Brandon Smith speaks on lawsuit that pried open police video At 2016 Freedom of Information Day & Finnegan FOI Award Ceremony

Posted by: on Mar 7, 2016 | No Comments

Minneapolis, MN: February 16 – At noon Wednesday, March 16, 2016, the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI) will present its annual Freedom of Information Day Award at the Minneapolis Central Library. The event coincides with Sunshine Week, a national initiative aimed at highlighting government transparency.

The keynote speaker for the event is independent journalist Brandon Smith, whose lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department forced the City of Chicago to release a police dash cam video. The video shows a police officer shooting 17­year­old Laquan McDonald 16 times as he walked away from the officer on a Chicago street in October 2014. On November 24, 2015, after battling the release of the video for months, and just hours before its release to the public, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charged police Officer Jason Van Dyke with first degree murder.

Following Brandon Smith’s remarks, MNCOGI will bestow its annual John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award to the 2016 recipient. The John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award was established by MNCOGI in 1989 and is named for the retired senior vice­president and assistant publisher of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Finnegan was a lifelong stalwart of open meetings, open records and the First Amendment. He was instrumental in creating the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act – the state’s open records framework. Each year, the award honors a M innesotan or Minnesota institution whose work demonstrates leadership and commitment to the power of information to effect change.

When: Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 12:00pm­1:00pm
Where: Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Mpls, MN 55401

Freedom of Information Day is commemorated each year on March 16th, the birthdate of James Madison, a champion of access and transparency in government.

MNCOGI recognizes three outstanding FOI advocates

Posted by: on Mar 16, 2014 | No Comments

Upon receiving the 2014 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award, Timberjay Newspapers publisher Marshall Helmberger said he’s gratified to know “Minnesotans still appreciate German-Norwegian stubbornness.”

Helmberger accepted the award Friday, March 14 at the annual Minnesota Coalition on Government Information FOI Day event in Minneapolis. Two pioneers for government transparency, Rodgers Adams and Robert Shaw, also received lifetime achievement awards.

MNCOGI honored Helmberger for his nearly three-year legal fight to uncover construction cost irregularities by the St. Louis County school district. The district and its contractor refused to disclose figures for a taxpayer-funded school construction project. Timberjay vs. Johnson Controls reached the Minnesota Supreme Court and prompted a legislative push to clarify how such contracts are structured.

“This fight is not over,” Helmberger said after receiving the award. He also praised First Amendment attorney  Mark Anfinson for his pro bono work on the case that Helmberger credited for “leveling the playing field” for a small newspaper going up against a Fortune 500 company with a well-financed team of lawyers.

MNCOGI also recognized two contemporaries of John Finnegan for their work with the late St. Paul Pioneer Press publisher to enact the law establishing the presumption of openness for government documents in Minnesota.

Robert Shaw, former executive director of the Minnesota Newspaper Association, and Rodgers Adams, a former assistant editor at the Star Tribune were presented with lifetime achievement awards at the event.

Former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson gave the keynote address at the ceremony. He quoted Mark Twain, folk singer John Prine and Star Tribune reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger to both praise and excoriate members of the press.

“I don’t love the press,” Anderson said. “I treasure your role and I respect you.”

Anderson is recognized as a proponent of government transparency, but spoke of instances where inaccurate news reports put him in uncomfortable positions, including questioning by the FBI.

Attend a free Eonomic Census seminar, Tuesday, August 31

Posted by: on Jul 28, 2010 | No Comments

This just in from Kirsten Clark, MNCOGI Board member & Regional Librarian at U of MN:

Free Seminar on the Economic Census

Date: August 31, 2010
Location: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (West Bank), Andersen Library, Room 120
Session Times: 9am – noon (Session 1) and 1pm – 4pm (Session 2)
Both sessions cover the same information.

Trainers from the Census Bureau will introduce new information about the American economy available through the 2007 Economic Census. Attendees will gain skills in accessing Economic Census data in American FactFinder, learn practical applications of the data, and see what others have done with the data. Trainers will demonstrate a series of exercises structured to reinforce key concepts, working with industry and local area data.

* Are you new to the Economic Census? You will learn about the range of business data available from the Census Bureau, including the Economic Census conducted every 5 years, and more frequent reports.
* Are you an experienced data user? You will learn about new features of the data, shortcuts for more efficient data access, comparability issues, and qualifications of the data.

Registration information as well as additional information about the seminars is available at: http://govpubs.lib.umn.edu/regional/outreach/meetings/EconomicCensus.phtml.
—————————-
Kirsten Clark
Government Information and Regional Depository Librarian
10 Wilson Library
University of Minnesota
309 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0414

email: clark881@umn.edu
phone: 612-626-7520
fax: 612-626-9353
web: http://govpubs.lib.umn.edu
Gtalk: clark881@umn.edu

Fair Use and Social Media: A Primer

Posted by: on Jun 23, 2010 | No Comments

Presenter: Paul Hannah
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
4:30 – 6:00 pm
Women Venture Meeting Room
2324 University Ave West, St. Paul (just East of Raymond)
A COGI-tations Event

Confused about how and when Fair Use applies to entries on Facebook, Twitter and blogs? Paul Hannah, media lawyer, provides pointers on Copyright law for journalists, concerned citizens, bloggers and all concerned about Fair Use in online expressions. As a well-known Twin Cities media attorney, Mr. Hannah knows the law and can clarify it for those who may be intimidated, confused or overwhelmed by it.

This event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available.

COGI-tations are public forums sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.

Sunshine Week Event featuring Jane Kirtley

Posted by: on Mar 2, 2010 | No Comments

Jane Kirtley
Freedom of Information: Your Key to Open Government

Monday, March 15, 2010
12:00 Noon

James J. Hill Reference Library
80 West 4th Street, St. Paul

Event flyer

Sunshine Week Toolkit

Chief Justice Magnuson Keynote at 21st annual Freedom of Information Day Award Ceremony

Posted by: on Mar 2, 2010 | No Comments
Freedom of Information advocates hear Chief Justice Magnuson, honor local newspaper editor Anfinson and promote open access
Chief Justice Eric J. Magnuson will deliver the keynote speech at the 21st annual Freedom of Information Day Award Ceremony on Tuesday, March 16, Noon-1:00 at Minneapolis Central Library Pohlad Auditorium. Chief Justice Magnuson will explore the freedom of information implications of two significant processes with which he has been closely involved – the Minnesota Senate election recount and the ongoing debate surrounding the issue of cameras in the courtroom.
A highlight of the Freedom of Information Day event is presentation of the 2010 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award.  Reed Anfinson, publisher and owner of the Swift County Monitor-News will receive the award which recognizes his commitment to transparency and open government at the local and national levels.  Anfinson is on the Board of the National Newspaper Association; in 2012 he will assume the national presidency of the association. Finnegan, for whom the award was named two decades ago, will make the presentation.  The Award is a testament to Finnegan’s lifetime commitment to a free press and a transparent government.
Open government advocates celebrate Freedom of Information Day each year on March 16, the birth date of James Madison.  Often identified as the Father (or one of the fathers) of the Constitution, Madison is a hero of freedom of information proponents who are wont to quote Madison’s admonition that “a popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both.” 
Sponsors of Freedom of Information Day at the national and levels include a host of professional and advocacy organizations – journalists and newspaper editors, librarians, researchers and archivists, diverse nonprofit groups committed to open and accessible  government, particularly in an era of economic, political and technological change. Freedom of Information Day is the highlight of Sunshine Week, an initiative of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Local sponsor of FOI is the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.  The event is free and open to the public. 
For additional information about Freedom of Information Day, Sunshine Week, or the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information contact:
Mary Treacy, Executive Director
612 781 4234 or 612 703 3290

Sunshine Week 2010 Webcast – Building Transparency

Posted by: on Feb 14, 2010 | No Comments

Friday, March 19, 2010

11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. CST

Participants in past Sunshine Week webcasts have expressed a preference for viewing/participating from their own office rather than gathering for a group view.

No registration required.

The link will be available 24 hrs. prior to the event at the SW event page.
http://www.openthegovernment.org/article/articleview/420/
Panelists include Norm Eisen, Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform; and Miriam Nisbet, Director of the Office of Government Information.

Reed Anfinson Receives John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award

Posted by: on Feb 12, 2010 | No Comments

February 8, 2010 — The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI) announced today that Reed Anfinson, publisher of the Swift County Monitor-News, will receive the 2010 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award. Anfinson will be honored at the annual Freedom of Information Day recognition event, on Tuesday, March 16, noon-1:00 at the Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.

Anfinson is a long-term journalist and advocate for access to government information at the local, state and national levels. He has testified frequently before both the Minnesota Legislature and the U.S. Congress on Freedom of Information and First Amendment issues.

Since 1994 he has co-chaired the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s legislative committee and currently chairs the National Newspaper Association Government Relations Committee. In 2012 Anfinson becomes President of the National Newspaper Association.

For the past 30 years Anfinson has been associated with the Swift County Monitor-News as a reporter, managing editor, and now publisher and owner. In this role he has published frequent editorials and articles on open government, including articles on the state’s Data Practices Act, open meeting regulations and discussions of the impact of video and digital technology on public access.

The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, a nonprofit corporation formed in 1989, is dedicated to ensuring access to government information and public records. MNCOGI provides public education programs, manages a website and blog, maintains links with other state coalitions and promotes public awareness of information policy issues. In June 2009 MNCOGI hosted the annual Summit of the National Freedom of Information Coalition in Minneapolis.

The Freedom of Information Award, established by the Coalition in 1989, is named for John R. Finnegan, Sr, retired senior vice president and assistant publisher of the St Paul Pioneer Press. Finnegan is founder and stalwart of the Minnesota Joint Media Committee which has consistently supported open records, open meetings and other First Amendment-related causes in the Legislature and other public arenas in Minnesota.

*** Podcast interview with Reed Anfinson about the importance of Freedom of Information (conducted by Renee McGivern) *** 

The Freedom of Information Day event is free and open to the public.

Additional information on the MNCOGI website at www.mncogi.org or contact mtreacy@onvoymail.com or 612-781-4234.

Minnesota’s data practices law – a look to the future

Posted by: on Oct 12, 2009 | No Comments

COGI-tations: A program of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 – Event Photos
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Midtown Commons, 2324 University Ave West, St. Paul (just East of Raymond)
Women Venture meeting room
Free and convenient parking West of the Midtown Commons complex.

An open discussion of changing needs, many the result of technology. A chance to review the principles that undergird the state’s unique data practices law. Come prepared to share issues, experience, a vision of future challenges and practical suggestions for needed change.

Resource people, on hand to provide context and answer questions, include John R. Finnegan, Sr, Jane Kirtley, Kirsten Clark, Don Gemberling
& other members of the MnCOGI Board.

Learn more:

The Public’s Business: More People Are Knocking at the Door – Let Them In, by Jane Kirtley, 3/15/2009*.

Our Open-Government Laws Need to be Stronger and Clearer, by Jane Kirtley, 6/5/2009*.

* Articles posted with permission of the author, Jane Kirtley, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

COGI-tations are public forums sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.All COGI-tations are free and open to the public.

International Right To Know Day – September 28 2009

Posted by: on Sep 28, 2009 | No Comments

The World Prepares for International Right To Know Day 2009. Check out the details at FreedomInfo.org.


Find out more at the Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIAnet).