Summary Minutes COGI Board Meeting Jan 7, 2008

Minnesota Coalition on Government Information
Summary Minutes – Meeting of the COGI Board

January 7, 2008

Attendees: Helen Burke; Katie Engler; Alan Malkis; Mary Treacy; Julia Wallace; and, Laura Wittstock.


Information was provided on “a save the date” for the March 1, “Afloat” event, confirmed reservation of Pohlad Hall at the Mpls Central Library for the FOI Day event; and, a variety of legislative developments, including an alert concerning S.F. 2345 a bill that would greatly enhance the government’s authority to declare certain data to be civil investigative data and therefore not public.

Board Development.

The Board agreed that we should recruit additional members so that the Board would have full membership of 15. COGI needs to function more formally including such things as election of officers, creating an executive committee of the Board, filing of reports, and following our by-laws.

Helen Burke was nominated to be Chair of the Board and elected unanimously.

Robbie LaFleur was nominated to be Treasurer and elected unanimously.

Don Gemberling was nominated to be Secretary and elected unanimously.

The Board agreed to create an executive committee of three members until such time as the Board gets to full membership of fifteen at which time the executive committee will be expanded to five members.

The Board asked that all members of the Board be provided with an up to date copy of our by-laws.

The Board discussed recruitment of persons to fill the Board vacancies. Various board members volunteered to contact groups and individuals to either recruit Board members or ask for nominations. Mary Treacy should be informed of progress on contacts. She should be provided with new and updated contact information.

Contract for Consulting Services.

The Board discussed the draft of a contract under which Mary Treacy would agree to perform certain services for the Board. Amendments to the contract were discussed and approved.

After being moved and seconded, the contract was unanimously approved with the changes as discussed.

Mary’s Thoughts.

Mary Treacy reminded the Board of the document she prepared in which she presented her thoughts on what the Board needs to do to make COGI a successful organization. She asked that the Board keep those thoughts in mind as we continue our work.

FOI Day and the Finnegan Award.

Possible nominees were discussed. Mary Treacy will send copies of the nomination forms to the Board. As per last year’s successful experience, the website and other mechanisms will be used to solicit nominations from the public

Meeting Schedule.

The Board agreed that we should be meeting more often. The Board agreed that it would meet on the following dates and at 4:00 p.m. on those dates: 1/21; 2/4; 2/18; and 3/3. Unless otherwise announced, the meetings will be held at the Midtown Commons Building.

The Board meeting was then adjourned.

Submitted by Don Gemberling, Secretary.

State Coalition Receives Funds to Promote Access

Advocates for open access to public information, representing journalists, librarians, lawyers, educators and good government groups, have worked together for over a decade to support the public’s right to open and reliable information by and about their government. Now, the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MnCOGI) has received a grant from the National Freedom of Information Coalition to support the process of formalizing what has been until now an informal network. Focus of the MnCOGI is to foster and protect the public’s right to access state and local government data, records, and information.

In awarding the grant NFOIC directors indicated that they “were impressed with [the coalition’s] progress to date” and invited the MnCOGI to re-apply for additional funds for operating expenses. Current funding will be used specifically for start up activities including incorporation, promotional publications, and other upfront costs of creating a sustainable nonprofit organization.

For nearly two decades MnCOGI, operating as an ad hoc coalition, has sponsored annual commemoration of Freedom of Information Day. Freedom of Information Day, March 16 of each year, is observed all over the country and commemorates the birthday of President James Madison, a renowned leader in the nation’s commitment to an informed citizenry as critical to the existence of a democracy.

Each year the Coalition presents the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award to a Minnesota individual or organization that has demonstrated significant commitment to and support of the people’s right to know. In 2005 the Minnesota Coalition was recognized at the national level with the Eileen Cooke James Madison Award for Local and State Government Information.

The Coalition will also sponsor Freedom of Information Day 2007 on Friday, March 16, with a public program and awards ceremony at the Minneapolis Central Library. MnCOGI currently is soliciting nominations for the 2007 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award. In collaboration with a host of other state and national organizations MnCOGI actively participate in Sunshine Week, a national advocacy effort focused on freedom of access and a free press. On Tuesday, March 12, MnCOGI will sponsor a local site for a national dialogue on open government and secrecy, featuring a national webcast titled “Closed Doors; Open Democracies.” The local site at Metro State University in St. Paul will feature an active participation seminar on state and local information issues and practices featuring attorneys Donald A. Gemberling and Katherine A. Engler.

For additional information on the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, Sunshine Week, Freedom of Information Day or for guidelines for the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award check the MnCOGI website ( or contact Mary Treacy, or 612 781 4234.

Feb 12 Meeting Agenda

MnCOGI Board meeting
Monday, February 12, 2007
2:30 p.m.
Cafeteria – Coeur de Catherine
College of St. Catherine

Agenda items

February 5 planning meeting – follow-up
Betzold talk – February 226 – 5:00 p.m.
Finnegan FOI Award – nominations due 3/1
Webcast – March 12 – details
FOI Day – March 16 – details
Finances – request to funders
Website – “look” and responsibility
Other agenda items
Next meeting

If you have items to add to the agenda please bring them Monday.
We have a lot to do!!! Please try to make the meeting!