Saturday, July 19, 2014

WHAT IS THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM?


When I filed to have my Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) fees waived, I knew that this request would be denied; not because it wasn’t right but because it would set a precedent. The reaction from the Councilors was what I was really interested in seeing. The majority of the Councilors was seriously concerned about the problem but did not want to set a precedent and I do not blame them. Had I been in their shoes, I too would have voted to deny the waiver.

Even today, I doubt that anyone understand what really created this situation. You see, Maine law states that the people have a valid right to submit, as many Freedom of Access Acts (FOAA) as necessary, to understand how the government is spending our tax dollars; whether it is local, state or federal. The term used is “Transparency in Government”. The Town Attorney, Roger Therriault, stated in his legal opinion, “…the imposition of costs is the only control that the Town has where request for voluminous and require significant staff time and effort.”

This legal opinion is false and undermines the law. The correct and proper way to control Freedom of Access Acts (FOAA) is for government to ensure that all the facts are presented to the people. This is called transparency. There would never be a need for anyone to submit a FOAA if all the facts were present. The only need for a FOAA is to fill in missing information or as Mrs. Barry stated any of the 5 “W” is missing. The five “W” are:

Who’s involved and what are their responsibilities?
What’s going too happened?
When is it going to happen?
Where is it going to take place?
Why is it going to take place?
How much is it going to cost each party involved?

As you can see, I added a “How” because the taxpayers need to know how much the project is going to cost them.

During Ryan Leighton’s presentation, he only provided a one page memorandum. The council was told this was a UNITIL project but there was no UNITIL proposal and no representative to brief it. When I submitted a FOAA to answer the above cited questions, I was told there were over 200 pages pertaining to this project.

My father use to tell me “The spoken word is like the wind, everywhere, but the written word is here to stay.” This to me is solid advice.

TOTAL TRANSPARENTECY IN GOVERNMENT ELIMINATES THE NEED FOR FOAA’S, NOT COST!!!!!!!

Larry Fillmore


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