2007 FAC Awards: CFAC Names Six Award Winners, One Big Loser

CFAC Names Six Award Winners, One Big Loser

CFAC, San Rafael, CA– The late Chauncey Bailey, jailed videoblogger Josh Wolf, New America Media executive director Sandy Close, AP reporter Martha Mendoza, and legislators Gloria Romero and Mark Leno are among the recipients of awards given by the California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) at the organization’s Free Speech and Open Government Assembly held at the Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles.

The awards are given in recognition of an individual’s or organization’s courage and commitment to First Amendment principles.

Chauncey Bailey
The 2007 Bill Farr Award, given jointly by CFAC and the California Socierty of Newspaper Editors, was presented on Friday, Oct. 26, to the late Chauncey Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post and a veteran journalist, who was gunned down on an Oakland street August 2 while reporting on Your Black Muslim Bakery. Bailey was also honored last month by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

Darkness Award / City of Glendora
CFAC also announced the 2007 winner of its Darkness Award, given to cities, agencies or individuals who stand against the goals of free speech and access to information. This year’s Darkness Award, presented last Friday, went to the City of Glendora, CA for its disregard of the California Public Records Act. According to CFAC, Glendora city officials required the public to pay excessive copying fees, created a mandatory records request form, demanded explanations from requesters as to the purpose of their requests—all in violation of state law

Sandy Close
CFAC honored Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media, with the special Leadership Award for tireless work giving voice to ethnic media, immigrants and youth. CFAC said Close has been “fearless in introducing a number of innovations, among them: multilingual polling to bring the voices of ethnic audiences into national focus, youth media publications and broadcasts and a unique news service that provides content, analysis, opinions and voices from every sector of society.”

CFAC also awarded four Beacon Awards to individuals who have championed free speech and open government: Bob Suhr, Josh Wolf, Martha Medoza, and one award to both State Senator Gloria Romero and Assemblyman Mark Leno.

Bob Suhr
Bob Suhr, a businessman-turned-open government activist, was named for using his understanding of the California Public Records Act to unearth the “unvarnished and untold truth” about the cost of public employee retirement and health benefits in Santa Cruz County

Josh Wolf
Josh Wolf, another Beacon Award winner, made national headlines last year for being incarcerated the longest of any journalist in US history for refusing to release to federal prosecutors his unpublished video of a 2005 anarchist rally in San Francisco. Wolf demonstrated “unwavering commitment to journalistic ethics and the need for a federal shield law,” CFAC said.

Martha Mendoza
Martha Mendoza, AP reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner, was honored for her news stories about government wrongdoing, including an article exposing rapes of young women by US military recruiters.

Gloria Romero and Mark Leno
CFAC gave a joint Beacon Award to State Senator Gloria Romero (Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Mark Leno (San Francisco) for their sponsorship of legislation to open up selected police disciplinary files to public view, to establish journalists’ right to interview California prisoners, to increase access to public records and to improve open meeting laws.

CFAC is an award-winning, nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to advancing free speech, more open and accountable government, and public participation in civic affairs. CFAC’s activities include strategic litigation to enhance First Amendment rights for the largest number of citizens, legal consultations, educational programs, legislative oversight of bills affecting access to government and free speech, and public advocacy.