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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: Phelan and Pinchers give back to teachers

    Human Interest

    Kathleen Phelan helped her husband, Tony, start Pinchers restaurant while working as a teacher in Collier County.

    She spent days at school and nights at the restaurant as a hostess, all while Tony battled cancer, and worked at their first location, a six-table restaurant in a strip mall.

    Now the Phelans have multiple restaurant brands and 12 Pinchers locations in eight counties, including Hillsborough and Pasco. But Kathleen Phelan hasn't forgotten her roots — so teachers in all eight counties will receive $25 gift certificates that can be used at any of the restaurants. That's nearly 50,000 teachers, a value of more than $1 million and a gesture worthy of kudos....

  2. Sunday Conversation: Roberto Torres talks immigration

    Human Interest


    Roberto Torres stands as one of the city's most impressive rising entrepreneurs. The owner of Blind Tiger Cafes, Black & Denim clothing company and CoWork Ybor has expanded his reach with locations at Tampa International Airport and The Morrison, a new mixed use development in the SoHo District. Torres, however, remains grounded to his immigrant roots. In fact, he grew emotional Tuesday when U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, recognized him and four other citizens with "American Dream Awards."...

    Roberto Torres receives his American Dream award from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor on Aug. 15.
  3. Ernest Hooper: Women earning more through training in manufacturing jobs


    Without aid of glasses, contact lenses or Lasik surgery, Hiroko Kato has clearer vision — when it comes to her career.

    Kato is working in the local manufacturing industry, a prospect she struggled to reach until she took a special course offered in a partnership between the Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women and Hillsborough Community College.

    Now she knows manufacturing isn't solely rooted in grimy jobs. Now she knows she can make something....

    Manufacturing isn't solely rooted in grimy jobs, many women are learning through the Manufacturing Alliance, a partnershipof the Hillsborough County Commission, Hillsborough Community College, Hillsborough County Public Schools and CareerSource. [Getty Images]

  4. Ernest Hooper: Time for Crist and Murman to move us past Confederate monument issue


    For more than a week, social media has buzzed about the possibility of the Hillsborough County Commission revisiting the Confederate monument issue and calling for a ballot initiative on the statue in front of the old county courthouse.

    The commission voted last month to relocate the statue to a private cemetery in Brandon, provided private dollars can be raised for the relocation....

  5. Ernest Hooper: Let's do more to help our society live with its conscience


    During a recent visit to Washington, D.C., I got a chance to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial south of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

    Fourteen King quotes frame the 30-foot statue of the civil rights leader, but one struck a particular chord given our national and local discord.

    We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience....

  6. Ernest Hooper: Groups combating hunger to join forces for summit at Amalie Arena

    Human Interest

    As head of the Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger, Caitlyn Peacock has moved from hunger outreach to collaborating with other food providers.

    Yet Peacock still occasionally participates in food distribution efforts. And she grows emotional thinking of the hungry faces of children she sees.

    It's those images that drive Peacock and the Network to End Hunger. In partnership with the Alliance to End Hunger, the network will convene the National Sunshine Summit to End Hunger Nov. 6-7 at the Amalie Arena....

  7. Ernest Hooper: Bus ride takes young football players on poignant trip of redemption

    Human Interest

    The bus carried the former NFL player back in time.

    It transported Tyrone Keys back to his days as a member of the Chicago Bears 1985 Super Bowl Shuffle team. It took him back to shifting from the Bears to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and eventually starting a nonprofit effort in Tampa that has touched the lives of thousands of kids since 1992.

    The bus propelled a group of kids into the future....

    Debbie Baigrie, Bryan Stevenson and Ian Manuel recently shared their story of forgiveness with members of the Brandon Bears and Jackson Heights Junior Buccaneers. Manuel was 13 when he shot Baigrie.
  8. Ernest Hooper: Dunedin's cool vibe flies under the radar

    Human Interest

    I'm not sure the people of Dunedin will appreciate this, but their downtown is cool.

    What's wrong with complimenting the city for its laid-back collection of restaurants and bars, and its cool vibe that flies under the radar of raves about St. Petersburg and Tampa? Well, I think I'm going to get the same reaction I got when I saluted Safety Harbor's Main Street magic a few years ago. Shhh!...

  9. Ernest Hooper: CDC report sounds alarm for preventing domestic violence

    Public Safety

    Last week's arrest by St. Petersburg police of Joshua Thompson in the death of his girlfriend, Melinda Soria, came just days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that found more than half of female homicide victims are killed in connection to intimate partner violence.

    The report's author characterized the issue as a public health problem crossing all racial and ethnic groups. And some of the findings indicate this situation is growing worse....

  10. Hooper: Atlanta stadium offers vision of what could be in Tampa Bay


    ATLANTA —The excitement rose as we made our way toward SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves.

    The Battery Atlanta, a mixed-use community with apartments, retail and restaurants, creates a canyon walkway for fans heading to the stadium. We peeked into the restaurant on the right on the off chance Mark or Donnie Wahlberg might be inside the Wahlburgers.

    We look at the apartments and wonder about the rent. According to the Atlanta Constitution Journal, prices range from $1,225 a month to $4,305, depending on your view of the ballpark....

    A general view of Atlanta's SunTrust Park during the July 15 game between the Atlanta Braves and the Arizona Diamondbacks  [Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images]
  11. Hooper: Irresponsible transportation efforts get us nowhere fast

    Human Interest

    Every person who has anything to do with transportation in Tampa Bay should hang his or her head in shame.

    County commissioners, mayors, HART and PSTA officials, TBARTA, city council members, everybody. Did I forget someone? Oh yeah, all our legislators, the governor and the folks at FDOT.

    Each of you has failed this region.

    Sorry, but when I look at the progress being made in Charlotte and every other major city in America — except for Detroit, of course — it's the only conclusion. I'm calling you out not to start a fight but to spur you to action....

  12. Ernest Hooper: Top chefs try to squeeze food for the hungry from every meal



    Ted Dorsey, owner and executive chef of The Mill in St. Petersburg, said every restaurant strives to maximize food preparation and avoid waste, even when it means taking the spatula and scraping every drop of that special sauce out of the bowl.

    It's certainly a matter of efficiency, but another factor drives the chefs and restaurateurs. Food waste haunts them because they know someone out there is going hungry. In greater Tampa Bay, one out of seven adults lives with food insecurity....

    A chef cookoff Monday at the Epicurean in Tampa pitted Jeff Thornsberry from Locale Market, left, against Richard Bergendale of the Mill, both in St. Petersburg. Proceeds benefitted the charity Feeding Tampa Bay. [Mainsail Hotels]
  13. Ernest Hooper: Compromise on Confederate memorial to focus on true matters of empowerment

    Human Interest

    Compromise can be construed as a bad word in heated disputes, but I can't view the battle over the Confederate monument that sits in front of Hillsborough's old county courthouse through that lens.

    To be clear, the monument, dedicated with racist words in 1911, does not belong in front of a place where all seek justice.

    But with the County Commission already voting once to leave it in place, a relocation to Oaklawn Cemetery or Veterans Memorial Park is a better decision, and it's one the board may enact when it takes up the issue on July 19....

  14. Hooper: Investments in character of young athletes pay mentors rich dividends


    You never have to search far to find talk of investments and nest eggs and financial payoffs.

    Everyone seems to have a sure-fire stock guaranteed to pay incredible dividends, or a bond yield certain to increase wealth. It's all about the return on investment, and the message is clear: Don't invest one of your most valuable resources unless you're getting something back.

    On Thursday (July 6), I watched men invest something more valuable than cash, with no guarantee of getting a return. Led by Ricky Sailor of Unsigned Preps and WWE wrestler Titus O'Neil, a number of successful businessmen, accomplished sports professionals and former athletes gave of their time to a group of high school players....

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston talks to a group of teenagers on Thursday as part of Unsigned Preps’ annual Leadership and Mentoring Conference.
  15. Civic leader takes a stand against statue


    When Anddrikk Frazier was 8-years-old, he watched as three white men drew his father into a road rage incident, forced his car off the street and engaged him in a fight.

    "The last thing I can remember, other than my 4-year-old sister crying hysterically, is looking at the back of that pickup truck, on the tailgate, and seeing a huge Confederate flag," Frazier said. "When people talk about heritage and their images, my vision and view is a little different." But Frazier also looks at the current conflict over a Confederate monument in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse through the eyes of a successful businessman....

    Anddrikk Frazier, a Tampa businessman and an active member on several business and civic boards, worries that the Hillsborough County Commission’s decision not to remove a Confederate monument could deter businesses from relocating to the city.