FOI Oklahoma seeks nominations for First Amendment, freedom of information awards for 2011

Nominations are open for FOI Oklahoma’s awards recognizing individuals and organizations that promoted the First Amendment and the free flow of information to the public in 2011.

FOI Oklahoma also recognizes those who opposed dissemination of public information with its Black Hole Award.

The Ben Blackstock Award is presented to a non-governmental person or organization that has shown a commitment to freedom of information. The Sunshine Award goes to a public official or governmental body that has shown a commitment to open meetings and open records.

FOI Oklahoma also recognizes an Oklahoman who has promoted education about or protection of the individual rights guaranteed by the First Amendment with its Marian Opala First Amendment Award. The award is named for the late Oklahoma Supreme Court justice, a Polish immigrant who exemplified a belief in First Amendment rights.

All four awards will be presented during the Sunshine Week conference March 10 in Oklahoma City. The local conference is in conjunction with national Sunshine Week, March 11-17.

The deadline for nominations for all four awards is Feb. 21.

Nominations must include a letter of no more than 250 words justifying why the person or organization is deserving of the award.

Nominations may be made via e-mail to or mailed to FOI Awards, PO Box 5315, Edmond, OK 73083-5315.

Last year, the Opala Award was presented to Joann Bell, who had served as the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma since 1988.

This is the fifth year for the open government awards. The 2010 winner of the Blackstock Award was The Oklahoman. The Sunshine Award was presented to state Rep. Jason Murphey, R- Guthrie.

The Black Hole Award went to state Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore.

FOI Oklahoma is a statewide not-for-profit founded in 1990 to educate the public on the First Amendment and openness in government.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.