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The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center and Continuing Education at the University of Montana will present a bipartisan Community Conversation titled "What's Broken: The U.S. Government or Us?" on Tuesday.

The event, which is free and open to the public, features former U.S. Rep. Pat Williams and former Montana Secretary of State Bob Brown. The conversation begins at 7 p.m. in the James E. Todd Building, Room 204. "Home Ground Radio" host Brian Kahn of Helena will moderate.

The program provides an opportunity for the community to come together to discuss important issues of the day in a civil, bipartisan forum.

As our elected officials debate vital issues such as employment and health care, observers question whether action is possible in the current political climate. The Community Conversation will facilitate a citizen culture that is informed, constructive and bipartisan, said Mansfield Center Director Terry Weidner.

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"By engaging citizens in a balanced discussion, we hope both our citizens and our leadership will become better informed and open to compromise," he said. "It is not our intent to impose any solutions. Rather, we want to help foster open debate around key public policy issues as a way of helping local voices direct debate toward concrete action."

Deena Mansour, who helps direct the new policy initiative at the Mansfield Center, said the two speakers reflect a commitment to civil, bipartisan discussion. Williams served nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979 to 1997. Brown spent nearly 30 years in the state Legislature before being elected Montana's secretary of state in 2000.

The program will be streamed live on the Web at www.umt.edu/mansfield.

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