Phoenix Hears Calls to Provide Spanish Translation Services – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Phoenix officials continue to hear calls to provide translation for Spanish speakers in town hall meetings and other interactions after Phoenix city council rejected further discussion of a proposal that could have resulted in a funded employee for such work.

The South Valley Community Action Group has had discussions with the city about securing a community translator position funded by the Rogue Workforce Partnership to support those affected by the Almeda or COVID fire, and others. needs.

A one-year or six-month position, which could have been fully funded with no obligation for the city to pursue him, could have been available, Ellie Holty said with the group.

“I have worked with Rogue Workforce Partnership. They funded a lot of positions, ”Holty said. SVCAG formed earlier this year to help residents affected by the fire. The group created a job description for the position they shared with the city.

In mid-October, the board voted 5-1 to end discussion of the proposal, with board members expressing concerns about the financial impact of continuing services once they were established. During public comments at the first council meeting in November, three speakers called for providing translation services to Latino residents.

City officials say exploring ways to provide services to Spanish speakers will not go away. Two advisers made proposals for possible assistance during the deliberation on the proposal.

“As to moving forward… we don’t talk about it at the moment, but it doesn’t mean forever,” Mayor Terry Baker said in response to a speaker at the meeting. November, 1st. “Right now, building the public security building, bringing people back to permanent housing, we want to help them. This is where we are at.

Ten speakers urged that translation and other services be offered to Spanish speakers during the first city council session in October. Former city councilor Sarah Westover said a 2020 social equity resolution passed by council committed to addressing translation services.

“We have a lot of people who come to the community center regularly and need translations. Right now we are working to translate the materials and signs for easier access, ”said Reverend Ainsley Herrick, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Phoenix and executive director of the 1st Phoenix Community Center, during the presentation. November 1 meeting.

The church recognized the need for a Spanish speaking pastor to better serve the community, Herrick said. Herrick learned to speak Spanish when she moved to Columbia, but said she initially felt left out in many situations before learning the language.

“I’m just asking the council to choose what’s right and find a way to provide a Spanish translation to ensure that all members of the community have access to resources and can fully participate in local government,” Herrick said.

Phoenix resident Erica Ledesma said her Spanish-speaking family found meetings inaccessible when only English was spoken.

“They would like to get involved and find a way to get materials so they can feel connected. All they can see is English, ”Ledesma said.

Baker explained the Spanish services the city now offers in both sessions and presented his research on the topic at the October meeting.

The city phone currently offers a Spanish option where callers can leave messages. Public Works Superintendent Matias Mendez, a Spanish speaker, answers calls left on the message line. Usually there are only two or three calls a week and many are for topics like utilities, but there are occasional calls on other city issues.

Medford is providing live interpretation of council sessions on demand with three days’ notice, Baker reported. Talent has a translator ready for all meetings who gets paid if the service is used. The service is used by two to four attendees of council meetings, according to Hector Flores, a Spanish speaker who is Talent’s director of community engagement and also its city recorder.

Data provided by SVCAG indicates that the US Census Bureau reports that Hispanics made up 15% of the population of Phoenix in 2019 and 2020. A website, areavibes.com, indicates that 6% of the city’s population speaks only of the city. ‘Spanish. SVCAG also said that 43% of those who lost their homes in the Almeda fire were Hispanic.

Phoenix should have developed an application and submitted it to Rogue Workforce Partnerships to secure a position, said City Manager Eric Swanson. Rogue Workforce Partnership is a nonprofit organization that serves as a state and federal authorized local workforce development council in Jackson and Josephine counties.

During October deliberations, Councilor Al Muelhoefer said he would like to rely on Swanson to assess requests for live interpretation of the meetings.

Councilor Ketzal McCready suggested that perhaps the written translation of documents could be provided at a lower cost if live interpretation is not provided. McCready cast the only dissenting vote against ending the discussion on the SVCAG proposal.

Contact Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at [email protected]

Connie A. Bailey