No transparency? If true, it would be an outrage

In politics, it’s unfortunate that one can find partisans getting oh-so-angry about something and then it turns out their facts are wrong or lack the proper context.

A recent example involves transparency in the Maine Legislature, which currently has Democratic majorities and leadership.

An article in the on-line newsletter of the Maine Heritage Policy Center suggests the public won’t be able to know when there are legislative public hearings and work sessions. It buttresses this with comments from Republicans, but none from Democrats, and with a partial quote from a memo from legislative leaders.

Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapelton) said the Democrat’s [sic] decision does not bode well for the creation of sound public policy. “Anytime you stop advertising public hearings, you’re hindering the public’s ability to weigh in on important issues and, as a result, hindering our ability to craft good public policy,” he said.

Indeed, it would be wrong if there wasn’t a way for the public to find out what the legislature is doing and when it is doing it. But that’s not happening.

What’s wrong with the claim there’s a lack of transparency?

Two things:

First, notice to the public will still occur. It won’t be in the newspaper, but will be on-line — and therefore widely accessible — as well as posted in committee rooms.

You can see what the legislative website looks like just below.

Notice of Maine Legislature’s Public Hearings and Work Sessions, as seen at http://mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/phwkSched.html

Second, the very same process was followed in the last Legislature, when Republicans held majorities and were in control. At the end of the session, there wasn’t enough time to publish a notice in newspapers two weeks ahead of committee work sessions and hearings, so Republican leaders waived the requirement.

Aren’t there enough real areas of conflict and disagreement without creating one out of whole cloth? 

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives.