Maine government corruption
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"A Web site that lists the salary of every state employee by name has triggered a bill to protect their identity, pitting the public's right to know against the privacy of individuals paid with public funds.
The Maine Heritage Policy Center, a Portland-based conservative advocacy group, launched the Web site http://MaineOpengov.org last September to track payrolls, pension payments and checks written by the state to individuals and businesses. The searchable database identifies every position by the name of the employee who holds it."
"When a conservative think tank posted the names and salaries of state employees on its website, the database was applauded by the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition, which promotes open government. Since then, state employees have complained that easy public access to their salary information amounts to an invasion of privacy. In response a Democratic legislative leader has submitted a bill to shield the state employees' names. Now critics are accusing her of trying to turn government into a secret society."
"A Web site launched last year that posts the names of state workers and their salaries is coming under fire from legislators who want to protect the privacy of public employees.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Lisa Marrache, D-Waterville, and five other central Maine lawmakers are supporting a bill that disallows the release of salary information as it pertains to 'an individual state, county, municipal, school, University of Maine System, Maine Community College System or Maine Maritime Academy employee.'"
"A Maine-based organization is asking for a heavy load of information from some local towns under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Maine Heritage Policy Center has requested three years worth of information from several towns in Maine, which communications director Martin Sheehan said either came at the request of that town or a group of residents in that location. Once that information is gathered, Sheehan said, it will all go onto the Web site http://MaineOpenGov.org for the public to access, where more than 40 residents had posted comments about financial information obtained from the state last fall."
"Online public records provide great opportunities for citizens to see why, for so many years, journalists pushed local, state and federal governments to provide more information about their work, not less.
As government employees use computers more and more to do work such as rating medical facilities, charting the costs of public projects and regulating lawyers, doctors and other professionals, there is enormous opportunity to make that information available to an increasingly Web-savvy public."
"All fees associated with gathering public documents at a citizen's request under Maine's Freedom of Access Act follows state statute except a $0.40 per page fee, according to the Wiscasset Town Planner, Jeffery Hinderliter."
"Last Sunday, we published a lengthy investigative report by staffer Meghan Malloy that looked into an alleged puppy mill that was operating in Somerville, and looked into how state and local officials had regulated the dog-breeding operation prior to 2008.
I want to tell you how we used Maine's Freedom of Access laws to get the documents at the heart of this report."
"A new law requiring elected officials to receive training in public access to information goes into effect Tuesday, July 1.
The law requires officials - from dog catchers to selectmen to the governor - to review the frequently asked questions on the state's Web site about the Freedom of Access Act, which governs public information and proceedings."