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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: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

    Columns

    Ah, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel season, Florida has once again achieved national prominence. We're No. 1 — with a body bag! Can't you feel the pride swelling?

    A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that Interstate 4 is the most deadly roadway from sea to shining sea. Although I-4 is among the shortest interstates in the country at a mere 132 miles from Tampa to Daytona Beach, it more than holds its own as a ribbon of vehicular mayhem....

    Traffic is seen along Interstate 4 in the Champions Gate area near Orlando. The 132-mile road, which stretches from Tampa to Daytona Beach, tops the list  of most dangerous highways since 2010, according to an analysis by EverQuote.   [CHRIS URSO | Times]
  2. Daniel Ruth: If you're the transit boss, fleeing Tampa for Pittsburgh is a no-brainer

    Columns

    Hillsborough County, Florida and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, have almost identical populations of about 1.3 million people. But when it comes to issues such as public transportation the two communities couldn't be more diametrically opposite from one another.

    Or think of Hillsborough as Dogpatch to Allegheny's Brigadoon.

    And perhaps that explains just a bit why when Katharine Eagan, the CEO of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, was offered the opportunity to move to Pittsburgh to assume the leadership the Port Authority of Allegheny County, she couldn't pack her bags fast enough for the chance to oversee the transit needs of a big-boy-pants community....

    Times Columnist Dan Ruth. [Times file]
  3. Ruth: Don't wrap this unqualified nominee in a black robe

    Columns

    First as a candidate and then during his transition to the presidency, Donald Trump repeatedly boasted that his administration would be filled to the gills with nothing but the "best people." Now there's some genuine fake news for you.

    Or consider this. As of 2016, the American Bar Association reported there are 1,315,561 licensed lawyers in the United States. Yes, that is an awful lot of ipsos and factos....

    Federal judicial nominee Brett J. Talley was unanimously rated “not qualified” by the ABA.
  4. Ruth: Women accusing Latvala of harassment should come forward

    Columns

    It's been a rough few days for Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican who is also (for the moment, at least) a candidate for governor.

    A week or so ago, Latvala was a gruff-talking curmudgeon of the Florida Legislature, attempting to parlay his "tell it like it is" persona into the Governor's Mansion.

    And then it all came crashing down around his Falstaffian shoulders, beginning with the release of a photograph of the senator kissing a lobbyist in the parking lot of an Italian restaurant. Latvala attempted to dismiss the photo by arguing the lobbyist was a dear old platonic friend, as if it is quite normal for a married man to plant a buss on another woman. Perhaps it is an old Clearwater custom....

    Senate President Joe Negron, right, has appointed a third-party investigator to look into allegations against Sen. Jack Latvala.
  5. Ruth: Shocked, shocked by Brazile book revelations

    Columns

    Here's a fast-breaking political bombshell for you.

    According to a new book by former Democratic National Committee interim chairwoman Donna Brazile, the fix was in last year to scuttle any hope Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had of winning the party's presidential nomination.

    No! Really! It's true!

    You may now go back to sleep.

    As earth-shattering scoops go, revelations the DNC laid an anvil on the scales of fairness to benefit former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Sanders ranks somewhere between who won the World Series and what color is an orange....

    Donna Brazile’s memoir, Hacks, came out this week.
  6. Ruth: Prayers are not enough to stop gun violence

    Columns

    What's important to keep in mind here is everybody is really, really sorry about the murders of 26 church parishioners in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

    Everybody is shocked and grief-stricken.

    We know this because so many public officials have, in no uncertain terms, expressed profound sympathy for the victims, the wounded and their decimated families.

    From Asia, President Donald Trump has reached out the Sutherland Springs victims by extending his heartfelt "thoughts and prayers."...

    An investigator works Monday in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a gunman killed 26 people.
  7. Ruth: Sex, spies and intrigue in Tallahassee

    Columns

    There's an old joke that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger used to tell on himself.

    Before the election of President Richard Nixon in 1968, Kissinger was regarded as merely a frumpy, rumpled Harvard University professor with an almost unintelligible German accent.

    And then, as if by magic, once he joined the Nixon administration as national security adviser Kissinger found himself transformed into a Potomac stud muffin dating the likes of Jill St. John. No doubt his sexy views on the Marshall Plan proved to be irresistible to women....

    The state capital is a Peyton Place of the Apalachee Parkway.
  8. Daniel Ruth: No parking at Rays stadium in Ybor? So what? No, fans either

    Columns

    From all the hub-bub you might well have thought Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan had alighted on a new home for the Tampa Bay Rays that rivaled the Roman Coliseum meets Carnegie Hall meets Augusta National.

    This was big! Very big! Indeed the site Hagan announced in Ybor City had everything you could possibly want in a baseball stadium. It had dirt. And then it had ... well, it had dirt. And at least that's a start. Dirt. Very important....

    Warehouses occupy the site proposed for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium in Ybor City. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]

  9. Ruth: FCC move could close local TV newsrooms

    Columns

    Trying to keep up with current events out of Washington — or down the street — is about to become a whole lot harder.

    But then again, those noble public servants at the Federal Communications Commission probably don't want to bother you with needless, unpleasant stuff like the news. News, it can be so annoying.

    Last week, in a 3-2 partisan vote, Republican appointees on the FCC rescinded a nearly 80-year-old rule that required radio and broadcast stations to maintain a local main studio in the communities they serve....

  10. Ruth: Constitution Revision Commission ignores the public

    Columns

    You could be forgiven if you thought the Florida Constitution Revision Commission was going to result in a wave of grass-roots populism that would make Bernie Sanders look like an elitist Wall Street snob.

    After all, the 37-member commission traveled across the state holding public hearings under a huge banner that read: "Floridians Speak We Listen."

    With fingers crossed, perhaps?

    That is the problem, isn't it? Once you start asking the great unwashed what they think, you run the risk members of the public will actually tell you what they think. This charade of pretending you care about public opinion can get awkward....

  11. Daniel Ruth: The pottymouth bullies in Hillsborough schools are on the board

    Columns

    If you didn't know any better you would think what is passing for a lawsuit against the School Board of Hillsborough County more accurately reads like the minutes of a Borgia family reunion.

    Or put another way, if fired school human resources chief Stephanie Woodford's allegations pan out in court, it seems school officials apparently spend more time stabbing one another in the back than Julius Caesar's ill-fated visit to the Roman Senate....

    Times Columnist Dan Ruth. [Times file]
  12. Ruth: The truth keeps coming out about O'Reilly

    Columns

    It's merely an idle guess, but don't you suspect that after Bill O'Reilly had paid millions of dollars to settle at least five sexual harassment claims, it would have dawned on him that the James Bond theme does not automatically start playing whenever he finds himself in the company of women?

    The $32 million reportedly paid to former Fox News analyst Lis Wiehl may at last have sent a message to O'Reilly. According to the New York Times, the grand total of sexual harassment claims against him is now pegged at about $45 million. That's a great deal of heavy breathing. Some men collect stamps, coins or matchbooks. O'Reilly seems to have pulled together a notable portfolio of billable hours....

    According to the New York Times, the amount paid in sexual harassment claims against Bill O’Reilly totals $45 million.
  13. Daniel Ruth: Advice for sniping school board members — Grow up or go away

    Columns

    There are certain jobs in elective office that carry with them a slightly higher expectation when it comes to how one behaves in public.

    For example, it probably wouldn't be a good thing if we were to learn Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren was a serial traffic scofflaw with a slew of overdue library books, to boot.

    The same holds true for members of the Hillsborough County School Board. We ought to have a reasonable belief those charged with overseeing the welfare of the community's children are serious, sober-minded, thoughtful stewards of the classroom....

    Hillsborough School Board members April Griffin, above, and Tamara Shamburger started off the brouhaha at a recent training session but it didn't end there. [Courtesy of Tamara Shamburger]
  14. Ruth: Spencer just a smoother version of old hatred

    Columns

    It is a safe bet that Richard Spencer, the beefcake boy of bigotry, will show up on the University of Florida campus today accompanied by a Star Wars-esque bar scene of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, anti-Semites and antigovernment conspiracy theory survivalists.

    Think of this as Triumph of the Will meets Deliverance.

    So it is understandable, given the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., in August when these low-rent faux storm troopers assembled, that Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Alachua County for the duration of time Spencer will be sliming his toxic waste dump of rhetoric....

    Richard Spencer speaks at Texas A&M University in College Station last year. He is due to speak today at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville.
  15. Beautiful Hong Kong is pulsating with life and culture

    Travel

    HONG KONG

    “Ah money, money, money!" the cabdriver exclaimed with no small sense of sarcasm in his Cantonese-accented English as he waved in the direction of the spectacular skyline of Hong Kong, a city that revels in its reputation as an international financial capital.

    This was our first trip to Asia to visit our son, who has lived in Hong Kong for several years, and our expecting daughter-in-law....

    Prodemocracy demonstrations in Hong Kong draw a crowd. Chinese promises to regard Hong Kong, a former British territory, as part of a “one country, two systems” status have eroded.