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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. 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....

    Bucs QB Jameis Winston speaks during an event to help him launch his Jameis Winston Dream Forever Foundation on Monday night.
  2. Hip-hop artist looks to deliver music, monologues with one-woman show


    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."...

    Hip-hop artist and actress Dynasty will present a one-woman show Saturday (Oct. 28) at Stageworks Theatre. Photo courtesy of @JoeyClayStudio.
  3. Ernest Hooper: Lawsuit may deliver sweeping changes to Hillsborough County School District

    Human Interest

    The Hillsborough County School District finds itself mired in growing controversies, the latest coming in a suit from fired human resources chief Stephanie Woodford.

    The suit casts a negative light on many, including superintendent Jeff Eakins and chief of staff Alberto Vazquez. It comes at a time when the district already is struggling with budget deficits and academic shortcomings....

  4. Hooper: Jean Chatzky chats about the intersection of wealth, health

    Personal Finance

    Public safety officials can readily identify a city's most dangerous intersections.

    In retirement, the most dangerous intersection can be where the winding road of wealth crosses the unpredictable boulevard of health. NBC Today show financial editor Jean Chatzky says retirees have to be prepared to navigate both.

    "There's no question it can be challenging," Chatzky said. "The must frustrating part is that you need both good health and stable finances. It's inadequate if you have one without the other. It just doesn't work any more....

    Personal finance adviser Jean Chatzky is one of several high profile speakers on the slate for the Women's Conference of Florida in Tampa next week. [Handout photo]
  5. Hooper: After living through them, she pulls people out of credit woes


    Atlanta, a place known for rising from the ashes of the Civil War to become an international city, proved to be a perfect backdrop for Artricia James-Heard's own rise from what she calls "a very vulnerable time in her life."

    It was there that James-Heard escaped a failing and abusive marriage and found a safe haven with a girlfriend. Over time, however, the friendship dissolved as a relationship grew with her girlfriend's brother, Michael....

    Artricia James-Heard
  6. 'Color St. Pete' message makes future a bit brighter

    Human Interest

    Arts Conservatory for Teens continues to create an impact in St. Petersburg through its efforts to infuse education and enrichment through music and art.

    On Saturday, it completed a public art installation at the Enoch Davis Center aimed at promoting unity. Kids from the nonprofit program joined residents to paint 8-foot letters that spelled out "Color St. Pete."

    Some may greet this message in these divisive times with cynicism, but we owe it to the next generation to kindle hope. The future's little lights need to shine brightly, now more than ever. . . ....

    Arts Conservatory for Teens CEO Alex Harris says, "Color St. Pete acknowledges everyone's voice and energy with the hope to glean an understanding of how to continue to make major strides in moving our beautiful community (every neighborhood in greater St Pete) forward -- overcoming systemic racism, sexism, and separatism." Photo courtesy of Betsy Englander.
  7. Ernest Hooper: Marriage proposal makes powerful statement for cherishing cultural traditions

    Human Interest

    In nearly 30 years of frequenting area watering holes, I thought I had seen it all — until Friday night.

    I met a friend on the patio at Miguelito's on Kennedy Boulevard. Shortly afterward, about a dozen Hispanic women in a celebratory mood sat at a table behind us.

    Moments later, a mariachi band (Mariachi Tampa) strolled in. "Cool. Entertainment," I thought.

    But at the back of the line was a young man, not in the band but dressed in a black Mariachi charro, and as he approached the table, everyone stepped back — except for one woman....

  8. Sunday Conversation: CEO Judy Lisi celebrates 25 years at the Straz Performing Arts Center

    Human Interest

    Even after 25 years at the helm, the drive and vision remains that first spurred Judy Lisi to take on the challenge of serving as the CEO of the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts Center (then the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center). At a youthful-looking 70, Lisi forges ahead with new ideas to handle the center's parking challenges and a master plan to re-imagine the center's lobbies and make it a place for community....

    Judy Lisi is celebrating her 25th year as the head of the David A. Straz Performing Arts Center.
  9. Ernest Hooper: Cue the tears and the cheers at this nonprofit's anniversary


    Some tears were shed in Brandon on Thursday night.

    Tears of joy.

    Tears of faith.

    Tears of recognition.

    Tears for a bigger future that will be brighter than its successful present.

    ECHO of Brandon, the community's flagship nonprofit and an organization every Hillsborough County resident needs to know more about, celebrated its 30th anniversary in front of its strip-mall headquarters on Parsons Avenue. ...

    Bank of America’s Bill Goede hands $200,000 to ECHO’s Eleanor Saunders and Sharmaine Burr to help the nonprofit expand.
  10. Ernest Hooper: 'Coffee with a Cop' holds different lens to law enforcement


    On Wednesday morning, the safest McDonald's in all of Hillsborough County sat on the corner of W Kennedy Boulevard and Dakota Avenue.

    Guests entering the restaurant were greeted by no less than a dozen deputies and other officials from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. McDonald's of Tampa Bay arranged the "Coffee with a Cop" sessions at seven different area locations.

    They handed out coffee, worked the drive-through and a few even went in the kitchen and attempted to make an Egg McMuffin sandwich....

    Deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reached out to members of the public Wednesday through its "Coffee with a Cop" program at McDonald's restaurants, including this one at 1520 W Kennedy Blvd. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  11. Ernest Hooper: Air Force Academy superintendent delivers right message on dignity and respect

    Human Interest

    Kudos to Brandon's Ariana Mosley, whose commitment to this nation as an Air Force Academy cadet remains fervent despite the racial hostility gripping the academy.

    Last week, the phrase "Go Home" followed by the n-word was scrawled on message boards outside the room of five African-American students at the academy's prep school. Clearly, it struck an ugly chord with Mosley, an African-American who graduated from Tampa Prep....

  12. Ernest Hooper: Bay Area Legal Services, longtime friend to needy, needs our help


    The dual challenges feed off each other.

    Veterans enduring a medical ordeal may lose sleep because they lack the legal means to acquire needed benefits to cover the costs. But losing sleep can worsen their condition.

    It's not difficult to envision vets tossing and turning in the wee hours of the morning, wondering who will fight for them after they've fought for our country.

    Recognizing the stress-induced issues that can arise at the intersection of healthcare and law, Bay Area Legal Services has enteredinto a medical-legal partnership at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg. It's one of only 13 such partnerships in the nation, and while a number of agencies service veterans, sometimes it helps to have a good lawyer helping navigate the system....

  13. Mr. President: we need common ground, not scorched earth

    Human Interest

    President Donald Trump's comments regarding the protests by NFL players sparked more players, including Bucs, to kneel during Sunday's pregame ceremonies.

    Let's look beyond where you might stand on the controversy and ask: How could anyone who wants players to stand in reverent silence during the national anthem believe that goal could be achieved by publicly referring to their mothers as dogs? How can you earn respect from the league by showing none?...

    President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, in Huntsville, Ala., on Sept. 22, 2017. [Associated Press]
  14. Hooper: Hillsborough marks 100th anniversary of historic photo collection


    Everyone ends up with a favorite.

    Or two or three or 10.

    Rest assured, no one who adores Tampa Bay, appreciates art or cherishes history can explore the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection without storing at least one snapshot in the mental scrapbook.

    The Friends of the Hillsborough County Library maintain an archive of nearly 15,000 Burgert Brothers photos that capture all manner of images, from bustling downtown street corners to festive Gasparilla celebrations to thriving businesses — some dating back to the late 19th century....

    Part of the Burgert Brothers collection now featured through the Hillsborough Public Library shows a beer garden on Central Avenue in Tampa from July 1942. [Burgert Brothers collection]
  15. Ernest Hooper: We can all help lend stability to Lee Elementary

    Human Interest

    It's difficult to look beyond the scope and size of the Hillsborough County School District, the county's largest employer with a budget in excess of $1.8 billion.

    The sense of community created by individual schools, however, is far more akin to a small town. Parents and students bond through assemblies and fundraisers and even car lines.

    At Lee Elementary, this unity seems more profound, and it needs to be maintained....