Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Questions for the Governor

I went to a town hall type/meet and greet meeting in which Gov. Deval Patrick met with the Cambodian community (at this awesome adult day care center for Cambodians!) It was great. When I walked in I got to chit chat with some young Democrat campaigners. We b******d about Capuano losing and Coakley losing and when our next shot at rectifying that is (2012) and if Capuano will run again (he hasn't announced).

Then Governor Patrick came in the room and all the standard greetings were done. And he said a few words in Khmer, which, of course, everyone loved. Then some Buddhist monks did a Victory chant for him, which was pretty cool (as he seeks reelection this November).

Then he gave a speech about accomplishments in recent years, which I won't go into, but you can read some of them here.

Then he took a number of questions. The first was from a Cambodian teacher at the high school who has worked there, something like, 22 years. He said that Cambodians are the lowest academic achieving immigrant group in Massachusetts (which I believe). He gave some dismal statistics- I think 6% of Lowell High graduates end up graduating from a 4 year college. (Don't quote me on that one). He was saying that the kids do well up to about fourth grade and after that they fall behind. Basically the question was "what are you going to do about this situation?" Gov. Patrick gave a fluffy answer about how he hasn't made any budget cuts to education despite the terrible economy, bla, bla bla. I wasn't sure exactly what that guy wanted to hear for an answer, but, if nothing else, it is good for Gov. Patrick to hear what's going on in his communities.

Another question was about the economy- this was the best one of the afternoon. The man stated how Cambodians have been a back bone in manufacturing in Massachusetts (it's very true). The man requested that contract bids for Lowell jobs go to Lowell companies. Patricks answer was "yes and maybe" and then he explained that his hands are tied as far as Federal contracts go. He talked about how the bidding process has been reformed and how you used to have to "know somebody" to get a job, but now it's more fair. He also talked about how our state continues to be a big bio-medical manufacturer (coincidentally- my husband just got a job doing that) and also the state is really making strides in "green" manufacturing.

I will be emailing the governor my thoughts on the subject because I thought it was an excellent suggestion and not one that should be blown off (the way it seemed like it was). I'll tell him that I understand that in times of budget woes, the cost of the bids are a critical consideration. I'll also say that obviously, there aren't always Lowell companies qualified to do all jobs. However, I think an ideal bidding process would give weight to companies who promise to hire a certain number of workers from the community. This would be for contracts for distressed areas like Lowell, Lawrence, Springfield, etc. So, please do consider that, Governor.

The next question was, quite possibly, the most interesting question ever asked at a Town Hall meeting. A man said that there are two temples residing in the same building- one upstairs and one downstairs- and the monks have been warring for ten years. And it has gone-or may go- to court. So, "can Gov. Patrick help solve this so they can live in peace?" ... Monks fighting??? Who has ever heard of such a thing? It's the very antithesis of Buddhism! I guess that's the fallen nature of man. We, Christians, don't exactly have a clean history when it comes to inter-church fighting. Deval Patrick said, in a very roundabout way that there was nothing he could do. I thought that was a sucky answer and I would make a great politician because I would have said that I have such-and-such staff member who has experience in mediating contracts between the government and the unions and he's very good and experienced and I'll call him right away and have him sit down with the Monks. I mean, even if the guy just sits with them for one hour and lets them air their grievances, at least it would look like the governor tried.

Then a girl asked him a good question and a moronic question. The good part was the observation that the parks have a lot of litter and the kids all go there and how it should be cleaned up. Deval Patrick said some affirming things and then said how the economy makes it difficult to allocate extra funds right now, but encouraged groups of volunteers to take on the projects. And I thought that was a great answer because -especially in this economy- you can't just throw money at every problem. If I were the governor I would have gotten even more specific. I would have said something like "I challenge you to gather 30 people to clean the park that concerns you most. Nothing can stop your generation when you put your mind to it. This is an opportunity to show your little brothers and sisters that you care. That the earth, your community, their safety, is important to you". Next question. lol.

The second part of her question was something along the lines of "Cambodian kids don't know much about the genocide that their parents went through" and "there's a disconnect between the generations" bla bla bla. "what are you going to do about it?" R U kidding me, girl? What the hell is the governor supposed to do about that?! First of all, I personally, know of dozens of genocide educational programs in Lowell. There are books. There are museum exhibits. There are photograph exhibits. There was a musical. There is the Ankor Wat Dance troop. The subject is covered extensively at the high school... There is, honestly, not much more the state could do to try to "bridge that communication gap" between generations. And if your family is having a problem- take care of it. That is not the government's job. sheesh. Gov. Patrick gave a wishy washy answer on that too, which she totally deserved.

I was surprised that the subject of immigration never came up considering this is a group of immigrants and the subject is a hot button one across the country right now. If I had the opportunity- and I think I will include this in my email to him- I would say that- as Governor there is nothing he can do about this situation- but should he ever seek a federal office, I implore him to please, please, look into the law that stripped immigration judges of the ability to take into consideration special circumstances when deporting permanent residents who commit crimes. Since they were stripped of that power they have been unable to take into consideration the non-violent nature of some crimes, large amounts of time that may have passed since the crime, the immigrant's community contributions since the crime, and the family hardship caused by a deportation. This situation is an atrocity and needs to be addressed. It affects the Cambodian community in particular because young men who have spent their entire lives in America are being sent back to a country they know little about, leaving families in wreckage behind. It's also important to note that this law, the Criminal Alien Deportation Improvements Act of 1995 (Search 104th congress) was passed immediately following the Oklahoma City Bombing in a backlash against immigrants that turned out to be for nothing, since the terrorist was home grown. The root of this bill was reactionary, not carefully thought out.

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  • At 3:31 PM, Blogger Deena said…

    I wrote this years ago and just re-read it. I came down pretty hard on that girl. It wasn't THAT bad of a question.


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