Governor LePage - Executive Working Papers Should Have Same Exemption as Legislature's

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Naran
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Governor LePage - Executive Working Papers Should Have Same Exemption as Legislature's

Proposal would make governor’s ‘working papers’ off limits
By Eric Russell, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 09, 2011, at 5:31 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — ... state’s right-to-know advisory committee...approved a proposal from the governor’s office that would exempt all of his “working papers” from... Freedom of Access Act, perhaps until the end of each legislative session.

....snip
...10-5 vote...committee recommended the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee...and ...full Legislature ..approve the governor’s exemption next session.

... Legislature long...enjoyed...same exemption for working papers... anything written down that could contribute to proposed legislation.

[url=http://bangordailynews.com/2011/12/09/politics/proposal-would-make-gover... the Newest Round of Teeth-Gnashing and Accusations....[/url]

*************

Here's the basic question -- if it's not okay for the Governor's team to have their notepad scribblings exempted from public scrutiny, then why is it okay for the House and Senate?

After all, if the public wants to see the executive team's doodlings and notes in the margins, then why not those from the Legislature?

Why should Senator Margaret Craven's notepad (or Rep. Emily Cain's) be exempt from public scrutiny, but not the Governor's?

Surely, the legislative notepads need public scrutiny, too!! Clearly, we need a Blue Ribbon Panel, a focus group, and a government grant! Think of the Rorschach Analysis Opportunities, as we decipher the inky scribblings of our favorite legislators!!!

[url=http://doodle-tree.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/doodle-art-a.png]Look! It's the "State Secrets!"[/url]

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
The BDN article notes that

The BDN article notes that all the Blaine House grocery receipts have been requested via FOAA, as well as other mundane items that have collectively taken many, many hours of staff time.

The Blaine House staff and Governor claim that none of the information revealed has been published by the requesters, and the Governor's staff believes many of the requests are being made for frivolous, partisan reasons.

No matter one's political affiliation, I think we could all agree -- the Executive Branch has more important things to do than revealing the Governor's favorite brand of breakfast toast.

Chris Coose
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Joined: 11/04/2003 - 1:01am
““Every Maine citizen has a

““Every Maine citizen has a right to know what government is up to,”
reads candidate Paul LePage’s campaign website. “He will fight for
stronger laws to protect and expand Maine citizens’ right to access
information from state and local government. When Paul is Governor, open
government will be a reality, not a talking point.”

The answer to your question is, the legislature should have it's working papers subject to the Freedom of Information Act as well and according to the governor's campaign promises he would be seeing to that.

This is not just a broken promise this is a retreat behind the opeque curtain, the opposite.

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
You're free to ask Sens.

You're free to ask Sens. Alfond and Craven when they plan to address the issue, Chris. Don't forget Rep. Cain, too. I'm sure they'll all have some good ideas on how the Legislature can remedy the situation.

Meanwhile, how about that Judicial Branch? Why should the public be shut out of reading the Maine Supreme Court's grocery receipts and doodlings?

thistle
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Joined: 08/15/2009 - 9:46am
Perhaps the Executive could

Perhaps the Executive could start a FOAA blog posting the names of those entities requesting info, the nature of the info, and the cost to Maine taxpayers of complying with each FOAA request.

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
That is a worthy, and

That is a worthy, and wonderful suggestion, Thistle!!

After all, if those receipts for toothpaste and granola bars must be revealed, why not the name of those in pursuit, and the resulting cost to Maine taxpayers?

Thank you!!

Tom C
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Joined: 01/03/2006 - 6:00pm
This is just a fishing

This is just a fishing expedition to try to come up with innuendo they think will embarrass Lepage, and it's being conducted by those determined to destroy the state.

Tell 'em to pound sand.

This is not just a broken promise this is a retreat behind the opeque curtain

Baloney. The PROMISE was showing the real state of DHS, which he has done.

This witch hunt is being conducted by those that want to put BACK the opeque curtain.

NancyEH
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Joined: 12/12/2010 - 8:23pm
No, it's not OK for the

No, it's not OK for the Legislature and it's not OK for the Governor either. If this had been Baldacci's proposal, the Republicans and conservatives would have been all over it. But since it's LePage, it's all good, right?

Mike Travers
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Joined: 08/04/2002 - 12:01am
I'd be okay with full

I'd be okay with full disclosure of the Governor's and Legislature's papers if we are allowed to flog people for frivolous requests like grocery receipts.

Bruce Libby
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Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
We have now created a problem

We have now created a problem w/ the word freedom attached to it!
Yet we have not/did not consider purpose there of when we created this monster.
Of course this is all predicated on the assumption that someone is doing something wrong/corrupt/etc. etc..
Rarely that is the case fortunately.
I donot see the need for wholesale availablity of papers frtom Leg. or gov.. If I am in house and a amendment is printed and I note on margin to what need is met by seeing my note that sponser is an idiot!!!! That is proably redundent and already known.

Of greater concern ought to be is that the very pursuit of this information is in all likelyhood causing less information to be recorded in any form.

spinmaker
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Joined: 01/08/2006 - 11:52am
I;ve got mixed reactions

I;ve got mixed reactions here, but it seems that many of those who shout loudest about the need for transparency here are the same as those who decried the MHPC's quest to list the salaries and benefits of all state employees.

For the record, I support the MHPC's efforts to provide transparency, and my wife is a state employee.

Transparency is generally a good thing, but should not be used simply for political maneuevering, rather it should be to promote accountability to the public, which is where the power of the government is supposed to rest.

Maine law provides some limited exceptions to the right-to-know laws; I need to learn more about the "working papers" request before offering an opinion on that subject.

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
I could be mistaken, but I

I could be mistaken, but I believe Maine's Judicial Branch is also exempt from disclosure of working papers.

Seems to me that what's good for one branch (or, in this case, two) should be good for all the others.

--> Legislative Branch -- Exempt.
--> Judicial Branch - Exempt.

Executive Branch - Not Exempt.

Islander
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Joined: 02/13/2009 - 12:16pm
To Chris and NancyEH, maybe

To Chris and NancyEH, maybe LePage is taking a cue from your president on transparency. But what id good for the goose is good fro the gander, and if the others are exempt then they should all be exempt. This sort of nickle and dimeing reminds of what they did to Sarah Palin in Alasaka.

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Updated: 12:51 PM LePage bill

Updated: 12:51 PM
LePage bill to shield his papers faces hearing today

By John Richardson jrichardson@mainetoday.com
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA — ...snip

The Freedom of Access exemption proposed for the Governor's Office is parallel to an exemption that already exists for legislators' working papers.

...reports, papers or memos developed by the Governor's Office for the purpose of a proposal or report to the Legislature would be considered confidential until they are publicly distributed or the end of the legislative session for which they were prepared.

...public hearing ... scheduled for this afternoon before the Judiciary Committee. ....

[url=www.pressherald.com/news/LePage-bill-to-limit-access-to-papers-faces-hea...

**********

So, let's review.

--> The proposal parallels an existing exemption for legislators.

--> The papers so exempted would eventually be made public.

Why is this a big deal?

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
LePage’s ‘working papers’

LePage’s ‘working papers’ exemption approved by legislative committee
By Eric Russell, BDN Staff
Posted March 13, 2012

AUGUSTA, Maine — ...Legislature’s Judiciary Committee approved... amended bill... would make... governor’s working papers off limits to... Freedom of Access Act.

... LD 1805... drafted by...governor’s office in response to...flood of broad FOAA requests last year... also in part to afford the governor... same exemption lawmakers enjoy. Working papers include reports, drafts, internal memoranda and similar material.
...snip

It now goes to the House and Senate for votes.

[url=http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/13/politics/lepages-working-papers-ex...

Mark12345
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Joined: 02/18/2012 - 12:01pm
Here's my $0.02. I welcome

Here's my $0.02.

I welcome all in joining me to call for LePage to take the lead and show his willingness for transparency as he has promised. He should do this by recommending a bill be put forth that results in the exact same disclosure rules for House/Senate/Governor and Judicial.

That is in my opinion how he should handle this. He just looks bad saying "their's is secret so why can't mine be secret", that's how this appears. I know we all understand perception is important.

LePage is very correct to point out the hypocrisy of those in the Legislature wanting his transparency to be more than theirs. I heard someone on MPBN defending that point of view and it was sheer ridiculousness, something along the lines of "oh, the Legislative notes, etc, are less important because they don't have as much weight in matters of Maine politics as the Governor", blah blah blah. The MPBN interviewer, of course, nodding in agreement "mm-hm, mm-hm, right, of course...".

But that's just it. LePage scores a major coup by proposing the legislation as discussed above and being on the right side of the issue. Especially for a Gov who campaigned on transparency.

We all need to get away from the partisan stuff. It looks just as small-minded as when Democrats do it, and we all sound so astute when pointing that out. But when a R is under scrutiny, we suddenly defend and dig into all sorts of details to come up with the great reason to defend LePage, as opposed to looking for the best answer in the interest of open government. Do I think there are many who would be trivial with frivolous BS in asking to see said working papers? Sure. But government institutions on the whole have created this problem/earned a certain reputation over the past several years, and so they can only blame themselves. It's not wise to blame people for wanting to inspect every detail of their government, based on healthy and warranted suspicion (I believe the Founders felt the same about the concept of "trusting Government").

I think my suggestion would enable the Gov to rise above this issue.

I like LePage and support his work. I question his tactics/response to this issue. I don't want to hear "hey the Legislature gets to shield their working apapers, I deserve the same". I want to hear from my leader "Agreed on transparency folks, but let's get this done right -- all branches subject to same rules, here's the proposed leg, let's vote this afternoon, up or down, I am for it. Who's with me?".

"Your move, Legislature!"

And to be clear, I hear what you're saying, Naran, about the triviality of freaking grocery receipts. You're right on the money. But there may be other reasons for us tax paying citizens to want to see a Lepage's, or a Baldacci's, or a King's, working papers regarding...whatever. In today's political climate, where Government on all levels across this country have become steeped in so much corruption and violation of the Constitutional Oath, its a common sense move the way I see it.

Islander
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Joined: 02/13/2009 - 12:16pm
I would like to see all

I would like to see all working papers, period. They do work for us right? But if the legislature is unwilling to share then I see no problem with the Gov not sharing until after the fact.

Bruce Libby
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Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
Mark12345 Of course we all

Mark12345
Of course we all know it is steeped in "corruption" but have we really ever had a strong history of that here in Maine to is that not the buzz word for we do not like whatever or whoever.
All this is going to do is create less transparency if the parties are doing anything wrong or corrupt!

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
If the FOAA requests for

If the FOAA requests for documents from the Governor's office and staff hadn't been so extreme in his first year of office, I might agree that a new law wasn't necessary.

However, it's important to remember that the LePage administration has received so many requests - for things like the Blaine House grocery receipts - that the proposed budget includes a new position of ombudsman, to deal with the FOAA filings.

If there hadn't been so many frivolous requests, I doubt the Governor would have proposed the new law.

--------------------

“We have received [FOAA] requests for all grocery receipts from the Blaine House,” he wrote. “The staff of the Blaine House conducts the shopping — it is not something I involve myself in. I understand that taxpayers have a legitimate right to know the amount of money being spent in their house, but the intimate details of our diet goes far beyond funds and into the private details of my family’s life.”

LePage also said he believes some people have been abusing Maine’s FOAA for political purposes.

[url=http://www.ourstory.com/thread.html?t=553347]Source - scroll down for story[/url]

CV43
From Naran...apologizing for

From Naran...apologizing for the Governor. If the FOAA requests for documents from the Governor's office and staff hadn't been so extreme in his first year of office, I might agree that a new law wasn't necessary.

I'm not exactly clear what your definition of "extreme" is. Also, "Blaine House grocery receipts" aren't working papers, so whoever found it necessary to make such a request will probably continue to do so.

The Governor has earned any skepticism coming his way. A non-exhaustive list of contributing factors include:
1. Stating during his first State of the State that a birdy whispered in his ear that a few towns were about to go bankrupt, but never naming them.
2. Publicly justifying a few of his wackier proposals on "anonymous" emails.
3. Promising a level of transparency the likes this state has never seen (which, technically is probably true, but in the opposite way he is suggesting).
4. See ALEC.

Bruce Libby
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Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
Question: If the GOv. makes a

Question:
If the GOv. makes a decision resulting in a policy or whatever, one does not approve of ,is seeing notes drafts etc. going to change your mind?

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
CV43 - my comment about

CV43 - my comment about "extreme" referred to the number of FOAA requests received by the Governor's office during his first year. Many of which were frivolous.

Mark12345
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Joined: 02/18/2012 - 12:01pm
Bruce Libby, I don't quite

Bruce Libby, I don't quite understand your post # 17, can you please clarify? It sounds like you think I am against the transparency, I think my post above clearly indicates I am in support of the transparency. Thanks

Naran, I don't think others here question that some requests will be frivolous in the nature you describe with the grocery receipts, etc, but I also think I addressed that above. Government in general has earned that reputation and "deserves it". And LePage campaigned on transparency which is why I think he should embrace this. I repeat, I like LePage. He would do very well for himself, in my opinion, if he got on top of this issue in the manner I suggest above, or something similar to it.

Mark12345
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Joined: 02/18/2012 - 12:01pm
CV43, what is ALEC?

CV43, what is ALEC?

Bruce Libby
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Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
Mark12345 I understand your

Mark12345 I understand your post I just have an aversion to use of the corruption word when we rarelyever find it being so,
I believe if a official is going to be corrupt they are not gong to leave or have much paper work etc. around to be revealed unless o fours eon e is Gov. of Illionois I suppose!!!

CV43
My comment about "extreme"

My comment about "extreme" referred to the number of FOAA requests received by the Governor's office during his first year. Many of which were frivolous.

Okay, you're saying "extreme" refers to the number of requests. So, what's your definition of "frivolous"? Are you saying "frivolous" in a legal sense or "frivolous" because it doesn't meet your standard? Also, did you personally review all of these requests to make such a determination?

If it's your opinion that many were frivolous, no problem....but just say so. Use words like "I think" or "In my opinion".....just don't pass things off like you're a reporter whose done all of her fact-checking.

Islander
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Joined: 02/13/2009 - 12:16pm
Instead of keeping the gov't

Instead of keeping the gov't papers under wraps until after the fact, how about we have access to all papers in the legislature while they are working, I would love to see Cains, Alfonds, Rotundos notes etc.
Transparency for all.

Mainelion
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Joined: 08/11/2005 - 12:01am
Exactly Islander. CV's

Exactly Islander. CV's selective outrage is amusing. I bet John Martin's working papers would be especially interesting.

Islander
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Joined: 02/13/2009 - 12:16pm
Heck, why should we even have

Heck, why should we even have to ask. Just collect all papers etc and post them om the Internet for all to see.

Mark12345
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Joined: 02/18/2012 - 12:01pm
CV43, Mainelion above

CV43, Mainelion above suggests "CV's selective outrage is amusing"

Is this the case? My post above calls for open disclosure and transparency for all, same rules for everyone, period. Will you kindly reply here and go on the record that you believe in the same transparency rules for all (Legislative, Exuctive and Judicial) regardless of party affiliation like I and others do, and if not, please state your specific reasons why some should not have to abide by these rules? Thank you.

Mark12345
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Joined: 02/18/2012 - 12:01pm
Islander, I hear you. good

Islander, I hear you. good point. And if that were done, I believe it would accomplish another goal too - it would take "the charge" out of the whole secrecy thing when there is actually nothing to hide in likely many cases. Because if all the darned stuff is online, people who are being frivolous (surely there are many on both sides of the aisle, as for example I remember the stories recently out of AK that all the emails released from Palin's records showed nothing) will get pretty tired sorting through grocery receipts for granola bars, etc.

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