The objectives of any post election efforts to involve the campaign volunteers in governing were never clearly defined in Deval release 1.0, nor was what it meant for people to remain engaged. A shared understanding between the administration and the campaign volunteers of what it means to remain engaged, and what both groups hope to achieve by that engagement is essential.
Then, and this I think comes from the top down, the administration’s paid employees need to understand that whatever engaging the campaign’s volunteers means, it’s a priority of the administration. Otherwise it will wither and die. As for this imperative coming from the over-romanticized “grassroots”, don’t kid yourself. It would require massive organization and resources to drive the Patrick administration from the outside to change its behavior. I just don’t see it.
Without these two things, it’s lots of fun to talk about nice sounding ideas such as “grassroots governing” and propose neat volunteer activities, but in the end it will be a waste of everyone’s time.
David also asked me if what has happened with the charter school in Gloucester is a deal breaker, given that everyone makes mistakes. My first reaction is that what happened with the Gloucester charter was not a mistake. It was a calculated effort to use our city and our schools as a poker chip – an effort that relied on hiding the truth from people.
Read Paul Reville’s email to Mitchell Chester, understand that the Charter School Offices independent evaluators had rejected all three applicants that year, then watch the video of Chester’s performance at the January 2009 BESE meeting when they granted the charter when he manages to mention that two of the three applicants were rejected, but avoids saying anything explicit about the Gloucester application. Savor his exchange with BESE member Fortmann about the quality of the CSO evaluation process. Browse the Inspector General’s report on this mess.
Once you’ve gotten your mind around it, understand that it happened after representatives of the Patrick administration had come to Gloucester and enlisted members of the field team to recruit community members to come talk with them about the Readiness Project.
The lesson I learned from Deval 1.0 is that the Patrick administration will not hesitate to turn around and treat a community as expendable if, by means they can’t or won’t explain, they calculate that it’s what they need to do to “remain viable to implement their agenda”. Those are a cabinet officer’s words, never questioned by a governor who thinks the process by which the Gloucester charter was granted was “sound”.
My advice, if you want to remain politically active following an election, and you don’t happen to command large sums of money or large numbers of potential voters, is to work locally where you can forge the alliances you are going to need if you have to negotiate with or battle an administration, be it Democrat or Republican. You’ll need people with all kinds of skills and resources, as well as people who know how to bring them together effectively. Don’t sit around waiting for the Patrick any other administration to put you to work. Don’t assume the administration is automatically your friend because you share a party affiliation, or think you have some values in common. Do what energizes you and just consider the Patrick administration as a potential partner, but keep in mind that it is a big organism with its own agendas – not to mention the personal agendas of its members.
If representatives from Patrick 2.0 or whatever they end up calling it come knocking, I’ll certainly hear them out respectfully. Maybe there is something we could work on together that would be beneficial to both of us. I won’t rule it out, but for today I remain sceptical.