Brandon Smith speaks on lawsuit that pried open police video At 2016 Freedom of Information Day & Finnegan FOI Award Ceremony
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.
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.
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.
Government Information and Regional Depository Librarian
10 Wilson Library
University of Minnesota
309 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0414
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.
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.
Panelists include Norm Eisen, Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform; and Miriam Nisbet, Director of the Office of Government Information.
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.
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.
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.
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).