Sunday, March 25, 2007
Gov. Patrick's Boston Town Hall Meeting
OK, here goes. I went to the relaunch of devalpatrick.com with Dr. Susan Wadia Ells, who is assisting in the struggle to get Ben LaGuer a new trial. We both wanted to be able to talk of issues that matter to us. Dr. Ells wanted to address the fairness of the recent SJC decision against Ben Laguer, which is our mutual interest. I wanted a status report on the criminal investigation into the anti-gay marriage petition signature fraud.
When we got there, the gymnasium was filled. My suspicion from the beginning was that all people were sent the same invitation. I was asked to wear a "PRESS" lanyard, and wondered if this was a case of mistaken identity. I didn't know prior to arriving, but there was Tom Lang, director of knowthyneighbor.org. He smiled and waved us over to the two seats he had reserved next to him. He was wearing his own "PRESS" pass.
A student gave the first short speech with a hint of nervous excitement, and introduced Mayor Menino.
Mayor Menino spoke briefly, and carried the devilish grin of a mischievous boy throughout most of the conference. It seemed gleeful. His tone was more serious when he made a passionate remark regarding the gay marriage issue:
"The world is a better place today because we gave people their civil rights." A standing ovation ensued.
We sat and listened to some of the students at the school talk. One of them spoke of our common goals and needs. He called for "responsible and engaged citizens" saying "we are the future" and we need to be "inspired to serve our community". Then he introduced Governor Deval Patrick.
Governor Patrick was upbeat, even playful at times, kidding back and forth with Menino. A feeling hung in there air that was akin to synergy.
"75 days!" He reminds us, and works a playful comment about Cadillacs and drapes into his speech. We "must strive for what we can" and pursue fairness and balance. The Governor went on at length about things his administration wants to work on. To be totally honest it was then that I started to remember the fact I hadn't slept in 30 hours, and noticed how stuffy it was in this gym. There were several standing ovations for todays speakers at different times.
They sent microphones into the audience, and again I got the feeling that this "PRESS" lanyard was not going to be of any real value. Shortly afterwards, Tom, Susan, and I were whisked away to another room. As we were walking down the hall there is an aid telling us what to expect once we get there. I'm not catching what he is saying, partly because he is talking to fast, and partly because I'm dead tired.
When we got into the room, I was surprised to see how small the group really was. There couldn't have been more than 30 people in the room, and that includes the video crew(s).
Many big names in local liberal blogging are there, including my friend Ryan Adams, of Ryan's Take. This was again where I felt like someone made a mistake, like giving me a "PRESS" pass, and accidentally invited me too.
This meeting room was for these bloggers and by invitation only. Someone realized Dr. Ells did not have a pass, and she was asked to leave. Not a problem for her since she knows Deval well enough, and just walked up to him in the hall.
The governor came in and shook every one's hand, thanking them individually for coming out and being part of the day. He then proceeded to spend about a half an hour answering each one of our questions.
At the end of the day I was left with the feeling that this is an honest man who cares enough about his fellow man to suffer the slings and arrows of ridicule for our benefit, and not personal glory. He is obviously a very intelligent man who understands how to manage people.
Governor Patrick's call for us to be engaged in the process makes sense to me, and seems genuine. We put our trust in this man to lead us when we voted him into the corner office. Now it's time for us to follow, or at least get out of the way. If people see fit to criticize the Governor, the first thing I'll be asking them is what they did about it. Did they use Devalpatrick.com to communicate their frustration, and add their solution, or are they just belly-aching?
My only regret this entire meeting was found in not being able to accompany the other bloggers who got together after this event. Tom and Susan had to run, and I was at their mercy for a ride. It would be fun to see if we could stay in touch, find our common goals, and work together towards them. As they say, "Together we can." ;)
Go to devalpatrick.com and look to see when there is a Town meeting near you, and get involved!