From The Portland Press Herald:
Mainers who have trouble getting information from government agencies soon will have an ally at the State House.
Gov. Paul LePage and the Legislature this year funded a public access ombudsman's position in the Attorney General's Office. The position was created in 2007 but had never been filled.
It's one of several significant changes in the state's Freedom of Access Act that took effect Thursday and are expected to make it easier for Mainers to get public records.
Mal Leary, vice president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition, called the move to finally fund the ombudsman's position "a huge improvement." Lawmakers budgeted as much as $88,000 for the position, including salary and benefits.
Maine joins several states that fund similar positions, including Connecticut, New York, Washington and Texas, said Ken Bunting, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition.
"The person in that position needs to be persuasive and strong," Bunting said. "Citizens need to have some option besides (filing a lawsuit) when they get the runaround from a public official. When that happens, it's a disservice to good government."
Maine Freedom of Information Council is a member of NFOIC.–eds.