3.19.2012

Study reveals holes, but not any gunk in them

In a recent study on accountability and transparency, the Maine State Government earned an "F." The Sun Journal breaks down the report and highlights a number of areas that need improvement, including access to public information, executive branch oversight issues, secretive budgetary processes, a silent and inaccessible governor, excessive gift limits, lack of revolving door oversight, and lack of financial disclosures of legislators, high ranking officers and state employees.

Considering Democrats have ruled Augusta for the past billion forty years, Republicans will no doubt use this as an opportunity to accuse Democrats of fraud, corruption, and any other scandal they cannot prove. Last Friday I asked Democrats not to make sweeping accusations against Republicans. Today I'll do the reverse.

This report, while alarming, doesn't prove that Augusta is rampantly corrupt. I think it's safer to say that our state leaders are just used to governing from the hip. It's easy for accountability measures to slip down the list of priorities when things are humming along fine. That's why states like New Jersey actually scored higher. Their efforts to install oversight are in reaction to large scale corruption we're just not used to in our state.

While I don't think people should jump to conclusions, Augusta and Mainers shouldn't ignore the report either. This is the twenty-first century. Information technology is advancing at exponential rates. It is easier now than it has ever been to collect and publish data about our government. Now more than ever, our electorate should be making the best informed decisions about those we elect. Augusta is due for an oversight overhaul and thanks to technology, Republicans need not worry about the cost.

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