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Alfond Says Commission Should Pay Up, Move On

AUGUSTA, Maine_ Maine Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond of Portland is calling for the specially formed Education Commission to meet soon to decide whether to contest the attorney general's charge that its first meeting back in April was illegal.

Alfond serves on the "blue ribbon" panel set up to take a comprehensive look at how to make education in Maine, from kindergarten through college, better.

But complaints from some of being turned away when they showed up to observe the April 25 meeting at the governor's residence prompted Attorney General Janet Mills to bring charges that the state's open meetings law had been violated. Alfond says he opposed closing the meeting.

 "We need to agree as a commission that we should pay the fine," says Alfond. "The court date should be a simple court date where we go in with a check of $500, pay it and move on so that we can begin and continue this important discussion of how we make the education system even better."

Alfond says it would be a mistake to spend money on legal fees to contest the fine.

The panel's chair, deputy education commissioner Bill Beardsley, has yet to call a meeting of the commission to decide what to do about the charge.