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Editorial: Sen. Rosenberg’s time

GORDON DANIELS
State Representive Ellen Story and State Senator Rosenberg presented the town with a copy of the orginal legislation that proclaimed Amherst as a town

GORDON DANIELS State Representive Ellen Story and State Senator Rosenberg presented the town with a copy of the orginal legislation that proclaimed Amherst as a town

The honorary title given state Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg last week should recognize not only how long the Amherst lawmaker has served, but how well. This “dean of the Senate,” the new honorific that is given the body’s longest-serving member, believes in good government. We wish more in public life would follow his example.

Briefly last week, Rosenberg was in charge of the Senate, until the re-election of its president, Therese Murray at the start of a new session. In an interview with the Gazette, Rosenberg described life in the Legislature as all-consuming and joked that the new title of dean shows his age.

He is hardly old, but Rosenberg was far closer to youth when he joined the Senate in 1992, following service in the House of Representatives since 1986 back in his 30s. Rosenberg has devoted most of his adult life so far to shaping sensible public policy and law that improves life in Massachusetts.

Over the years, including recent ones in which he fought a cancer diagnosis, Rosenberg has excelled as a lawmaker by digging into details, much like his mentor, U.S. Rep. John Olver, whose final term in elected office wrapped up last week as Congress thrashed about in search of fiscal solutions.

Those details for Rosenberg carried dollar signs in his service as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. In his 21 years in the Senate, Rosenberg has brought depth and insight to discussions. He provided key leadership on redistricting and the new casino law and has been a champion of creating a strong University of Massachusetts Amherst.

He is a genius at seeing through politics and personalities and remaining focused on results that serve citizens and taxpayers. We look forward to hearing his voice help guide discussions about two important public safety issues: smarter gun control and better protections against sexual predators.

While he may seem mild-mannered, Rosenberg knows how to be forceful. One doesn’t handle the rigors of life in the Senate without developing tenacity. Through the course of his cancer treatments, he showed his mental and physical toughness. As dean of the Senate, Rosenberg has a new authority to keep the needs of western Massachusetts before his colleagues, whose grasp of life west of Worcester can be sketchy.

Rosenberg’s understanding of how we get around out here, both as a longtime resident and chair of the Regional Transportation Authority Caucus, should help keep this region’s issues in view as Murray steers the Senate into consideration of transportation policy and funding in the years ahead.

We don’t mean to suggest his most important contributions are behind him. At 63, Rosenberg is at the point in his career where he can blend a vision for change with honed legislative skills. It is unimaginable that voters in his district would decline to return the dean of the Senate to this office, should he continue to seek it.

Snowy season duty

With winter looking like winter around the region, it’s worth noting that people should do more than bundle up against the cold when it snows.

Most urban areas require shopkeepers to clear areas in front of their businesses. That mandate is important because it enables people to travel their regular routes, including those who use wheelchairs and others who simply feel a little more tentative when out walking this time of year. Snow and ice make safe footing tough for all ages; last week, the Amherst elementary schools banned sledding during recesses for now because patches of weathered and trodden snow have developed a dangerous crust.

Clearing sidewalks is not only the law, it is thoughtful and neighborly.

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