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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: MLK holiday is a reminder that action, not just words, is required

    Human Interest

    Minutes before the Rev. Janae Pitts-Murdock delivered her moving keynote speech at the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs annual Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Breakfast, I checked my emails.


    Even in the 7 a.m. hour, anger emerging from my recent column — a criticism of President Donald Trump's recent comments — started filling the inbox.

    It's a familiar anger, emanating from both those who regularly email and those reaching out for the first time....

  2. Ernest Hooper: Rising economic tide can't lift us above Trump's comments

    Human Interest

    Jonah Goldberg recently wrote in the National Review he doesn't believe, as some argue, that economic growth will negate President Donald Trump's reckless racist remarks.

    "Every time we have one of these moments — when parents have to turn off the news because they don't want their kids to hear what the president said or did — it makes economic growth matter less," Goldberg wrote....

  3. Hooper: Brockovich inspires local women to be 'heroes'


    They came to Temple B'Nai Israel on Sunday, drawn by a beacon one woman casts as an environmental warrior.

    Bonded by a quest for the truth, Cheryl Jozsa and Emerald Cromwell were among the 800 who attended an annual event staged by the Women of Temple B'Nai Israel. It's aptly titled Truth.Humanity.Justice — all tenets that mark the work of famed activist Erin Brockovich.

    Jozsa and Cromwell have longed to meet Brockovich. They hope to follow her path....

  4. Ernest Hooper: Can Tampa Bay's state senators craft a regional vision?

    Human Interest

    From what I can gather, Speaker Richard Corcoran has so mastered the inner workings of the state House that he's playing chess and everyone else is playing checkers.

    Or maybe Clue.

    But Corcoran's agenda is far more rooted in ideology and what's best for his personal political aspirations than what's best for our region, even though he's from Pasco County.

    The state Senate is a different game, so I wonder why the seven (out of 38) state senators representing Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk can't craft a regional vision and prioritize a couple of key bills? Darryl Rouson, Jeff Brandes, Wilton Simpson, Bill Galvano, Tom Lee, Dana Young, Kelli Stargel and Denise Grimsley could comprise a "super delegation," especially with Galvano in line to be the next senate president....

  5. Ernest Hooper: The Most Intriguing People of Tampa Bay for 2017

    Human Interest

    The editors yelled at me Sunday.

    I missed my deadline on this annual column — again.

    But every year it's so difficult to craft a list of Tampa Bay's 10 most intriguing people.

    There are those who intrigue every year (see Richard Gonzmart, Julie Weintraub), those who piqued our curiosity but fell just short (Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy) and those who may find their way onto this list in 2018 (Jameis Winston, Jeff Eakins) for the right reasons. Or the wrong reasons....

  6. Ernest Hooper: Here, with love, is the annual list, 'You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until ...'

    Human Interest

    Every year we celebrate the grandeur of Tampa Bay with a mix of suggested experiences and witty observations.

    The obvious — Cuban sandwiches, grouper delicacies, sunsets on the beach — are a given. Add these suggestions to the traditional staples of bay area living.

    Remember: Don't just reside here, live here.

    You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until you have ......

  7. Ernest Hooper: This Christmas, keep believing better days lie ahead

    Human Interest

    I confess. I violated the unwritten rules of Christmas etiquette and started listening to holiday songs well before Thanksgiving this year.

    Not a day has gone by since without reveling over Pentatonix's version of Mary, Did You Know, singing Donny Hathaway's This Christmas (off-key) or dancing to *NSYNC's Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. I guess I just needed a little extra Christmas this year, a little more hope and joy....

  8. Ernest Hooper: Hillsborough County School District needs meaningful action, not platitudes

    Human Interest

    When it comes to the Hillsborough County School District, the more I see, the less I know.

    Every week, the notion the district can successfully navigate its budget crisis and all the ancillary problems sprouting from it takes a hit. The dispute between the district and the teachers union — now at an official impasse — is just one of the problems.

    In the last few months, teachers, school bus drivers, former employees, concerned citizens and worried parents have expressed dismay about superintendent Jeff Eakins and the School Board....

  9. Ernest Hooper: Alabama vote shows Democrats should quit taking black vote for granted


    Former NBA player Charles Barkley established himself as a truth-teller long before the term became vogue.

    His controversial "I am not a role model" commercial drew a mix of outrage and support during his playing days, and his critical eye serves him so well as an NBA analyst for TNT that rival network ESPN also gives him airtime.

    So when CNN handed Barkley a microphone after Democrat Doug Jones was declared the winner in Alabama's U.S. Senate race Tuesday night, it didn't come as a surprise that Barkley cut to the heart of the matter with an unvarnished comment....

  10. Hooper: Yacht StarShip weathers the storm

    Human Interest

    At the height of the economic downturn, Yacht StarShip owner Troy Manthey said he and his wife, Jill, worried about the company's survival.

    "We were counting ice cubes," Manthey said.

    But they made it. The dining cruise business that sails out of the Channelside District and Clearwater Beach rebounded nicely, adding a fleet of Pirate Water Taxis in 2016.

    Now Manthey brings a newly renovated boat to its Clearwater Beach offerings on Friday. The larger Yacht StarShip IV replaces the Yacht Sensation, and will be able to seat 150 dining guests and spur the company's vigorous wedding business on that side of the bay....

  11. Tampa Bay one-upped by a vegan strip club town

    Human Interest

    I have an old high school friend, Andrea, who now lives in Portland, Ore., and so consequently every time I come across news about her adopted hometown, I reach out to her.

    Whether it's some weather phenomenon, a story about the legendary Voodoo Doughnuts or a friend looking for a good restaurant in the Pacifc Northwest city, I almost always drop her a note when Portland pops into my head....

  12. Sports and loyalty seem to be strangers

    Human Interest

    FSU coach Jimbo Fisher may yet shed some insight on his decision, but the fact he eschewed an annual salary of $5.5 million with the Seminoles to sign a reported 10-year, $75 million contract (and more difficult job) with Texas A&M has me wondering what it takes to make a man happy.

    Loyalty always has proved fleeting in sports, but having won a national title at FSU and successfully filled the shoes of the legendary Bobby Bowden, Fisher appeared poised to craft another long run. Now he's gone, and we're left with yet another reminder that the game so many love isn't really a game at all....

  13. Hooper: A message goes viral on behalf of kids


    Local public relations practitioner Carolynn Smith prides herself on working behind the scenes for her clients.

    Even with a 6-foot-2 frame, the former NCAA basketball player blends into the scene.

    She did so again Tuesday night when she helped former Major League Baseball player Gary Sheffield and his wife DeLeon Sheffield promote their new FYI Network show with a gala at Ulelee.

    This time, however, Smith could have garnered as much attention as Sheffield and some of the other 100-plus dignitaries. Just by chance, a simple video Smith crafted in a parking lot on Bruce B. Downs has gone viral, drawing in digital outlets for ABC News and Inside Edition....

    More than 100 people came out for a gala to celebrate the premier of Gary and DeLeon Sheffield's new FYI Network Show, Sheffield Real Estate. Photo by PJ Agostini Photography.
  14. Hooper: Try empathy and understanding before you judge

    Human Interest

    A reader sent an email detailing a list of misdeeds, real and perceived, and noted they all had been committed by blacks.

    He cited the list as proof today's blacks should be referred to with the n-word, and he chided me for not criticizing movements such as Black Lives Matter and the protests of NFL players. A strange mix, indeed.

    This reader is not alone in wrongly examining issues through an unfocused racial lens, but what good does it do to suggest a list of criminal acts is representative of an entire race or culture? Blacks, like any group, are so much more complex than what makes headlines....

    Protesters rally for former quarterback Colin Kaepernick outside Ford Field in Detroit before a game between the Lions and the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 10, 2017. Says columnist Earnest Hooper: "Unfairly lumping in peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience with criminal acts does nothing to help." [JOSE JUAREZ | Associated Press]
  15. Holiday Hopes: Caring for others a passion for teen who struggled to survive

    Holiday Hopes: Caring for others a passion for teen who struggled to survive

    Human Interest


    Joselynn Colon looks up with a grin.

    Her smile reveals and belies all at the same time. It reflects the joys of her present, the hopes for her future, the drive to help others.

    Yet it also hides the pains of her 19 years, the indelible scars — physical and emotional — of a childhood gone too soon and an innocence stolen too young.

    Holding a worn composition book — its binding slipping away, each sheet covered with penciled scribble — she thumbs through the pages of personal poetry....

    TAMPA - Elizabeth Fowler is a mentor to Joselynn Colon, a member of the organization - Starting Right, Now - that has helped inspire Colon pursue a productive, and productively happy, life. Taken 11-20-17 by Scott Purks