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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: Congress should find money for Children's Health Insurance Program

    Columns

    You would think even the Maynard G. Krebs characters in Congress who do little actual work would come to the assistance of nearly 9 million children on the cusp of losing their health coverage.

    Perhaps that's not entirely fair. After all, this Congress has been ever diligent in sticking it to the poor and the middle class to protect the portfolios of the affluent. Yachts don't grow on trees, you know. Priorities....

  2. Daniel Ruth: Buckhorn stood with good ol' boys as firefighter proved city harassed her

    Columns

    They tried to shut her up. They tried to make her go away. They made her life miserable. Yet Tanja Vidovic — persisted.

    Long before most people had ever heard of the knuckle-dragging sexually harassing escapades of oafs like Harvey Weinstein, or Roy Moore, or Matt Lauer, the 36-year-old Vidovic was doing battle with the misogynistic good old boys at the Tampa Fire Rescue Department, who saw her not as a dedicated professional first responder but merely a nagging trouble-maker....

  3. Ruth: Legislation turns crime victims into criminals

    Columns

    We have entered into the period shortly before the start of the 2018 Florida legislative session that might be described as Daffy Time in Tallahassee.

    This is that golden moment when state legislators endeavor to file bills that are, well, plainly goofy.

    For example, Sen. Greg Steube, R-Do You Feel Lucky? Well Do Ya, Punk?, is known for introducing so many gun bills every year he won't be happy until the entire state looks like a Rambo family reunion....

  4. Dan Ruth: 'Interpreter' did Tampa no favors

    Columns

    Let us be perfectly clear. Or perhaps not.

    This was supposed to be a sort of moment of triumph for Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, who was given the top job full-time while in the tense investigation to solve the serial killer murders of four people in Seminole Heights.

    Instead Dugan unwittingly became a prop in a Tampa version of the old "Saturday Night Live" news for the hearing impaired sketch in which interpreter Garrett Morris screams out the headlines delivered by Chevy Chase....

  5. Ruth: Corrine Brown's ignominious fall from grace

    Columns

    This is a cautionary tale of how to go from a civil rights icon to a civil rights huckster.

    You may have heard the old axiom that we all have a price — it's only a matter of negotiation. In former Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's case, the going rate for her reputation and historic status as one of the first African-Americans elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction was about $800,000....

  6. Ruth: A ray of hope as a new grandfather

    Columns

    There is a line often attributed to an unknown Chinese source: "May you live in interesting times."

    And we do.

    A very strange man lives in the White House. Another scary guy far away plays with nuclear missiles as if they were sparklers. The Arctic is melting. Oh, and Congress is in session. Oh boy. No good is likely to come from any of this.

    It is easy to fall into a cynical malaise from all the headlines of men behaving badly, ethnic cleansing and an endless cycle of war. ...

  7. Dan Ruth: Time is ripe, Democrats may not be

    Columns

    If you are a Hillsborough County Democrat you are probably licking your chops like a lion spying a lost Bichon Frise.

    The country is presided over by John Belushi's Bluto Blutarsky in Animal House. Alabama is poised to elect to the U.S. Senate a Republican accused of pedophilia. And Florida is governed by a bloodless motherboard.

    True, Democrats certainly have their own baskets of deplorables. But as the 2018 midterm elections loom, one could make a reasonable argument this might not be the greatest year for GOP electoral success — particularly here in Hillsborough County....

    Sandy Murman
  8. Ruth: Classrooms need some controversy for learning

    Columns

    Thanks to those dunces in the Florida Legislature, the state's public education system, which has never been confused with the Age of Enlightenment, could be slipping toward becoming a tower of drivel.

    Earlier this year, Tallahassee passed a bill that would allow any citizen of the state to challenge any public school educational material as pornographic, biased, inaccurate or a violation of state law and be granted a hearing before an outside mediator....

  9. Daniel Ruth: The F-35 is a turkey in the air, when it actually gets there

    Columns

    If this had been a slightly addled elderly man at the end of the bar deep into his third martini pontificating about America's latest newfangled secret weapon — an invisible jet fighter instilling fear into our evildoing enemies — well, you could simply buy him another round and sit back to enjoy the absurdity of it all.

    Alas, however, this was President Donald Trump a few days ago telling a captive audience of U.S. Coast Guardsmen: "Do you like the F-35? I said how does it do in fights, and how do they do in fights with the F-35? He said they do very well, you can't see it. Literally you can't see. It's hard to fight a plane you can't see, right?"...

    Nearly 20 years in development, the F-35 has managed to carpet-bomb the federal budget.
  10. Ruth: Florida foolishly makes it harder to see nursing home inspections

    Columns

    Florida's once vaunted reputation as the Sunshine State, a leader in open government, providing the citizenry broad, unfettered access to public meetings and records, is becoming increasingly dreary and overcast with a better than average chance of tyranny.

    There are few crises a family faces that are more gut-wrenching than making the painful decision to place a loved one in a nursing home. And now the state of Florida has made that already difficult prospect even more daunting — and dangerous....

  11. Daniel Ruth: An honest committee name? Floridians for a Greater Steaming Pile of Political Phooey

    Columns

    There's a great scene in A Man For All Seasons when Sir Thomas More, on trial for refusing to express his loyalty to King Henry VIII, confronts one of his accusers who has just delivered false testimony against him in return for a royal title.

    "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... but for Wales?" More asks.

    On a somewhat more modest scale the same question might be poised to Lawrence McClure, the victor in last month's nasty Republican primary to represent state House District 58. Why Lawrence, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... but for Plant City?...

    Republican Lawrence McClure has denied any connection with a negative mailing campaign in his successful bid for his party's nomination to the District 58 state House seat. [Times file]
  12. 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]
  13. 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]
  14. 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.
  15. 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.