Sunshine Week, and that’s more than a weather forecast

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This is Sunshine Week, an annual week dedicated to open information and access to government records. We have plenty of examples of attempts at secrecy in government to remind us of why we need a Sunshine Week. On the national level, Mark Danner has just published previously-secret information detailing CIA torture of prisoners held in secret jails in foreign countries. In Minnesota, the House of Representatives is still considering whether or not to allow media access to public hearings. That’s right – some legislators want to bar some of the media, especially on-line media, from public hearings.

Thanks to MNCOGI, the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, we have an annual celebration and reminder of the importance of shining the bright light of day on the dark corners of government, at all levels. On Monday, MNCOGI have the 2009 John R. Finnegan award to Rich Neumeister, a citizen lobbyist and advocate for open records. The Finnegan Award is named for John R. Finnegan, retired editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Past recipients include reporters, librarians, attorneys, an archivist, government and elected officials and several nonprofit and government organization. (The TC Daily Planet was a nominee in 2007.)

Congratulations to Rich Neumeister, and thanks to MNCOGI for helping safeguard access to government information for all of us.