Public access and city pavers and '#nobull'Published on Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 12:12 am | Last updated on Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 12:12 am
On Tuesday, Gov. Paul LePage signed the much-debated supplemental budget bill.
The document has gained a lot of attention for cuts made to it, but not necessarily for what it contains.
The budget carries funding for a part-time public access ombudsman in the Attorney General’s Office.
The person who fills that position will be the go-to for Mainers who believe they have been improperly denied access to public documents or excluded from public meetings, in violation of the state’s Freedom of Access Act.
It will give citizens a place to go for help and will offer real improvement in citizen interaction with government.
It also offers tremendous cost-savings for taxpayers.
If someone believes they have been denied access to public documents in Maine, currently, their only formal option to appeal that denial is to file a civil action in superior court. Some people may have the courage and acumen to do that pro se, but most have to hire lawyers.
So, what happens in real life is that when citizens are denied access to public records and face the financial hurdle of hiring lawyers and filing suit, they give up because they can’t afford to fight.
No one should be denied such a basic right because they can’t foot the legal bill, but it happens all too frequently in Maine.
The ombudsman position offers potential savings to municipalities, too, as boards of selectmen and managers may be able to resolve FOAA conflicts with citizens without having to hire lawyers.
This ombudsman position answers a crying need in assuring government transparency. And, although it is an expenditure, the working role of an ombudsman offers enormous public savings and efficiency across the state.
Cheers to that.
Cheers to pals Lucas Farrago of Auburn and Samuel Chamberlain of Lewiston for taking a stand against hate.
The two are the creators of the “No Bull Project,” aimed at calling out cyberbullies who use social media to attack.
The teens have spent weeks in preparation of their project launch and, on Thursday, fought hate by responding to a profane and insulting Twitter string by posting their own message: “Stop the hate; it’s immature and is awful.”
The work of stopping hate is too big for two teens, so they’re asking for help. Anyone can join their anti-hate effort by responding to hurtful messages with the “#nobull” signifier.
This is a righteous project.
As more people fight hate — one hash tag at a time — we can make a difference.
The portion of Ash Street in front of the post office in Lewiston is undergoing a makeover. Workers there have ground off top layers of asphalt, exposing a glimpse of the original paving stones that lined the street.
Patches of pavers are visible along Lisbon Street, too, where the asphalt has worn away, but the newly exposed swath across Ash Street offers a fresh glimpse back in time when cobbles lined downtown streets.
Like to reminisce?
Look straight down when crossing Ash Street.
A piece of Lewiston’s history is buried there.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.