News

Alvaro Degives-Mas 

It is with a heavy heart that we bring some very sad and sudden news. Our friend and colleague, Alvaro Degives-Más, passed away on Monday evening, May 25, 2020.

 

Álvaro

“My languages draw a map of my life” is what Álvaro used to say. And there was a story that came with each language he used, a story telling a part of the history of his life.
Spanish was the language of his mother and his family, deeply rooted in the history of Southern Spain, German the language he learned playing with the children in the neighborhood when he was a little boy living in Germany with his mother. French was the main language of the International school he first went to. His family originally came from Ceuta, a Spanish autonomous city on the Moroccan coast of North Africa, which is where he learned Arabic. When he got his American citizenship, he would sometimes jokingly say he was African-American.

His mother eventually moved to the Netherlands, and Dutch was added to the already impressive number of languages Álvaro used in daily life. English is taught to every child in the Netherlands in school, so he learned this along with all the other students.

However, one of the things he really hated when he was a little boy was having to interpret for his mother who, as an adult, had much more trouble learning the languages of her new home countries. If there was something he did not want to become, it had to be an interpreter. At least that is what he once told me.

Álvaro was a born musician. From the age of 5 he played the piano, and he proved to be extremely talented. He also played guitar and several other instruments. Music was his passion. He talked about taking singing lessons lately and taking up the piano and guitar again. He even bought himself two new guitars and I brought a piano over from Europe for him. He played a little but somehow never found the time to really sit down again to start composing music again.

I remember when I was 15 and visiting him at his place when he gave me the lyrics to a song he had written. He wanted me to sing it, and he would play the piano. I feel so sorry now that I can’t remember the words anymore, but more so, because I vaguely remember the feeling of the song, and I did not recognize what he was trying to tell me with that song. I do remember when I was a little older being a singer in a band with Álvaro and several other students from our school.

His mother was a journalist and worked for the Dutch National Broadcasting company. She had her own television program for Spanish immigrants in the Netherlands and her own television production company, Álvaro worked for his mother several years and learned how to direct and film documentaries from the most skilled filmmakers in the Netherlands and even had his production company during his student years to earn some extra money.

I remember him reading every newspaper there was, every day, about 4 or 5 of them. He could read extremely quick. I never believed that he had actually read an entire page in the short time it took him to read it, so I’d ask him questions to test him. And even though he proved me wrong each and every time, I still could not believe it. His analytical powers, combined with his limitless capacity to store facts in his brain, even the most obscure ones, and a brilliant mind, were impressive to put it mildly. I have told him repeatedly that he would make a very good political analyst or perhaps even politician. We need people in politics with the right mind, a just heart, and the passion to do right and the capacity to weigh as many factors as possible in the decision-making process. And he was all that. He did work as a foreign media analyst for the Spanish Embassy for a while in the 90’s. I was happy he had recently been appointed to be the Delegate for Region 2. He was full of ideas on how to serve the California Court Interpreters.

We met in school, when I was 13 and Álvaro 14. He had just moved to Hilversum, my birthplace in the Netherlands, and the city where we finally would get married 40 years later. He told me much later, in 2011 to be precise, that he thought there was an angel in his class when he first saw me in 1976. It was love at first sight, on both sides, but he was too shy to say anything to me. What does a 13 year old girl do when there is a boy she likes? I gave him all the right signals, I made a drawing of him, which I showed to him, I called him under a fake name, I even grabbed him and kissed him when we were alone outside and it was too dark for anyone to see. But somehow, he still was too shy to make his feelings clear to me. We became very close friends, and I went over to his house to “drink tea and do homework” as it is called. But we just listened to music, I listened to him playing the piano, and we talked, and talked and talked. We could talk for hours and hours.

Somehow, we slowly grew apart over the years after graduation. He moved to Spain and I got married to somebody else. From time to time we would get in touch again and each time, we would talk and talk again, as if nothing had ever changed. In 2003 Álvaro married and moved to the USA. He still gave me updates on where he lived, but we did not talk anymore, mainly because calling each other by phone was very expensive then.

In 2011 his stepfather died and Álvaro planned on coming to the Netherlands for the funeral. He contacted me and we went for a walk on the moors where we used to walk, and again, talked and talked. And then, for the first time, he told me what he had been hiding for all those years, namely that I was the love of his life, that I had always been the love of his life. We were both still married at the time, and he went back to the USA. Several months later, the 24th of December 2011 Álvaro suffered a heart attack, and he realized he had to make some drastic changes in his life. In 2012, we got in touch again, first by email, then by phone and Skype. We both got divorced, and in 2016, after exactly 40 years since we first met, we finally got married in Hilversum, amidst our family and friends, most of whom know him from way back. We couldn’t have been happier. We went to Andalusia on our honeymoon, and it was truly magical.

However, he had to go back and I wasn’t allowed to come with him. It was very hard on us, to have finally found our heaven on earth in each other’s arms and still not being able to be together. We have only been able to live together for a little over 2 years…. It has been way too short. We still had so many plans, things we wanted to do, places we wanted to see. We so much wanted to grow old together and retire in his beloved Andalusia, the land of his ancestors. I still can’t comprehend it. 

My love, my soul, my heart, my best friend and husband lives on in me. A word smith, a brilliant mind, a walking encyclopedia for all his friends to use freely, and a most generous heart and loving human being has left us. May he live forever in your memories. And rest assured, he loved being an interpreter!

May we meet again dear.

Hélène Mijnhout.

 

 

Dear Members:

It is with a heavy heart that we bring some very sad and sudden news. Our friend and colleague, Alvaro Degives-Más, passed away on Monday evening, May 25, 2020.

Alvaro is survived by his wife Helena, his son Diego, and a large extended family who reside in Spain, the Netherlands, and other parts of the world. Alvaro’s family is in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. He will be dearly missed by all of us. Alvaro was born in Barcelona, Spain. He went to school in Hilversum, the Netherlands. He provided language services to the legal and business communities and various government entities since he came to the USA in 2003. He was not only a certified court interpreter for the Spanish/English language pair, but also a registered court interpreter for the Dutch/English language pair, with federal certification pending. His other languages were German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Arabic. He had just started with Mandarin. 

He began his tenure as an interpreter with the Monterey County Superior Court on August 7, 2018. Before coming to Monterey, Alvaro had worked as a legal translator and judicial interpreter for over 15 years in multiple jurisdictions, including Reno and Modesto. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, he also worked in journalism, was a radio announcer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and served as a foreign media analyst, translator and spokesperson for the Spanish Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands. Alvaro was a cosmopolitan and multi-faceted, talented and skilled professional. Alvaro created and implemented a statewide communication system for members to post concerns and reach out to the membership. As a steward in Monterey County, he assisted with communications with Administration to enable a constructive and harmonious relationship between the Court and the Union. He was recently appointed to be the Delegate for Region 2 and was assisting the Executive Board with many issues arising from the pandemic. His dedication and commitment to our profession was extraordinary, and our Local is very grateful for his service and loyalty. His passing is a great loss to the court interpreter community, as an outstanding professional and exemplary human being. 

The CFI Local 39000 Executive Board
Michael Ferreira, President
Janet Hudec, Vicepresident
Carmen Ramos, Secretary-Treasurer
Rosa Trevizo, Region 3 Delegate

Silvia San Martín, Region 4 Delegate 

 

  

 

 

For anyone who is interested in labor representation topics. 

Lou Zigman is giving a series of free classes about the topics listed below. I have attended his classes before, and feedback from other participants from our Local has given solid reviews about the presentation and information imparted.
 
It is important for you to RSVP and tell him that you are interested in attending the desired course (I suggest them all!) so that he will be able to send any materials ahead of time, and allow you to join in the call or televideo chat. Be sure to send an email to [email protected] .

Legendary Arbitrator

Lou Zigman invites you to a FREE scheduled Zoom meeting.

 the ziggyjudge

 

40+ Years Nationwide Experience

Taught from a Neutral's Perspective

Guest Labor & Management Speakers

My Way to "Give-Back" to Our Profession

RSVP if U Can - [email protected]

 

Topic: DISCIPLINE - JUST CAUSE
Time:  May 26, 2020 09:00 PM (yes) Pacific Time

                     (US and Canada)

RSVP if U can : [email protected]

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83366463193?pwd=ZU9kMjF2Y2RHc3hqWlM5WGVjSXl2QT09

Meeting ID: 833 6646 3193
Password: 154077
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+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 833 6646 3193
Password: 154077
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kouFlpzmk

  

Topic:  DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION -

               WEINGARTEN - ETHICS
Time: May 27, 2020 09:00 PM (sure) Pacific Time

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RSVP if U can: [email protected]

Join Zoom Meeting
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Meeting ID: 837 1065 1823
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Dial by your location
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Meeting ID: 837 1065 1823
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcfffZ1E9q

**************************************************

Topic: CONTRACT INTERPRETATION 
Time: June 9, 2020 11:00 PM (Y Not?) Pacific Time

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RSVP if U Can- [email protected]

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Meeting ID: 854 9347 6957
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+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 854 9347 6957
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/ktqbtt9hO

 

 

 

INTERPRETER BUDGET UPDATE

May 20, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The CFI Board has been zealously advocating and protecting our members’ interest with extra efforts made during the Covid-19 pandemic. Protecting our budget is no exemption. 

This upcoming state fiscal budget (2020-2021) has been divided in 2 segments due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The first segment will be issued in June 2020 and the second segment will be issued on or about September 2020. The reason for dividing the budget in 2 segments is due to the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in extending of the income tax due date from April 15 to July 15. 

Although interpreters fall under the Judiciary, our line item fund is a separate from the courts operation budget. All courts are 100% reimbursed for all interpreter related expenses. This includes wages and benefits. 

For the past years, the interpreter line item fund, has been increased.  To our knowledge, not once has the interpreter line item fund ever been decreased. 

Trial Court Interpreter General Line Item Fund History

2013-2014

2014-2015

2015-2016

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

$90+ million

$94.5+ million

$95.8+ million

$106+million

$108+million

$122.3+ million

 

As customary, every January, the Governor reveals and publishes his proposed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. In January 2020, the Governor proposed an increase of 8.9 million to the general fund, making the interpreter line item fund total $131.2 million with an additional allocation of $1 million for VRI equipment. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic impact, Governor Newsom reworked the budget and made some cuts. The May revised state budget was revealed last Thursday May 14th, 2020 (this is the first segment of the 2020-2021 fiscal state budget). 

Similar to all funds, the interpreter line item fund was not spared of cuts. However, the cuts were not taken from last year’s amount ($122.3+ million) but rather, from the January proposed amount ($131.2 million). Our fund suffered a 5% cut to the overall January proposed fund resulting in a $6.5 million decrease, making the interpreter line item 2020-2021 fund $124.6 million, which is a $2.4 million increase to last year’s fund. 

In addition to the new interpreter line item amount of $124.6 million, the Governor also allocated an additional $9.9 million to the general fund and $9.6 every year thereafter. It is not unusual for funds to received additional allocations of money to the general fund. What that means is that for the next fiscal year (2020-2021) the interpreter line item will consist of an ongoing general amount of $124.6 million (base fund amount to be used only for the reimbursement of interpreters wages and benefits) plus $9.9 million as an additional allocation which brings the interpreter line item fund to $134.5 million. The $9.9 million will be used for both interpreter expenses (wages + benefits) that exceed the general fund and for VRI equipment. 

Holding true to our fiduciary duty, we are working diligently to limit the amount of the $9.9 million courts can use to purchase VRI equipment and to set safeguards for the use of VRI. It is our position that in-person interpreting should be mandatory and the preferred vehicle to deliver meaningful access to justice for all limited English proficient court-users; VRI should only be allowed to connect remote courts who have no employees in the language pair of they seek with courts with larger employee pools with diverse languages on staff; the use of VRI should be limited to routine brief non-complex and non-evidentiary hearings and furthermore, VRI is to be used under the safeguards and protocols outlined in our MOUs. 

Thank you all for your support and trust.

In Solidarity,

Janet Hudec
CFI Local 39000 Vice President
CFI Local 39000 Legislative Chair

 

 

Reporting Remote Interpreting Problems During the COVID-19 State of Emergency

Interpreters Need to Document Issues of Remote Interpreting Use and Failures

As the pandemic continues, and in some instances expands throughout the state, there is pressure on the part of justice partners and the courts to limit the number of people in courtrooms. In the case of interpreters who are working on site, it has become abundantly clear that there are many courts that are unable to provide optimum conditions for Centers for Disease Control social distancing and personal protective equipment guidelines. 

To keep interpreting staff safe during the COVID-19 crisis, there is an expansion in the use of several forms of remote interpreting. The Local has been able to formalize side letters in which remote interpreting “sundowns” and will only be utilized during the state of emergency; the Union continues in talks with several counties to bring standardization of best professional practices and minimize the potential for abusive, dangerous, or unhealthful practices.

In some courts this remote interpreting is done on site with the interpreter in their own room, out of the courtroom or other offices (mediation, probate, etc.). There are some superior courts that are trying to distance the interpreter and carry out the interpretation using employees sheltered at home, or a completely separate room/facility from the one in which they are assigned, all in the interest of social distancing and keeping everyone contagion-free.

Since beginning this “experiment” with improvised distance interpreting, many of our members have called their stewards and/or our Local complaining about situations that may be putting at risk the rights of the parties involved in the proceedings. We commonly hear that one thing or another “needs to be fixed.” Insofar as this remote interpreting during COVID-19, our duty is to document and memorialize all the problems of providing language access for LEPs through the myriad of distance interpreting systems that are popping up due to the need for social distancing.

We are asking members throughout the state to notify the Union on our local’s website about any language access and remote interpreting technological issues you may be encountering during this COVID-19 period. Click on this linkand in the Subject Line please indicate “Remote Interpreting Issue,” as well as fill in the other details as completely as you are able. Anyone may file a report about remote interpreting issues – that includes justice partners, like Attorneys, Bench officers, etc.

Remember that you have an ethical duty, outlined in our Ethics Manual (page 33) and Rules of Court 2.890 (h) to report (on the record) impediments to your performance. It is clearly stated in our MOUs that no interpreter may be retaliated against, nor disciplined for bringing the impediment to the attention of the Court, or any other authorized party.

Please recognize that if you are omitting or misunderstanding the source information based on faulty remote interpreting technology or lack of sound procedures and protocols, you may be exposing yourself to challenges from court staff or even the Limited English Proficient individual. It should be noted that these remote interpreting platforms have the ability and may even automatically record an interpreter’s performance.

Therefore, it is your right and duty to state in open court that the equipment is not functioning properly, you need a repetition, cannot hear, etc., because those are indeed impediments to your performance. If you do not speak up, if you do not file a report with the Local, you could be held responsible for errors and omissions, and that could even lead to your certification/registration in jeopardy of being revoked.

If your Court is starting, or is presently carrying out any sort of remote interpreting (VRI, Telephonic, etc.), and particularly if you find that the equipment and protocols are impacting your ability to provide a complete and accurate interpretation for all parties involved… WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU. Your integrity as a sworn court interpreter and an LEP individual’s rights may be on the line!

Stay safe; stay well.

In solidarity, 

The CFI Local 39000 Executive Board

 

 

 
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