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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. Daniel Ruth: Tallahassee's school double standards

    Columns

    Do you think this probably falls under the category of — awkward?

    Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, along with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, were in Orlando falling all over themselves in touting a school bill that further undermines the state's public education system while treating charter schools as if they were the enlightened second coming of Mr. Chips.

    Corcoran even managed to wag a scornful finger (feel free to pick which digit) in the general direction of the Hillsborough County School District, which is in the midst of a daunting financial pinch, citing "bloat, inefficiency and gross overspending. Their problem is their management."...

  2. Ruth: Too much secrecy in Senate's health care talks

    Columns

    We should probably give some thought to recasting the U.S. Senate as the world's most secretive body, an institution that has grown so sunshine-averse it makes North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly look like the Brigadoon City Council.

    Spoiler alert: If you are older, or poor and have one of those pre-existing conditions, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his gang of cat-stroking co-conspirators are about to reduce your health care options to a used Band-Aid and a mustard plaster poultice to treat tumors....

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised a return to “regular order.” Instead, the health bill is being drafted in secret.
  3. Ruth: The Cabinet agrees that Trump is the greatest

    Columns

    'If everyone will stand at attention when the Wizard of the West Wing arrives we will begin this first full Cabinet meeting on time. As you know, you've all been given your talking points expressing deep, unfettered adoration of the 45th president of the United States. And just to up the ante, the best groveler will receive a coveted door prize of a case of aged Trump steaks. Hark! The Dear Leader approaches."...

    Chief of staff Reince Priebus told the president it was a blessing to service his agenda.
  4. Daniel Ruth: Vinik shows civic-mindedness, marketing savvy in MOSI bailout

    Columns

    Tampa Bay has many fine cultural offerings including the Tampa History Center, the Tampa Museum of Art and St. Petersburg's Salvador Dali Museum.

    Then there is the Museum of Science and Industry on Fowler Avenue. Think of this joint as the cultural equivalent of a 1956 Nash Rambler rusting away on some cinder blocks in the front yard.

    For a variety of reasons MOSI has struggled for years to be a major player in the city's cultural life. It is perhaps telling that one of the few major successes the museum enjoyed was a rather gruesome display of dead bodies some years ago. That was way big fun....

    The Museum of Science and Industry, with exhibits including a lunar lander, is biding its time until the shrinking center near the University of South Florida can move downtown as part of Jeff Vinik’s $3 billion makeover there.
  5. Ruth: The hate mongers among us

    Columns

    More than 70 years ago, my father spent a better part of his youth dropping bombs on Nazis. But like cockroaches, they are hard to eradicate.

    Ignorance can be a fertile breeding ground for little fuhrer wannabes.

    As disconcerting as it, maybe it is hardly surprising to learn that our fair hamlet is also home to racist, anti-Semitic imbeciles with Third Reich sympathies.

    A few weeks ago, law enforcement officials arrested Brandon Russell, 21, who had shared a Tampa Palms apartment where two roommates, suspected neo-Nazis Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman, were allegedly shot to death by a fourth roommate, Devon Arthurs, who used to be a neo-Nazi until he claimed to be a convert to Islam....

  6. Ruth: The problems of this trio's closed-door budget are no secret

    Columns

    Next year when the Florida Legislature once again meets for its 60-day session of engaging in less productivity than the Nepalese navy, both Florida Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran will deliver stirring hypocritical speeches pledging pure, open government in the full flower of the sunshine.

    And then their britches will explode into a volcanic eruption of flames.

    For in Tallahassee, when chaps like Scott and Corcoran promise transparency they are — in a word — not being honest. Too nuanced?...

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron talk during a budget conference committee meeting in Tallahassee on May 5.
  7. Daniel Ruth: Tampa Bay Next! New! Improved! The Same!

    Columns

    Thank goodness the powers that be finally realized what a miserable, horrible idea it was to create the Tampa Bay Express, otherwise known as TBX, which was supposed to craft a master plan to meet the transportation needs of the region for decades to come.

    And now it is gone. Good riddance, too. Ba-bye. See ya! Toodles.

    In its place comes the fancy-schmancy Tampa Bay Next — The Future Of Transportation. Now, at last, we're getting somewhere....

    An aerial view of Tampa Heights next to Interstate 275, one of the neighborhoods that would be affected by a proposed widening of the roadway to include toll lanes.
  8. Ruth: Kathy Griffin's portrayal of Donald Trump wasn't funny

    Columns

    By the time Los Angeles celebrity lawyer Lisa Bloom finished her robust defense of Kathy Griffin, you would have thought the mouthpiece was describing the Frida Kahlo of standup comedy meets a crusading suffragette.

    About the only thing missing from this scene was a sobbing Griffin posing Pieta-like, cradling a martyred First Amendment in her arms.

    This is always the first option when semi-famous people become infamous after doing something truly bone-headed — lawyer up and call a news conference to express some faux contrition....

    Kathy Griffin wipes her eyes as she stands with her attorney Lisa Bloom during a news conference on Friday.
  9. Ruth: Trump's handshake diplomacy

    Columns

    There were moments last week when it was hard to tell if President Donald Trump was in the midst of a high-profile diplomatic mission or engaged in an international arm-wrestling competition.

    It is the most basic gesture of human social interaction. The simple handshake. How tough should this be? And yet Trump has managed to turn the age-old political exercise of the grip and grin into moments of high drama and slapstick comedy....

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels on May 25.
  10. Daniel Ruth: It's time for Hillsborough to quit promoting Confederate 'heritage'

    Columns

    It is true that things tend to move a bit slowly around here from time to time. But 106 years to finally wake up to the realization a cheesy declasse vestige of Florida's racist past is still hanging around the Hillsborough County Court House would seem to take procrastination to an entirely new level of myopia.

    Since 1911 a statue paying tribute to Confederate veterans has been culturally polluting the public byways. It currently resides near the entrance of the courthouse, which certainly ought to make African-Americans entering the building seeking justice wonder if they'll get a fair shake with images of Billy Bob and Gomer standing vigil nearby....

    The Confederate Memorial stands near the entrance to the Hillsborough County Courthouse at 419 Pierce Street downtown. [Times file]
  11. 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
  12. 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]
  13. 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.
  14. 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....

    Mall salesman plants provocative idea: Can the right cosmetic goo give Dan Ruth the complexion of George Clooney? [Times file]
  15. 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.