Bangor Releases Unredacted Files on Effort to Close Homeless Encampment
Following a five-month effort by local media, represented by attorney Sigmund Schutz, chair of Preti Flaherty's Media Law Practice Group, the City of Bangor finally released unredacted records related to its attempts to close a local homeless encampment. In May 2023, the Bangor Daily News first requested the files from the City. However, the files the city initially provided—which included meeting minutes, emails and reports—were so broadly redacted that it proved difficult to truly understand the details of what happened regarding the City's actions to address the growing unhoused community in Bangor.
Sigmund Schutz, an attorney with Preti Flaherty and an expert in Maine public access law, represented the BDN as it sought to get the records unredacted. In a July letter to the city, Schutz argued that the city’s redactions were too broad, violating the narrow nature of Maine’s public records law. “The bottom line is that when taxpayer funds may be used to pay for housing, the public has a right to know exactly what it is that the public is or may be buying,” he said. “And more generally, there is a public interest in access to information about the City’s efforts regarding the Valley Avenue homeless encampment, an issue of substantial concern to the Community.”