transparency

Recent Stories

Follow-Up: Legislature launches inquiry into Maine PowerOptions program

The Legislature’s investigative arm launched a preliminary inquiry of the state-sponsored Maine PowerOptions electricity program Feb. 17, a month after a story by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting raised questions about the group’s transparency, oversight and benefits for its members. Continue Reading →

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Follow-Up: Legislative committee questions electricity program staff

For the first time in 16 years, staff of Maine PowerOptions appeared before lawmakers Feb. 2 to explain how the quasi-state electricity consortium brings together hundreds of municipalities and school districts across the state to help them buy power. Continue Reading →

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Value of quasi-state electricity program called into question

Part 1: Five years after a scandal at the Maine Turnpike Authority landed its director in prison, a quasi-state program — Maine PowerOptions (MPO), which brings together municipalities, school districts and other state nonprofits to purchase electricity in bulk — lacks transparency and effective oversight. Continue Reading →

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State program’s cozy relationship to supplier raises concerns

Part 2: Both a confidential state probe and a subsequent independent investigation by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, including a review of a confidential agreement between Maine PowerOptions and its electricity supplier, raise questions about whether the quasi-state program is living up to its original mission of saving Maine taxpayers money. Continue Reading →

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Boston PowerOptions is a larger, more transparent version of MPO

Part 3: Several northeastern states, including New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, have formed groups similar to Maine PowerOptions. Boston-based PowerOptions runs an organization nearly identical in mission to the Maine program, though far larger in scale — and with more transparency. Continue Reading →

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State to reconsider hiding oil train data

The state committee charged with promoting transparency in government is asking lawmakers to overhaul a 2015 law that made secret information about the transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials by railroad through Maine.

The legislature’s Right-to-Know Advisory Committee voted Wednesday to send a letter to the Judiciary Committee recommending that it reconsider the controversial law in order to ensure that the government is not keeping railroad data secret unnecessarily. Continue Reading →

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Legislature sidestepped records law to end public access to oil train data

A 2015 law that ended the public’s right to know about hazardous freight on Maine railways sidestepped normal legislative processes, ignored federal policies and overcame a gubernatorial veto. Now even the law’s sponsor agrees it needs to be changed. Continue Reading →

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Maine gets F grade in 2015 State Integrity Investigation

The year’s frenetic events in Maine’s statehouse mark a turn towards increasingly incendiary, winner-take-all politics. But the histrionics also underscore a more insidious problem: Maine’s weak accountability and transparency laws aren’t keeping up with the new pace of politics here, and lawmakers are doing little to change course.

This dynamic has earned Maine an F and a numerical score of 59, placing it tied for 42nd among the states in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government accountability and transparency conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Continue Reading →

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Transparency advocates question secret budget deal

Secret meetings in the legislature: They’re still going on.

Last week, we exposed how lawmakers on the legislature’s appropriations committee were holding secret meetings to discuss the budget.

Today, in a report by the Sun Journal’s Scott Thistle, we learned that Democratic and Republican leaders secretly negotiated a budget deal without any public input, discussion or review. Continue Reading →

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Closed door: Legislators conducting public business in private despite state’s open meeting law

The legislature’s practice of conducting the public’s business — such as budget negotiations — behind closed doors likely violated the state’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA). Center editor-reporter John Christie “crashed” a closed door session of the appropriations committee and confronted legislators about the practice, which one of the state’s prominent first amendment attorneys says violates the sprit of FOAA and likely also the letter of that landmark law. Continue Reading →

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