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La Liga de Las Americas

COSSA begins year with re-election of its officers

By Lindsey Poisson, Special to La Prensa


Lansing, Jan. 5, 2007: This year will mean new goals and challenges for members of the Michigan Commission on Spanish-Speaking Affairs (COSSA).


The non-partisan commission, with 15 governor-appointed members from various parts of Michigan, creates and reviews policies and advises lawmakers on issues affecting the state’s Latino population.


Many potential obstacles for progress in the state’s Latino community were raised by the midterm elections, such as immigration and the passage of Michigan’s anti-affirmative action proposal, said COSSA’s Chair José Luis Reyna.


“What we want to do is evaluate the impact,” Reyna said. “There was a lot of negativity, a lot of conjecture that we thought was an undignified treatment of people regardless of what their national origin.”

COSSA Exec Dir Marylou Mason


But the commission made efforts in its Jan. 5, 2007 meeting in Lansing to find solutions to potential problems by reviewing its unapproved, 5-year Strategic Plan.


Reyna said enrollment and the quality of education was identified as the most prominent concern for the commission, but the commission aims to collect more accurate data regarding Michigan Latinos’ health, economy and political involvement.  Commissioners will also track the effects of recently passed legislation, such as Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s $4,000 scholarship granted to every secondary education-bound student.


A final draft of the plan will most likely be made available on the commission’s Web site this month and presented to Gov. Granholm.


Reyna said the commission could approve the plan as early as February during its monthly meeting.


Carrying out the commission’s goals should be easier with a recent move to the Ottawa government building, home of the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth, and more resources available, said COSSA office’s Executive Director Marylou Mason.


COSSA moved into the building late last year and employees are still getting settled in, Mason said. “It will give us more access to the state departments and more stability,” she said. “There’s lots of work to be done, but it can be done.”


The commission will be going into 2007 led by its officers from the previous year, which includes: Chair José Luis Reyna, Vice Chair Danette Duron-Willner, Secretary Arminda García, and Trustee Benjamin Inquilla.





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