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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. FBI to meet with church leaders about allegations against Henry Lyons

    Religion

    TAMPA — An FBI agent was at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday to inquire about allegations made against former pastor Henry J. Lyons.

    Church elders voted to terminate Lyons last week, citing questions about potential financial improprieties.

    THE PROFILE: The making of Henry Lyons

    HENRY LYONS: How the downfall began....

    The Rev. Henry Lyons poses for a photo in his study in his Tampa home. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]
  2. Romano: When it comes to gun control, listen to reality and not hysterics

    Public Safety

    Let's acknowledge the obvious:

    State Rep. Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City, sounded a little hysterical when he recently suggested we should all be carrying weapons when we venture from our homes.

    Unless I've missed something, we are a long way from being a war-torn country. For the great majority of Americans, I'll bet the only violence we ever see is on a television screen.

    So to react to the senseless shooting of a congressman and others on a baseball field in northern Virginia with a holsters-for-homeowners campaign seems, if you'll pardon the phrase, like overkill....

    Violent crimes in America has been dipping. The number of murders has gone down in both Hillsborough and Pinellas, from 72 in 1996 to 63 in 2016, and from 43 in 1996 to 39 in 2016.
  3. The Rev. Henry Lyons forced out as pastor of Tampa church amid accusations of theft, misconduct

    Religion

    TAMPA — The second coming of the Rev. Henry J. Lyons was not as celebrated or lucrative as his previous life.

    The one-time leader of the largest black Baptist organization in America — toppled by infidelities and imprisoned on fraud charges — has kept a relatively low profile while running a century-old church in Hillsborough County the last dozen years.

    Lyons no longer has the ear of the President of the United States, and his empire does not include the same luxuries as during his heyday in St. Petersburg in the 1990s....

    The Rev. Henry Lyons poses for a photo in his study in his Tampa, Fla., home on Friday. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]
  4. Romano: Rays owner says Tampa Bay can usher in a new world of driverless technology

    Economic Development

    The time has come to embrace our weakness, Tampa Bay.

    When it comes to the future of mass transit, we seem to have ignored, argued and delayed ourselves right into a potentially enviable situation. In other words, our aversion to trains may actually pay off.

    The world is about to change when it comes to how people travel from Point A to Point B. And one of the area's most high-profile business owners thinks this market is uniquely positioned to take advantage of what could be a transformative — and wildly lucrative — industry....

    “If you’re talking about spending tens of millions on mass transit, I think you’re better off taking a big swing at this technology,” says Stu Sternberg, principal owner of the Rays.
  5. Romano: Less school money from the people who brought you more school tests

    K12

    The premise is simple:

    The state is in charge of funding for education in Florida, and so local school boards should shut up and do what they are told when it comes to policies.

    There's just one problem with that:

    Some local districts have been providing a greater percentage of education funding than the state, which means Tallahassee is offering less and interfering more.

    In what universe does that make sense?...

    High Point Elementary fourth-grade teacher Kristin Bierman works with a guided reading group.
  6. Romano: Ignoring drug crisis has a cost beyond life and death

    Public Safety

    The doors open early, well before the sun is in play.

    Like coffee shop baristas awaiting the rush hour crunch, the medical professionals at Operation PAR facilities begin preparations for the methadone cocktails they'll soon be dispensing.

    They'll serve business professionals on the way to work; students on the way to class; expectant mothers on the way to appointments; transients on the way to nowhere....

    The New York Times reported this week that preliminary figures indicate overdose deaths in the U.S. grew by 19 percent last year, the largest single increase since records have been kept. [Cheryl Senter/The New York Times]
  7. Romano: A ruse by any other name still stinks

    Politics

    The governor was angry. Very, very angry.

    We know this because he traveled the state explaining it to anyone who would listen. It was his own version of a pique behind the curtains tour.

    In Naples, he said legislators failed residents by coming up with a last-minute budget nobody had seen. In Lake Mary, he said lawmakers passed a budget in the dark. In Pensacola, he said he was shocked that the Legislature was operating in secrecy....

    Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, left, reveal their budget agreement Friday at Miami International Airport.
  8. Romano: Criticize Trump or be loyal to GOP? David Jolly says answer is easy

    Politics

    They call, they email, they pursue.

    The guy they're looking for has been busy planting palm trees at his new home in Belleair Bluffs, but the TV news producers have another project in mind. They're curious if he'll shovel dirt on Donald Trump.

    So, he feels obliged to explain to them that he's not anti-Trump. He sincerely wants the man to succeed, if only for the future of the nation....

    David Jolly, pictured during a CNN appearance in February, has been sought out by Larry King, MSNBC, CNN and others hoping to get him to talk about Donald Trump. [CNN]
  9. Romano: Florida loves its troopers, right up until payday

    Politics

    Holy smoke, did you see the starting salary figures for Florida Highway Patrol officers outlined in a recent Tampa Bay Times story?

    I was stunned that state troopers in Florida begin their careers making $33,977 a year. That seems like an absurdly low figure for a job of significance and responsibility.

    Reporter Jeremy Wallace astutely pointed out that Florida's starting wage is quite a bit lower than some neighboring Southern states not exactly known for their high cost of living....

    Florida Highway Patrol troopers secure the scene after a fatal accident in Orange County earlier this year. [Red Huber | Orlando Sentinel via AP]
  10. Romano: When a life is more valuable than an arrest

    Public Safety

    Before examining the details, let's propose a question:

    Is it more important to punish a criminal or save a life?

    Because there are times when those goals can be in conflict. Times when after-the-fact justice can be a factor in a future life-or-death crisis.

    Here's what I'm talking about:

    Not long ago, an 18-year-old college freshman near Jacksonville overdosed on heroin laced with fentanyl. Her boyfriend called 911 when she began having trouble breathing, but it was too late....

    Six friends were with Joey Boylan when he overdosed in 2011, but no one called 911.  Boylan played football for Tarpon Springs High School.
  11. Romano: On this education bill, you decide who is evil

    Politics

    The political ramifications are not lost on Kristine Benson.

    She understands the Legislature is basically playing a high-stakes game of ransom with funds for education. She's admittedly conflicted. She called the controversial bill HB 7069 a "slimy'' strategy.

    And yet, she is pulling for it to succeed.

    She has no other choice.

    As far as she is concerned, the future of her 6-year-old son Chase depends on it....

    Chase Benson, 6, was born with Down syndrome and autism. He attends a private school in Palm Harbor through a Gardiner Scholarship.
  12. Romano: Time is up chief, make a call on police body cameras

    Crime

    Excuse me chief, but it's time to take a stand.

    If we're being honest, it's way past time.

    Look, I know you've gotten rave reviews since assuming control of the St. Petersburg Police Department in 2014. Everybody, it seems, has good things to say about Tony Holloway.

    Residents seem generally happy, the rank-and-file are mostly content and the politicians are thrilled. Heaven knows it ain't easy to please everyone across the board like that....

    St. Petersburg police Chief Tony Holloway
  13. Romano: The firefighter vs. City Hall, round 2

    Local Government

    A former attorney for the city of St. Petersburg once argued in court that just because a law was unfair it wasn't necessarily unconstitutional.

    This wasn't some theoretical exercise. It was the city's rationale for denying workers' compensation payments to a firefighter after he suffered a catastrophic back injury on the job.

    Back in 2013, the city argued that it should not matter that the firefighter was not medically cleared to work. Nor that he had bills to pay, had to raid his pension account and withdraw from the city's deferred retirement program. The law at the time gave the city the right to stop payments, and so it did....

  14. Romano: No offense Gov. Scott, but they're making you look like a wimp

    Politics

    Dear Governor,

    Can't help noticing you've been a little peeved lately. Honestly, I can't blame you.

    You've been in office long enough to know you're not going to please everyone, and the critics will come at you from every direction. There should be no surprises or complaints there.

    Still, it's gotta sting to be knee-capped by your own cohorts.

    Worse yet, they did it in full view of the world. You argued, you threatened, you practically groveled in the public square, and Florida legislators still treated you like some empty-suited stooge....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott, left, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [AP, left; SCOTT KEELER | Times, right]
  15. Romano: The impact of a life never to be forgotten

    Human Interest

    Sometimes, when they didn't know she was there, Kay Dillinger would hear them talk.

    Their words were not unkind, nor were they incorrect. They just lacked the necessary perspective.

    They would be walking the halls of the PACE school for girls in Pinellas County, and some young lady leading the tour would stop to explain about the room known as Beth's Closet.

    "There was this lady,'' the tour guide would say, "and her daughter committed suicide . . .''...

    Beth Dillinger is pictured with her parents, Bob and Kay. The Beth Dillinger Foundation, created in 2007, provides support and education to youths in need.