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Governor's Online Civic Engagement Task Force Experiment Generates Big Ideas

Chancellor MacCormack serves as citizen moderator of two-week online forum that encouraged hundreds of responses

BOSTON -- June 17, 2009 -- Governor Deval Patrick today met with members of the Citizen Task Force, a group convened following the administration's online community forum to bring the public's ideas and insights directly to the Governor.   The Task Force presented recommendations, which focus on transportation reform, regionalization of local services and education, and ways to promote civic engagement and trust in government, based on public input shared during the administration's 33 statewide community forums and later online at the web site the Governor launched so that citizens could continue to engage directly with their government.

"We always tell people to bring us any problem they want so long as they bring a solution, too.  The members of the task force and the citizens who took part in the community forums have done just that," said Governor Patrick.  "I commend you all for seeing the stake we have in each other, for bringing your ideas and wisdom to the table and for knowing that, if we all pull in the same direction, we will get Massachusetts through to a better tomorrow."

Over fourteen days last month, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and senior administration officials traveled across the state to host community forums on the choices and priorities facing the Commonwealth in the current economic climate.  The public meetings attracted more than 750 residents.  Governor Patrick then launched an online community forum, encouraging citizens to continue the conversation over a two week period.  More than 350 members joined the forum, sharing their opinions on a range of reform proposals and budget decisions being debated on Beacon Hill.

The Governor selected University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack to serve as the forum's "Citizen Moderator."  Following the forum's conclusion on June 5th, Chancellor MacCormack assembled participants into a Citizen Task Force responsible for reviewing and compiling the insights and suggestions offered by more than 1,000 citizens who took part in both the public meetings and online conversation.

"The entire process has been a wonderful example of active citizenship. It further reinforced to me the idea that while we are going through difficult economic times, our Commonwealth is strong in mind and spirit. I commend the Governor for encouraging average citizens to participate in finding solutions to our challenges," said Chancellor MacCormack.

The following members make up the Governor's Citizen Task Force:

Annemarie Matulis, from Taunton, is a Coalition Coordinator primarily concerned with gang, youth, domestic violence and suicide prevention. She contributed to the Online Community Forum through her insightful proposals and discussions regarding Civic Engagement.

Patrick Burke, from Westfield, is a student interested in democratizing governance and social institutions. He provided meaningful contributions to Civic Engagement and Revenue and Cost Cutting discussions.

Mary Porter, from Melrose, is a teacher at Revere High School and a member of the Melrose Housing Authority and the DESE Math and Science Advisory Council. She contributed to the Ethics and Lobbying Reform and the Revenue and Cost Cutting discussions.

Joe Smith, from Lowell, is a retiree with an interest in well-run government. His main contributions were insightful ideas regarding Transportation Reform.

James Hayes-Bohanan, from Bridgewater, is a Geography professor and parent concerned with the educational system and libraries. His main contribution was to the Revenue and Cost Cutting discussion, in which he considered the regionalization of local services.

Aron Goldman, from Springfield, Director of the Springfield Institute, is concerned with democratic participation and broadband access. He contributed to Civic Engagement and Revenue and Cost Cutting discussions.

Lori Nelson, from Boston, is the Director of Community Outreach and Public Policy Liaison for the Boston Ten Point Coalition. She cares about communities, in particular youth and young adults who are often overlooked due to circumstance or lack of support. She shared her perspective on civic engagement.

An executive summary of the recommendations is available at www.mass.gov/governor.  The full report will be available online next week.

 

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  18-Jun-2009
Department:   News & Public Information

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