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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: No good will come from amateur python hunting

    Columns

    And this, dearest reader, is why this state is known as Flori-duh, which is an old Spanish term for, "Oh boy, what did they do now?"

    In its infinite wisdom, somebody — the parking lot attendant, perhaps? — at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stumbled upon the brilliant idea to create the "Python Pickup Program" to ease the growing menace of the nonindigenous reptile. There's just one teensy-weensy problem with all this, of course....

    Florida wildlife officials have announced a “Python Pickup Program” with rewards including a T-shirt.
  2. Ruth: Nonprofit chief Richard Lilliston falls from caring innovator to greedy charlatan

    Columns

    Based on Richard Lilliston's testimony during his recently completed federal criminal trial you have to wonder what the now-disgraced former chief executive officer of the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens did all day long — that is, when he wasn't stiffing his most vulnerable clients out of their Social Security deposits.

    Well, that does take up a bit of time.

    Lilliston was convicted in federal court days ago of conspiring to defraud the Social Security Administration of $683,599 in diverted payments away from the accounts of profoundly intellectually disabled clients depending on HARC services into an agency endowment account from which he and other employees gave themselves hefty car allowances, raises and other perks....

    Richard Lilliston, former CEO of the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens, was one of four agency employees to face federal charges.
  3. Ruth: Legislature ignores will of voters on medical marijuana

    Columns

    With the arrival of every election cycle, Tallahassee gets the hand-wringing vapors over the evildoing prospect of — cue The Phantom of the Opera theme — voter fraud! Oh, let's throw in one more exclamation mark for dramatic effect — !

    By the Florida Legislature's reckoning, there are all manner of brigands lurking behind every voting booth to cause widespread election criminality. You might well think vast swaths of Klingons, illegal aliens and the Taliban were all casting ballots in our elections. And they are all Democrats, too....

  4. Ruth: Artiles' slurs a reminder of Florida's racist past

    Columns

    You could make a case that Florida state Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Foghorn Leghorn, has performed a perverse public service reminding us that racist undertones still flow freely throughout the corridors of power in Tallahassee.

    Apparently Artiles hoisting a few at the hoity-toity Governors Club earlier this week when he happened to run into two black Democratic colleagues, Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale....

    Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami
  5. Ruth: How to get trendy, besotted SoHo strip to clean up its act

    Columns

    You don't need to be a cultural anthropologist to figure out this equation — the number of bars existing in any one location will eventually lead to a direct correlation of increased numbers of drunk people getting either: A) mugged, B) shot, C) arrested, D) all of the above, E) Duh.

    It has been axiomatic ever since Man first discovered the charms of hooch that not very much good happens after say, oh, midnight. And certainly by a booze-filled 3 a.m. we have entered a stratosphere of stupid....

    Tampa police are shown here on patrol recently in South Tampa, unveiled a new crime-fighting tool on Thursday that combines police, citizens and cameras.
  6. In a time of protest, taking a Greek step back

    Columns

    This weekend I was in Chicago, which has taken a very active role in venting its spleen toward the First Golfer of Mar-a-Lago. Like many American cities, the traditional Democratic Party bastion of the Windy City is holding fairly regular demonstrations expressing displeasure with the administration of President Donald Trump.

    But my wife and I weren't in the City of Big Shoulders for Saturday morning's Tax Day event to protest Trump's steadfast refusal to release his returns. This was more of a fringe benefit for the Bombshell of the Balkans, who has discovered her inner suffragette since last November's elections. ...

  7. Ruth: Flying the unfriendly skies of United

    Columns

    At first glance it appears United Airlines and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Stasi police of customer service roughed up and dragged a 69-year-old man off a flight bound for Louisville before he even had a chance to partake of those yummy peanuts.

    In the annals of public relations disasters, this ranks up there with Volkswagen cooking the books on its diesel engine fuel efficiency and Wells Fargo's stiffing patrons with fraudulent accounts. Ah, free enterprise....

  8. Ruth: St. Louis may hold answers for Tampa transportation, but not the ones FDOT thinks

    Columns

    No doubt St. Louis is probably a lovely place to visit. The toasted ravioli is supposed to be the cat's pajamas.

    And so when a delegation of Tampanians sojourned to The Gateway City days ago, one can only hope everyone got what they wanted out of the trip. Learning how not to royally tick off large swaths of the city might be a good start.

    The trip, organized by the Florida Department of Transportation, also included local politicians, business figures and especially community residents who are at some risk to seeing their neighborhood imploded should the proposed Tampa Bay Express project to expand Interstate 4/Interstate 275 lanes, including toll lanes in and around East Tampa, Seminole Heights and downtown Tampa. The TBX project had the potential to disrupt communities that in recent years have begun to enjoy something of an urban renaissance, as well as displace many minority neighborhoods....

    St. Louis, symbolized by the Gateway Arch, is seen as a city that accomplished major interstate expansion while addressing the concerns of neighborhoods.
  9. Ruth: Lawmakers poised to make 'stand your ground' worse

    Columns

    You've heard that old joke. How do you know when a politician is lying to you? His lips are moving.

    Here's an even better way to detect the fib.

    When the 2018 election cycle arrives and your member of the Florida Legislature is telling everyone that he or she is a vigilant crusader for law and order, ask a simple question:

    When you had the opportunity to revise Florida's ditsy "stand your ground'' law to make it even easier for the citizenry to shoot one another with less legal risk than a Kremlin assassin, how did you vote?...

  10. Ruth: Suddenly shy Marco Rubio needs more than a new Tampa office

    Columns

    We'll probably need Sarah McLachlan warbling a few bars of Angel to get through this public service announcement in support of "The Marco Rubio Rescue" organization.

    Won't you please help find our poor, beleaguered and homeless junior senator a new Tampa office? Just a few pennies a day could make all the difference.

    You'll recall Rubio was evicted from his Kennedy Boulevard digs some weeks ago after his landlord grew weary of almost daily demonstrations by grumpy protestors outside the building. It seems the activists were annoyed that their elected representative had refused to meet with them or show up at a town hall meeting so that the very people who had voted him into a cushy job as a United States senator could ask him to explain himself on issues such as health care, immigration, climate change and his relationship to President Donald Trump....

    Shauna Johnson, in black sweater, a member of Sen. Marco Rubio’s staff, meets with members of the activist group Indivisble Fl-13 at the St. Petersburg Library branch on Ninth Avenue N. Rubio’s staff is still looking for a new local office.
  11. Ruth: The indefensible behavior at Fox News

    Columns

    Do you have the sneaking suspicion that when former Fox News head Roger Ailes and the network's current resident grand inquisitor Bill O'Reilly wake up in the morning and gaze lovingly at themselves in the mirror, they hear Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" wafting through the air?

    And the answer to that question would be an unqualified … Noooooo!

    Recent disclosures by the New York Times exploring the more than $30 million to settle claims by women who said they were sexually harassed by Ailes or O'Reilly, the two wild and crazy Festrunk brothers of Fox News, are certainly embarrassing for the network's owner, Rupert Murdoch....

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  12. Ruth: An unfair undermining of Fair Districts amendments

    Columns

    Now that we have nearly reached the midway point in this year's annual baksheesh bacchanalia of the Florida Legislature, otherwise known as the Havana Republic, it has been reaffirmed that nothing scares the living bejabbers out of a Tallahassee politician more than the dark cloud of democracy.

    You start letting the great unwashed have a say in how they want to be governed and the great unwashed actually will insist in having a say. In the immortal words of that great existentialist philosopher, former Gov. Jeb Bush, "Rut-roh!"...

  13. Ruth: Congress strips away your online privacy

    Columns

    There are probably two ways to look at a recent move by Republicans in Congress to permit companies like Verizon, Comcast, Frontier and others to cavalierly sell your personal online information to whomever they want.

    You can shrug with a helpless, "Whatever." Or you can be outraged that you are being cyber-mugged by corporate greed.

    Let's go with some rip-snorting indignation.

    The House and Senate have approved legislation that overturned a perfectly reasonable Federal Communications Commission rule that would require cable and phone companies to obtain your consent before they sold your personal information such as your browsing history, shopping habits and other data unique to you to third-party interests....

    The House and Senate have approved legislation overturning an FCC rule requiring cable and phone companies to ask your consent before selling your personal data.
  14. Ruth: Rays' stadium search a stew of money, politics, timing, Kismet

    Columns

    This could be your golden opportunity. If you have a vacant lot somewhere, you could be the lucky winner in the Tampa Bay Rays stadium site search. It seems, for all the hubbub and frenzied speculation over where the lads will next play ball for the foreseeable future, team owner Stuart Sternberg is having a harder time finding a place to bed down than Mary and Joseph.

    After the city of St. Petersburg agreed to let the Rays look for a new stadium site, the hills were alive with the sound of moolah. Conventional wisdom suggested the team would quickly identify a number of available prime locales suitable for a new field of dreams and in short order a deal would be made for the land....

    Conventional wisdom suggested that given the chance, the Tampa Bay Rays would quickly identify Tampa sites suitable for a stadium to replace Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Instead, the list of places off the table is growing.  [SCOTT KEELER    |    Times]
  15. Ruth: Trump blames everyone but himself

    Columns

    Perhaps in his forthcoming memoir, "The Art of the Schlemiel," President Donald Trump will explain why, since only he can fix things, the American Health Care Act, otherwise known as the Tumors Are Actually Quite Becoming Act, had the political lifespan of a mayfly.

    Trump wasted no time doling out blame for the implosion of the Gushing Blood, What Gushing Blood? Act, as if it was mail call time at Parris Island....