The criticism that is most concerning is the notion that we reached out for input on this issue, but have not been involving the grassroots on more substantive, policy issues along the way. My initial reaction after reading these comments was to respond by detailing all of the ways the Governor has kept his promise to the grassroots. These include many town hall meetings across the state, a monthly radio call-in show on WTKK, hundreds of volunteers participating in the Readiness Project, an aggressive schedule that regularly visits every part of the state and includes small meetings with local activists, the development of Commonwealth Corps, the Office of Civic Engagement and the Public Liaison Office, monthly meetings with staff and outside groups, Cabinet, Development Cabinet and Anti-Crime Council meetings scheduled in different parts of the state, an enhanced online constituent service and state government website, and regular interaction by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor with local leaders and activists. I dare say it might also include the helpful interaction I have had on this site with members of the BMG community.
Like I said, that was my first reaction, and I do feel strongly that the Governor has kept his pledge to bring grassroots governing to Massachusetts. And not just, as some have suggested, as a way to simply build “support” for his agenda. I can tell you first-hand that the Governor has benefited from many suggestions and comments he has received during Town Hall meetings or small local gatherings, and the insight gained from these interactions has made it into the thinking and policies of the administration. I can personally vouch for the many good suggestions I have received from the BMG community, in particular those that helped shape our thinking on the Governor’s 90-day economic stimulus initiative.
However, the more I thought about my initial reaction and the comments on the two Posts, the more I realized that there was something very important to learn. The Governor’s campaign showed the power of the grassroots – really, of people working together to change our state – and we in the administration have a responsibility to live up to a higher standard.
So, this is what I am saying – we can and must do better. And I am asking you to take responsibility by giving us suggestions as to how we can make it easier and more effective for citizens to engage and impact their state government. I’ve outlined a few of the ways we have been doing it so far, but I am eager for your suggestions for raising the standard of grassroots governing in Massachusetts.
(Oh, and by the way, I do fully support Liz’s decision to send out the email. Whether you are a supporter or opponent of the Governor (or somewhere in between), I do think it is important for the administration every so often to celebrate its successes. Change is hard work, and the people who are on the front lines deserve a pat on the back every once in a while.)