Freedom of Information Foundation to Hold Annual FOI Conference In Austin

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas will hold its 2010 Bernard and Audre Raporport State Conference on Friday, August 13 at the Renaissance Hotel in Austin. This year’s theme is Open Government: Navigating Digital Dangers.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will be the conference’s Luncheon Keynote Speaker.

The highlight of Friday’s program will be the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon and the presentation of the James Madison Award to Joe Larsen, a veteran advocate of open government and Special Counsel for Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, LLP in Houston.

“I can’t think of a more qualified and deserving recipient of this distinguished award than Joe Larsen,” said Laura Prather, an attorney and president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “Joe epitomizes a public information warrior who has spent much of his professional career tirelessly fighting for the public’s right to know.”

This award is given annually to honor those who have demonstrated outstanding commitment and service in upholding the principles of the First Amendment. In addition, the State Bar of Texas will award recipients of their 2010 Texas Gavel Awards honoring journalistic excellence that helps foster public understanding of the legal system.

This year’s annual program will also include:

Session I: Tweet It, Txt it, Post It on Facebook — It’s Social, But Is It Public?
Moderator: Robert Quigley, social media editor, Austin American Statesman. Panelists include Amanda Crawford, Chief of the Open Records Division, Josh Baugh, City Hall reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and Elise Hu, political reporter who specializes in multimedia projects for the Texas Tribune.

Session II: What you Need to Know
Moderator: Ross Ramsey, managing editor, Texas Tribune and editor, Texas Weekly. Panelists include Pete Slover, Governance Counsel, Pedernales Electric Cooperative; Matt Stiles, reporter and CAR expert, Texas Tribune; Hadassah Schloss, Cost Rules Administrator, Open Records Division, Attorney General’s Office.

Session III: Keeping Government Open: It Takes a Village
Moderator: Wanda G. Cash, clinical professor, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. Panelists: Gary Chapman, director of the 21st Century Project, LBJ School of Public Affairs; Evan Smith, editor-in-chief and CEO, Texas Tribune; Doug Toney, chairman of the TDNA/TPA Legislative Advisory Committee.

The cost of the total conference, including the Keynote John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon, and all sessions, is $100 and the awards luncheon only is $75 per person. To register, please visit or call the FOIFT office at (512) 377-1575.

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization supported through grants from private citizens, corporations, foundations, and tax-deductible donations. For more information, call (512) 377-1575, or write 3001 N. Lamar # 302, Austin, TX 78705.