Lisa Marraché, Waterville, Maine
Tries to stymie Web site that monitors state spending
This past March, the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition honored the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative think tank, with its second annual Sunshine Award. The reason: the center's Web site, maineopengov.org, which hosts a searchable database of state spending, including the names and titles of state employees and how much they earn.
But sunshine, it seems, is less popular in some quarters than others.
"Open sunshine is all well and good, but putting people's names out there is not helpful," said Maine Senate assistant majority leader LISA MARRACHÉ, a Waterville Democrat. "You don't have to be putting people's names on a Web site."
Marraché backed up her words with action, filing legislation that would have prohibited the state from releasing the names of some 90,000 state employees.
But the purpose of sunshine laws, after all, is to hold a light to government activities so that the public knows what's going on in its name — and with its money. In a biting editorial, the Bangor Daily News accused Marraché and co-sponsors of her legislation of reacting improperly to the Heritage Policy Center's anti-tax, anti-spending agenda.
"This information is public, but the conservative group's offense was to put it all in one place," the News said. "While it is true that the Maine Heritage Policy Center hopes to shrink government — and calling attention to the billions of dollars spent by state government and, to a lesser degree, making it less attractive for people to work for the government, is part of that mission — this is not a good reason to make what has long been public information confidential."
Fortunately, Marraché's ploy failed. In May, the legislature's Judiciary Committee killed the proposal, despite strong support from the state's public-employee unions. And the sun is still shining in Maine.