A reversal of 'precedent' in secret caucus

Late Friday, after the Senate Democrats were questioned by the press about closing the door to Tuesday’s evening caucus, the Dems reversed themselves and announced the caucus — to be held tonight at 5:30 p.m. at Sweet Chili Thai in Augusta — would be “open to the press.”

But, since Maine’s Freedom of Access Act makes no distinction between “public” and “press,” the reversal should more correctly and more simply have noted that the caucus would be “open.”

That’s good news.

On Thursday last week, the Maine Senate Democrats sent a message to Maine’s press, among others, that they would caucus Tuesday to “nominate and select leaders for President, Majority Leader, Assistant Majority Leader, Secretary and Assistant Secretary. Please note this meeting is closed to the press.”

Then, after being contacted by Maine’s press and questioned why the Dems would hold elections of leadership positions behind closed doors, the Maine Senate Democrats issued a second announcement under pressure late Friday that the caucus would be “open to the press.”

The Senate Dems called this reversal a “correction” to an email and, on Monday, said the “Senate Democratic caucus feels strongly about transparency and public access and to that end, changed its precedent.”

It’s a welcome change, but a weak explanation.

If the Senate Democratic caucus feels strongly about transparency and public access, it would not have closed the meeting in the first place.

Senate Dems did the right thing here, and we are happy to acknowledge that effort and welcome continued transparency.

We also want our readers to know that, given Saturday’s editorial critical of the Dems' position, that the shift in precedent was made late Friday after the editorial was written. The announcement of that shift was not received until Saturday morning, so our criticism was — unfortunately — dated, and for that we apologize.

Going forward, given the House Dems' long history of self-guided transparency, we hope to see their habits infect their peers in the Senate as we welcome the incoming 126th Legislature next month.

Public access is not a thing of convenience.

It’s a thing of accountability and trust.

jmeyer@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

Republicans could use this lesson in transparency and ethics

Watch these people ....they're doing the right thing ...our government is doing the right thing ....the Democrats are doing the right thing.

So, what's missing from this part of our government picture now?

Oh. Yes. The Republicans.

Lesson learned?

Answer: Don't let the Republicans lead our government and good things happen.

A simple lesson, and one the majority of Mainers have obviously well learned since barely surviving the horrors of the corporate and bankster supporting Reagan, Bush, McCain and Romney political fiasco's.

Signed:

Republican for Obama

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

This is just a test.

Wondering why the pink box follows asking me to verify again.

Had this been a real emergency ...

Jason Theriault's picture

Question

The title refers to a 'precedent' being reversed... Do these meetings normally happen behind closed doors or was this a change?

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Amazing what a working press can accomplish...

when they shine the light on things in Maine. Good on you LSJ! Hope we see more of this type of reporting in the future.

We need to avoid future Maine housing and MTA scandals by keeping a close sharp eye on the those in charge and the organizational budgets and apply the yardstick of common sense to them.

Otherwise we will continue to see the same abuses we saw pre-2010 in Maine. I just hope we don't go back to the future.

Trust but verify! Kudos!

Steve  Dosh's picture

Syndicate content A reversal of 'precedent' in secret caucus

ed. 19:30 hst ? Monday ( still )
Kudos on the first step to full transparency in your local and state governments
uh. . It's not us Democrats who turn fascist and secretive okay ? It is - u s u a l l y - reactionary conservative governments such as Mussolini or Hitler's National Socialist front who wrap themselves in the flag to get their way , okay ?
We used to see this - all - the time in the U S Federal Govt. when the Republicans were in power . They'd classify anything & everything . There are several levels of classification : Confidential , Limited Official Use , Restricted , Secret and several types of Top Secret ( Eyes Only , burn immediately etc ) . This information is not secret . Take that pseudo fascist A G John Ashcroft , the CIA and water boarding for example . Torture is against the law and always has been in the U S A .
It was not in Hitler's time
Lying , perjury , and embezzlement are illegal , also . Condi Rice ( NSA - SECSTATE ) was a bald faced liar . Get it ? Got it •
Now do what you've successfully done ( kudos awarded ) and apply it to Mayor MacDonald's administration , your Honorable Governor , and the - r e s t - of the Maine State Republican party and their not secret meetings , also , right ?
Turnabout is fair play . Draw that line in the shifting sands and hold firm to it LSJ ®
Govt ? business and there is no inherent right to privacy in our governments , government sponsored email system or your government paid for phones & equipment Mr. Nixon
Also , one must avoid all appearances of impropriety , General . .er.. former C I A head Petreaus . Do not betray US again . Ever . You , too , Ollie North . Happy Veterans Day , true veterans , female and male alike http://vhv-vetshelpingvets.com/ Welcome home to the land of the free and the brave
h t h , /s , Steve , former U S Federal Ombudsman F S O ( ret.)

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