FAF Sunshine Week

The 2019 Sunshine Week Award Winners: March 14, 2019

For Immediate Release: March 4, 2019

Contact: Katie Bohnett

katie@floridafaf.org

850-224-4555

The First Amendment Foundation’s 2018 Sunshine Awards recognize those who have made significant contributions to furthering open government through service, litigation, and reporting.

The 2018 Sunshine Award Winners are:

  • Craig Waters – Director of the Public Information Office, Florida Supreme Court 2018 Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award
  • Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi – Tampa Bay Times, Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting

Learn more about the award winners here.

The nomination for the Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award was based on Mr. Waters’ tireless efforts as the public face in the weeks following the 2000 election. Barbara Petersen, President of the First Amendment Foundation, recalls, “Craig was instrumental in bringing the Court into the digital (and social media) age, and along with Chief Justice Kogan — was responsible for televising the Court’s oral arguments.”  The Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award was created to recognize the significant contribution made by Pete Weitzel, former managing editor of The Miami Herald, and founder and past president of the First Amendment Foundation, in the area of open government. The Weitzel Award is given annually to someone in Florida who has made a significant contribution to the cause of furthering open government.

The 2nd Annual 2018 Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting goes to Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times Heartbroken, a series on the investigation into the heart surgery unit at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. The Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting – named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) who broke countless stories using public records – is awarded to reporters whose work exemplifies the tenacity, drive, and courage that characterizes Lucy Morgan. The award honors a Florida journalist who smartly uses public records to report stories exposing corruption, revealing government conflicts of interest or otherwise serving the public interest.

A special thanks to our First Amendment Foundation Board Trustees who participated in judging this year’s submissions:

  • Mike Deeson, President, Deeson Media LLC
  • Trimmel Gomes, President, Gomes Media Strategies
  • Cindy McCurry-Ross, Executive Editor & VP of Content, The News-Press
  • Caitie Switalski, Broward County General Assignment Reporter, WLRN News
  • Pete Weitzel, Director Emeritus, First Amendment Foundation

The awards will be presented at the Foundation’s annual Sunshine Awards on Thursday, March 14, 2019, at the Florida State University Law School in Tallahassee at 6:00pm. A special evening event program will follow, and event details can be found below and at: www.floridafaf.org.

For more information or for sponsorship opportunities, please contact katie@floridafaf.org.

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The 2018 Sunshine Luncheon: January 23, 2018

The First Amendment Foundation awarded the 2017 Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award to Fane Lozman, the winner of the 2017 James C. Adkins/Sunshine Litigation Award was Kenneth Weiss, and the winner of the 2017 Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting was Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch.

The nomination for the Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award was based on Mr. Lozman’s most recent case before the US Supreme Court. Fane was arrested after speaking at a city commission meeting and is claiming that arrest violated his First Amendment rights. Mr. Lozman is a formidable citizen activist who has been engaged in sunshine issues for years. He is an original member of our Sunshine Coalition and a tenacious open government advocate. The Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award was created to recognize the significant contribution made by Pete Weitzel, former managing editor of The Miami Herald, and founder and past president of the First Amendment Foundation, in the area of open government. The Weitzel Award is given annually to someone in Florida who has made a significant contribution to the cause of furthering open government.

Mr. Weiss, the recipient of the James C. Adkins/Sunshine Litigation Award, is an attorney in the Tampa Bay area who has aggressively pursued open government violations in numerous cities throughout the Bay area. After winning a major lawsuit against St. Petersburg Beach, Weiss created a legal fellowship for law students with an interest in open government at the First Amendment Foundation. The James C. Adkins/Sunshine Litigation Award was created to recognize the importance and continuing value of Justice Adkins’ open government opinions while on the Florida Supreme Court and is given to attorneys or citizens who have made a significant contribution to the cause of furthering open government through litigation.

The nomination for the Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting was based on Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D. S. Burch’s Fight Club: Dark secrets of Florida Juvenile Justice, a series of stories in The Miami Herald. Miller and Burch secured data sets from four state agencies and analyzed 10 years of data for the series, which revealed systematic chaos, cruelty and human rights violations within some of the state’s juvenile justice institutions. The first Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting – named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the St. Petersburg Times(now the Tampa Bay Times) who broke countless stories using public records – is awarded to two reporters whose work exemplifies the tenacity, drive, and courage that characterizes Lucy Morgan. The award honors a Florida journalist who smartly uses public records to report stories exposing corruption, revealing government conflicts of interest or otherwise serving the public interest.

 

The 2017 Sunshine Luncheon

The 2016 Sunshine Luncheon

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