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Bug #30305 closed:off topic

Violation of Fairness -- proportional word response forbidden

This bug appeared in a news report published by Lewiston Sun Journal (Maine) on Aug 14, 2011 by Judy Meyer. View the original news report.
Bug Type:  Ethical Issue

Meyer took 2600 words to describe how upset people were with my making freedom of information requests.  I wrote a reply to her article that used only 700 words.  She wants to limit me to 250 words.  It can't be done.  Read her article, and then mine and see what you think.

Supporting Information:

    Dwight E. Hines, Ph.D.715 Green Woods RoadPeru, Maine 04290207-562-4701August 15, 2011jmeyer@sunjournal.comJudy Meyer, Managing EditorLewiston Sun-JournalLewiston, MaineDear Ms Meyer:Please accept this letter for publication, and let me know before any changes are made.I was delighted to read the article in your paper about how my Maine public records requests were making people in local governments angry.   Working completely independently of me, you provide solid evidence of how computer and information ignorant the local government individuals have been and are.  Not a single local government individual that the reporter interviewed had placed any of the records requested on their webpage prior to or after my requests.  Indeed, most of them do not have a webpage.   What is surprising is the budget figures for paper, computers (purchase, maintenance, training) are significant parts of the local government budgets.  I plan to file your article and this response to it in a federal court case against the Towns of Dixfield and Peru.The argument the local government people used “we don’t have the resources or time” is false and misleading.  Local governments have access to the most important resources: capital (remember, capital refers to the head, the products of the mind).   There are, in fact, buildings full of resources in Mexico, Rumford, Dixfield, and possibly Peru.  They are called schools and all of them, thanks to Maine foresight, have many students who are not only capable of creating a website for those towns who don’t have one (Peru, Canton) but improving partial websites (Mexico, Rumford, Dixfield).  Creating these websites, or filling them with nice factual information, like the information I’ve requested, would be a good task for students (they would have to understand security and other issues), and an excellent way of tapping into the genius of democracy.  Reports, with from citations that vary from The Chronicle of Higher Education, to the Daily Kos, from anecdotal reports to rigorous “gold standard” scientific studies, show that the group is much more efficient at solving problems than an individual.  The Founding Fathers of the U.S. knew this intuitively and built into the heart of our governments (First Amendment; Intellectual Property Clause; Separation of powers; Commerce Clause, etc.), a system that is optimized for innovation.  See <http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/the-public-playing-a-molecule-building-game-outperforms-scientists/32835> for an example of regular people making significant contributions to science.  More on point, the Center for Technology in Government, and other organizations, is loaded with examples of savings and efficiencies obtained by encouraging the public to be informed and to participate in their governments.   There really is a genius in the people.  Having tested hundreds of Maine people on creativity (actual number tested over the years at UMO by Dr. Colin Martindale and his graduate students is in the thousands), I can state without restriction that Maine people are creative. Your article in Sunday’s paper also told of other people in Maine who are making public records requests to better understand their governments.  Mr. Eric Conrad, Maine Municipal Association stated others were making public records requests  “. . . in at least 15 to 20 other towns”, but the article only listed Falmouth, Poland, and Union.   I will contact my fellow believers in open government and see if they would like to join in a federal civil suit filed against the Maine Municipal Association, and others.  My fellow requestors will be glad to learn, as the suit progresses, that what people tell the newspaper is often, more often than expected, different than what people say under oath — under penalty of perjury — in a deposition or in court. I am quite concerned that Fire Chief Hussey belief that his “cardiac event” was contributed to by my public requests, which consists of two emails, one hard copy, and one phone call he did not return.  I will contact the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, the Maine Fire Marshal, and the U.S. Fire Administration to find out what is necessary to set up a medical surveillance program to determine the amount and extent of cardiac events that may be caused partially by public records requests to Fire Chiefs across the country.  Finally, thank you for writing about Town Manager Madigan of Mexico and how I forgot totally about going to review the town grants and muni bonds he retrieved for me.  I have written an apology to Mr. Madigan and have asked for a time, date, and place to review those papers.Dwight Hines


Dwight Hines has contacted Lewiston Sun Journal (Maine) and received the following response.

We're exchanging emails.  Part of the problem is that she is the managing editor and is ruling on not allowing a response to her article.

I emailed her and told her I was going to contact you, and also some people on the FOI lists.

Let me know if you have any success.


Bug History

Aug 18, 2011 12:34 am Open Dwight Hines
Aug 18, 2011 12:37 am Open: Responded To Dwight Hines
Aug 24, 2011 12:44 pm Closed: Off Topic Mark Follman

Discussion Leave a comment

Thank you for your interest in MediaBugs. Is there a factual error in a news report from the Lewiston Sun Journal that you have identified? If so, that isn't clear here. If you are aware of a correctable error from the Journal, please feel free to let us know what it is, and in which story. Otherwise we will go ahead and mark this bug "off topic" as it appears not to fit within the guidelines of our service. (Please see the "About" menu if you would like further details.)

Aug 22, 2011 1:22 pm