Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lost in Translation

As Capitol New York is reporting, the scoping session for the bastardized Phase1 of the Willets Point development has come under fire because of the lack of adequate translations for the multi-ethnic community:

"The meeting was held in Corona, a heavily immigrant neighborhood that borders Flushing Meadows Corona Park to the west. Not surprisingly, at least half the attendees did not speak English, according to Make the Road New York lead organizer Hilary Klein, who attended the meeting. 

The city wasn't entirely unaware of the language issue. It advertised the event in El Diario la Prensa, and dispatched three translators who could speak Spanish, Bengali, and Cantonese. But those translators did not translate the presentation, the one outlining the scope of the mall about whose impact the city was supposed to be soliciting input, according to two letters of complaint subsequently sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Nor did the city provide simultaneous translation technology of the sort typically associated with U.N. meetings (or Star Trek). The city says it has to rent such technology, and so that technology has to be requested ahead of time and no request for that, or any other language accommodation, was made."

After WPU and others complained, the city extended the deadline for commenting until October, 26th. Assemblyman Moya voiced his displeasure with this affront to the multi-lingual residents:

"The lack of translation did not allow the vast majority of community residents to understand adequately the scope of work that [the Economic Development Corporation] was presenting, therefore creating more confusion and frustration," wrote Assemblyman Francisco Moya, in one of the letters of complaint. Since the meeting was required to solicit community input, and much of that community had no idea what was happening, Moya requested the city do the meeting all over again."

The oversight is symbolic of the overall disdain that the city has shown to low income immigrant communities and businesses. One thing should be clear, however. This is a project that can't be satisfactorily explained in any language-and the paucity of interpreters doesn't alter the fact that this theft of private property and parkland is inexplicable unless we factor in greed and crony capitalism into the equation.

The community knows what's going down here and it doesn't like it, not one little bit. They know that this boondoggle deal for the Mets translates into a gold mine for the billionaires and a shaft for the powerless residents of Jackson Heights and Corona.