Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg took to Reddit.com Monday afternoon to answer questions from users.
AMA is a term native to Reddit that stands for "Ask Me Anything." Users of the site can pose any question from the silly to the significant.
Among Rosenberg's answers, the theme of government transparency was mentioned often.
"I'm all over civic engagement. This government belongs to the people, and they need as many avenues of access to the process as possible" Rosenberg said in response to being asked why he hosted the AMA. "We also did 8 Commonwealth Conversations across the state over the last 6 weeks - thousands of people turned out to express their hopes, dreams and challenges"
The full AMA can be seen here. Here are some highlights, with Rosenberg's answers in bold:
On the MBTA
People need to get to work on time and have a reliable transportation system. Governor Baker currently has a commission that's taking a deep dive to understand the problems with the T and the Commuter Rail, and to compare our system against other systems in the country. They will make clear recommendations within a month or so. We will then work together with Governor Baker to introduce changes that make the system more efficient and reliable. In the end, we can not have the world class system we deserve without additional revenue. We also need to be mindful of the other public transit systems across Massachusetts.
Among the most frequently raised issues are: -Access to affordable housing, education, and healthcare -Bringing down energy costs -Improving transportation and public transportation -Addressing the Heroin and Opioid Crisis -Opening the legislative process and increasing transparency.
On medical marijuana
The people of Massachusetts voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2012, and yet there are still no running dispensaries in the state. It seems that there has been an extreme lack of political urgency to get the ball rolling on implementing this law . . . Do you agree that, regardless of the actual bureaucratic impediments in place, this appears to some of your constituents to be little more than the Massachusetts government completely undermining of the will of the people?
(Six hours after ending the AMA) Hi everyone! Senate President Rosenberg's staff here - we checked back later in the day and saw that this question had been voted to the top after we completed the AMA, and we wanted to make sure that the Senate President answered it in the spirit of transparency! Here's what he had to say:
We're all frustrated that it’s taken so long to go through the regulatory and licensing process, and that we still don't have dispensaries up and running across Massachusetts as the voters had asked. Governor Baker has also expressed concern and he has directed his new commissioner of the Department of Public Health to redouble efforts to implement the law - I join with and support him in that. The law was passed as we were ending the recession and the Department of Public Health had neither the expertise nor staffing necessary to implement the complicated and conflict-ridden law. That being said, for those awaiting access to medical marijuana, the situation is untenable, and I will keep pushing to get the law implemented as the people voted.
On the 2024 Olympics
Are you a proponent of holding the Olympics in Massachusetts and do you see it being beneficial to the Commonwealth?
If we can hold the Olympics in MA without having to subsidize the operations, it would be a great chance to showcase the Bay State on a world stage. I would rather put money in some of our priorities like public higher ed, transportation, and addiction and mental health services, to name a few.
Weight lifting. Obvi.
Who would win in a fist fight, Charlie Baker or Marty Walsh?
I heard Marty has a mean left hook but Charlie is taller, has a longer reach, and is faster on his feet. But never bet against a guy from Savin Hill.
What are your thoughts on and experiences with community media and public access television stations in Massachusetts?
I love community access TV. Last Saturday at my annual municipal conference with 220 officials, we broadcast live over 4 community access TV stations who even put it on Youtube! Now that's transparency.
Do you think there's a way to better connect the government with the public?
We need to increase transparency and access, which we are doing in the Senate by word and deed. You will see a continuing effort to expand our use of technology at public gatherings, in an effort to place Senators and the public at the same place to talk about issues of mutual concern. One of the causes of this cynicism is a perception that our leaders are not getting along and working together to solve problems. Here in Massachusetts, we've been working together in a bipartisan fashion. On those occasions when we disagree, we will do so without being disagreeable. I also don't believe in personality politics - the press should be covering the policy behind the issues and not the personalities. The media can contribute a lot to reducing cynicism if they were to return to that approach.
The senator finished the 50 minute AMA to attend a leadership meeting with Speaker DeLeo and Governor Baker.
Photo courtesy of Senator Stan Rosenberg's Facebook page.