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Journal editor, 3 others win open-government award

Peter St. Cyr

Peter St. Cyr

Mark Leech

Mark Leech

Kent Walz

Kent Walz

Chad Painter

Chad Painter

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has named four, including Albuquerque Journal Editor Kent Walz, to receive the group’s top honor for open government, the Dixon First Amendment Award.

The award honors the memory of FOG co-founder and longtime board member William S. Dixon, an Albuquerque attorney and leading defender of the First Amendment and the sunshine laws in New Mexico.

The four recipients and their categories are:

  • Walz, Lifetime Achievement
  • Peter St. Cyr, Journalism
  • Chad Painter, Education
  • Mark Leech, Government

“Transparency is more than a slogan, but an ongoing commitment to open the doors to government,” FOG president Gregory Williams said in a statement.

“When you’re in it for the long haul, you’d better have a sharp intellect and a great sense of humor. Bill Dixon had both,” he said. “We celebrate his memory and celebrate these Dixon winners who continue to shine a light on public business in new and innovative ways.”

Walz was one of the founders of FOG in 1991 and served on its board of directors for 23 years as its secretary.

“His unwavering commitment to the organization has continued as a member of the legal panel, willing consultant and champion of the people’s right to know. It is fitting in FOG’s 25th anniversary year that we honor Kent with this long-overdue award,” Williams said.

For more than a decade, freelance reporter St. Cyr has used public records to cut through political spin, uncover corruption, expose fraud and analyze the “people’s data” to identify stories in the public interest, FOG said in a news release.

Painter, a professor at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, trains future journalists and other students in the principle and tenets of access and open records. He also acts as a faculty adviser for the campus newspaper and has helped shift the focus to investigative work.

Leech, a manager with the city of Albuquerque, is responsible for the open-data movement within the city. He has played a key role in convincing resistant stakeholders on the merits of proactively releasing and posting databases on the city website.

The Dixon winners will be honored at Foundation for Open Government’s annual “Your Right To Know Luncheon” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque. Individual tickets are $60, and sponsorship opportunities are available. All proceeds benefit FOG. For more information, visit or call (888) 843-9121.

This year’s speaker will be New York Times investigative assistant editor Walt Bogdanich. Before joining The Times in 2001, he was an investigative producer for “60 Minutes” on CBS and for ABC News.

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