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).
Nominations are accepted until Monday, February 20, 2017.
Burnsville Police Chief Eric Geiske
Mary Liz Holberg, Minnesota legislator
Marshall Helmberger, editor and publisher of the Timberjay Newspaper
Robert Shaw and Rogers Adams (Minnesota Government Data Practices Act), lifetime achievement award winners
Past Finnegan FOI Award Winners
Don Shelby, former WCCO-TV Anchor and MinnPost Columnist
Don Betzold, Minnesota State Senator
Richard (Rich) Neumeister, citizen lobbyist and relentless advocate for the public’s interest
Congratulation letter from Governor Tim Pawlenty
Congratulation letter from Attorney General Lori Swanson
Colleen Coghlan, Librarian and Professor
Marvin Roger Anderson, Director, Minnesota State Law Library
Mary Treacy, Director, Metronet
Telecommunications Access Grants
The North Star Project, State of Minnesota
Minnesota Legislature Gopher Design Group
The Urban Coalition of Minneapolis
Julia Wallace, Regional Depository Librarian and Head of Government Publications, University of Minnesota
Alan Robinette (posthumously awarded), Director, Land Management Information Center, State of Minnesota
Peter S. Popovich, Chief Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court
Mary Alice Harvey, Director, Grand Marais Public Library