Lowell Roundup: March 1, 2019

Mimi Parseghian shares her observations on politics and current events this week:

The Working City Initiative, a Lowell, collective impact partnership working with all residents and business owners to improve the Acre neighborhood of Lowell, in partnership with Lowell Telemedia Corporation (LTC), Lowell’s local access television, are translating the City Council meetings into both Spanish and Khmer. Recently, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA) held a watch party “to get our community members’ feedback for improvement and promotion of the meetings.”

Next week the Latin Community Center for Empowerment will hold a similar meeting where the language will be Spanish.

And for those few critics who may wonder why is it necessary to translate, the answer is rather simple.  If you are an adult who did not learn English who did not grow up in this country, your knowledge of the English language is limited.  The discussion during City Council often use terms and language that is nuanced or is unique to municipal activities.

These efforts should be commended for increasing civic activity and putting a focus on local government.

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Last week the City Council approve two motions on topics that were previously discussed on this blog.

One is the Community Preservation Act (CPA).  In his post of February 10th, Dick had explained that “property owners have contributed more than $5 million dollars to the state’s Community Preservation Trust fund and have seen all of that money distributed to other communities with not a penny coming back to Lowell. That’s not the fault of the Trust Fund because it’s up to us, the people of Lowell, to make a claim on that pool of money.”  The City Council this past week asked the City Manager to compile a report on the CPA.

The other is expanding Boards and Commissions to include associate members.  As Dick wrote in this week’s review of the City Council meeting the hope is that this action will help increase diversity and citizen participation; it will also create a chain of succession and knowledge for boards; address quorum issues; provide on the job training. The Council suggested that training sessions will also be held.

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For those of you who read the Lowell Sun, you have seen a couple of front-page (Feb. 27 and Feb. 28) articles on Middesex Community College.  This is in addition to two “The Column” pieces for the past  couple of weeks; quoting politicians and discussing who might replace Mabry.  The stories focus on the relationship between the faculty and President James Mabry.  Thursday’s article states that “Just hours after the Middlesex Community College board of trustees voted to ‘support the leadership’ of embattled President James Mabry, the MCC union took a vote of no confidence in both Mabry and board Chair James Campbell.”

Although a union Vice – President is quoted saying the vote was “unprecedented” and “overwhelming,” it would have been helpful if we were told the number of faculty in the union and the vote count.

Last July, the Lowell Sun ran an article “Middlesex College Ranked Top Community College.”

“Middlesex Community College, with campuses in Lowell and Bedford, has been ranked No. 1 on this year’s list of Best Community Colleges in Massachusetts by BestColleges.com.

“This ranking is based on information from the U.S Department of Education National Center for Educational Statistics. The No. 1 ranking takes into account: acceptance, retention, graduation and enrollment rates. The designation also reflects student loan default percentages.”

The article also states than in 2016, MCC was ranked No. 10.

I know the issue between the President and the Union is real. And I do not know what the definition of “communication, empathy and lack of vision” are.  These are difficult metrics to measure.   There has to be more to the story.

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