Friday’s letters: Judge Rosemary Barkett was a jurist of many firsts

Friday’s letters to the editor
Published January 10

New face on high court | Jan. 10

Judge Barkett was the first

I am glad to learn of the appointment of Barbara Lagoa to Florida’s Supreme Court. However, she is not the first Hispanic woman to serve on the court, as your front page indicates. That distinction belongs to the honorable Rosemary Barkett, who was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 1985 by Gov. Bob Graham. Further, Judge Barkett went on to become chief justice in 1992. Later she became a federal judge and currently she is one of four Americans serving on the U.S.-Iran Claims Tribunal headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands. Judge Barkett was born in Mexico in 1940, the daughter of Syrian immigrants who settled in Mexico in 1920. It was not until 1945 that they were able to fulfill their dream of immigrating here and becoming Americans. Thus, Judge Barkett did not learn English until the family moved to Miami. At one time Judge Barkett was a Catholic nun and taught here in Tampa at Most Holy Redeemer. It may confound some, but Judge Barkett is bicultural. She is both an Hispanic-American and an Arab-American. She is a brilliant jurist and certainly a Floridian worthy of further reporting.

Donna Parrino, Tampa

Student hit, seriously hurt on way to Gulf High | Jan. 10

Schools start too early

Another student is nearly killed (and is in critical condition) due to the ridiculously early start times at our high schools. All current studies show that teenage students learn better with more sleep hours, but even more important is the safety issue of walking on dark streets without sidewalks. Since it is unlikely that enough sidewalks will magically appear, it behooves us to change school start times to when the sun has at least risen.

School boards need to be held responsible for every child harmed by a vehicle while it is dark. Students must also be made aware of the dangers of distracted walking while using electronic devices.

Gary Wasserman, St. Petersburg

One death is too many | Letter, Jan. 10

The logic applies elsewhere

Some are using the tragic death of Cpl. Ronil Singh to call the Democrats hypocritical for not approving President Donald Trump’s $5.7 billion wall. The argument is that one death is one too many. Well, what do you call the Republicans who continuously try to dissolve Obamacare and block affordable health insurance for many Americans? Isn’t one death of a U.S. citizen due to insufficient or no health insurance one too many? $5.7 billion could surely help a lot of them.

Michael Lang, Seminole

Texting while driving is deadly — ban it | Column, Dec. 30

Ban tinted windows, too

I read Rep. Jackie Toledo’s column on her bill to ban texting while driving. Please consider in the same bill adding an illegally tinted driver-side window as a primary offense as well. How can law enforcement enforce your texting/cellphone law if they cannot see in the vehicle? Also, not knowing if a driver is looking at you from behind their tinted window when they are waiting to pull on to a road can be fatal should the driver pull out when they were not looking for whatever reason. I have personally been surprised when I assumed a driver was looking before they pulled out into my lane resulting in my needing to hit my brakes.

Bruce Peters, Tampa

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