4 to be inducted into the NFOIC’s Open Government Hall of Fame

Four state open government champions — from California, Georgia, South Dakota and Texas — will be inducted into the National Freedom of Information Coalition’s Open Government Hall of Fame, the organization announced this week.

The hall of fame recognizes long-term contributions of individuals to open government in their respective states. Specifically, induction recognizes the “long and steady effort to preserve and protect the free flow of information about state and local government that is vital to the public in a democracy.”

This year’s inductees have backgrounds in journalism, local government, law and academia.

They will be honored during the NFOIC’s 2019 Freedom of Information Summit April 13 in Dallas. This year’s summit marks the organization’s 30th anniversary.

The State Open Government Hall of Fame began in 2003, and since that time, inductees from 14 states have been honored for their dedication to protecting citizens’ rights.

The 2019 inductees are:

Brian Hunhoff
Brian Hunhoff

Brian Hunhoff (South Dakota): Hunhoff has been a community journalist for 41 years, and a county official for 23 years, defending open government in South Dakota in both roles. He is currently Yankton County Register of Deeds and an opinion writer for the Yankton County Observer. Known statewide for difference-making opposition to illegal or unnecessary closed public meetings, Hunhoff has produced a comprehensive, compelling and far-reaching body of work to promote open government at the local and state levels.

In 2017, Hunhoff wrote “In a Minutes Notice” – a 19-part series about the wealth of open government information found in meeting minutes and legal notices. It received first place in “Best Public Notice Journalism” from the National Newspaper Association, and second in “Best Use of Public Records” from the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Hyde Post
Hyde Post

Hyde Post (Georgia): With a deep background in journalism and digital technology, Post served as vice president, internet for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its web portfolio, including accessatlanta.com and ajc.com, which he helped develop in 1998. Prior to focusing full-time on the web, he served as assistant managing editor of the daily Atlanta Constitution and also headed the Innovation Group, a skunkworks for new product development. He served previously with the newspaper as a reporter, special projects editor and AME for local news. He edited and directed coverage of Pulitzer Prize-winning projects in 1988 and 1993.

Post was a two-term president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and founder of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, which he led as president for more than 20 years.

Laura Lee Prather
Laura Lee Prather

Laura Lee Prather (Texas): Prather is a Partner in the Litigation Practice Group at Haynes and Boone, LLP in Austin, Texas. She is an advocate at the Texas Legislature on First Amendment and open government concerns and was the lead draftsman and negotiator for several related bills, including the reporters’ privilege, anti-SLAPP statute, and Defamation Mitigation Act.

Prather is currently the FOI Foundation of Texas’ legislative committee co-chair. She volunteers for the organization’s FOI Hotline, fielding questions from across the state about the Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Open Meetings Act. In the past year, she led the formation of the Texas Sunshine Coalition, a public awareness campaign aimed at improving the Texas Public Information Act.

Richard P. McKee
Richard P. McKee

Richard P. McKee (California): McKee was past president of the California First Amendment Coalition and co-founder of Californians Aware (CalAware). He was a chemistry professor at Pasadena City College, not a lawyer or journalist. But in the last decade and a half before his sudden death in 2011 at age 62, he was estimated to have sued — successfully — more public agencies in the state for violations or the open meetings and public records laws than any member of the State Bar.

McKee helped design, administer and score a series of public records law compliance audits conducted by CalAware, with successive probes targeting leading state agencies, more than 200 law enforcement departments, and the public education system: 194 K-12 school districts, half of all community college districts, and all state university and UC campuses. A California law opening the records of state college and university campus foundations is named the Richard McKee Transparency Act.