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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: Gries' Heart of a Champion banquet rewards heart, effort


    The stories have left an indelible imprint on Bob Gries' heart.

    One young man perseveres even though his mother has had three aneurysms. Another says he's seen his mother only once in five years.

    A young lady says her mother has battled drinking problems for years, but her success in sports caused her to stop drinking. Another tells of how her coach took her in after child services removed her from her home....

  2. Ernest Hooper: Daughter Madelyn gives dad Ernest the weekend off

    Human Interest

    Editor's note: Madelyn Hooper gave her father, Times columnist Ernest Hooper, the weekend off by filling in with this column.

    In first grade, I told myself I had to listen to my dad's handpicked playlist of inspirational songs to have a good day. He would play Survivor by Destiny's Child, Get Up by Mary Mary and Just Stand Up, an all-star musical salute to people battling cancer that featured Miley Cyrus, Mary J. Blige and others....

     Headshot of Madelyn Hooper, 15, for upcoming column, photographed on June 13, 2017.
  3. Hooper: Pasco School District set me up, and I'm thrilled


    Brian Prescott set me up.

    The program coordinator for the Pasco School District asked me to address a group of students, teachers and administrators at a Together We Stand summit earlier this month.

    The district's student services staff started Together We Stand in 2013 to bring together all of the stakeholders concerned about the impact of bullying: students, teachers, administrators and community partners. Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning made it a priority, and since its inception it has expanded to include a focus on a culture of caring....

  4. Hooper: Wear purple Thursday to highlight elder abuse awareness


    Senior Connection Center, an aging and disability resource center in Tampa, encourages everyone to wear purple on Thursday in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

    Of course, the fact that elder abuse exists represents a sad commentary about a society. But the numbers don't lie.

    An estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. And that's only part of the picture: Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported....

  5. Ernest Hooper: For teens and their screens, parental struggle is how much is too much

    Human Interest

    Caddy's Restaurants now have a no-phone zone where customers receive a 10 percent discount if they agree to put away their mobile devices.

    It's another sign of how pervasive technology has grown in our lives, particular for tweens and teens. Teenagers spend an average of 6 ½ hours each day in front of screens playing video games, texting on smartphones and searching the Internet on iPads....

  6. Ernest Hooper: Gonzmart found spokesman for his cause when he was diagnosed with cancer


    Richard Gonzmart says it's the secret men won't share.

    When he first joined the Advance Prostate Cancer Collaboration at Moffitt Cancer Center 12 years ago, Gonzmart longed for a spokesman.

    In the years that followed, he created the first iteration of his annual Father's Day event to raise money for Moffitt's prostate research and searched for a survivor who could explain the benefits of early detection....

    Richard Gonzmart didn't let cancer stop him from running or from pursuing one of his favorite causes, raising money to fight cancer.
  7. Ernest Hooper: Removing Confederate symbols doesn't eliminate persistent mindset

    Human Interest

    The debate has begun about removing a Confederate statue from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and its removal is long overdue.

    How can a government purporting to represent every citizen salute those who fought to deny equality to every citizen?

    No one seeking justice at the courthouse should be greeted by a symbol of injustice, and despite a lot of historical debate, the Confederate Constitution clearly indicates that if the Confederacy had won, it would have continued slavery in the South and possibly extended it to new territories....

    Robert E. Lee Elementary, 305 E. Columbus Drive in Tampa, originally opened its doors in the early 1910s as the Michigan Avenue Grammar School. [Times file]
  8. For ECHO's Burr, achievements defy laws of time


    BRANDON — Sharmaine Burr awoke on May 20 full of emotion.

    As she prepared to commence with St. Leo University students in the Tampa Convention Center and accept her bachelors degree in social work, she reviewed a list of achievements that defy time:

    • sitting on the National Association of Social Work board.

    • earning the association's student of the year honors....

    Gabby Parnham, center, stands with ECHO director of social services Sharmaine Burr and ECHO executive director Eleanor Saunders. Parnham successfully completed a program at ECHO, earning her GED and landing a position with the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay through an ECHO job fair.
  9. Academy of the Holy Names' scholarship program benefits recipients, school


    Like a tiny bud, they entered to grow.

    They longed for nurturing. They hoped to blossom.

    And four years after they enrolled at Academy of the Holy Names, Teresa Toranzo, Lisette Cruz, and Khalea Armstrong graduated Thursday in full bloom. Toranzo will go on to the University of Miami, while Cruz and Armstrong will attend the other USF -- University of San Francisco.

    Each credit the school's Link Scholarship program — created 10 years ago to increase diversity at the school — for providing a path for attendance at the all-girls Catholic school on Bayshore Boulevard. Each beamed with smiles as they spoke at a ceremony celebrating the program earlier this month....

    Teresa Toranzo, Lisette Cruz, and Khalea Armstrong -- part of Academy of the Holy Names’ Link Scholarship Program -- graduated from AHN this week.
  10. Ernest Hooper: More legislators need to recognize importance of money for mental health

    Human Interest

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-Treasure Island, told the audience at the St. Petersburg Chamber legislative roundup last week that the Legislature's failure to provide more funding for mental health initiatives was "immoral."

    I couldn't agree more. When you ask mental health care advocates about what they need to better care for some of the community's most vulnerable citizens, you expect to get a litany of policy change requests. But really, they have a pretty a good grasp of what's required. They just need more money to provide proper treatment....

  11. Sunday Conversation: Swim Digital CEO Trimeka Benjamin helps women achieve


    Trimeka Benjamin, founder and CEO of Swim Digital, says she genuinely wants to help other business women.

    She concedes she's not where she wants to be, but after running her own company for eight years, she says she's still blessed to reach back and help other women.

    Benjamin is launching the Sisterhood of Swim, a program of mentorship that her company is taking on by doing work at a discounted rate for women-owned, women-led businesses and a series of digital marketing workshops in partnership with Working Women of Tampa Bay. The program starts on May 30 in Tampa. ...

    hillsconvo052117: Trimeka Benjamin is the CEO of Swim Digital and the subject of the May 21 Sunday Conversation. Photo.
  12. County to continue series of law enforcement workshops at East Bay High

    Public Safety

    GIBSONTON — In the wake of a Hillsborough deputy's 2016 fatal shooting of Levonia Riggins, a 22-year-old unarmed black man, officials worried a series of protests in Clair-Mel might spill into violence much like the scenes the world witnessed in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 after an officer shot Michael Brown.

    Spurred on by County Commissioner Les Miller, officials organized a series of community law enforcement workshops to help bridge the divide with residents and avoid a similar outbreak. The first were held in Clair-Mel last December....

    The county hosts a series of law enforcement workshops for adults and children.
  13. Hooper: Be a hero Gov. Scott, veto the state budget

    Human Interest

    Someone far smarter about Florida politics said that if Gov. Rick Scott vetoes the onerous budget passed by the Florida Legislature and the House and Senate override it, it would be a tremendous loss for Scott.

    I disagree. He's already lost. So has the state.

    The Legislature, led by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, ignored all of Scott's priorities, including Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. It has crafted a budget that undermines K-12 education, shafts the University of South Florida, cuts funding to worthy programs and shortchanges environmental efforts....

  14. Hooper: Legislators' divisions failed USF

    Human Interest

    The speaker of the Florida House, the minority leader in the House, the head of the state Senate Appropriations Committee and at least a half dozen other "powerful" legislators purport to represent Tampa Bay.

    Yet, the University of South Florida still got cheated out of earning pre-eminent status among state schools and all the prestige and money that come with the designation.

    A late change in the standards moved the finish line, leaving a $48 million pool to be split between the University of Florida and Florida State....

  15. Hooper: Riverview High School protests conflict with 'pro-life' stance


    I see photos of people standing in front of Riverview High School holding posters that say, "Fire Lesbo Wicked Teachers," and I wonder if they could answer two simple questions.

    One: Are you pro-life? If they answer yes, the second question would be a bit more complicated: "If you're pro-life, what are you doing out here?"

    Being pro-life means all life, and hanging in the balance are the lives of LGBTQ teens and teens overall who are trying to navigate the challenges of adolescence....

    Riverview High School math teacher Lora-Jane Riedas poses for a portrait with her wife, chemistry teacher Valerie Chuchman at their Tampa home. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]