2007 FOI Summit Schedule

Friday, May 11


Saturday, May 12


Friday, May 11

Registration: 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Lunch: 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

The FOI Salon: State-by-State Updates and Conversation

We’ll kick off this year’s annual meeting by returning to one of the staples of NFOIC meetings: a moderated discussion of what’s going on in all of the various states. That means you have to participate, but we promise to be kind: just give us your five-minute summary of legislative developments, what your coalition has been up to, and how others might help.

Discussion led by Charles N. Davis, Executive Director, National Freedom of Information Coalition.

2:00 – 3:15 p.m.: Concurrent Sessions I—A & B

Session A — Sports Secrecy: Stadium Deals In The Luxury Suites?

A panel with deep expertise in the business – and secrecy – of professional and big-time college sports discusses the ramifications of sports on society and the price to be paid when teams and owners deal in the dark.

Featuring Dr. Murray Sperber, nationally renowned critic of collegiate athletics and author of Beer and Circus: How Big-Time College Sports Has Crippled Undergraduate Education and College Sports Inc.; Michael G. Brannan, Attorney at Law; Chris Van Dyk, from Citizens for More Important Things.

Moderated by Tom O'Hara, Managing Editor, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Session B — Coalition-Building 101: From Startup to the Next Step

This session is tailor-made for coalition leaders – whether you are just getting started, reviving your group’s membership or maintaining a steady course. Fundraising, organization, programs…we’ll cover whatever you need to get your group to the next level.

Featuring Mal Leary, President of the Maine Coalition for Open Government, Michele Earl-Hubbard, Past President of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, and Frosty Landon, Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

Moderated by Frank Gibson, Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

3:30 – 5:00 p.m.: Concurrent Sessions II—A & B

Session A — Election Transparency: The Next Great FOI Story?

Washington’s gubernatorial election stands as one of the most hotly contested contests in American history. With issues of electronic voting machines and Election Day shenanigans popping up in election after election, we’ve assembled some of the finest minds in the country that have studied or reported on election issues. What freedom of information issues are raised by elections? And what should FOI coalitions be doing to ensure that elections are as transparent as possible? 

Featuring David Postman of the Seattle Times, Jonathan Bechtle of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, and Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation

Moderated by Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Session B — FOI Executive Directors: A Model Worth Pursuing?

For those executive directors already running state coalitions, or those coalitions wondering whether an executive director is that long-awaited “next step,” this session will feature Executive Directors talking about their jobs, the challenges and triumphs earned along the way and how your group can explore the creation of a full- or part-time post.

Featuring Katherine Garner, Executive Director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, Hollie Manheimer, Executive Director of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, and Frank Gibson, Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

8:00 p.m. Special Event

A night at the movies!

Celebrate the power of freedom of information at a special film event fundraiser. Join writer, producer and director John Scheinfeld for a special screening of The U.S. vs. John Lennon, a rock documentary chronicling the FBI's secret campaign against the outspoken Beatles frontman.


Saturday, May 12

Registration: 8:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.

8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m

NFOIC Annual Members Meeting

A continental breakfast will be provided during the meeting.

9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Telling Stories about Secrecy: On the FOI Beat

Whether in books or on the pages of American newspapers, there are stories to be told about the dangers of government secrecy and the value of freedom of information. Join Rebecca Carr, National correspondent for Cox Newspapers Washington Bureau, the only newspaper reporter in the country working the secrecy beat full-time, Mike McGraw, special projects desk reporter for The Kansas City Star, and John Scheinfeld, whose documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon is based on FOIA requests, for a freewheeling discussion of the stories that can be told using FOI.

Moderated by Sarah Nordgren, Director of State News for the Associated Press.

10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Declassification & Reclassification: The Threat Posed and Possible Solutions

The term “reclassification” entered the lexicon in the past year, as news of a seven-year-old program at the National Archives and Records Administration that resulted in the withdrawal from public access of thousands of records emerged, and the Pentagon argued that the reasons for the program should remain secret.

U.S. Archivist Allen Weinstein told the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations that NARA is conducting an audit to determine how many records were withdrawn from the public, why they were withdrawn, and whether reclassification was appropriate.

Join several of the key players in the debate over classification, reclassification and national security, including: J. William Leonard, Director of the Information Security Oversight Office at the NARA, Gary M. Stern, General Counsel of the National Archives, and Thomas S. Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, whose group broke the story.

Moderated by Peter Scheer, Executive Director of California First Amendment Coalition.

Lunch: 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

Heroes of the 50 States Award

The State Open Government Hall of Fame honors those whose lifetime commitment to citizen access, open government and freedom of information has left a legacy at the state and local level.

Keynote Speech

James Neff, head of investigative projects for the Seattle Times

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.

Bridging the Red-Blue Divide: Keeping Access a Bipartisan Issue

In a deeply politically divided nation, freedom of information risks becoming a pawn in the process. Access to information can become a cause for a party out of power, while secrecy can be used to further the control of the majority. How do we keep FOI a bipartisan value above the debate over other issues. A panel featuring politicians and professional communicators are charged with answering the question.

Featuring Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag, former Washington State Representative Toby Nixon, and Barbara Pape, an advertising executive whose agency has done cutting-edge work on First Amendment issues.

Moderated by Michele Earl-Hubbard, Past President of the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Electronic Records but Were Afraid to Ask

Brant Houston, executive director of Investigative Reporters & Editors, will lead us on a crash course in the possibilities of FOI-driven storytelling and show us where some of the best records reside online.


4:15 – 5:15 p.m.

FOI Training in the States: What Your State Can Do

State coalitions have long been active in training public officials on open government laws, and in some states cooperative efforts between coalitions and government have resulted in some great training efforts. Join government officials and FOI advocates who train public officials in open government, and take home some tips for building your own program.

Featuring Pat Gleason, Special Counsel for Open Government in Florida, Governor Charlie Crist’s newly created Office of Open Government, Thornton Wood, Assistant Attorney General in the Open Records Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, and Eric Turner, Associate General Counsel and Managing Director of the Freedom of Information Commission of Connecticut.

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