published obscure Internet magazines and was a one-man boardroom for the white-identity think tank known as the National Policy Institute.

    And then came Richard Spencer's big career break:

    He was discovered by liberals.

    Oh, they howled. They dithered and they stewed. They showed up in Charlottesville, Va., and turned what should have been a creepy spectacle into Spencer's Nazi-festooned coming-out party....

    Richard Spencer, center in sunglasses, and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police after hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clashed with anti-fascist protesters and police in August in Charlottesville, Va. [Getty Images]
  14. How fast is too fast to raise the minimum wage? St. Pete might be about to find out

    Local Government

    Say this about St. Petersburg's City Council members:

    Their hearts are in the right place.

    It's their math that's askew.

    The council's budget, finance and taxation committee voted unanimously last week to move forward with a mandatory minimum wage increase for contractors doing business with the city.

    Now, in principle, this is a fine idea. Florida's minimum wage of $8.10 an hour ranks in the bottom half of the nation, and the current cost-of-living accelerator is comically inadequate....

  15. John Romano: Here's to the politicians who only defend certain parts of their beloved Constitution

    Politics

    Sometimes, the truth is in the silence.

    You can learn more by what a person does not say than when they are shouting from a mountaintop. Or so it seems when it comes to Florida politicians.

    Take, for instance, the question of the U.S. Constitution. Pretty important document, right? Candidates and office-holders fall all over themselves when it comes to quoting, praising and honoring the words of the Founding Fathers....