Mayor Richard J. Berry and Albuquerque Journal reporter Jeff Proctor will be among those honored by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government at its annual awards luncheon Oct. 3.
Also to be honored are attorneys Dolph Barnhouse and Jim Dines, who is receiving the lifetime achievement award, and Charles Wollman, public information officer for the State Investment Council.
“These five winners have shown extraordinary initiative in protecting and advancing the public’s right to know. They’re transparency superheroes in street clothes,” said Gwyneth Doland, the executive director of FOG.
Nominations were solicited from the public. Recipients were selected by a panel of the FOG board. The awards honor the late FOG co-founder and longtime board member William S. Dixon.
The 2012 William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award will be presented to the following:
Government: Richard J. Berry, mayor of Albuquerque. Berry has been proactive about making public information available on the city’s website, ABQView, which in 2012 earned a perfect A+ grade from the Sunshine Review. The site gives the public easy access to details of the city’s budget, contracts, construction projects – even the mayor’s credit card statements. The mayor also launched an open data initiative, which led the city to put public data such as food inspections and building permits online.
Law: Dolph Barnhouse of Luebben, Johnson and Barnhouse, LLC. Barnhouse’s arguments for transparency, made in amicus briefs filed for FOG, helped advance New Mexicans’ right to know this year. Two major court decisions reflected his arguments for strictly limiting executive privilege and other exemptions to disclosure of public records and requiring disclosure of public records held by private contractors.
Journalism: Jeff Proctor, Albuquerque Journal. In his tenacious reporting on law enforcement and local governments, Proctor has made expert use of sunshine laws to expose violations of the public trust. He used dozens of Inspection of Public Records Act requests to reveal inadequate hiring practices, misconduct, nepotism, favoritism and mismanagement in stories that resulted in significant changes in public policy.
Public Information: Charles Wollmann, State Investment Council. As communications director for the Investment Council, Wollmann has established a reputation for honesty, integrity and transparency – even when navigating a yearslong state investment scandal involving complex financial information and serious charges. (This is a new category; awards are not given in every category every year.)
Lifetime Achievement: Jim Dines, attorney. Dines’ name is well known to the reporters and editors who relied on his expert counsel and passionate advocacy to help pry open closed doors, access vital documents and further the public’s right to know. Dines led FOG’s fight to open up UNM presidential searches, successfully litigated the rolling quorum issue and led the successful fight for access to public employee job applications.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal