The Minnesota Coalition On Government Information (MNCOGI) has taken significant strides toward insuring government transparency and accountability. Now we are seeking your financial support to continue those efforts. A donation of any amount will help. MNCOGI is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that works to protect and expand transparency in Minnesota government. Our all-volunteer board includes journalists, attorneys, IT professionals, librarians, and others knowledgeable in government information policy matters.
Our achievements include:
The media coalition that we helped create a few years ago broadened with the Derek Chauvin trial in 2021 to include many national and international media organizations. It persuaded the judge that live streaming audio and video from the trial was the best way for the public to see its justice system in action. The coalition also helped persuade a different judge to permit live streaming of the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright. That push for public access to the courts continued in 2022 through the cases of other former police officers.
The Minnesota Supreme Court is revisiting its current rules which usually prohibit cameras in the court prior to the sentencing phase of a trial. We hope the successful broadcasts of the Chauvin and Potter trials will help open Minnesota’s courts to the broadcast of many more criminal trials. The Minnesota Supreme Court heard from MNCOGI as well as news editors and media attorneys Sept. 19. The justices questioned closely those involved in the livestreamed trials, suggesting the Court may expand camera access to courts.
In addition, MNCOGI is in litigation with the City of Minneapolis over its denial of public access to police disciplinary files. We hope this litigation leads to more transparency and accountability in the operations of the MPD.
MNCOGI also has filed amicus briefs in in other important open-government cases. In one case, we argued that the Minnesota Attorney General was classifying certain data as private in defiance of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, and that its arguments for broader claims of privilege could threaten access to public data. In another case, we argued that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency committed government-transparency violations by preventing information from entering the public record.
MNCOGI's volunteer board members also advocate for open-government policies each year at the Minnesota Legislature, working to prevent the closure of public data and seeking to expand public access to information about government operations.
Education and Outreach
We continue our public education efforts to show people how to use the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act -- and, in the process, to keep Minnesota government entities transparent and accountable. We recently organized a seminar for the staff of Minneapolis Documenters as well as a panel to speak at the Midwest Journalism Conference about the effective use of public data in reporting.
Our spokesperson, Don Gemberling, regularly provides free advice to journalists and citizens on the ins and outs of obtaining public information. He and other MNCOGI members frequently are quoted in news and opinion articles about the public’s right to government information.
Finally, we continue to recognize excellence in the pursuit of open government through the presentation of the annual John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award, highlighted in a public ceremony. Occasionally, we also bestow the John R. Borger Lifetime Achievement Award for a significant body of accomplishments that advance and preserve the public’s right to government transparency. This year, the Finnegan Award was presented to Leita Walker, First Amendment attorney, litigator and trial lawyer at Ballard Spahr – and to KARE 11 investigative journalists Brandon Stahl, A.J. Lagoe, Gary Knox and Steve Eckert. The Borger Award went to James Barnum, retired Deputy General Counsel for Hubbard Broadcasting.
MNCOGI welcomes your support as we put our resources and yours to work to make government information more publicly available and as accessible as possible.
About the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI)
MNCOGI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to the public’s right to know, the promotion of public access to government information and transparency of government operations. MNCOGI Board members are Nick Borger, Secretary; Paul Bosman, Hal Davis, Pat Doyle, Matt Ehling, Kevin Featherly, Don Gemberling, Nancy Herther, Isabella Nascimento, Sharon Schmickle and Kristine Tietz. For more information about MNCOGI, please visit our website at http://www.mncogi.org.
Image of the Minnesota State Capitol is the work of Wikipedia user McGhiever.