FOI Oklahoma seeks nominations for First Amendment, freedom of information awards for 2015

Freedom of Information Oklahoma is accepting nominations for its annual awards that will recognize individuals and organizations that promoted the First Amendment and the free flow of information to the public in 2015. Those who opposed dissemination of public information are recognized with the organization’s 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.

The awards will be presented April 2 as part of the program ``A Night of Sunshine."

The deadline for nominations is March 4.

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 email to or mailed to FOI Awards, PO Box 5315, Edmond, OK 73083-5315.

Last year’s winner of the Opala Award was William R. Young, administrator of the office of public information for the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. State Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, received the Sunshine Award. The Blackstock Award went to Joey Stipek, former online editor of the Oklahoma Daily newspaper at the University of Oklahoma.

The Black Hole recognition went to Oklahoma County Judge Howard Haralson for closing nearly the entire divorce trial of billionaire oilman Harold Hamm.

This is the ninth year for the awards.

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