Most people have heard of the drug testing scandal that emerged out of the state crime lab a few weeks ago. The head of the state Department of Public Health, Commissioner John Auerbach, resigned in its wake. Unfortunately, the situation has implications for biking and walking in Massachusetts, because Commissioner Auerbach was one of our strongest supporters in state government. We recently wrote to the Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, expressing our concern, and urging her to appoint someone just as committed to active living:
Dear Dr. Bigby:
I wanted to express my concern over the departure of John Auerbach and your search for his successor. While I certainly understand the circumstances that led to his resignation, Commissioner Auerbach was a true champion for active living and sustainable transportation. Under his leadership, DPH has engaged in many programs to more effectively promote biking and walking, such as Mass In Motion, Communities Putting Prevention to Work, and most recently the Community Transformation Grant. MassBike has been a strong partner with DPH on all of these programs, which have made a real difference, particularly for people who live and work in areas where biking and walking is both most necessary and most challenging.
So as you begin to consider the next DPH Commissioner, I hope you will select someone who will continue to strongly support our mutual efforts to get more people living actively.
Thank you for your ongoing support!
We are encouraged that Secretary Bigby immediately responded and affirmed the Patrick Administration’s ongoing support for the work begun on Commissioner Auerbach’s watch. And we thank John Auerbach for making biking and walking an important part of the state’s wellness programs.