Gov. Patrick encourages municipal leaders to find unity and cooperation

Gov. Patrick encourages municipal leaders to find unity and cooperation

Delivering a message of collaborative community leadership, Gov. Deval Patrick addressed about 100 local municipal officials and business owners in the Curry Student Center Ballroom June 14.

Gov. Patrick was the inaugural speaker for the Leadership Lecture Series, an event designed by the newly-created Municipal Leadership Academy. The organization is a collaborative effort between Northeastern’s School of Social Science, Urban Affairs and Public Policy, which houses majors like sociology and political science, and the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA).

Patrick addressed unity and cooperation among leaders at the local level with state and local government, citing that competition for limited resources has pitted Massachusetts neighborhoods against one another, forcing some schools and firehouses to face closure.

“Some of you feel, and not without reason, that the gates of Beacon Hill have been closed to you as well,” he said. “… I know that none of you expect miracles. But you do seek a partnership based on respect, understanding, open communication and a willingness to help you help yourselves. And we’re eager to engage in that partnership.”

Patrick said his vision is to move Massachusetts education funding away from an “overreliance on property taxes” and to fix what he called a “broken funding formula,” referring to the state’s Chapter 70 program, the current state measure that funds public education at elementary and secondary levels.

He urged local leaders to voice their concerns to the Legislature, saying he was “shocked” when he heard from Senate members and House Representatives that “they aren’t hearing from you.” He told the group to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented because “failure is not an option.”

“Success is not a possibility without your contribution of perspective and understanding,” Patrick said. “What it really means and what it really costs to deliver the kind of education that we know we owe our kids.”

Northeastern’s role in Patrick’s vision for the state will be to provide training and educational programs to local leaders through its School of Social Science, Urban Affairs and Public Policy, said its dean, Barry Bluestone, who is also the director of Northeastern’s Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

“If you think about the university as an educational institution, one answer is that more and more people should be getting training all their lives, and by providing education to this training to this group of public servants, we will stay true to the function of the university,” said Bluestone, who also gave an address at the event.

Other than offering educational workshops and seminars, Bluestone said the academy’s future plans include pushing to integrate the co-op program into local communities, saying that several mayors have approached him with possibility of adding students to their offices.

President Joseph Aoun also spoke at the forum and applauded the efforts of the MMA and of the governor, noting that partnership between the university and the community will be invaluable in developing services and programs beyond public education.

“If you take any issue ranging from stem cells to nanotechnology to policy to public policy issues to training to workforce development, no one can be ahead of us,” he said.

Though Patrick acknowledged that differing political ideologies can prove difficult for colloboration, community involvement from all levels is the only to way to grow and succeed.

“Government is not them, it’s not some thing out there that you rail against, and resent paying your taxes to and all the rest of it,” he said. “It is us, it is you and me, and it ought to reflect the best of who we are and the best of what we have.”

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