Senate Democrats have announced that, on Tuesday evening, they will convene a caucus to “nominate and select leaders for president, majority leader, assistant majority leader, secretary and assistant secretary.”
This meeting to select Senate leadership is closed to the public.
To be convened behind closed doors.
To keep the public in the dark.
Maine’s Freedom of Access Act is silent on whether elected officials may caucus by party in secret, and so they do because the law does not say they can’t.
Caucuses are generally convened to discuss party business. And, in fact, the Maine Legislature’s own list of definitions defines a caucus as a meeting of “members of a legislative group, most commonly a political party, to decide on policies or strategies.”
But, in convening Tuesday’s caucus, the Dems aren’t conducting the party’s business of “policies or strategies.” They are conducting the public’s business of selecting and electing Senate leaders.
Under FOAA, public proceedings are defined as “transactions of any functions affecting any and all citizens of the state by . . . the Legislature of Maine and its committees and subcommittees.”
Without question, election of Senate leadership will affect any and all citizens of this state, which makes these elections our business.
The Dems do not make up the entirety of Maine’s Legislature, but they are now a majority, which means they are the power brokers because majority rules.
The Dems can call Tuesday’s meeting whatever they want, but what they intend to do behind closed doors is transaction of Senate business — not party business — which means they must meet in public.
Last Tuesday, the public gave Maine’s Democrats what they wanted: control of the Senate. And now, one week later and in their very first collective act, the Senate Dems announce they are going to meet in secret?
A secret meeting is no way to select our leaders.
It’s certainly no way to open the incoming legislative session.
The Senate Republicans have already secretly caucused to elect their leaders, but as the minority party they have no say on who will be Senate president. The Dems have that control.
The Senate, no matter the party, has traditionally locked the public out of caucuses while their peers in the House have been much more open.
We elected these people to represent us. Don’t we have a right to know what they’re doing?
There are a number of local events planned starting today and lasting through mid-week to honor veterans as we observe Veterans Day.
Maine offers a special gift that lasts a lifetime: Maine residents who were honorably discharged (or received a general discharge under honorable conditions) are eligible for free, lifetime day-use passes to most of Maine’s state parks and historic sites.
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walter Whitcomb said, in a press release, that Maine is “honored to be able to offer this small token of our gratitude to Maine veterans in recognition of their outstanding service to this country.”
While it may be a small token, it’s a tremendous gift of access to some of the most beautiful and interesting areas of our state. It’s a gift that honors the men and women who have fought for us, and it’s the least we can do to thank them.
Accept the gift. You’ve earned it.
In Peru last Tuesday, among dozens of other things voters decided, they decided to enact an ordinance to allow the street-side electronic sign at the Peru Fire Station on Route 108 to display different messages “in a format that would not district drivers.”
The ordinance passed 562-305.
Before this vote, the municipal sign was allowed only to display a single static message.
Now that one sign — and no other — can scroll through several displayed messages, including “dissolving or fading the message” in a manner that will be safe for drivers.
Does a town really need an ordinance to do that?
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.