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Sue Bush
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Patrick To Citizens:"Come and Get It"

By Jen Thomas
05:29AM / Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick [Photo by Jen Thomas]
Pittsfield – The words, reminiscent of a suppertime chant, were uttered last night by state Gov. Deval Patrick as a rallying cry for citizen generated government change: "Come and get it."

"I Need You"

Patrick led an open forum on topics ranging from taxes to the environment Monday night at Pittsfield High School, as part of a state-wide series of Town Hall-style meetings. The meeting began at 6 p.m..

“One of the things [Patrick] does best is holding a conversation,” said city Mayor James M. Ruberto in the night’s welcome speech. “He listens as well as speaks.”


Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray [Photo by Jen Thomas]
During the meeting, Patrick demonstrated much of the campaign style that earned him the trust and support of state voters during the 2006 election. A shared vision brought him to the state's highest office but it will take more than vision to get voter wants and needs to a place of reality, Patrick said.

“To govern, I need you,” Patrick said.

Making It Real

“Passive citizenship won’t work to govern, not if what we’re about is making change real,” he said. “”Governing is about power, and my power doesn’t come from inside connections. My power comes from you - your willingness to organize and make your presence felt and your voices heard everyday.”

“If you want lower property taxes, more cops, and more summer job opportunities, come and get it,” he said.

Patrick’s Promise

Patrick talked about the role of the people in bringing his vision to the Commonwealth. He reminded audience members of the promises he made on the campaign trail, including a vow to bring “good jobs with livable wages,” becoming a world leader in clean energy technology, and assuring that everyone has “decent health care, with an emphasis on prevention, at a price everyone can afford.”

“That’s the vision we – you and I - brought to the Corner Office 95 days ago,” Patrick said.

The governor warned that there was still a long road ahead.

“There’s a lot of work yet to do – for me and for you,” he said. “Our top priority is to strengthen our economy. That’s what makes opportunity real for people.”

95 Days In Office

Patrick detailed some of his accomplishments since his inauguration, including securing $7.1 million in workforce development grants and passing $1.5 billion bond bill to help “rebuild roads, bridges, and critical infrastructure.” Patrick also appointed a sales team to help promote investment in Massachusetts companies, and the Patrick administration expects that this will create 100,000 new jobs created in the state by the end of his first term.

“That’s what we’ve been up to for the last 95 days,” he said.

And with just 95 days in office, Patrick has visited the Berkshires three times, frequenting the cities of Pittsfield and North Adams. Monday's visit brought together area politicians, including Senator Benjamin Downing D–Pittsfield, Representative Denis Guyer D–Dalton, and North Adams Mayor John Barrett III.

Patrick's short time in office has not escaped criticism and controversy; Patrick endured media scrutiny for passing over a Ford as an official vehicle for a more costly Cadillac model - and then consented to finance any difference on vehicle cost - and also took media hits for hiring a secretary for his wife. An expensive redecorating of the Governor's mansion also generated controversy, and Patrick agreed to pay for changes.

Despite what some have termed "rookie mistakes," last night's crowd seemed to harbor no ill will toward Patrick and welcomed him with a standing ovation. He was given another standing ovation as he exited the stage at the meeting conclusion.

Helping Citizens Help Themselves

Patrick’s Berkshire visit marked another stop on the tour, which included Amherst on Friday and future stops planned for Springfield and Cape Cod. The meetings encourage Massachusetts residents to have a conversation with the governor, according to Patrick.

“We want to know what you care about, so we can do what we can do to help you help yourselves. I’m looking forward to the conversation,” he said.

Patrick was accompanied by Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray and state Department of Workforce Development Executive Director Suzanne M. Bump. Patrick and Murray fielded questions from a diverse crowd, addressing such controversial topics as progressive green taxes, the genocide in Darfur, and the convoluted Massachusetts automobile insurance system. Members of an audience that numbered about 250 people asked for the administration’s support on issues of shared parenting, the loss of agriculture in Western Massachusetts, and the expansion of eco-technology in the Berkshires.

In response, Patrick voiced approval for many of the community’s initiatives and offered his web site as a mechanism to raise awareness for some of the issues.

Patrick expects to be in Springfield on Wednesday.

For more information, visit Patrick's www.devalpatrick.com. Internet web site.

Jen Thomas is a senior year student at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and an iberkshires.com correspondent.
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