For Immediate Release
March 16, 2010
Contact : Mal Leary, President MFOIC
( AUGUSTA) — The Maine Freedom of Information Coalition, a broad based group of individuals and organizations advocating for open government, is pleased to announce that its third annual Maine Sunshine Award is awarded to Sen. David R. Hastings III for his steadfast support of open government.
“Senator Hastings has been the go-to member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee as they review proposed exceptions to the state’s public records and open meetings laws,” said Mal Leary, President of the MFOIC. “He has kept the committee on track as they review proposals to make sure exceptions are as narrowly crafted as possible and that the public’s right to know is protected.”
The award was presented to Hastings at a State House news conference.
In addition to his work on the Judiciary Committee implementing the review process, the MFOIC cited the legislation Hastings sponsored and successfully got enacted into law that allows a judge to award legal fees in cases where government agencies are found to deliberately violate the state right to know laws.
“As an attorney, Sen. Hastings understands how reluctant some people can be to assert their rights because they cannot afford the legal costs associated with a civil case,” said MFOIC Vice President Judy Meyer. “His diligence in pursuing some financial relief for people who have been denied access to public records or meetings provides a fair and meaningful process for Mainers to assert their right to know.”
The MFOIC Sunshine Award is intended to honor citizens, journalists, media organizations, or community groups that have, during the past year, championed, protected, and promoted public access to government meetings, public records, and court proceedings, or otherwise promoted the public’s right to know and to publish, broadcast, and speak freely about issues of public concern.
March 14-20 is national Freedom of Information Week. By proclamation of Gov. John Baldacci, it is also Sunshine Week in the State of Maine.
The nationwide observance of FOI Day on March 16 commemorates the birth date of President James Madison, a st rong advocate of the public’s right and duty to know what its government is doing.
The Maine Freedom of Information Coalition is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation representing individuals and organizations committed to open access to public information in print, elect ronic and digital formats. The Coalition involves media representatives, attorneys, librarians, state and local government officials, educators and others who care about transparency in government, information access and the role of an informed citizenry in a democracy.