Why Doesn't Everybody Do This?
By Al Diamon
Created Jul 9 2007 - 11:58am
It's tough to figure out if your state representative and senator are driving the state into destitution or pedaling it toward prosperity. Short of devoting a lot of time to studying the political maneuvering in Augusta, there's no convenient way to assess how your legislator has represented you. Unless you're lucky enough to live in the Sun Journal's circulation area.
The Lewiston paper devoted over three pages of its Sunday, July 8 edition to capsule coverage of the roles played by every legislator in central and western Maine, 33 of them in all. The easy-to-read summaries covered each lawmaker's votes on key issues, such as the budget, tax reform, gambling, seat belts, bear trapping and term limits, as well as detailing how the bills he or she sponsored fared.
We learn, for instance, that state Rep. Michael Beaulieu of Auburn "didn't submit any legislation this session, and didn't feel pressured to." State Rep. Mark Samson of Auburn got two bills passed, but thinks "the work he did with his committee [is] where he made the most impact." Richard Cebra, the state representative from Naples, embraced "the Republican value of smaller government," but submitted 19 bills, an above-average number among the legislators surveyed. Fortunately for smaller government fans, all but two of them died.
Sun Journal State House reporter Jessica Alaimo put a lot of obvious effort into these brief profiles, and, although a few of her summaries tend toward vagueness ("'We've got to do what we expect others to do,' he said") or unintentional humor ("he faced a steep learning curb"), overall this is commendable journalism that serves voters well.
Now, if only every other paper in the state would do the same thing.