7 Great Questions from Marty Walsh’s AMA

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh fielded residents’ questions for about half an hour Thursday during his first Reddit “Ask Me Anything” interview.

“Ask me Anything” sessions—or “AMA” for short—are question and answer forums on the popular message board site, and regularly feature subjects ranging from policymakers to pop stars.

In all, Walsh replied 39 times to discuss isuses ranging from internet service, medical marijuana, and whether he brings his out-of-town relatives to Cheers.

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Here are some of our favorite exchanges from the interview, though curious readers can find the full thread here.

1. On Bringing Google Fiber to Boston:

dm_design: Do you have any plans to help entice Google to bring Google Fiber to Boston?

MartyWalsh: We’re working on ways to bring fiber to Boston. Stay tuned…

2. On Medical Marijuana

_amnesiac: In 2012, voters in Massachusetts overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative for the legalization of marijuana for medical treatment, and that measure allowed for an open marketplace to support cannabis for health purposes in Massachusetts.

However, a recent article in the Boston Globe indicates that you are aiming to block two dispensaries from opening business in the city of Boston, and that you had written a letter to the secretary of health and human services expressing concerns regarding their applications. The article also quoted a statement you made saying you do not want medical marijuana dispensaries in our city, and went on to note that you have long opposed medical marijuana initiatives.

Can you please elaborate on your concerns regarding these planned dispensaries in the city of Boston, and your overall stance on the future of medical marijuana in our city?

MartyWalsh: To be clear: I support the law and the will of the voters. My concern is the applications—there was incorrect information on some of the applications and I simply want to make sure that everything is in order. I know that this is the law and that medical marijuana will eventually come to Boston.

This response was poorly received by some commenters, who felt that the Mayor was avoiding the question.

msD4NI: “The letter follows public comments Walsh made during a community presentation Monday. The mayor said he is “dead set” against marijuana dispensaries, has long opposed medical marijuana laws, and would prevent stores in Boston that sell cannabis.”

_amnesiac: Thanks for the reply, but with all due respect, why would you say “I have made it very clear to the state that I don’t want these dispensaries in our city” to a crowd of 200 people, if you simply had concerns about incorrect information on their applications?

The mayor did not reply to follow up questions.

3. On Liquor Licenses

ShamblesMusic: Hey Mayor Walsh. Thanks for doing this. My question for you involves liquor and entertainment licensing in the city and what, if any, plans you and your office have to make the pathway for potential small business owners looking to open and operate restaurants, bars and entertainment venues less of a nightmare.

As anyone who lives in Boston knows, the city has both a robust population of young people (a recent survey says that Boston has the highest percentage of 20-34 year olds of any major city in the US) and a very strong knowledge and tech based industry. However, anecdotally, it seems like a lot of young people leave to go to places with a more thriving and diverse nightlife. Additionally, young people who are looking to inject new ideas into the bar and restaurant scene seem to be basically shut out, as there’s no way for them to get their hands on a liquor license that is passed between people in the industry or sold for ridiculous sums of money. It seems like our somewhat archaic laws in regards to licensing are really holding us back from reaching our full potential as a city. Thanks again!

MartyWalsh: I am in full support of Boston controlling its own liquor licensing process. I support Councillor Pressley’s legislation, and I see this as an extremely important economic development issue. We just announced a late night task force to look at extended hours for bars and other retail venues. We’re meeting now and I definitely look forward to their ideas.

4. On Cameras for Police Officers

_ImOnRedditAtWork: Would you support legislation requiring Boston police officers to wear cameras? One study showed that after one year of officers wearing cameras, use of force dropped by 60% and total complaints dropped 88%. I am not suggesting the BPD has a specific problem in this regard, some may disagree but that hasn’t been my experience. I make the suggestion because a culture of accountability and transparency will help cultivate greater trust in our civil servants, and stronger, safer communities should follow. In light of the attention received as a result of the marathon events, the Boston police department is in a unique position to lead by example, to raise the bar and set the new standard for the rest of the country.

That’s my pitch, what do you say?

MartyWalsh: I haven’t had a conversation with the police about this—I’d have to have a conversation with the Commissioner about the idea of police wearing cameras. Not sure how logistically this would work.

“Such legislation might help the BPD’s glacially-paced internal affairs department recover from their massive backlog of neglected complaints,” user BBOOSSTTOONN observed.

5. On Scott Brown

MelodicWarfare: Yes, can you please take back Scott Brown? New Hampshire doesn’t want or need him.

MartyWalsh: No thank you.

6. On The Chowder Question

AllThisPaperwork: Mr. Mayor, best Clam Chowder in the city?

MartyWalsh: Legal Seafood.

7. On One Place You Won’t Catch the Mayor

Dan-Defyno: Don’t you hate it when you have relatives come from out of town and they want to go eat at Cheers?

MartyWalsh: My relatives don’t want to eat at Cheers.

(Some questions were edited).