AUSTIN, TEXAS – Friday, July 22, 2011: After the recent legislative session, many open government advocates feel embattled and in a constant struggle to at least maintain the status quo. DOB’s (dates of birth) of governmental employees will no longer be considered a “public record,” and in most cases photographs of police officers are off limits. And, at a time when Governor Rick Perry is escalating his cross-country travel, as he decides whether he will run for President of the United States or not, taxpayers are now being denied an opportunity to see specifically how their tax money is being spent for the security detail to protect him.
Then there’s also the continuing challenge to Texas’ Open Meetings law winding through the federal courts and increasing efforts by some lawmakers to seal off electronic records. During this last session of the legislature there were dozens of attempts to make it harder, and more expensive, to obtain email records of public officials and governmental bodies. And, there are several court challenges to determine whether email or text messages from an elected officials private email accounts, or personal smart phone devices should be subject to disclosure or not.
In some ways, this year’s Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas’ annual conference title “Shining Light on a Wired World” says it all.
The Bernard and Audre Rapoport FOIFT State Conference will be held Friday, August 12, 2011, at the Austin Renaissance Hotel in Austin, and will feature panel discussions about what’s private and what’s not, where to find public records on the internet and who won and who lost during the 82nd Legislative Session.
National Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Kenneth Bunting will be the keynote speaker of the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon. Presentation of the James Madison Award by the FOIFT and the Gavel Awards by the State Bar of Texas highlight the luncheon. The James Madison Award is given annually to honor those who demonstrate outstanding commitment and service in upholding the principles of the First Amendment. The Gavel Awards recognize journalistic excellence that helps foster public understanding of or legal and judicial system.
Registration is available for the conference on the FOIFT website at www.foift.org .
The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to enhancing the public’s right to know about their government and other public entities. The organization is supported by tax-deductible donations, as well as grants from foundations and private citizens. Membership information is available at www.foift.org. The Freedom of Information Foundation’s main offices are at 3001 North Lamar, Suite 302 in Austin, Texas 78705.