Minnesota’s data practices law – a look to the future

COGI-tations: A program of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 – Event Photos
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Midtown Commons, 2324 University Ave West, St. Paul (just East of Raymond)
Women Venture meeting room
Free and convenient parking West of the Midtown Commons complex.

An open discussion of changing needs, many the result of technology. A chance to review the principles that undergird the state’s unique data practices law. Come prepared to share issues, experience, a vision of future challenges and practical suggestions for needed change.

Resource people, on hand to provide context and answer questions, include John R. Finnegan, Sr, Jane Kirtley, Kirsten Clark, Don Gemberling
& other members of the MnCOGI Board.

Learn more:

PDF IconThe Public’s Business: More People Are Knocking at the Door – Let Them In, by Jane Kirtley, 3/15/2009*.

PDF IconOur Open-Government Laws Need to be Stronger and Clearer, by Jane Kirtley, 6/5/2009*.

* Articles posted with permission of the author, Jane Kirtley, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

COGI-tations are public forums sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.All COGI-tations are free and open to the public.

The right to ask…the right to know:
International Right to Know Day 2009
COGI-tations: A program of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information

Featuring: Barbara A. Frey
Director of the Human Rights Program in the College of Liberal Arts University of Minnesota

Thursday, September 10, 2009
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Midtown Commons, 2324 University Ave West, St. Paul (just East of Raymond)
Women Venture meeting room

COGI-tations are public forums sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.All COGI-tations are free and open to the public.

Background Information

Barbara A Frey is Director of the Human Rights Program in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. The Program, established in 2001, provides academic, research and internship opportunities for students in the field of international human rights.

Frey is well known as an international human rights teacher, advocate and scholar. She served from 2000-2003 as an alternate member of the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, a body of independent experts who advise the United Nations on human rights policy. From 2002-2006 Frey served as Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission to conduct a study on the issue of preventing human rights abuses committed with small arms and light weapons. From 1985 through 1996 Frey was Executive Director of Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights. She is a co-convenor of the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, a network of 44 organizations working to promote research and advocacy on human rights issues.

Frey is the recipient of the 2008 Don and Arvonne Fraser Award from the Advocates for Human Rights. She received the 2008 Outstanding Faculty Community Service Award from the University of Minnesota. She received the first Iustitia et Lex award from the University of St. Thomas Law School in 2003. She was named the 2001 Myra Bradwell Award winner by Minnesota Women Lawyers for promoting the interests of women in the legal profession and in the community. She is the immediate past Chair of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations. Frey attended the University of Notre Dame (BA, 1978) and the University of Wisconsin Law School (JD, 1982). She worked as an associate lawyer at Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis from 1983-85.

International Right to Know Day
is celebrated each year on September 28. Increasingly the issue of the right to know as a basic human right is on the public agenda. Come learn more about plans, gather materials, and explore ways in which Minnesotans can participate in the celebration.

Minnesota’s Government Data Practices Act: A Primer

COGI-tations: A program of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information

Minnesota’s Government Data Practices Act : A Primer
Hint: It’s Not as Complicated As You Think!

Presenter: Don Gemberling – “Godfather” of Minnesota data practices

Minnesota’s data practices law is based upon openness to information by and about state and local government. Advocacy groups, citizen journalists, concerned citizens, bloggers and all concerned about access to government activities need to know their rights. Elected and appointed officials need to understand their responsibility to assure access. Don Gemberling knows the law and can clarify it for those who may be intimidated, confused or overwhelmed by a straightforward law based in the assumption of transparency. Attendees are encouraged to bring their government information horror stories for analysis and feedback.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Midtown Commons, 2324 University Ave West, St. Paul
(just East of Raymond)
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits conference room, Suite 20

COGI-tations are public forums sponsored by the
Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.
All COGI-tations are free and open to the public.

Planning MnCOGI’s Transparency Inventory

COGI-tations: A program of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information

Planning MnCOGI’s Transparency Inventory moderated by Allan Malkis, Board member, Minnesota Coalition on Government Information

Looking to hold a government agency accountable for the action it takes?
Discuss how to conduct an inventory of a state or local agency’s actions.

Thursday, June 25, 2009
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
East Lake Library
2727 Lake Street (near Hiawatha)

* * * *

Future COGI-tations

August 5, 2009
Don Gemberling
Introduction to Minnesota’s Data Practices Act

Late August/Early September, 2009
International Right to Know Day

COGI-tations are public forums sponsored by the
Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.
All COGI-tations are free and open to the public.

Missed the weekend? Catch the action!

Extraordinary thanks are due to the staff of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and to our own transparency team at The Uptake for brilliant coverage of the NFOIC Summit held in Minneapolis this past weekend. The Summit concluded late Saturday. In nanoseconds the text summaries and videos were posted on the web.

Attached is a program for the conference that may help readers follow and link to the big picture. Following are the sessions summaries accompanied by great photos.

· NFOIC Summit: Civics education
· NFOIC Summit: Fiscal transparency
· NFOIC Summit: Texts, Lies and Video Tape
· Mitchell Pearlman honored at NFOIC Summit
· NFOIC Summit: Infrastructure coverage tips
· NFOIC Summit: FOI & Infrastructure
· Judge rules media have no more rights than general…
· NFOIC Summit: Technologies you should be using
· NFOIC Summit: Coalition Sustainability
· NFOIC Summit: Arizona FOI roundup
· NFOIC Summit: Delaware FOI roundup
· NFOIC Summit: Kentucky FOIA roundup
· NFOIC Summit: Missouri FOI roundup
· NFOIC Summit: Oklahoma FOI roundup
· NFOIC Summit: Wisconsin FOIA roundup
· NFOIC Summit: Florida FOIA roundup
· NFOIC Summit: Minnesota FOIA roundup
· NFOIC Summit: Public access values
· NFOIC Summit: Public access threats

For those with a preference for video, we offer The Uptake take on the Summit. The Uptake livestreamed the Summit, thus reaching the many “regulars” whose budget cuts prevented travel to the City of Lakes. As always, there are some video glitches, but the audio is clear throughout. Keep checking TheUptake, too – there’s much more to come!

Many thanks to the several journalists, professional and citizen, who captured the moment. As one who spent a good portion of the Summit keep abreast of activities outside the sessions, I am particularly grateful for the virtual experience. After a Sunday of reading, viewing and listening, I feel as if I actually participated in the group experience. MT.

NFOIC Summit 2009 more details from May 29

TO: NFOIC Summit 2009 registrants
FROM: Mary Treacy, Minnesota Coalition on Government Information
RE: One Week and Counting

The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information has the welcome mat rolled out – and some last minute news for those who will be participating in the National Freedom of Information Coalition Summit 2009. Please share the relevant information with colleagues who are unable to make the pilgrimage to our fair city. Last week we sent a note to attendees who will be coming to Minneapolis from around the country. This note is for all the attendees now registered. There is always room for more Summit participations – if you have a colleague who might be interested, encourage him or her to come on down or, in our case, up!

News from the Summit:

* To ensure that attendees and others are up to speed on the program. MnCOGI has been interviewing Summit speakers in advance of the Summit. The result is a series of podcasts posted on the MnCOGI website. Click “podcasts” on the home page to hear recorded interviews with some of the Summit speakers as well as podcast interview with Minnesota open government heroes.

* We were concerned about how to open the Summit to those whose travel budgets have hit hard times. After some exploration we have arranged to have the full Summit livestreamed. Our partner organization is The Uptake, the folks who streamed the Republican National Convention in August 2008 and who, more recently, have opened the doors to the hearings re. the Franken/Coleman senatorial election. Those who cannot be present may participate in the Summit from their laptop – and we will have a record of the proceedings.

* In another partnership with local media we have arranged for access advocates to participate in a pre-Summit radio discussion on Wednesday, June 3. Truth to Tell, hosted by activist Andy Driscoll and carried on local station KFAI, takes a lead in opening the doors to government. Again, the discussion is streamed on the web.

* We hope all Summit attendees plan to attend the social hour on Friday, June 5, 5-6 p.m. NFOIC has generously suggested that we invite friends and supporters to this event – we have and many are coming. It’s our chance to thank them publicly and for them to meet our colleagues both locally and from other state coalitions. These folks have sustained MnCOGI as we struggled to meet the requirements of the NFOIC incentive grant in these tough times!

* Denise Meyers at NFOIC has done a great job of ferreting out information about parking. Logistics are attached. Lots of construction downtown Minneapolis, too. Check the MnCOGI website for the most recent info – parking is convenient but be prepared.

* Those registered for the Summit should have received a “Welcome to Minneapolis” over Memorial Day weekend. It has recently come to me that the list I was using was not complete. The notes were all about the Twin Cities – public transit, skyways, the Mall and, above all, the Mighty Mississippi. If you didn’t get that e-letter, it’s posted on the MnCOGI website – or just let me know and I’ll send you a copy.

We look forward to seeing you soon in Minneapolis. Remember to bring walking shows so you won’t miss the walkable sites of the city – the Mississippi, Nicollet Mall, the skyways, museums and so much more. Freedom of information favors a free spirit which assumes you get out and explore your environs.

NFOIC Summit 2009 participants notice May 22

On behalf of the Board of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, welcome to Minnesota and Minneapolis! We thought the best way to welcome visitors is to fill you in on some of the arrival logistics. Once you get to the hotel you can walk to everything, so we want you to have a soft landing at the Marriott. Some tips:

* Absolutely for sure take the Light Rail Transit (LRT) from the airport. The stop is in the terminal, just keep following the signs down, down, down. Depending on the terminal, you may take a quick rail shuttle. It is so easy and so cheap: $2.25 during rush hours, $1.75 at all other times. The taxis are pricey and there’s road construction everywhere so please, take my advice and take the train.

* Get off at Nicollet Mall and 5th St. – this is the second to the last stop. There will be obvious stop postings and announcements. Take a left (southward) down Nicollet Mall. You will get off on 5th St. and walk to 7th St. When you get to 7th, turn right. The Marriott is on your right between Nicollet Mall and Hennepin. It’s a subtle entrance.

* Here’s where it gets strange. The lobby of the Marriott is on the 6th floor. The lower floors are commercial with the hotel perched above. Just take the well-marked elevator to the lobby and you’re home free. The rooms are actually in a separate tower. It feels weird at first blush, but it’s actually very smart use of urban space.

* If you’re meeting someone, meet in that lobby. It’s one big open space with a restaurant, a couple of bars and lots of conversation pits. Great networking space.

* We will have stacks of local tourist materials – maps, coupon books, visitor guides, etc on display somewhere obvious. A “local” will be on hand to answer questions or point you in the right direction. I hope you’ve found the local guide prepared by MnCOGI Board member Robbie LaFleur on the NFOIC website. Thanks to the American Planning Association’s conference here in April, here is a 4-page pdf of Eat Local in the Twin Cities: A Rough Guide.

* You’re on the Skyway System when you’re at the Marriott. Lots of Skyway construction but it will get you anywhere downtown – department stores, Target, restaurants, even a couple of churches. You can live for months without going beyond the Skyway!

* Still, do go outside and walk or ride to the Mississippi at some point. The beautiful Mississippi and historic Minneapolis are just a few blocks away. If you’re short of time, you can hop virtually any bus on the Mall (ask if they “cross the river”) For $.75 you can ride across one of the bridges, take a stroll along the river. With your transfer that you remembered to get while boarding, you can ride the bus back to the Marriott. The walk along the Mississippi is not to be missed.

If you have ANY questions, please drop me a note. We’re delighted you’re coming. We’re also proud of Minneapolis and Minnesota. BTW it’s been fairly cool, but the weather may be hot two weeks from now. Still, bring a light sweater or jacket. The evenings can still be cool – beautiful, but sometimes cool.

Best, Mary Treacy, Executive Director
Minnesota Coalition on Government Information

Freedom of Information Coalition Summit

Freedom of Information Coalition Summit
June 5-6
Minneapolis Marriott City Center

Friday at noon, we begin the conference with a luncheon and the ever-popular FOI Salon, followed that afternoon by two panels on Coalition Sustainability.

Saturday, we’ll have panels on FOI & Infrastructure, Financial Transparency, and FOI as Civic Education. At Saturday’s luncheon, for our keynote address we’re proud to present Paul Anger, vice president and editor of the Detroit Free Press.

For further information:

** added update – students can now attend for free (if they forego lunch)