Braving the frigid February evening approximately 20 hardy advocates met on Monday, February 5, to discuss plans for Sunshine Week and the need for and viability of a Minnesota Coalition on Government Information. Journalists, librarians and reps of nonprofits exchanged ideas for Freedom of Information Day, anticipated legislative initiatives and the scope and mission of a Coalition to address access priorities. The conclusion – that a coalition of individuals and organizations is essential to raise the level of awareness of access as a political issue and to share resources to support openness in government. The group further concluded that a priority is to tend to issues of accountability and monitoring as well as strategic planning for state government resources. Participants discussed membership, funding, purpose and stakeholders and specifics of Sunshine Week including the scheduled webcast on March 12 sponsored by MnCOGI. Don Gemberling, recipient of the 2005 Freedom of Information Award, chaired the meeting.
Don also spoke at the community immediately following sponsored by the Library Science program at the College of St. Catherine. The group viewed the 2006 national dialog on access, “Are We Safer in the Dark” followed by a discussion of access and FOI issues.
Representatives of the Open Document Format Alliance and IBM have been in town meeting with state employees and concerned individuals including reps of MnCOGI. Discussion centered on a legislative proposal (SF131) authored by Senator Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley) The proposed legislation deals specifically with open document format for state government information preservation. Supporters encouraged MnCOGI to capitalize on the opportunity to address access issues in a broader context and with a circle of stakeholders including end-users.
Just such a meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 26, 5:00 p.m. at a St Paul location to be announced. Senator Don Betzold will describe the intent of his legislative proposal. (SF131) Participants will have an opportunity to address needs, priorities and the broader issues of collection, organization, preservation, monitoring and access to state government information. Updated information on this site.