On March 16th, 2015, the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information presented retired Representative Mary Liz Holberg with the 2015 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information award at a ceremony held at Minneapolis Central Library’s Pohlad Hall. In addition to the award presentation, the event included a keynote entitled “An Appreciation from an End User” from Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Steve Sack, and an open discussion of past, present, and future government information access issues.

Holberg’s consistent advocacy for government transparency and accountability are among the reasons the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information chose her as the recipient of the 2015 John R. Finnegan FOI Award. As chair of the Civil Law Committee and the Data Practices Commission, Holberg frequently called representatives of government to task on their failure to comply with the Data Practices Act. Her command of open government issues was so great that Holberg was the unanimous choice to be the first chair of the Legislative Data Practices Commission.

We would like to thank The Uptake for recording and publishing video of the award ceremony.

About the John R. Finnegan Award

Established in 1989, the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information award is given to those individuals and groups who demonstrate through expression and action commitment to the idea that a popular and democratic government can never realize the aspirations of the founding fathers without the participation of an informed electorate. An informed electorate cannot exist without access to information.

Each year, the Minnesota Coalition of Government Information (MnCOGI) presents the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award to honor a Minnesotan or Minnesota institution whose work demonstrates leadership and commitment to the power of information to effect change. Their activities are diverse and may include: using technology and other means to facilitate access to information; advocating for legislative and other policies that maximize the public’s right to know; educating the public on the importance of freedom of information; assuring that government and other institutions comply with policies that maximize transparency; operating libraries and other institutions in a manner that affords the greatest possible access to information; challenging any form of authority that would thwart the objective of assuring the existence of an informed electorate; and linking the idea of freedom of information to the Bill of Rights and especially to the First Amendment.

About John Finnegan
John R. Finnegan Sr., for whom the award is named, was one of the state’s strongest advocates for public access to government information and the public’s right to know. Finnegan was a retired editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, a member of the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame.  He received the 2011 “Heroes of the 50 States: The State Open Government Hall of Fame” award from the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).