2009 Open Government Hall of Fame

Mitchell W. Pearlman, Freedom of Information Commission's Executive Director Emeritus, is awarded with induction into the Open Government Hall of Fame.

May 11, 2009

COLUMBIA, MO and MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Freedom of information is a fragile entity. It requires constant and diligent oversight by groups and individuals who are determined that neither careless neglect nor institutional non-compliance diminish its effectiveness.

In short, FOI requires heroes.

Mitchell PearlmanMitchell W. Pearlman, Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Connecticut (Storrs) and longtime director of that state's FOI body, has been selected by the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists for their joint "Heroes of the 50 States: The Open Government Hall of Fame" award for 2009.

Pearlman served as the executive director of and general counsel for the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) from 1975-2005, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of both NFOIC and the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government (CFOG). He was designated as FOIC's Executive Director Emeritus in 2005.

In 2005, in the aftermath of the conviction of then-Governor John Rowland on corruption charges, Governor M. Jodi Rell asked Pearlman to serve as the Interim Director of the newly formed Connecticut Office of State Ethics. Pearlman has spread the word worldwide on the importance of FOI issues, lecturing in China, Armenia, South Africa, Mexico, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany and many other places.

“Mitchell Pearlman is one of the ‘Mount Rushmore’ figures in the FOI community,” said Charles N. Davis, executive director of NFOIC. “He has done as much to improve state FOI law as anyone in the country, and continues to serve tirelessly across the globe to advance the right to know. What’s more, he is a great guy, beloved by all of us in the FOI movement.”

The Council on Governmental Ethics Law (COGEL), a professional organization committed to governmental ethics, awarded Pearlman the COGEL Service Award in 2004, the first from the FOI community to be so honored. Included among the many awards Pearlman has received are the Stephen A. Collins Freedom of Information Award in 1992 and the Helen M. Loy Memorial Freedom of Information Award in both 1987 and 2005.

“[We] use his example as continual inspiration in the actions we take to uphold the work he began as the true father of freedom of information in our state,” said Janet Manko, CFOG past president. “His vision has truly helped shape the way citizens in Connecticut expect government to be defined.”

The State Open Government Hall of Fame is open to anyone who has made a substantial, sustained and lasting contribution to open government or freedom of information within one particular state. Nominees may come from government, the media, the non-profit sector, the legal profession, or any other area of endeavor that involves citizen access to government records, meetings and procedures.