The lead article by Jacob Posik last Sunday (“Maine’s ‘sunshine’ law has lost its power to illuminate,” March 12) may apply to state government, but it is way off the mark regarding local government in Maine. Most are very small in number and the FOAA responses may be handled in the clerk’s office. Most town clerks that I know are overworked and underpaid, and there are simply not enough hours in the day to respond to often frivolous requests and not perform assigned tasks.

Maybe it is election time, where the entire staff is flat out fulfilling other state mandates, and any extra requests must be temporarily put on the shelf. How about a request from an out-of-state realtor looking for copies of all shore properties? Or the requests to respond by noon tomorrow?

As to Posik’s four points: (1) The FOAA requires the town to estimate the time of completion, and to give that response to the requestor; (2) You can’t put a cap on the charge until you know what that should be; (3) There is no disinterested third party in a small local government, and local budgets are already strained to the limit; and (4) It is true that compliance isn’t a priority, and priorities are set by the town’s council or select board or perhaps a town manager, and, like everything else in municipal government, it is a challenge to get required jobs done and balance the 101 other state mandates.

Bert Kendall
MTCMA Ambassador

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