Saturday, January 10, 2009

Legislature says: Let's get moving!

This week I attended two events to kick off the 2009 legislative session.

On Monday, my City Councilor, Mike Ross, was elected Council President, and I attended the first council hearing of the year at City Hall, where the vote took place. A few observations:

-- Hats off to the Councilor's staff for coordinating the offline and online worlds so well. While Ross addressed the Council from the rostrum, his staff launched a new campaign website and posted a blog entry via Boston Magazine online (Ross has penned a blog there for many months). Even better yet, the messaging across all the vehicles was in sync.

-- Ross pledged to make the Council more open to all residents, both by using technology better and by holding council meetings in Boston's neighborhoods. I am not sure how the second idea would work logistically, but it makes sense. It's hard to attend City Council hearings during the day. Also of note, Ross addressed the issue of electronic access in his blog post, a wise move given it's an area of contention for many active Boston bloggers.

-- Ross proposed an economic summit of City leaders, modeled after a volunteer summit organized by the previous City Council President, Maureen Feeney. A summit to think of ideas is always a good idea. Let's hope it happens soon, given the economy is in rough shape, and I for one am ready to do whatever I can to put the resulting good ideas into action quickly.

-- The Council Chamber buzzed with energy, both because of the youth of the new President, and also because embattled City Councilor Chuck Turner led the session until Ross was elected.


On Wednesday, I trudged through the snow, sleet and rain to watch the swearing in of my new State Senator, Sonia Chang-Diaz, at her new office at the State House. It was my first trip ever to the State House, and it allowed me to reminisce with other campaign volunteers and staffers, such as Deb Shah and Marianne von Nordeck. I snuck out of the office during the proceedings to visit with fellow Ward 5 member Laura Sargent, who works for my State Representative, Marty Walz.

Witnessing my first Senate proceeding was at times, well, comical. One of the more perplexing ceremonies of the day? How about when the Senate Leader appointed a committee of other senators to escort the newly elected Senate President, Therese Murray, to the rostrum. I guess there's concern the Senate President might get lost?

Pomp and circumstance aside, the new state and local legislative sessions have begun, and at a time when it's got to be challenging to be an elected leader. Still, what I witnessed gave me a sense of optimism. President Ross and President Murray both noted the *urgent* need to get moving for their constituents. (Mayor Menino and Governor Patrick echoed these sentiments when they addressed the respective chambers.)

The sessions have gotten off to a fine start. After all, President Murray found her way to the rostrum, thanks to a committee of her colleagues. Definitely a good sign.

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