BOISE — Betsy Russell, Boise reporter for the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, has been named the recipient of the 2010 Max Dalton Open Government Award sponsored by the Idaho Newspaper Foundation.
Organizers said Russell earned the award and accompanying cash prize of $1,000 for her years of work advancing the cause of open government in Idaho through her work with a variety of press, citizen and court groups.
The Max Dalton Open Government Award has been given each year since 1999 to a citizen or group judged to be an outspoken advocate of openness in either public records or public meetings on the state or local level.
Russell has been president of the Idaho Press Club on and off since 1997 and chair of Idahoans for Openness in Government (IDOG) since its founding in 2004. She also serves on the Idaho Supreme Court’s Media/Courts Committee.
Through the Idaho Press Club, Russell has worked to defeat attempts in the Idaho Legislature to weaken the state’s open meetings and public records laws and has worked with the Idaho Attorney General’s Office and legislators to try and strengthen those laws.
She encouraged Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to conduct a continuing series of open-government seminars for local government officials and employees around the state, with Wasden himself presiding.
Her work with the Supreme Court committee has helped improve relations between the courts and the press and encourage improved access by journalists to court proceedings and records.
Other nominees for the 2010 award were:
- The Idaho Freedom Foundation, whose companion Web site, OurIdaho.com, packages public information about agencies around the state in a searchable format.
- The Boise Guardian and Caldwell Guardian, two activist Web sites that have worked separately and together on open government topics.
- Paul Alldredge of Caldwell, a longtime watchdog who operates the blog Caldwell Guardian.
- Melody Finley, who has followed government spending in the city of Wendell.