Over the past eight years, this website has hosted many policy debates and lively discussions. It’s one of the best – and only – places for that here in Massachusetts.
But on Sunday, March 24th another place for that debate and discussion will be Lasell College where Progressive Mass is hosting its first Policy Conference from 8:30 to 5:00 pm. That’s a long day but when we started to tap into peoples’ interests and concerns, the agenda just grew.
The idea for the conference came to us last year as we were developing our platform – Compact for the True Commonwealth. We realized we knew more about the outcomes we wanted to see – and less about the policies and programs that would get us there. And much of the legislation we reviewed – bills that had been filed last session or might be filed this session – were limited in their scope. Small steps but what were the big ideas??
We turned to our members and they helped us find great speakers and activists. Suzanne Lee, a lifelong forward thinking educator (and candidate for District Councilor in Boston) told us about Citizens for Public Schools and Fair Test – and Lisa Guisbond agreed to headline our education panel.
Ari Fertig – one of our Board members – suggested that his colleague Brian Rosman, Research Director at Health Care for All – could provide the best possible overview on the issues of health care cost, quality and accessibility.
We knew we wanted someone from Demos – the policy shop led by one of first progressive Secretary of State – Miles Rapoport – to talk about election reform – one of our top priorities. We were lucky to get Brenda Wright who has been writing about the need for Election Day Registration and defending the preclearance clause in the Voting Rights Act. And then John Bonifaz agreed to talk about the fight against money in politics.
Barry Bluestone, who’s now writing a blog on equity, will headline our Economy and Jobs panel where he will be joined by Harris Gruman, SEIU State Council and Greg Bialecki, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. Should be no shortage of outspoken people at that session.
And where else can you hear from and interact with three of the people running (or reportedly running) for Governor in 2014 – Steve Grossman will kick things off, Dan Wolf will be moderating the Economy and Jobs panel and Don Berwick will be anchoring the Health Care panel – and talking about the future of Medicaid and Medicare.
The afternoon will be devoted to issue organizing and advocacy.