While I was researching the University of M, I came across a thesis written by Shelby K Lane:
State-Level Government: An Evaluation of Maine's Conflict of Interest Laws and Amendments to Improve Transparency Through Financial Disclosure
The paper is dated 5/1/2013. It became the basis for a bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Lepage on 7/3/2013
Co-incidentally during 7/2013 I was researching the statute for the Department of Economic and Community Development, which led to further questions about the Maine Technology Institute. During the process, I contacted the State Ombudsman, Brenda Kielty, at the Attorney General's Office where there is a published introduction promoting government transparency. I suggested that if the government really wants to be transparent and keep things honest they should have the data base online and allow the public to search the data base themselves and create their own reports. The information that I wanted could be readily available by applying search terms to a data base. Since MTI is all about new tech it is inconceivable that they do not have state of the art data base functions available to them.- not to mention that it would save the bureaucracy time and the taxpayer money. This is the response received to that suggestion, just a little more than two weeks after the Governor signed the Transparency Act.
1.Information made available on an agency website but not in a searchable database format may not provide the research and investigative tool needed by the public. The Freedom of Access Act does not require that public information be posted online in any particular format, just that public records be made available. While there is a strong argument for increasing the accessibility and usefulness of information, there is no current requirement that the technology in place achieve that objective.
2.The collection of data and reports generated from that data may be public records but the agency is not required under the law to create a new record or report in response to a FOAA request. If the dataset you request does not exist, the agency may choose to produce it for any number of reasons but not because they are legally required to take such an action. I appreciate your comments on this topic and I will continue to bring attention to the need for accessible, useful public data.
Brenda KieltyI had not made any reference in my correspondence to legal requirements but that was the way Ms Keitly chose to respond, clearly sending the message that the government is not going to be transparent with the public unless they are required to do so by statute.
Shelby K Lane introduces the subject of his thesis with this statement:
And later says:In March of 2012, the State Integrity Investigation published a Corruption Risk Report Card for each state, giving them a grade on 14 different areas relating to government transparency. Based on those grades, the states were then ranked 1-50, with 50 being the worst in government transparency; Maine ranked 46th.
The bill topic stemmed from a Corruption Risk Report Card and the work of the State Integrity Investigation. The State Integrity Investigation is a project pointed at “keeping government honest.”
The major players who facilitated this project were The Center for PublicIntegrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International.2012, March STATE INTEGRITY INVESTIGATION
One of the considerations on which states are rated is the following
The access that citizens have to those mechanisms, such as access to public records at reasonable cost and within a reasonable time
However the latter consideration is not included in the bill passed by the legislature which focuses only on conflicts of interests of the legislative body- and not on public transparency regarding the activities of our government"- giving the apearance of a minimum effort made motivated by improving the states low grade in a national report- as opposed to a sincere willingness for the activities of the state to be transparent to the public
"Certain executive branch employees" are members of the legislature and their families.This bill amends financial disclosure laws applicable to Legislators and certain executive branch employees. Annual income received of $2,000 or more must include a description as to the nature of the income. Ownership interests of 5% or more in business entities must be reported. Involvement as a responsible officer of a political party or political committee by the Legislator or executive employee, or by a member of that person's immediate family, must be reported. The Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices is directed to adopt rules that require reporting of income of $2,000 or more in ranges. Finally, Legislators and executive employees are required to file their disclosure statements electronically and those statements must be on a publicly accessible website
Shelby K Lane writes that "
This echoes a similar line used by Steve Mistier used in a Portland Press Herald article that touched on conflicts of interest:Maine prides itself on “the state’s citizen legislature composed mostly of amateur legislators” who perform their civic legislativeduties on only a part-time basis.
The Maine Legislature is a part-time, citizen legislature. Many of its members have jobs or interests that intersect with public policy that they, as lawmakers, are either voting on or proposing.As of this writing, I have not been able to find the publicly accessible website but it is fair to say that most of the Maine legislature are in business and that people in business know about the state's economic development polices which redistribute public wealth to private corporations and capitalists. These policies have been in existence and expanding since at least the late seventies. Anyone in business knows that if they are in the legislature, they can have a hand in centrally managing the state economy and in constructing the terms by which the public's wealth is re-distributed to the "targeted sector"- such as The Expanded and Improved Seed Capital Tax Credit that was passed with a unanimous vote in 2013. That means that the legislature can write laws to benefit any special interest and to even benefit themselves once they leave office. There is no way of knowing what private deals might be taking place behind the scenes even if there is no direct and transparent conflict of interest readily identifiable. Corruptibility is in the very nature of targeted sector economics. The bill passed is restricted to the legislature and members of the legislature's family and does not apply to the unelected tzars and boards that have the authoritative positions in the wealth redistribution process- nor does it apply to any other member of government.
Another statement by Mr. Lane is this:
I beg to differ with that analysis. All of the economic development programs are a corruption of our state constitution, which I have written about repeatedly in this blog. The legislature is not an uneducated lot. They have legal advisers. They take an oath to uphold the Maine Constitution and the United States Constitution, They cannot claim ignorance of the law - and the ultimate foundation of the law- the constitution - and it is inconceivable that those involved in politics are ignorant of basic political philosophy including that which distinguishes the Maine and United States political philosophy from the philosophy of Marxism.It appears obvious that at least some people do think changes need to be made; the opposition is either avoiding the challenge of creating such change or believes that because Maine has not yet had any major corruption that we will never have any in the future
It is the culture of Augusta to ignore the Maine State Constitution. Mr Lane pays reverence to the culture of Augusta when he provides this definition
Political Culture-the system of empirical beliefs, expressive symbols, and valueswhich defines the situation in which political action takes place; grounded in the states historical experience and dominant traditions about what constitutes proper government faction
I decided to search the Shelby K Lane's thesis for the word "constitution" (since I don't have time to read the whole length.) There is found some discussion of Jame's Madison, and constitutional conventions and even a mention of the Maine constitution:
Maine operates under its original 1819 constitution, which has been categorized by Daniel Elazar, an expert on state politics, as a“commonwealth constitution.” He notes that this type of constitution “is usually brief and concerned mostly with setting forth the essentials of government.”I researched this description and came upon the same words in an excerpt from Maine Politics and Government by Kenneth T Palmer. Reading a little bit further down the Kenneth T Palmer book extract, I found this paragraph:
Among the amendments particularly restrictive to the legislature are the sixth ...and the fourteenth (1876) which promises that acts of incorporation will be established under general laws and not not under special legislation.Mr Lane's paper discusses the influence of scholars and academics on the legislative process. Mr Palmer is clearly an established scholar in Maine Politics. Any scholar of Maine politics should first of all read the Maine Constitution themselves and also read scholars such as Mr Palmer. Considering all the scholarly and legal advisers to the legislature- such as Professor Powell who will be conducting a new minor in leadership at the University of M and whose credentials include grooming the youth for legislative positions - so how then, can the hegemony of power in the state of Maine not be cognizant that the legislature is in violation of the Maine State Constitution in chartering corporations to serve as "instrumentalist of the state' ? And how can they not understand that a corporate state is part and parcel to Marxist political philosophy ? Especially when one factors in that in 1981 the Legislature passed a statute deeming the University Of Maine to be a corporate instrumentality of the state and in 1995 The Maine legislature granted itself jurisdiction over the curriculum at the University of Maine and that sometime around 2004 a minor was established at the University Of Maine in Marxist and Socialist Studies , which remains in place to this day. How then, can the legislature feign ignorance about the political philosophy which they are implementing in Maine?
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An amendment must be proposed by two thirds vote of each House. It was the 1876 legislature which imposed the restriction against chartering corporations by special acts of legislation on its own body. 1876 was a little more than a quarter of a century since Marx and Engels issued the Communist Manifesto in 1848 , prior to which the American Constitution was the most revolutionary political doctrine of the western world. If the 14th Amendment of the Maine State Constitution were honored, it would be very difficult for centralized management of the economy - in other words- the government controlling the means of production (capital) -in other words Marxism - to become entrenched in Maine as it is today. I submit that as a purposeful intention of Article IV part Third Section 14 of the Maine State Constitution is to protect Maine from encroachment by Marxist philosophy:
Section 14. Corporations, formed under general laws. Corporations shall be formed under general laws, and shall not be created by special Acts of the Legislature, except for municipal purposes, and in cases where the objects of the corporation cannot otherwise be attained; and, however formed, they shall forever be subject to the general laws of the State.The hegemony of power in Maine knows that it is operating outside of the Maine State Constitution. To say this does not qualify as corruption is to occlude honoring an oath to uphold Maine State Constitution from the measure of corruption.
Once again I submit that there is need for a constitutional requirement that members of the legislature takes yearly classes in Maine and United States Constitutional law and the Federalist Papers.