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Daniel Ruth, Times Columnist

Daniel Ruth

Daniel Ruth has been scribbling away for four decades as a reporter, film critic, television critic and columnist for the Tampa Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Tampa Bay Times. He also has worked as a radio talk show host as well as an adjunct professor for the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Columbia College in Chicago. Daniel is a Peter Lisagor Award recipient for his columns in Chicago and has been honored by the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union with the Irene Miller Vigilance In Journalism Award.

Email: druth@tampabay.com

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  1. Ruth: A lesson in how Tallahassee works — 140 apply and only one is interviewed

    Columns

    This is what more than 140 people feeling like a penny waiting for change looks like.

    But then again this is Tallahassee, which is an old Seminole word for "public trough," where bonds of friendship wrapped in cronyism is how business is conducted.

    Last February, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson resigned to take a job with the Foley & Lardner law firm. It was a great fit for Steverson since Foley & Lardner often lobbies DEP. And who can deny running the agency that regulates the Florida environment didn't provide some swell on-the-job training to become a lobbyist?...

    Noah Valenstein
  2. Daniel Ruth: Buckhorn acting 8 with his machine-gun joke aimed at journalists

    Columns

    It can be argued that much like in performing stand-up comedy, so too, in a political life it is important to know your audience.

    Just ask Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has been feeding off an old, tired punch line for years until it bit him in the keister.

    And suddenly a popular liberal Democratic mayor who had been touted for a high-profile Washington position had Hillary Clinton been elected president found himself being nationally vilified as an insensitive and sexist oaf — all because of a casual, oft-told throwaway not-all-that-funny joke....

    Times Columnist Dan Ruth. {Times file]
  3. Ruth: Rubio stiff-arms public

    Columns

    With all the courage of a thousand lemmings, Florida's junior Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Duck & Cover, brought his tin cup tour to Tampa Bay last Friday to hustle for political contributions.

    The good news is at last he figured out where Tampa Bay is. The less than charitable news is Rubio continued to stiff the public, once more refusing to hold a town hall meeting, or agree to speak with those who might want to ask him questions about health care, or Russia, or the current travails swirling about President Donald Trump....

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., addresses the Lincoln Day Dinner last week in St. Petersburg.
  4. Ruth: Face cream? No thanks. This wrinkled scribe needs a stiff drink

    Columns

    This chap might be a terrific salesman. But he is in desperate need of a pair of glasses.

    There I was strolling through the International Plaza on the way to buy a Mother's Day gift for the Bombshell of the Balkans when the young man standing in front of a cosmetics store thrust a plastic bag into my hands.

    "You should really try this," he said. "It will make you look younger."

    We pause here for you to take a moment to gaze upon the photo accompanying this column. And yes, you are quite right to conclude there is nothing that will make me look younger....

    Times Columnist Dan Ruth. {Times file]
  5. Ruth: The dark shadow over Tallahassee lawmaking

    Columns

    Pay no mind. There is nothing to see here. No, really, there is nothing to see here. Move along. And shut up.

    There was a time when Florida prided itself on open government, genuine transparency and ready citizen accessibility to public records and public meetings.

    It was all quaintly covered under Florida's Sunshine Law. And it was grounded in a simple premise: If the public can't keep a watchful eye on its dubious public officials, the body politic is going to be stripped down to its skivvies before you can say "Tammany Hall."...

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, left, and Senate President Joe Negron got little input for important parts of the state budget.
  6. Ruth: Trump taping speculation stokes memories of Nixon

    Columns

    It is probably safe to say that one of the most overused axioms is George Santayana's caution that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

    The quote is so often raised — and butchered — because it is mostly true.

    If you are of a certain age, when President Donald Trump, in a ham-handed attempt to threaten James Comey, cryptically raised the possibility he may have taped the former FBI director, it is entirely likely you: a) shuddered and/or b) thought to yourself, Oh boy, here we go again....

    President Richard Nixon released edited transcripts of White House tapes on April 29, 1974. He resigned later that year over the Watergate scandal.
  7. Ruth: Temple Terrace parade rules over giant joint may be one toke over the line

    Columns

    Not to get all "Fiddler On the Roof" on everyone, but isn't tradition a wonderful thing?

    You have traditions. We all have traditions. And for the past two years Temple Terrace has had a tradition during its annual Fourth of July Parade, which has gotten some people pretty annoyed. You might call this a tradition that simply won't blow over.

    Fourth of July Parades generally feature marching bands and baton-twirling majorettes and Uncle Sams on stilts and, of course, the occasional waving, grinning pol running for one thing or another. It's all so Americana....

    Times Columnist Dan Ruth. {Times file]
  8. Ruth: Remembering John F. Kennedy and what might have been

    Columns

    Time has a funny way of slipping by unnoticed.

    So I had to stop the other day in mild amazement when I realized this month marks the 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy. With the passage of time, history has not always been kind to Kennedy's unfinished legacy, cut all too short in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, at the age of 46. We now know about his problems with marital fidelity. We know his secret litany of debilitating health issues, and a reliance on a range of drugs to treat and control his numerous ailments suggests he might not have lived through a second term....

    President Kennedy prompts us to ask what might have been.
  9. Ruth: USF learns the hard way not to trust the Florida Legislature

    Columns

    Do you remotely suppose there just might be something rotten in Tallahassee?

    Or perhaps the real lesson here is that while you should be afraid, very afraid, when the Florida Legislature goes about its business during the day, it is when the sun starts setting and things grow dark that the gremlins haunting the Capitol go about their mischief.

    At the University of South Florida everyone was bopping along, singing a song, secure in the quaint belief that the gathering of beagles in the Florida Legislature would soon bestow pre-eminent status. It is a big deal. Being a "pre-eminent university" would mean USF stood to gain millions in additional funding along with the two other "pre-eminent" schools, Florida State University and the University of Florida....

  10. Ruth: Jeff Vinik, all-purpose mogul, seems to know where his plans are growing

    Columns

    When I first arrived here nearly 45 years ago, Tampa quaintly touted itself as "America's Next Great City!" Well, these things take time. Who knew "Next" would be such an open-ended term?

    And maybe, just maybe, "Next" is about to actually arrive.

    It wasn't all that long ago that downtown Tampa more closely resembled Deadwood meets Dogpatch where the streets cleared out at night leaving the city to vagrants and critters....

    Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment plan to spend an ever-increasing sum on projects they're developing at the southern end of downtown Tampa. [Courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  11. Ruth: Blocking slavery memorial cannot erase Florida's history

    Columns

    Who knew Sen. Dennis Baxley was such a sensitive chap?

    It turns out the Ocala Republican is really the Mr. Rogers of the Florida Legislature. He only wants to think good, positive thoughts. Won't you be his neighbor? Just as long as you're the right … ahem … kind of person. Let's not get too carried away with all this Kumbaya stuff.

    So when a bill showed up in the Florida Senate to create a Tallahassee memorial to the original American sin of slavery, Baxley, the Buford T. Justice of parliamentary procedure, protested....

    Associated Press
  12. Ruth: Dark efforts to gut the Sunshine Law

    Columns

    Here's what you need to know about Tallahassee. It is the land of the undead.

    Merely because a particular piece of dreadful legislation may appear to be more lifeless than Old Yeller doesn't necessarily mean it won't have a bright future in Florida's Zombie Legislature.

    Rep. Byron Donalds, R-It's Alive!, happened upon a bright idea. One of the real stumbling blocks in governing the state is this silly, useless, antiquated concept called the Sunshine Law, which requires public officials to conduct their business in the open....

  13. Ruth: No good will come from amateur python hunting

    Columns

    And this, dearest reader, is why this state is known as Flori-duh, which is an old Spanish term for, "Oh boy, what did they do now?"

    In its infinite wisdom, somebody — the parking lot attendant, perhaps? — at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stumbled upon the brilliant idea to create the "Python Pickup Program" to ease the growing menace of the nonindigenous reptile. There's just one teensy-weensy problem with all this, of course....

    Florida wildlife officials have announced a “Python Pickup Program” with rewards including a T-shirt.
  14. Ruth: Nonprofit chief Richard Lilliston falls from caring innovator to greedy charlatan

    Columns

    Based on Richard Lilliston's testimony during his recently completed federal criminal trial you have to wonder what the now-disgraced former chief executive officer of the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens did all day long — that is, when he wasn't stiffing his most vulnerable clients out of their Social Security deposits.

    Well, that does take up a bit of time.

    Lilliston was convicted in federal court days ago of conspiring to defraud the Social Security Administration of $683,599 in diverted payments away from the accounts of profoundly intellectually disabled clients depending on HARC services into an agency endowment account from which he and other employees gave themselves hefty car allowances, raises and other perks....

    Times Columnist Dan Ruth. {Times file]
  15. Ruth: Legislature ignores will of voters on medical marijuana

    Columns

    With the arrival of every election cycle, Tallahassee gets the hand-wringing vapors over the evildoing prospect of — cue The Phantom of the Opera theme — voter fraud! Oh, let's throw in one more exclamation mark for dramatic effect — !

    By the Florida Legislature's reckoning, there are all manner of brigands lurking behind every voting booth to cause widespread election criminality. You might well think vast swaths of Klingons, illegal aliens and the Taliban were all casting ballots in our elections. And they are all Democrats, too....