Informed citizens



To the Editor:

Ted Koffman, who served eight years as a state representative from Bar Harbor, is widely-known for his work on environmental and economic issues. What you might not know is the good work he has done to protect your rights to be an informed citizen.

As house chair of the Committee to Study Maine’s Freedom of Access Laws (2003-2006), Koffman provided excellent leadership to a group of 14 citizens (including me) charged with examining the laws that ensure a citizen’s right to know what is going on in her government.

The study committee conducted its work over two legislative sessions and issued a report in 2006 that, unlike the reports from many other such committees, did not sit on the shelf and gather dust. Thanks in large part to Koffman’s ability to keep the committee focused and on task, the work done by that committee resulted in two very significant recommendations that, I am happy to say, permanently changed the way in which Maine ensures freedom of information to its citizens.

First, the committee recommended the establishment of the Right to Know Advisory Committee, a slightly recast version of the original study committee, as a permanent advisory committee charged with providing ongoing oversight over the Freedom of Access Law. That committee continues its important work today. Second, the committee recommended establishing a Freedom of Access Ombudsman within the Department of the Attorney General. The ombudsman is the citizen’s direct contact for all concerns about the use or abuse of public information at all levels of Maine government.

For these accomplishments and others, Koffman received the Maine Sunshine Award from the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition in 2008 in recognition of his leadership in furthering the cause of open government.

Much of the hard work of legislating is done out of the limelight and without great fanfare. The reason that Koffman is a legislator highly respected on both sides of the aisle is because he understands that effective leadership is not about pounding one’s fist on the podium and demanding change. Rather, it is about gathering around the table, finding common ground and identifying solutions that work in the real world.

Koffman was a great state representative, and he will be a great state senator for District 7. Please support Ted Koffman for state senate in the primary on June 14.

Chris Spruce

Ellsworth

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