I have been honored with the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government’s annual award given to journalists who fight for transparency.
If you’ve followed my career, you know I’ve spent much of it working to combat government secrecy. My first significant transparency project in 2001 involved exposing the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education’s decision to secretly give the then-superintendent almost $1 million in incentives to try to keep him in Las Cruces. In 2002 the attorney general charged the school board members with violating the Open Meetings Act. It was the second time in the state’s history the act was enforced with criminal charges. All five were convicted of the misdemeanor charge.
I share this year’s William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award for journalism with the Santa Fe Reporter. FOG also honored former Santa Fe New Mexican editor Rob Dean with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Winning the organization’s Law Award were Patrick Griebel and Jeremy Theoret, attorneys who fought for and won the rights of the public to know the truth about Billy the Kid’s death. This year’s Citizen Award went to William Turner for his fight to open the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District organization to the public.
“These individuals, and one newspaper, have fought for the public’s right to know and for government transparency in New Mexico,” FOG Executive Director Terry Schleder said. “Innovations in how we access our public documents and history come very fast today, and there are plenty of people who pay lip service to openness in government. But very few people will truly make history come alive – in court or on the page – to protect the public’s right to know what their government is doing, or has done, on their behalf.”
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